Icebreakers and Games: Group Activities
When planning a meeting, seminar, or any activity involving a group of people, it helps if the attendees are able to get to know each other before the activity begins. Not only does knowing others in the room increase everyone's comfort level, but it serves to open people up to accepting new ideas that will be presented.
One of the most popular ways to create a fun and comfortable environment for a group is an icebreaker activity. Icebreakers are games or exercises in which the attendees are asked to do something together by giving them a shared experience and allowing them to get to know each other, the tension in the room eases and the group is ready to learn!
Here are some icebreaker activities that are sure to bring a few laughs to a group activity!
No One Else Has Done It!
For this icebreaker, the goal is to find one thing that each person has done that no one else in the group has done. For groups of ten or more people, split into smaller groups and then share.
Start by giving the group time to think of one unusual thing they have done. It can be at any time in their lives, and about any topic at all. Once they have selected something, each person shares their unique activity. After each person, ask the rest of the group whether they have done the activity or not. If not, that person is done! If someone else has done it, that person has to come up with a new activity.
Here are some examples, if the group needs some prompting:
- got married in another country
- milked a cow
- rode a zip line
- played a professional or unusual sport
- clog dancing
You'll be amazed at what you learn about everyone in the group!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is a long time favorite that never gets old!
Give each person a piece of paper, and ask them to write down two statements that are true and one that is a lie. These statements should be about the person writing them. The more detail, the better! Here are some examples:
- I have two cats and one dog.
- I was born in Indiana.
- I worked at a zoo for several years.
Which one is a lie? The first one, for me!
Then each person reads their three statements, and the rest of the group votes on whether they think each is true. The winner is the person who fools the most people!
Name Tag Switcheroo
Create a set of name tags containing the first names of your attendees. Lay the name tags on a table and have each person come up and take a name tag that is NOT theirs. They should then carry the name tag with them and start asking around to find the person whose name they are wearing.
Once someone finds the person whose name tag they have, they need to learn several facts about that person. It's up to you if you want to set a limit (three facts, for example). This will start conversations with at least two other people - the person whose tag you have, and the person who has your name!
After everyone has found their name buddies, have the group return to their seats. Each person must then introduce the person whose name tag they have by telling their name and the facts they learned about them. For example, if Debbie has Jack's name tag, Debbie would say "This is Jack" and then list the facts she learned about Jack. Then Debbie would give Jack is name tag to put on.
The activity is over when each person has been introduced and is wearing his or her correct name tag.
Find Your Mate
Similar to the Name Tag Switcheroo, Find Your Mate pairs people who might not normally find each other.
Before the activity begins, create name tags that each contain one half of a famous couple or pair. The couples should be people that are very well known, so that all attendees will recognize them. Here are some examples:
- Tom and Jerry
- Brad and Angelina
- Bert and Ernie
When you are ready to begin, give each person a name tag containing one half of a couple. Try to ensure that everyone has a pair (don't give out "Tom" and keep "Jerry"). Then tell them to find their mate and introduce themselves. Each person will later introduce their mate to the group.
A fun variation is to use pairs of things instead of couples! You can pick any theme that coincides with your group. Here are some example themes:
- Foods (bread and butter, salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly)
- Around the house (washer and dryer, fork and spoon, pen and paper)
As long as there are pairs, this activity can have any theme.
Would You Rather...?
This is a very easy activity that quickly breaks the ice in a larger group.
Before the activity, write a few questions that start with "Would you rather...?" You will ask the attendees to pick between two alternatives, and they must pick one or the other (no adding choices!). The funnier the questions are, the better! Here are some examples:
- Would you rather ride an elephant or eat a habanero pepper?
- Would you rather wear a pink tutu in public or sing in front of an audience?
- Would you rather change 100 baby diapers or walk 100 miles?
If there is a theme to your activity, feel free to use this theme to come up with questions. But keep them silly!
This is also a fun activity for breaking a large group into two smaller groups. Ask the question, then have the people who pick one selection form a group and the people who pick the other selection form a different group.
What's On My Back?
For this activity, you will need some sticky labels that are big enough to write one word on in large font.
Prior to the activity, write one word on each label. Nouns work best in this activity. Follow a theme for your words, but make them different enough to not be confusing. For example, breeds of dogs are not different enough, but types of animals would work well.
Have the attendees stand in a circle, facing the middle of the circle. Then go around and stick a word label on each of their backs. Do not tell anyone what their word is (although you can share the theme if you want).
Have the people break into pairs. Each person will silently read the word on the other's back. Then, taking turns, they have to give clues about the word until the wearer guesses what is on his back. The person giving the clues is not allowed to say the word itself. As pairs figure out their words, they can join with other pairs and help give clues if anyone is particularly stumped!
As a variation, you can have the word wearer ask questions about the word on his back instead of relying on the other person to give clues.