Imagine it’s your first day with a new group of people in an unfamiliar setting. Maybe you’re the new manager at a marketing agency or a camp counselor at a summer camp for young children. Regardless, you need something to get the ball rolling.
Cue the icebreaker.
Icebreakers are short little activities that allow everyone to get better acquainted with one another and the environment, making them perfect for Team Building and Outdoor Education programs. “They are great and simple kickstarts to your day that can provide several benefits,” as noted by our Managing Director/Co-Founder Jered Cherry. Benefits include:
- Setting the tone of the day.
- Allowing participants to get more comfortable for what could be a rather challenging day.
- Letting you, as a facilitator, learn more about your group and their dynamics.
What makes for a good icebreaker to enhance a day of team building?
The point of an icebreaker is to ease any existing tension or nerves through a fun, easy activity. So, keep it simple. The activity should be rather brief and not require guidelines that are too complex. Settle on one objective for each activity and make it entertaining.
Team Building Icebreaker #1: Commonalities
Setup: Large area for the group to mingle
Objective: Find out what you have in common with the other group members
- Have the group get into pairs.
- Each pair must find three things that they have in common. These need to be specific.
- Next, have two pairs get together into a group of four, and this new group must find two things they all have in common.
- Last, have two groups of four get together, and the new group of 8 (or more) must find one thing that they all have in common.
- Have them share this thing with the large group. Encourage them to discover the most unique commonality that no one else might have.
Safety: No issues.
Example: Give them examples of things to discuss, like birthdays, siblings, vacation spots, books they have read, etc.
Team Building Icebreaker #2: High Five
Setup: Find an area large enough for your group to form into a circle. No one should be standing behind anyone.
Objective: To find commonalities between people in your group as well as understand differences.
- As the facilitator, you will be making statements that may or may not apply to members of your group. For example, “if you like sushi, step into the center, make some noise, and high five.”
- If the statement applies to any of the members of your group, instruct them to step into the center, make some noise, and high five as many people as possible.
- Once the commonality is completed, have group members step back out and form a circle again.
- The process repeats itself 10-20 times with different examples. No matter what example you choose, it is important to sound enthusiastic and excited to keep group members engaged.
Safety: The commonality circle is not a mosh pit; remind group members not to run into the center and bump into other people intentionally.
Example: If you were born in California…If you were born in a foreign country…If you play football…
Team Building Icebreaker #3: Thumb Wars
Setup: Open area
Objective: Get as many points as you can in one minute.
- With a partner, play thumb wars for one minute.
- Thumb wars requires both players to close one fist, keep your thumb pointing upwards, and then link those two hands. Wrestle thumbs until one person is able to pin the opponent’s thumb down – earning you a point. Try to get as many points as you can.
- After the first round, ask if anyone got 10 points, eight points, etc. Then ask what the objective was. The objective is to get as many points as you can in 1 minute.
- Play another round. Usually at this point someone understands that they must work cooperatively to get more points, not competitively. If they ask, just repeat that the objective is to get as many points as they can in one minute.
- After the round, ask again if anyone got 25 points, 30 points, etc. Emphasize that the people who won worked together.
Safety: Be gentle with other people’s thumbs.
Example: Just make sure everyone understands how a thumb war works.
No one enjoys feeling tense, so why subject ourselves to that? Implement these incredibly easy icebreakers into your next meeting, outing, or group setting and keep it lighthearted. With these fun and simple icebreakers, you and your team will walk away from the interaction feeling more comfortable, aware, and energized.