Icebreakers, Energisers and Team Building Games
Star Wars Names
Props: Nil/Name labels optional
Use this before a more active team game eg Balloon Ball and then make it a rule that people can only address each other by their Star War Names.
Your First Name:Take the First 2 letters of your last name + first 3 letters of your first name
Your Last Name: Take the First 2 letters of your Boss' (or wife/flatmate/sports coach/teacher etc) first name + first 3 letters of the city you were born in. For example Trish Tyson from from Wellington and Daniel = TyTris DaWell (Tip:if you want people to use these names then have a supply of quickstick name labels so they can wear them for the remainder of your session)
I’m Seeking Common Ground
Props: Enough chairs for all participants, minus one.
Procedure: Group sits in a circle of chairs with one person standing in the middle (no empty chairs). The person in the middle says .I seek common ground with people who were born south of Wellington! Anyone who was, including the person asking the question, must get up and run across the circle to find a new seat. You can’t take the seat of the person next to you. There will be one person left in the middle who must ask the next question. Possibilities include: people who wear glasses. Likes vanilla ice cream better than chocolate. The facilitator may ask the first few questions to get the game going and set the tone, then handover to the to player in the middle.
The Name Game
Purpose: Icebreaker/communications/team building
Procedure: Get the group in a circle. Tell everyone to get an adjective starting with the first letter of their own first name and add it to the front of their first name [Adventurous Adam]. Then, introduce yourself, and tell the person next to you to introduce you then himself/herself. Each person farther down the circle will then introduce everybody in front of them then finally, himself/ herself.
Find Your Type
Props: Sets of 3x5 cards with matching animals, enough for each person to have a card
Procedure: Get the group in a circle. Give each person a card with an animal on it. Tell them to find their mates by doing something that animal would do or by making the animal’s noise. Start them all at the same time.
Purpose: Planning, Communicating, and Teamwork
Procedure: Define a large circle by having the group join hands. Mark one spot inside the circle as 12 o.clock and another as 6 o.clock Have the group rotate in one direction, returning to the start position, in as little time as possible. After discussing strategies, the group can try to improve its previous record.
Black Knight, White Knight
Purpose: Team building and Communication
Procedure: Define a playing field appropriate for the size group. Tell everyone they are a knight. Appoint one person to be The Black Knight. Tell the knights that they can move like a knight in chess (define if necessary). Allow the white knights to move the black. If the black knight tags a white knight, the white knight becomes a black knight. Note: At the end of the game everyone will be a black knight.
Purpose: Communication and Team building
Procedure: Have the group form a circle. Have the group hold hands around the circle. Ask them to send a pulse signal through the group. Time it. Challenge the group to do it faster. Note: If you allow them several opportunities to try this, make sure you have a timer that will display hundredths of a second.
Props: Balloons (1 per group of 5)
Purpose: Teambuilding, Cooperation
Procedure: Break out large group into small groups of 4-6, and give each a balloon to inflate. In small group, join hands to and form circle. The objective is to keep the balloon off the floor by batting it, without letting go of hands. If the balloon touches the floor, the group losses its hands, meaning they can’t let their hands touch the balloon; as balloon keeps hitting the floor, they loose elbows, shoulders, heads, thighs. Facilitator may have groups "carry" balloon across an area, or just have them work in place for [X] amount of time.
Variation Balloon Game The entire group makes a huge circle and puts their arms around their neighbour’s shoulders. As the music plays, they pass balloons around the circle using their legs. Start with three or four balloons. When the music stops, the person holding the balloon is eliminated from the group. As the group gets smaller, take balloons away. Eventually there will be two people left and only one balloon
Purpose: Fun, energy-building
Procedure: This is the human-size version of scissors/paper/rock. The end zones need to be clearly defined. To begin, each team huddles and decides on which play to run- either rock, paper or scissors. Then the two teams meet in the playing area. If your team’s symbol wins, you chase the other team back into its end zone, trying to tag the team members before they get there. If your team’s symbol loses, you must dash back to your own end zone before you’re caught. Those people who get caught change to the other team. The game ends when everyone is on the same team.
Props; Index Cards
Procedure: Each person receives an index card with the title of a well-known song printed on it. You may want to use both sides of the card for two rounds of this game, but be sure to delineate the sides so on each round every one is on the same page. Everyone begins to hum or sing the tune of the song found on his/her card. The goal is for each person to find the other person(s) who are humming/singing the same song. Once the group is formed, members exchange information about themselves.
Procedure: One person comes in front of the group and performs some type of mechanical “operation” or movement. Included sound effects with the movement. The “operation” needs to have some type of beginning and end to the movement. The end of the “operation” allows for the next person to come up and perform another “operation” that feeds off of the first operations end movement, but is different in its nature. This allows for a third person to add onto the machine. Let people add on at their leisure and without directing.
Pass the Orange, Please
Props: Key or any small object
Procedure: Divide the group into two equally numbered teams. Arrange the teams so they face one another. Team members then join hands. This leaves two “free” hands on each team (the two people at the ends of each line). Give the orange to one of the “end” people on each team. The task is to pass the orange from one end to the other without unclasping the hands of the team. The orange cannot be passed or kicked along the ground. If the orange drops, it must be picked up while all hands remain clasped.
Procedure: Divide the group into smaller groups of eight to ten people. Players stand in a circle and place their hands into the centre of the circle. Join hands with two different people, neither of whom are standing next to you. A human knot is born! The goal is to untie the knot without letting go of hands. Be sure to be respectful of your neighbours! What you do may not be the best for them, so check it out before you work it out.
Clap Snap Association
Purpose: Icebreaker/Listening (like experiential mind mapping)
Procedure: Gather group in a circle sitting on the floor. Start by teaching them the clap, clap, snap, snap left, snap, snap right and repeat several times till they have the hang of it.; Then explain that we are going to free associate. At the end of the second snap to the right the first player says the first word that comes to their mind. Keep going around the circle in a clockwise fashion until you get to the end. Tell the players to shout out their words loudly so all can hear over the clapping and snapping. Use this to work on a specific challenge
Purpose: Building on each others ideas; creativity, listening well
Procedure: Gather the players in a circle. Ask one of the players to volunteer a genre of books (mystery, romance etc.) and then ask another player for a title for the book you are going to create. Have one player start telling the story and they will need to continue to tell the story until you (the leader) points to another player That player will need to pick up exactly where the other player left off (even if it’s mid sentence or mid word). Continue until all but one player has contributed and then say “and the moral of the story is” and point to the final player to finish it off
Purpose: Energiser/Icebreaker Breaks down physical barriers and social norms
Procedure: Have the group begin to wander around the room.When the leader calls out a command like three left elbows then as quick as you can, players should gather in groups of three with left elbows touching. Next do four butt cheeks, two right feet etc. End with three noses and/or four belly buttons.
Purpose: icebreaker/Get group members to quickly meet others.
Procedure: The facilitator calls out a colour of the rainbow - for example RED: Red typically is the stop/turn- off colour - so each member of the group quickly shares one thing (that they can disclose in public) that is really a turn off to them . Orange is motivation - what motivates them? Yellow is inspiration or creativity - what was the best idea they've had? Green is the money - what they plan to do for money? Blue is the sky's the limit - what is your greatest aspiration for your future? Indigo is an odd, or different colour - what is the most daring thing they ever did? Purple is the colour of royalty - if you were ruler of the universe / company for a day - what is the first thing you would do?
Props: Group/Catergory cards for each person
Procedure: Divide members into small groups using one of the following two methods:
Count participants off 1 2 3 depending on the number of groups you need. All ‘1’ s form a group, all ‘2’s from another group etc or distribute paper with colours, animal names, bird names, rock bands etc . Those with the same word form a group. Ask the groups to make a list of as many of the following as possible in, say one minute: Place names in New Zealand beginning with “W”, People’s names which are also names of occupations eg. Mason, Gardner,Cook etc. Names of rivers in New Zealand, Boys names beginning with J. Winners are the group with the most different answers, which no other group came up with. Have small prizes for the winning team e.g. sweets
Props: Music/cd player
This game can only be played in an area with plenty of space for free movement. It's like musical chairs but without the chairs. Each person is to select a partner and stand beside them. There must be an odd one out, standing by him/herself. Begin playing the music. Each time you stop the music, members must change partners (run and grab someone else)
Variation: Keep the momentum going. Call out a random numbers eg 7. The group has to form sub groups of 7. Call out 5 and the group has to reform into sub groups of 5. Increase the complexity and call out two numbers 4 and 2 where the group has to form into two groups one of four members and one of two. (Groups seem to really love this one)
As the group facilitator you can start a story with a sentence that ends in SUDDENLY. (Or choose someone from the group) For example; 'Yesterday I went to the zoo and was passing the elephant enclosure when SUDDENLY.....' The next person then has to add to the story with his own sentence that ends in SUDDENLY.
Continue the story until everyone has contributed. The story becomes more bizarre as each person adds their sentence.
Participants make a circle and the leader asks a series of incomplete sentences to each person in the group one after the other. The idea is that if there is not enough time to think too much, spontaneous and honest answers will be given. Try to have enough sentences to have at least two rounds. Examples of incomplete sentences are:
Today I feel....
The person in front of me....
I don't want....
Later I hope to....
My present fear is.....
Variation: For very large groups and where time is limited create a set of question cards for each group. You can divide pariticipants into groups, issue the cards and then remix the groups for a second round using a different set of question cards.
The Team T-shirt Relay Game
Props: Extra large one size fits all Tshirts, one TShirt for each team, optional - small prize for winning team
Purpose: Team building
Organise into your group into teams of equal size
Odd numbered teams - use these people as judges to ensure the teams play by the rules
Have the teams line up in single file.
The first person in each team puts on an extra-large T-shirt.
At a signal to start the game, the person in the T-shirt turns to the person behind him. They grasp each other’s hands and hang on tightly.
Other members in the teamthen maneuver the T-shirt off the first person, down the arms, and over the joined hands to the arms of the second person, they they pull the T-shirt onto the second person.
When the T-shirt is completely on the second person, they release their grasp of the hands of the first person, then second person turns to a third team member and tightly grasps both of his hands.
The team transfers the t-shirt from the second person to the third person, the second and third persons maintaining their grasp of each other’s hands throughout the transfer process.
The game continues until the T-shirt has transferred to every team member and the last person in the team is wearing the shirt.
If the paired team members break their grasp they have to start again
Use blank logo-free white T-shirts for the game. Then either before or after the game have the teams design their own team Tshirt by creating their own logo and slogan (using felt pens or paints). Get the Team to select the winning TShirt.
Display the T-Shirt in the team's work area
Have team members sign the back of every T-shirt (a simple metaphor for team membership/unity)
Use the T-shirts for awards during the day eg have the team select the MVP of the day, game etc.
Props: Flipchart, markers, paints
Purpose: Icebreaker, Team Building
Ask each person to draw a flag which includes symbols or pictures describing who they are, what's important to them and/or what they enjoy.
Each flag is divided into 4 or 6 segments. Each segment can contain a picture i.e. favourite emotion, favourite food, a hobby, a talent/skill, where you were born, your family etc
Give everyone 20 minutes to draw their flags.
Ask the group to share their flags and explain the meaning of what they drew.
Display the flags around the room so people can wander around during their breaks checking out the flags
Depending on the size of the team, divide into smaller groups of about 4 team members
Give each group one sheet of Flip Chart and allocate each group a section of the flag
Designate each section of the flag based on any combination of the following: Team purpose, values, vision, mission, talents, strengths, goals, customers, challenges...
Invite each group to present their flipchart flag
Tape each of the flipcharts together to form a giant team flag.
(This looks awesome when displayed in the training room)
I have found this to be an excellent activity for very large teams made up of smaller sub groups/units and project teams. In this case have each sub team create their own flag based on the same criteria but include the requirement that they must (symbolically) identify their contribution to the larger team as well.
When these flipcharts are assembled "the flag" becomes a very powerful visual of the contribution of each sub team to the larger groups mission.
Tip: Make sure you allow plenty of time for the presentation segment for this variation
Participants have to think of as many things as they can that match a particular category. Form a circle and begin a one-two rhythm (Clap-snap, or slap(legs)-clap). One person says, in rhythm, "I am thinking of ….." whatever the category is, and then says something that fits the category. On the second beat after the first person, the second person says something that fits the category, and so on around the circle. Example:
"I-am-thinking-of-kinds-of-fruits" (Clap) "Apple"
The category chosen depends on the type of group, session theme and interests of the participants. Explain that the objective of the game is to keep the category traveling around the circle as long as possible, even if the participants who get stuck or repeat are out. This way, the participant choosing the category won’t come up with an obscure one that only they know the answers to.
It's okay if saying the category items takes longer than one beat, because of multiple syllables, but participants are not allowed to pause for more than one beat between the end of the last person’s item and their item. Everyone continues this process until someone gets stuck or repeats an item. When this happens, the participants can either start over with a new category, keeping the person who got stuck in the circle, or the person who got stuck could be "out" and the same category could be repeated until there is only one person left. If everyone stays in, the leader could time the participants to see for how long they can continue.
Mouse Trap Attack
Props: 1 x spring loaded mouse traps per team, A large supply of rolled up paper balls
Purpose: Team building
Organise participants into teams of equal numbers (6 per team is ideal)
Each team has it's mouse traps cocked at one side of the room on the floor. At the other side of the room, opposite each group of mouse traps, are three attacking team members from the other teams.The attackers are armed with rolled up balls of paper.
Space members the remaining team's members (defenders) at equal distances down the length of the room.
Each team is allowed up to three defenders for their mouse traps. Defenders must sit on the floor half way between their mouse traps and the defenders. The attackers must lob the paper balls over the heads of the defenders and set off the mouse traps. Defenders can stretch up, wave their arms etc but they are not allowed to move from their spot. The winning team is the one that has the last loaded mouse trap.
Props: 50 balloons and roll of tape for each team.
Purpose: Team building
Mark a starting line and cone or marker around which contestants must race - about 30 yards away. Divide the group into small teams (4-5 in each team) Each team blows up balloons to a minimum diameter - you might want judges to approve the sizes or have a loop of string through which the balloons can not pass. The tape is wrapped around one of the team members with the sticky side out. Each balloon is stuck to this person. When all the balloons are stuck on, they must run around the course and back. Scoring system: 10 points for the first team finished, 7 for 2nd, and 3 for 3rd. 3 points for each balloon that is still on the runner at the end.
Props: Cards, pen and paper for each person or team
Create a set of cards with anagrams and display these around the room. Give each person pen and paper, or 1 set per team, with a time limit to solve the anagram.
Use general themes large cities, famous people or specific themes relevant to the session topic or the organisation. Variation: Make up anagrams of the participants' names and display as pairs on a flip chart for organsing pre-allocated partners and groups
Props: You will need as many ping pong balls as you have people.
Purpose: A method to randomly organise participants into groups.
Decide in advance how many groups you want and how many people in each group. Prepare the ping-pong balls by writing a group number on each ball. For example, if you have twelve people working in three groups of four people, write ‘1’ on four of the balls, ‘2’ on another five balls and ‘3’ on the last five balls. Throw the balls to the participants until everyone has caught or retrieved a ball. Then ask them to work with the people who have the same-numbered balls as themselves.
Variation: To create groups with different combinations of people throughout the day write the numbers in different colours or use letters with numbers,
Variation: If throwing the balls around would create too much chaos, place the numbered balls in a box, pass the box around using the lucky dip method, or invite pariticipants to "dip" for a ball when they arrive.
Two Minute Mix and Mingle
Props: Watch/timer and whistle
Especially useful when you have limited space and a large group. Ask people to pair up, introduce themselves and chat for 2 minutes with each other about whatever interests them. When 2 minutes are up, blow your whistle. When they hear your signal, everyone is to find a new partner and chat for the next 2 minutes. If you have flexibility, allow enough time for everyone to have 2 minutes with every other person. If you have time after the mixer, ask each person to give his or her name, and share something interesting they learned from someone else. You can also provide preplanned questions if you want. (Variation: Use the 2 minute mixer with the Name Tag Match Maker below)
Name Tag Match Maker
Props: 5" x 7" card for a name tag for each person, marker pens
Purpose: Icebreaker / Introductions
Name Tage Directions: Put your name in the center of your card. In the upper left corner, write four things that you like to do. In the upper right corner, write your four favorite singers or groups. In the lower left corner, write your four favorite movies.In the lower right corner, write four adjectives that describe you.
When everyone finishes, have them mingle with the group for a few minutes. Without talking, they are to read the upper left corner of the other group members' cards. When time is up, they are to find one or two people who are most like them and visit for a few minutes. When time is up, they are to mingle again reading the upper right corner of the other group members' cards. They then find the one or two people most like them and visit. Repeat with the lower left corner and lower right corner information. To make sure everyone visits with several people, you could implement a rule that no two people can be in the same group more than once.
Name Tag Variation: Participants print their name on the upper portion of the name tag and then draw three objects that represent who they are on the bottom portion of the tag. After completing the activity, participants are then asked to share their names and what they drew on the tags - or use this with the two minute mix n mingle
Beach Ball Toss
Write a range of questions all over the ball
Group the team in a circle facing each other.
Throw the ball to someone. They must answer the first question they see.
That person then throws the ball to someone else and the game continues until everyone has had a couple of turns.
When used as an introduction at the start of a session ask people to say their name and where they are from before they answer their question
Ask them to say their name and the name of the person they are throwing the ball to.
Write numbers on the ball with a corresponding numbered list of questions. Team members then choose a number, without seeing the list, and are asked to respond to the question.