Searching for icebreakers, ideas and discussion starters? In this article I've highlighted 7 simple icebreakers which you can use with your small group.
Although icebreakers seem trivial to some, they are an important tool in helping young people integrate and connect with one another in a group environment. Used wisely they can also create a good atmosphere for participation and learning. In two previous articles I've already included 20 of my favourite icebreakers for small groups.
Breaking the ice-using icebreakers in small groups
Breaking more ice-10 more icebreakers for small groups
It's probably impossible to say who first thought up these games as they are constantly adapted by every generation of youth leaders. Most came to me by word of mouth from friends and colleagues, or seeing them in action.
Divide the young people into groups of four. Each group needs paper and pens. Ask them to draw a grid on which they write their forenames. For example,
Give each team three minutes to write down as many words (three letters or more) that they can make only using the letters in their names. Letters must adjoin each other in the grid, but do not have to be in a straight line. When the time is up each team adds up their score.
3 or 4 letter words = 1 point
5 letter word = 2 points
6 letter word = 3 points
Announce, 'You've been exiled to a deserted island for a year. In addition to the essentials, you may take one piece of music, one book (which is not the Bible) and one luxury item you can carry with you i.e. not a boat to leave the island! What would you take and why?'
Allow a few minutes for the young people to draw up their list of three items, before sharing their choices with the rest of the group. As with most icebreakers and relationship building activities, it's good for the group leaders to join in too!
Ask the group to sit in a circle. Write 20 'IF' questions on cards and place them (question down) in the middle of the circle. The first person takes a card, reads it out and gives their answer, comment or explanation. The card is returned to the bottom of the pile before the next person takes their card.
A simple icebreaker to get young people talking and listening to others in the group. Keep it moving and don't play for too long. Write your own additional 'IF' questions to add to the list.
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- If I gave you $10,000, what would you spend it on?
- If you could watch your favourite movie now, what would it be?
- If you could talk to anyone in the world, who would it be?
- If you could wish one thing to come true this year, what would it be?
- If you could live in any period of history, when would it be?
- If you could change anything about yourself, what would you change?
- If you could be someone else, who would you be?
- If you could have any question answered, what would it be?
- If you could watch your favourite TV show now, what would it be?
- If you could have any kind of pet, what would you have?
- If you could do your dream job 10 years from now, what would it be?
- If you had to be allergic to something, what would it be?
- If you sat down next to Jesus on a bus, what would you talk about?
- If money and time was no object, what would you be doing right now?
- If you had one day to live over again, what day would you pick?
- If you could eat your favourite food now, what would it be?
- If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
- If you were sent to live on a space station for three months and only allowed to bring three personal items with you, what would they be?
- If you could buy a car right now, what would you buy?
FACT OR FICTION
Each young person writes down three facts about themselves, one of which is not true. They then take turns reading their list aloud and the rest of the group write down the one they think is not true. When everyone is finished (including the leaders), the first person reads his list again and identifies the lie. This simple activity is always fun, and helps the group and leaders get to know more about each other.
Ask the group to sit in a circle. Choose a number of playing cards to match the number of young people in your group. Be certain your selection contains an ace. Each young person then draws a card. They must not comment or show it to anyone else. The player who chooses the ace is the murderer and he kills his victims by winking at them!
The game begins quietly with players sitting looking at each other. When someone catches the eye of the killer and is winked at, they are killed, and can die in any manner they choose. Some prefer to die quietly with a whimper, some opt for the blood curdling scream technique, while others might fall off their seat and lie prone on the floor. The object is to identify the murderer while trying not to be killed in the process. An incorrect guess results in instant death!
WOULD YOU RATHER..?
Questions may range from silly trivia to more serious content. On the way you might find out some interesting things about your young people! Place a line of tape down the centre of the room. Ask the group to straddle the tape. When asked 'Would you rather..?’ they have to jump to the left or right as indicated by the leader. Don't forget to encourage your adult helpers to join in too! I've included 20 starter questions, just add your own and let the fun begin. Would you rather..?
- Visit the doctor or the dentist?
- Eat broccoli or carrots?
- Watch TV or listen to music?
- Own a lizard or a snake?
- Have a beach holiday or a mountain holiday?
- Be an apple or a banana?
- Be invisible or be able to read minds?
- Be hairy all over or completely bald?
- Be the most popular or the smartest person you know?
- Make headlines for saving somebody's life or winning a Nobel Prize?
- Go without television or fast food for the rest of your life?
- Have permanent diarrhoea or permanent constipation?
- Be handsome/beautiful and dumb or be ugly and really smart?
- Always be cold or always be hot?
- Not hear or not see?
- Eliminate hunger and disease or be able to bring lasting world peace?
- Be stranded on a deserted island alone or be stranded with someone you don't like?
- See the future or change the past?
- Be three inches taller or three inches shorter?
- Wrestle a lion or fight a shark?
You will need crayons or paints, markers, scissors and white card for this activity. Give each young person a piece of white card. Ask them to draw and cut out a life-sized shape of a face. They can also cut out eyes and a mouth if they wish. Each young person is then asked to decorate their card face. One side represents what they think people see/know/believe about them i.e. on the outside. The other side represents what they feel about themselves i.e. things going on the inside, what people do not necessarily know or see.
This is best used in an established group where the young people are comfortable and at ease with each other. 'Masks' is also a good discussion starter on self image and self worth.