Ice breakers you won’t hate

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An ice breaker is an activity, game, or event that is used to welcome and encourage conversation in a class. It’s a beginning of the year getting-to-know-you activity. An icebreaker can run the gamut from painful and awkward to fun and engaging. A well done icebreaker can go along way to setting a positive vibe for the rest of the school year, so pick your icebreaker carefully! So, here we have compiled a list of some tried and true creative ice breakers to set you off on a positive first day.

Trading Cards

This starter is great because (1) it lets people self-define, (2) it gives people a “personality” outside the classroom (3) it gives students quick snapshots of multiple players (since they see many cards as they’re being passed around), and (4) it creates memorable visuals that give people conversation pieces as the class progresses.

Number of Players
Unlimited

Duration of Play
0–15 minutes

How to Play
1. Give the students or “players” access to large-scale index cards and markers.

2. Ask them to take 5–10 minutes to create a personal “trading card”—one that includes a quick self-portrait, a nickname for their “player,” and one thing about themselves that people in the meeting aren’t likely to know.

3. Have the players pass the trading cards around the room in no particular manner or order. Tell them to read each trading card that falls into their hands and hold onto one they might ask a question about. They can keep passing until they find one.

4. Ask for volunteers to read their player’s name and nickname and then to ask that person a question related to the little-known fact on his card.

5. Let the player who was chosen elaborate on the question he was asked. The player can then opt to ask the person whose card he’s holding a question, or he can pass and you can request another volunteer.

6. Keeping going around until the players appear to be sufficiently warmed up. You’ll have to read the room on how much they are enjoying the icebreaker. If possible, make it through the entire class.

Strategy

Simply to have fun and get to know each other. Bonus, keep the cards and use them to randomly select students for classroom jobs and such.

*Adapted from gamestorming.com

Low-Tech Social Network

The object of this game is to introduce event participants to each other by co-creating a mural-sized, visual network of their connections.

Number of Players

Large groups work best.

Duration of Play

25 minutes to create the first version of the network; the network remains up for the duration of the class, and may be added to, changed, or studied throughout.

How to Play

To set up the game, all participants will need a 5×8 index card and access to markers or something similar to draw their avatar. They will also need a substantial wall covered in butcher paper to create the actual network.

1. The teacher gives the participants clear instructions: “As a group, we are going to build the social network that is in the room right now. We’re going to use this wall to do it. But first, we need to create the most fundamental elements of the network: who you are. Start by taking your card and drawing your avatar (profile picture) that you’ll be uploading to the network. Save room on the bottom of the card for your name.”

2. Create the avatars. After a short period of time (and probably some laughter and apologies for drawing ability), the participants should have their avatars and names created. At this point, the emcee may add a variation, which is to ask the group to also write two words on the card that “tag” who they are or what they’re interested in at the event.

3. Make the connections. Next, the teacher directs players to stand up and bring their cards and a marker to the butcher paper wall, then “upload” themselves by sticking their card to the wall.

4. The next task is simple: find the people you know and draw lines to make the connections.  Label the lines if you can: “friends with” or “went to school with” or “went mountain climbing with.” This continues for a time and is likely to result in previously undiscovered links and new friends.

*Adapted from gamestorming.com

Strategy

The initial network creation will be somewhat chaotic and messy, resulting in a mural that has a lot of spaghetti lines. Over the course of the event, participants may browse the network. Encourage this, and see what new connections are made.

*Adapted from gamestorming.com

Passion Tick Tac Toe

Number of Players

Large groups work best.

Duration of Play

25 minutes or more, flexible to home many “winners” you want to allow.

How to play

Ask students to spend a few minutes to fill in all nine spaces in their grid with different personal passions. Give some examples of your passions. Explain that the participants can write each of their passions in any random space in the grid.

Ask participants to interact.After a suitable pause, tell the participants to walk around the room, pair up with each other, and compare their passions. When they find the same passion listed in both grids, ask them to sign for each other in the appropriate square.

Reward the winner. Announce a 5-minute discussion period. Ask the observer to keep track of time.

Change roles. The winner is the participant who manages to have other people’s signatures on three lines (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal). Continue the game until you have identified five winners (or whatever works for your time period.

You can also break into groups and share passions with each other. Conduct a debriefing discussion on how people’s passions influence their relationships at school.

Strategy

Simply to have fun and get to know each other

*Adapted from Thiagi Group – Avi Liran

Jenga Style Questions

Number of Players

Great for small or large groups.

Duration of Play

Unpredictable but can be repeated. On average one session will last 10-15 minutes.

How to play

Write an ice breaker questions on the Jenga pieces or on paper that you tape to the Jenga pieces.

Find a list of icebreaker question for children, like here. Participants take turns pulling a piece from the Jenga tower and answering the questions on the Jenga piece they successfully remove. if you have multiple Jenga puzzles you can have teams compete to see which team’s tower lasts the longest, thus learning the most about each other.

Strategy

Keep. the tower standing as long as possible while getting to know each other,

Blind Draw Team Building Activity

Number of Players

6 – 20 is ideal. Each small team should have 4 – 6 participants.

Duration of Play

30 minutes

  • 10 minutes to brief and setup
  • 10 minutes for the activity
  • 10 minutes to review and debrief

How to play

In this activity, the team has to instruct their “artist” to draw an item. They have to describe their chosen item without revealing what it is and they are not able to see what the “artist” is drawing. At the end of the activity, the team whose drawing is closest to the actual item wins.

Explain the activity: Each team appoints a member to be the “artist” and the “artist” is then separated from the rest of the group. The remaining members select an item from those provided by the facilitator and will instruct the “artist” to draw it without saying what the item is. There is a time limit of 3 minutes for the drawing to be completed. Each flipchart is positioned to face away from the group so that they cannot see what the “artist” is drawing. The team whose drawing is closest to the actual item they picked wins the game.

Get each team to appoint their “artist” who is then separated from the group. Each team selects an item from those provided.Once they are ready, they can begin the activity. At the end of the activity, all the drawings are revealed.

The rules are:

  • The team cannot tell the “artist” what their item is; they can only give instructions.
  • The “artist” cannot ask any questions and can only draw based on the instructions given by their team.
  • There is a time limit of 3 minutes for the drawing to be completed.

Strategy

This activity is great for promoting communication skills. While it sounds like an easy task, the one-way communication from the team to their “artist” needs to be precise in order for the “artist” get the drawing right.

It may be useful to run this activity in two rounds; after the first round, the team will realize how important it is to be detailed in their instructions. Challenge the teams to do better in the second round.

*Adapted from Venture Team Building

 

 

 

 

 

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