Listed below are some icebreaker ideas that our small group leaders have used. Following those ideas, we have listed some suggested websites. Please feel free to submit additional ideas or websites that can be posted here for leaders and apprentices. And, as always, your feedback on this page is welcome.
1. We had to create what our New Year's resolution or something like that with Playdoh®. It was lots of fun!
2. Describe the (last, best, worst) vacation that you have been on. Tell who you were
with and describe it using the five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing).
3. Tell about the most mischievous thing that you ever did as an adolescent. What did you learn as a result of it?
4. Tell about a time you got in trouble as a kid that seems really funny now that you are older.
5. Who Am I?
Required: Name tags
Players: Small to large groups
Pre-make tags with each tag having the name of one famous person on it. These tags will be placed on the back of each guest as they arrive. This is done without them knowing who they are. They are to go around the room asking questions as to who they might be. Questions like “am I a singer?” They can only ask one question and make only one guess as to who they are with each person that they talk to, and then they have to move on to another person. They can visit previous players once they've visited another player.
6. Gum Game
Required: Clean garden gloves, packs of gum
Players: Small to large groups
Set up teams of five. Each team will receive one pair of new garden gloves and one pack of gum (5 pieces per pack). On go, the first person in each team is to put on the garden gloves, open the package of gum, pull out a piece, unwrap it, chew it, and then pass the gloves to the next person. The first team to complete the task wins. You can choose to have two packs of gum per team so that they would have to go around twice.
7. Animal Game
Purpose: A creative way to get your group divided into smaller groups for a small group activity.
Description: Choose a few animals with easily identifiable sounds. Instruct the group to close their eyes or blind fold them. Give them each an animal (write it on an index card or whisper it in their ear). After each person has been given an animal, instruct the entire group to walk around the room making their animal's sound while searching for others who are making the same sound. When each person in the group has found his/her similar animal, you're done.
8. Human Knot
Purpose: To do problem solving with patience, determination, and cooperation. It also gets people moving.
Description: All group members stand in one big circle. Facilitator directs the group to raise their right hands and grab the right hands of someone else in the circle other than the person standing next to him/her. Do the same with the left hands. The result is a knot. The group must work together to untangle the knot by turning and going under or over legs and arms. No one in the group can release hands until the knot has been untangled and the group is again in a circle. (Note: Some members of the group may end up facing outside while some face inside.)
9. Yurt Circle
Purpose: To establish trust within a work group. To keep the circle stable and whole each person is responsible for supporting the whole!
Description: The group forms a circle with an even number of players. Everyone faces the center, standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder and holding hands. Then, everyone goes around the circle saying in turn "In", "Out". If you say in you lean in and if you say out you lean out. On the count of three everyone switches. Ins go out and outs go in. The trick is not to fall, and to trust that others will not let you go.
10. Name Tag Match Maker
Each group member will need a 5" x 7" card for a nametag. Then give the following directions:
1. Put your name in the center of your card.
2. In the upper left corner, write four things that you like to do.
3. In the upper right corner, write your four favorite singers or groups.
4. In the lower left corner, write your four favorite movies.
5. In the lower right corner, write four adjectives that describe you.
When everyone finishes, have them mingle with the group for a few minutes. Without talking, they are to read the upper left corner of the other group members' cards. When time is up, they are to find one or two people who are most like them and visit for a few minutes. When time is up, they are to mingle again reading the upper right corner of the other group members' cards. They then find the one or two people most like them and visit. Repeat with the lower left corner and lower right corner information. To make sure everyone visits with several people, you could implement a rule that no two people can be in the same group more than once.
11. Balloon Game #1
Have everyone put one piece of information about themself in a balloon, then blow up the balloon and throw the balloon in the middle of the circle of participants. Then one by one, pop the balloons and guess to whom that piece of information belongs.
12. Favorite T-shirt
Ask attendees to bring (not wear) their favorite T-shirt to the meeting. Once all participants have arrived, ask each person to show the shirt to the group and explain how the T-shirt best resembles their personality.
13. Color Jacuzzi
The object of this small group exercise is to get the group to quickly meet the other members. The facilitator calls out a color of the rainbow: - for example RED:
Red typically is the stop/turn- off color - so each member of the group quickly tells what is the one thing (that they can disclose in public) that is really a turn off to them.
Orange: is the motivation color - what motivates them
Yellow: is the inspiration or creativity color - what was the best idea they've had
Green: is the money color - what they plan to do for money, or the dumbest thing they ever did for money.
Blue: is the sky's the limit color - what is your favorite fantasy about your future
Indigo: is an odd, or different color - what is the most daring thing they ever did.
Purple: is the color of royalty - if you were ruler of the universe for a day - what is the first thing you would do?
14. Life Saver Relay
Divide group into two teams. Give everyone a toothpick to hold between his or her teeth. Place a lifesaver on the toothpick of the first person on each side. The game begins. The lifesaver is passed from person to person by lining up the toothpicks so that the lifesaver slides onto the next person's toothpick. No one can use his or her hands. Should a lifesaver be dropped, that team begins again with the first person. The first team to relay a lifesaver to the end of the line is the winner.
15. BIRTHDAY LINE
Explain to the group that this is a nonverbal exercise. The group is to form a single straight line, according to birthdays. For example, persons with January birthdays will be at the beginning of the line, earliest January dates first followed in order by later dates. The line progresses by months and days with December birthdays at the end. Persons with the same birthday share the same place in line. You must communicate nonverbally (no lip-reading or spelling in the dirt allowed). When the line is completed, each person will shout out his/her birthday, beginning in January.
16. BACK TO BACK
Every group member must find a partner of approximately equal height and weight, if possible. The partners will lock arms with their backs to one another. With arms remaining locked at all times, the partners will sit down on the ground, kick their legs out straight, and try to stand back up. Then groups of four will try the same thing. Then groups of eight, sixteen, and eventually, the entire group together. This is the perfect activity to begin a trust sequence.
17. LAP SIT
The group will start in a circle. Every group member will turn placing their left leg towards the inside of the circle. Everyone will take one giant step into the middle of the circle. With hands on the person’s shoulders in front of you, the group will sit on each other. The group will need to work together to communicate. Once this has been completed, the group may wish to try to walk in this formation. This is a dynamic activity - and one that will make the group feel a great sense of accomplishment when successfully completed!
18. PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
All participants are given a bag with pennies (each participant should have one penny for each member in the group - if there are 20 people, players each should have 20 pennies). Participants go around the room to each other and trade “a penny for a thought.” Participants trade pennies - and positive thoughts about what they think of one another. What an incredible activity and a wonderful way to end an experience! Activity continues until all participants have shared with every member of the group and have a new bag of “pennies for thoughts.”
19. WEB WE WEAVE
The group stands in one large circle. The facilitator begins the game by asking a question such as, “What is your favorite place to be when you are happy?” The facilitator answers the question and then tosses a yarnball across to another person, while holding onto the end of the yarn. The person answers the question, holds a piece of the yarn, and then tosses it to someone else. Game continues in same fashion, until everyone has shared. By tossing the yarn (or twine) around the group, participants weave a web that connects all of the members of the team in some manner. The facilitator can ask as many questions as appropriate. The facilitator then asks two or three of the team members to “drop” their string. The web begins to sag and appears to be very weak and vulnerable. The facilitator then can discuss how important each participant is to the team and the effect that low levels of involvement and commitment has on the entire team. At the end, the group can kneel down and place the web on the ground. Works well to have a discussion on teamwork. Group members can cut a piece of the string from the web to keep as a reminder of the exercise and the thoughts the group shared. Works well for groups of any size!
20. WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
Tape a blank piece of paper (poster board - kind of like a billboard over the person’s head) on everyone’s back. The members are to write a compliment or positive comment on everyone’s back. At the end of the session, explain that a lot of times we tend to give compliments behind someone’s back and it is not very often that we actually say these things to people’s faces. We sometimes take for granted the positive aspects of others. If you wish, you may also explain that criticisms often are given behind other’s backs as well, and that it may be more effective if they go to the person, instead of others. Have the group members pair up with someone they would like to get to know better and remove the paper from each other’s backs. They should then explain to that person why they would like to get to know him/her better
Post a large outline of the United States on the wall. Leave border space for those born outside of the USA. Have participants put their hometown and first name on the map. Then ask them to share about their hometown and how they ended up in FDL.
22. HUM THAT TUNE
Each person in the group is given a small piece of paper with the name of a nursery rhyme or other song written on the paper. (i.e. “Row, row, row your boat,” “Rock-a-bye baby,” etc.) All of the people who are given the song must hum that tune and fine everyone else singing the song. They then form a group.
23. HUMAN TACO
Stick labeled note card (with taco ingredient) on the back of everyone’s shirt (i.e. the word “meat” printed on a note card). Have each player mingle around asking yes/no questions to find out the taco ingredient that is on their back. Explain the correct order of ingredients in a Human Taco: shell, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa and then give the start command, “I’m hungry! Let’s eat! Run for the Border!” Each individual must find out which ingredient they are and then find enough to form a complete Human Taco
24. Early Bird Gets The Worm
Wrap a small gift that could be for any gender. Keep an eye on who was the first guest to arrive but do not say anything about it. Sit everyone in a circle. You begin by holding the gift and saying, "State your name and a pretend form of transportation of how you came to be here today/tonight. The way you came here must begin with the same letter that begins your name. For example: my name is Dianne, therefore I would state: 'My name is Dianne and I came here today on a Donkey.' Notice Donkey starts with a D as my name does. After making that statement you would then say, while passing the gift to the next person, 'and this is a wiggly, squiggly, worm.' Now that person will do the same thing you just did only using their own name and transportation. Go around until everyone has done this. When all have done this you state, 'Who was the first guest to arrive?' Once that is established, you hand the gift to that person and state, 'We all know, the early bird gets the worm!' " It is a cute game.
Sent in by: Dianne, Valhermoso, AL
Books of Icebreakers
Jump Starts and Soft Landings by Steve Sheely.
Ice Breakers and Heart Warmers by Steve Sheely.