This is a follow up article to 'Breaking the ice-using icebreakers in small groups'. It contains games you can use with a small group in your home without feeling a tornado just came through!
Carefully prepared icebreakers can provide a positive momentum for small group Bible study and discussion. They can help new members to integrate into a group, encourage participation and cooperation, build a rapport with the group leader and help young people to feel comfortable with each other and in their surroundings.
The 10 icebreakers which follow are some of my favourites and more importantly, ones I've used successfully. They can all be used across a wide age range and you only need a few props. Many are based on common party games and adapted through generations of youth leaders. It's probably impossible to say who first thought up any of these games, but whoever you are, thanks!
WHO AM I?
Prepare a self adhesive label or post-it note for each of the young people in your group. Write on it the name of a well-known or famous person. This can be an historical character or current sportsman, musician, TV personality, celebrity etc. Have a good mix of men and women. Keeping the names hidden, stick the post-it notes on the foreheads of everyone in the group. They must then ask questions of the others to find out their identity.
Each person takes a turn to ask questions and figure out who they are. For example, Am I alive? Am I female? Am I in a band? Only yes or no questions can be asked. If the answer is no, their turn is over. If the answer is yes, they can ask another question and keep going until they get a no, or guess who they are. Keep playing until everyone has guessed, or if time is short, stop after the first few correct answers.
What am I? An alternative using animal names. For example, monkey, giraffe, crocodile, jellyfish, chicken, moose, giant anteater, dung beetle! Again questions with only yes or no answers can be asked. Do I have four legs? Can I swim? Same rules apply.
PASS THE ORANGE
Ask the young people to form a circle. Give the first young person a large orange and explain they need to pass this around the circle. No problem. BUT, it has to be passed around the circle using only chin and neck. If the orange is dropped, it must be returned to the previous player in the circle and the game restarts. A camera is a must for this game!
Divide your group into teams of 6-8. Each team forms a small circle. Ask them to extend their right hand across the circle and hold the left hand of the other team member opposite them. Then extend their left hand across the circle and hold the right hand of another group member. The task is to unravel the spider's web of interlocking arms without letting go of anyone's hands. Give them a three minute time limit to complete the task. Pressure!
Divide into pairs. Ask each pair to sit on the floor with their partner, backs together, feet out in front and arms linked. Their task is to stand up together. Once everyone has done this, two pairs join together and the group of four try to repeat the task. After they succeed, add another two and try again. Keep adding people until your whole group is trying to stand together. A sight to behold!
Before the youth meeting write out the first lines from several well known songs, but write down only one line on each piece of card. Make sure that only enough songs are used to cover the number of people present. The cards are then scattered on the floor. Once the game begins each person grabs a card and tries to find the holders of the other cards which will complete the verse or section of the song. The winning group is the first one to correctly assemble and sing their song. Tape the songs to playback later. Here are a couple of examples which show my age! Answers at the end of the article.
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide. No escape from reality.
Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see.
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy.
Because I’m easy come, easy go, a little high, little low.
I have climbed the highest mountain, I have run through the fields
Only to be with you. Only to be with you
I have run. I have crawled. I have scaled these city walls
These city walls. Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
'Volunteer' three couples to help you with this game. Give each couple three balloons. The couple must blow up and knot all their balloons. Then place two under the girl's armpits and one between the pair as they face each other. The couple then have to burst the three balloons simultaneously by hugging each other. The winning couple is the pair who burst all their balloons in the quickest time. You need to see this to believe it!
A simple party game but great fun. Make a list of 20 popular TV programmes. Divide your group into smaller teams who base themselves around the ground floor of your house! You stand somewhere in the middle. The game begins by each team sending one person to you. Show them the first TV programme on your list. They return to their team and silently act it out in front of the group. As soon as someone guesses it, that person runs to you for the next clue and repeats the process. The wining group is the one which has acted out and guessed 20 programmes.
You begin by thinking of a word and then give the first letter. The next player thinks of a word beginning with this letter and gives the second letter. The third player thinks of a word that begins with the first two letters and adds a third. The object of the game is to avoid completing a word. When a player has completed three words or failed to add a letter they can rest their brain for the remainder of the game! You might need a dictionary handy to adjudicate on some words.
ONE MINUTE PLEASE!
The aim of the game is to talk for one minute on a given subject. You announce the topic and a member of the group is randomly selected to speak for one minute. Use a pack of cards to randomly select i.e. person who draws the lowest number. Choose subjects to stimulate the imagination and which may be amusing. Put a stopwatch on each person to see how long they last before drying up! Subjects might include, My earliest memories, my favourite computer game, why beans are good for you, 10 things you can do with potatoes, Alligator wrestling, pre-millennialism (no, not really!)
A great puzzle. Divide your group into couples and give each pair two pieces of string. The girl ties one end to her right wrist and the other end to her left wrist. Her partner repeats the process, but before tying crosses his string behind his partner's string. The object of the game is to untangle the strings without breaking the string or wriggling it off the hand. A camera is a must to record the weird and wonderful positions.
The solution: Try this first and practice to make sure you can do it! Make a loop in your string. Slide it under the string tied around your partner’s wrist and over his hand.
AND THE SONGS (of course, you already got them!)
Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, U2
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