When you’re running a large group, giving a lecture to a group of your peers or beginning a new school year, you’ll need a way to ease the participants or students into the material. One of the most effective ways to make people more relaxed and encourage connections is to lead one or two ice-breakers. Use ice-breakers at parties when you’ve gathered together a group of people who don’t know each other well, or to have fun before a meeting.
The University of Hawaii recommends asking group members to pair up and interview each other. This helps each person make a connection with another group member right away. Give the students or group members a list of questions to ask each other. Then go around the room and have each person introduce his partner. Because you’re leading a large group, ask the members to stick with the person’s name and two fun facts learned during their interviews.
Finding Unique Qualities
Arrange the group into a circle. Ask each participant to think about something he believes is unique to him. For instance, someone might believe that he's the only person in the group from Kansas or the only person who makes jewelry as a hobby. Go around the circle and have each person share his unique quality. Before moving on, ask if anyone else in the group shares that quality. If he does, the person has to come up with something new. This shows people that they are more alike than they realize.
Finishing the Sentence
Hand out a set of index cards with half of a sentence written. Make sure that each participant receives one card. Go around the room and have each group member or student finish her sentence. Some sentences might relate to why the person is taking the class, where the person is from and what she enjoys doing in her spare time. If the group really enjoys the exercise, consider mixing up the cards and passing them out again.
Education World recommends using the ugly words ice-breaker with students and children. Get out a large piece of paper and work with the children to brainstorm ideas of ugly words. You might have words such as stupid, quit and dumb. Once the list has grown to include many ugly words, ask a couple of students to help you rip it up. Then request that the children help you bury those ugly words outside your classroom or group building. Whenever a child uses one of those words, refer back to this ice-breaker. You can also modify this activity to use with teens or adults by asking each member to share one negative thing someone has said to him or he believes about himself and then following the same instructions.
Michelle Bolyn is a licensed mental health professional and has worked since 2006 as a therapist. Bolyn has been writing mental health, wedding-related and relationship focused articles since 2007. She is published on Suite101.com and Examiner.com. Bolyn received her master's degree in social work from New York University.