Ice-breakers are games that help children become acquainted with others at the beginning of a camp, workshop or class. These noncompetitive games help children learn the names, hobbies and interests of their peers. Ice-breakers can also teach a newly formed group how to solve problems and work as a team. Facilitators should oversee the activity to ensure that even the quieter participants are included in the game.
This game helps kids learn each others’ names. Pick a theme for the game. It can match the class or camp topic, or any theme that interests the participants such as zoo animals, flowers, cars, Disney cartoon characters, insects or favorite foods. It should include items that they can attach to their own name, like “Corvette Charlie” or “Leona Leopard.”
Each child quietly tells his name to an adult leader, who writes down all names on a piece of paper and ensures that each player has a different name. Divide the children into two teams. Ask them to form two lines with each team facing each other. The adult randomly reads the items on the list.
Select one child to begin the game. She picks a child on the other team and tries to guess her name and item by asking a question like “Are you Magnolia Megan?" or “Is your name Bobby Beetle?” If she guesses correctly, the child walks to her line and joins her team. Then another person on her team has a chance to guess a name of someone on the opposite team. If she guesses incorrectly, she joins the opposing team and the child who she guessed incorrectly has a chance to guess someone from the opposing team. The game ends after 10 minutes or when everyone is on the same side.
The Candy Game
This game is appropriate for groups up to 12 kids. You will need a large bag of multicolored candy like jelly beans, fruit snacks or chocolate candies. Pour the multicolored candy into a large bowl and ask everyone to take 10 pieces of candy from the bowl and set them in a pile in front of them. Each child then selects a piece of candy from her pile and then answers a predetermined question about herself. For example, if she selects a purple piece of candy, she answers a question about her favorite sport. If she selects a green piece of candy, she describes her favorite animal. Other categories could include favorite movies, songs, sports, games or hobbies. An adult can develop the categories or work with the kids to create categories before the game begins.
Alternatively, an adult calls out a color and names the category. All children who have that color take turns sharing answers. If a child has two or three candies of the specified color, he shares two or three answers. The kids can only eat the candy after they have answered the question. The game continues until all of the colors have been called and all questions answered.
This game will help kids learn each others’ names. Ask everyone to sit in a circle and introduce himself. Then give an inflated balloon to one player, who throws it to another person while saying her name. That person catches the balloon and throws it to another person while saying his name. The game continues until everyone can say the other children’s names. To help the kids learn about each other, write questions all over the inflated ball with permanent marker. As each child catches the ball, they must answer the question they find beneath one of their thumbs.
Gianna Maria has written for print and online publications since 1980. Her articles about parenting, education, travel, health, marketing and hobbies have appeared on websites such as Catholic Mom, 4Marks, Creative Homemaking and Epinions. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and minors in French and foreign studies from the University of Minnesota.