Check it Out!
Ice Breakers are a great way to get people to learn each others names, find out some interesting things about each other and help form new friendships. However, don’t get them confused with name games! Ice breakers easily provide a way to establish common ground between those who are participating, get them moving and create an exciting and inviting environment. These type of activities are especially important on the first day of a retreat or a camp! Leading fun ice breakers can even help the leaders or counselors set rules and start the day off right!
2 Truths and a Lie
Ask each person in the group to think of two true facts about themselves, and one lie. Each person in the group takes a turn telling the group their three “facts.” The group or an individual then has to agree on which fact they think is a lie. Once the group or individual announces their decision, the speaker tells the group the correct answer. The group then can talk about any of the interesting things they just learned about the new person.
Variation: Each person writes down their 2 truths and a lie on a piece of paper and hands it in anonymously. Read each card randomly one at a time. The group has to decide who the person on the card is, as well as the lie.
Divide the group into pairs – try to make mix the group into pairs of folks who don’t know each other well.
- Ask the participants to introduce themselves to their partner.
- Instruct the group that from this point forward, speaking is not allowed. This includes whispering, mouthing words, and making sounds, too!
- Inform the group that they must tell their partner 3 things about themselves without speaking, similar to a charades game. These things cannot be physical characteristics.
- Once all of the partners have finished miming to each other, call everyone back into the circle. Then have each pair introduce their partner by using the three things they know or thought they knew.
(Group size of 10-30 max.)
Have the group stand in a circle. If the group does not know each other’s names then quickly go around the circle and share names. The facilitator will start with the ball and call out a person’s name and then toss them the ball. The next person will then call out a new person’s name and toss them the ball. This will continue until everyone has received the ball once and it has been tossed back to the facilitator. Now that the tossing order has been established, the facilitator will start the tossing over again adding in a second ball. There can be various goals or challenges set with this activity. The group could see how many balls or objects they can keep going through the order, how many times they go through each order without dropping any objects, or how fast they can get one or two balls through the order.
The facilitator calls out two choices to a question, such as “Would you choose an all round trip to Greece or Thailand?” Participants would then divide themselves by joining with everyone who shared their choice. You can continue to ask as many interesting questions as you like in this fashion, or you can change the way participants divide themselves by asking open ended questions. For example, “What is your favorite ice cream flavour?” Participants would then need to call out and find all of the other participants who shared their choice. The facilitator then asks each of the little clusters to shout out their choice proudly and loudly!
(Group size can vary; but best if group can be divided into 4 people per group)
Divide the group into teams or “trains” of 4. Have each group stand like a train- one person in the front of the other, single file. Explain that they are now trains and will be moving together around the open space. There are different commands that will be called out while they are moving around and the should try to do them as quickly as possible. The commands include:
- Switch- the first person in the line moves to the back of the line
- Rotate- the entire line rotates around to face the other way and the person who was in the back is now the front of the line
- Change- the two people in the middle of the line (2nd and 3rd positions) change spots.
Everyone stands in a tight circle, with their heads down looking at any person’s shoes. When ‘Heads Up’ is called, everyone looks up and stares at the person whose toes you were looking at in the circle. If that person is staring right back at you, then scream real loud and jump out of the circle. If the person you’re looking at is not looking at you, put your head back down and wait for the next round. Keep going until there are two players remaining.
Have everyone sit in a circle on a chair with you in the center. Name off something you have, have done, or can do (ie “Shuffle if: you have ever juggled, if you own a cat, have blue eyes). Those people that can give a positive answer to the question will shuffle across the circle and find an open seat of someone else that answered positively. You should have one less chair then there are people in the group, and if you found an opening quickly, there should be one person left in the center. This person then gets to pick the next topic.
Me, You, Left, Right
Have players stand in a circle and have one person stand in the middle of the circle. The person in the middle will run to people at random and say either: you, me, left or right. The person that the middle person runs to has to say the name of the person to either their left or right, their name, or the person in the middles’ name (depending on the command the middle person gave). If the person hesitates or takes longer than 3 seconds, that person has to sit. Last person standing is the next person in the middle.
Who Am I..?
The group forms a circle. One person is chosen to be the Guesser and they go into the middle of the circle. The Guesser is blindfolded or asked to keep their eyes closed. The game begins with the facilitator spinning the Guesser around in a circle. The group is asked to spin around in a circle as well, but in the other direction. When the spinning stops, the Guesser points in the direction of one of the people in the circle and says the name of an animal. That person must make the noise that that animal makes. The guesser will then try to guess who the person is by the sounds they make. Giant Gift Wrap You will need a long rope for this activity. Have the group hold onto the rope making sure that they are spaced out from each other. You can tell the group that where their hands are placed they are essentially “glued” to the rope and cannot move or slide along the rope. The challenge is then to have to group work together and maneuver the rope so that it ties in a bow (like a shoe) around an object of your choice. Let the group know that at any point if their hands might get pinched, they can move then to safety.
Start by asking the group to stand in a circle. Set a numeric goal for the group to reach (start with 10 or so). Explain to the group that once the activity begins, participants can only say a number – no side conversations or strategies! Once the leader says, “Go,” someone (whoever decides to start) in the group starts by saying, “One,” followed by someone different (whoever decides to speak next) calling out, “two,” and so on until the group reaches its goal. The challenge is that if more than one person calls out a number at the same time, the group needs to start over at the beginning. Since there is not a set order, this happens quite a lot! As a variation, you can give the group a time limit (say 10 minutes) to reach the highest possible number.
Where in the World – (group size of 5 – 20)
Explain that the area participants are standing in (indoor room or playing field) is now a map of the world. Establish what is north, south, east and west. (example “where I am standing anything to my right is considered eat of us in the world – Ottawa, Nova Scotia, England, France. Everything to the left is west – Calgary, Vancouver, Japan, and India. Everything in front of me is north – Thunder bay, Iqaluit, north pole. Everything behind me is south etc)
You are going to call out a “Where in the world” statement and they should on the “map” where it applies. Once they have moved into place ask a few people to share. Example where in the world statements are:
Where in the world were you born
Where in the world was your last vacation
Where in the world would be your dream vacation
Where in the world does your favourite book take place
Where in the world are your ancestors from
Deck of Questions – (group size of 5 – 15 recommended can divide into smaller groups if needed)
Pass out 2 – 3 cards to each participant. Based on the cards they receive have people share answers to the following questions:
A – 5 Question: What is one item that you really should throw away, but probably never will
6- 10 Question: What thought would you want to put in a fortune cookie
J- K Question: What is one thing you are afraid of, and why
Hearts Question: What is one fond memory from childhood?
Spades Question: What is one goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?
Clubs Question: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours
Diamonds Question: If you could live anywhere else in the world where would that be?
Red Suit Question: What three words describe you?
Black Suit Question: What three things do you value most in life?