Ice Breaker Exercises for Groups

By Jessica Cook
Help groups break the ice with activities to put participants at ease.

Ice breakers are games designed to help people work together in a group. They can be used to promote activity, help group members get to know one another better or build teamwork skills. Ice breakers are useful for groups of all sizes and ages and can be a fun and creative way to begin any group meeting or endeavor.

Get Active

These ice breaker activities will help your group members get up and get moving:

Giants, Wizards, and Elves. Divide your group into two teams. Similar to "rock, paper, scissors," each team chooses to be giants, wizards or elves every round. They face each other and act out the gestures for their chosen character (giants stand on tippy-toes and roar, wizards crouch down and pretend to cast a spell while saying "shazam!" and elves get down very low and cup their hands onto their ears to mimic pointy ears while screaming "eeee!"). The leader will say "Go!" and each team will mimic their chosen character; giants beat elves, elves beat wizards and wizards beat giants. The winning team must try to capture as many members of the losing team before they run away or time is called. Then play continues until one team has captured all the rest of the members or until time is up.

Other examples of active games include Charades, Tag and Scavenger Hunts.

Team Building

Help your group members work together as a team with the following activities:

Defend the Egg. Split group members into smaller groups (4 to 5 people each). Tell each group that they have to use the materials you supply (you can choose how much or how little to give them) to create a device that will keep an egg from cracking when it is dropped from a high level. Give teams a certain amount of time to plan and build their devices and then test them out.

Other team-building games include Trust Walks (blindfold one member while another leads him through an obstacle course) and games designed to find common interests (such as having all team members write goals or fears anonymously and putting them into a hat for discussion).

Getting to Know You

If you're working with a group of people who don't know each other well, try these games to help them feel more comfortable together:

Two Truths and a Lie. Have members tell three things about themselves: two statements should be true and one should be a lie. Then the rest of the members must guess the lie. You can add interest by having them tell two truths and a lie about each other after a brief interview in pairs.

Four Corners. Label four corners of a room with Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree and Strongly Disagree. Then read aloud a list of statements and ask members to move to the corner that corresponds with their opinions.

Other examples of "getting to know you" games include People Hunts (find someone in the room who has ____), the candy game (take as many candies as you want; then you have to tell one fact about yourself for every piece you took) and Personal Flags (have members draw out a flag on paper that represents the important things about themselves; share with the group).