Icebreaking Techniques

10 key activities that, over the years, have proved very effective as icebreaker introductions to any new group...
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
1
Dingbats

this is a word and image based set of puzzles, where the combination of words and image give a clue to a well known proverb, phrase or saying. Useful for pairs or groups to work together to try and work each dingbat out – and there are many examples on the internet.

2
Things in common

this is really easy to set up, requires no resources, is fun, the participants get to know something about each other, and is group based. The brief is simple: the group have to find 5 things they have in common. You can encourage them to come up with unusual commonalities, and avoid the obvious ones (we’re all in the same room, we’re all human, etc!). At the end of the time allocated, they report back on their 5.

3
I went to market…

This is based on the children’s activity of “I went to market and bought 6 eggs”, then the next person repeats this, and adds another purchase: “I went to market and bought 6 eggs and a pink hat” – and so on. In this version, it’s used as an opportunity for group members to introduce themselves, and of course, work together to complete the game successfully! In this version, it starts with someone saying their name and something about themselves: “My name is (eg Paul) and I collect beer mats”, then the next person repeats this and adds their name and something about themselves…so “This is Paul and he collects beer mats, my name is Shirley and I love ballet” - and so on, round the group. If someone falters encourage the rest of the group to help out…

4
2 true, 1 false

everyone has got to come up with three things about themselves, two of which are true, and one of which is completely false. Everyone else guesses which is the false statement, and at the end, the guesses are read out, points awarded, and a prize given – or do it just for fun. It’s a great way of finding out about each other..

5
Who’s?

create a 16 box grid (4x4). Put into each bod a question beginning with ‘who’s?’ – for example: who’s got brothers or sisters? Who’s won anything on the lottery? Who’s raised money for charity? Then a group works through the grid, putting in the names of people who have what the question is asking. Another fun way of finding out about each other…

6
Discovery

create a series of questions, one per index card, equal to the number of people in the group. Then ask each member to draw one of the index cards out of a hat (or equivalent) randomly. Then each group member asks that question to as many in the group as they can get round in the time allocated. They make notes of the replies they get – who said what. Of course, at the same time as asking their question, they have to answer questions being asked of them by others in the group… Questions might include: ‘what’s your favourite food?’, what do you like doing in your spare time?’ and so on. Then, at the end of the time allocation, you ask everyone (or a sample) to read out the results of their ‘research’. What’s powerful about this is that people are more comfortable in reading out details of others than they would be if they’d been asked to introduce themselves…

7
Line up

this is particularly useful for people who've been sat too long, or just, don't like sitting, who like moving. Ask everyone to stand up then line up in order – and you choose the particular order - for example, height. Or first letter of their name, lining up A to Z. Or who lives closest to or furthest from this meeting place. To do this for most orders, people have to talk…’what’s your first name? ‘where do you live’ and also do a bit of organized sequencing…

8
Object and date

create a powerpoint presentation of familiar objects, and ask the group to guess the date the object was launched. Examples can be: Rubik’s cube, the i-pad, Xbox, The X Factor, and so on – the iconic objects should be relevant to the general age of the group…

9
Pictionary relay

you may know the game Pictionary where someone has to draw the word given to them. Drawing only – no text. Someone draws, and the rest of the group have to guess the word. In this version, there are more than one group, and they are competing against each other. Someone from each groups comes to the facilitator, and gets the first word; when it has been successfully drawn and guessed, someone different comes to collect the next word (not necessarily the one who guessed correctly) and the process repeats. In a learning environment, the words given could be things the learners have been learning about during the session…

10
Audio Visual

simply, a quiz either based on pictures on a screen, or an audio – usually based on music.

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