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Icebreakers

Whether you’re running a youth group, working in a school or working in an adult training environment, there’s always a place for some games and activities to help people get to know each other.

Try these in your group - and help even the most shy and reserved individual to come out of their shell.

1: Human knot

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: 5-12
  • Time needed: 10-15 mins

Players stand in a circle of 5-12 people, shoulder to shoulder. They put their hands into the centre and hold the hands of TWO other people, not their immediate neighbours. The object then is for them to work as a team to untangle themselves to form one big (or a few small?) circles.

They must not let go of each others’ hands at any time, but may swivel their grip if need be. A great test of working as a team.

 

2: Skinning the snake

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: 6+
  • Time needed: 5-15 mins

Players stand in a line, one behind the other, fairly closely, with their legs apart. The line can be anything from six people long or more.

They bend down and put their LEFT hand through their own legs reaching behind. Then, using their RIGHT hand, reach through the person in front’s legs and grab their LEFT hand.

The player at the back of the line then crawls through the legs of each player in front of them, without letting go of anyone’s hands.

The player whose hand they are holding must follow them through the others’ legs, as does the next player in line… and so on. At the end, all players should be standing in one long line holding hands.

This works well in teams, seeing which can unravel itself the quickest – remember, no hands must let go.

 

3: Spider’s web

  • Equipment/props: ball of wool
  • Players: 8+
  • Time needed: 10-15 mins

Players stand or sit in a wide circle, with one player holding the end of a ball of wool. They say a little bit about themselves by way of introduction – skills, interests, music or food tastes and so on. Anyone with a similar interest etc. raises a hand and the first person throws the ball of wool to them, keeping hold of the end.

Player Two then talks about themself and more hands are raised, with the ball being passed on whilst the player holds onto the wool. This continues until a vast spider’s web of wool is formed, connecting everybody up across the circle. This helps to show how everyone in a team is connected to each other and has so much in common.

To speed things up, the ball can be passed from person to person several times for each statement – i.e., around all who raise a hand showing they share the speaker’s skill.

 

4: Group juggle

  • Equipment/props: ball
  • Players: 6+
  • Time needed: 10-15 mins

Players stand in a circle. A ball is thrown from one player to another. When this is working well, introduce a second ball… then a third.

How many can be passed around at a time without being dropped?

This is a great warm-up game and good for teamwork development.

 

5: Circle seat

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: 6+
  • Time needed: 5-10 mins

Players stand in a circle, facing clockwise around it, so they are almost touching the person in front of them. On the command, they  try to sit down slowly on the lap of the person behind them.

If they are standing closely enough, and are calm, the structure will be self-supporting. If not, it’ll be fun as they collapse on the floor!

Can they successful seated circle manage to walk slowly clockwise?

 

6: Commonalities

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: pairs
  • Time needed: 10-15 mins

Players are paired up and are given 1 minute (or so) in which to try and discover some common interest, skill or characteristic between each other.

The whistle blows, they find another partner and repeat the exercise when the second whistle blows.

After a few goes of this, sit everyone down and see how many people can recall what they have in common with each other.

 

7: True Lies

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: pairs
  • Time needed: 10-15 mins

In pairs, players tell each other three true things about each other.

Players then get into a big circle and each player introduces their partner by saying two true things about them, plus one lie that they have just made up.

Ask for a show of hands to see if the others can correctly identify which statement is the lie.

 

8: Shopping bag

  • Equipment/props: shopping bag
  • Players: 3+
  • Time needed: 5-15 mins

Players sit in a circle and a shopping bag is passed round.

When the Leader blows the whistle the player holding the bag pretends to take something from it, such as a comb. They mime the action of combing their hair and the rest of the group must guess what the article is.

 

9: The never ending story

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: 2+
  • Time needed: 5-10 mins

In pairs, you are going to create a story from scratch.

Each person may only say one word and it must follow on from the word spoken by their partner.

The idea is to have one continuous sentence or story without ever coming to a conclusion.

The person who, it can be determined, has naturally ended the sentence is the loser.

Extend this by trying the technique with small teams – or possibly even the whole group.

 

10: Two-sided arguments

  • Equipment/props: none
  • Players: pairs
  • Time needed: 5-15 mins

Two people each take an opposing side in a debate and alternate in making comments. When the whistle blows, they must swap their point of view and make opposite arguments.

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