Category Archives: Ice Breaker Games

Three Secrets of a Super-Fun Team

secrets to a super fun team

Have you ever wondered what makes some teams great and some, well, duds? So have I. I’ve been on teams that work really well together and are downright a blast to be a part of. I’ve been on others where I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. For many people, it may be a mixture of both fun and frustrating.

In working with a number of different teams, I’ve noticed a common thread among the ones who work really well together. There are certain characteristics that make these teams click. Lack of any of them, however, can cause any number of team dysfunctions.

Super-fun teams are good at collaboration

Fun teams work well together and have an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. If you’ve ever experienced working with people you don’t trust, you know how stifling that can be. And, it just takes one person to ruin an environment of trust.

You would think trust takes a lot of time to develop. The fact is, trust can be developed very quickly and that foundation can continue to be built upon. According to Stephen Covey, there are 13 behaviors you can us to develop what he calls “the speed of trust.”

Collaboration is a by-product of a high-trust environment. You can see this in those with whom you work. You tend to work well with those you trust and avoid those you don’t. The partnerships you seek are with people you know you can trust – for obvious reasons.

As you look at your team – how would you rate your level of collaboration?

Super-fun teams exhibit effective communication

Teams and co-workers communicate all the time. But is it effective? Have you moved forward with a project, only to find out at the end, that you weren’t given all the critical details?

When your team communicates effectively, it will increase productivity and significantly effect your bottom line, as well as overall team morale. People will feel more engaged and a critical part of the process.

What is the level of effective communication within your team?

Super-fun teams know when it’s time for celebration

I’m a part of a team that loves to celebrate. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, or a new team member comes on board or leaves, we celebrate. (And, no, we’re not celebrating the fact they’re leaving but going on to new adventures!)

The celebration usually centers around food, as well as the person we are celebrating. There is eating, laughing, conversation, eating, more laughing, sometimes singing, maybe a game or two (but not always), eating, frivolity, and did I mention eating? 🙂 Usually there is a theme, and it’s based on something that the person we’re celebrating likes.

We do our best to not talk about work (for the most part we are very successful). It’s not time to check in on business, but it is time for a party. We have lots of fun and don’t worry about work.

So, you may know these things already. The question then becomes, how do we make the above a reality? One of the best ways I know of to increase all of these is through a combination of icebreakers and team building activities.

That’s why I wrote a brand new book of these kind of exercises called, 10 Super Fun Team Icebreakers and Challenges. In it, you’ll find 10 team building activities that have never been printed anywhere else.

super fun team ebook

These are activities that I’ve spent the last few months creating and designing for teams just like yours. Whether you need better collaboration, communication, or you just want a day of celebration, these exercises will help your team, all based on the superhero theme.

You can use these activities one at a time, or you can group them together for a Super-Fun team adventure. Or do a half-day event by picking and choosing a few of the challenges. You decide.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book.

Right now, you can order the book for only $10. It not only includes the activities, but also has suggestions for how to use the book, instructions for how to facilitate each activity, and also (my personal favorite) a “Deep Dive” section where you can take the activity further and dig into the challenges even more.

If you end up buying the book and do some of the activities, please let me know. I’d love to know how it goes – send pictures, email me with how it went – who knows, maybe you and your team will even be featured on the blog or my social media accounts (with your permission, of course!)

5 Quick and Easy Holiday Team Building Activities

5 quick and easy holiday team building activities

Need some team building activities for the holidays? Here are five different ones that you can use as stand-alone activities or put them together for one amazing holiday gathering.

Each activity comes with instructions, and you can even download a 4-page PDF guide of this post at the end to take with you to your holiday party or team meeting. (The PDF includes additional ideas not listed in the post.)

1. Snowflake

Also called the Paper Tear activity, this exercise shows the importance of communication and clarifying instructions. This activity can be done with smaller teams as well as large groups.

Instructions:

Hand everyone a piece of paper. Once everyone has receive a piece, instruct them that this exercise is to be done with all eyes closed and in silence (except for the rustling of the paper.) Participants are not allowed to ask questions of you, their neighbor, or make comments about the process until it is completed.

Ask everyone to close their eyes and to follow these instructions exactly:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Fold it in half again.
  3. Tear off the top right corner.
  4. Fold your paper in half length-wise.
  5. Tear off the bottom left corner.
  6. Rotate your paper.
  7. Fold it in half again.
  8. Tear off a piece from the middle

Say, “If you followed these instructions exactly, all of your papers should look the same. Open your eyes and unfold your paper.” At this point, have them compare their papers with those around them.

Debrief questions:

What was it like to follow the instructions?

How hard or easy was it to not be able to clarify?

How does this resemble communication in your organization?

What ways could this process be improved/changed?

2. Helium Peppermint Stick

This is a variation on the helium stick team building activity. One year with a student leadership group, I wrapped red electric tape around a thin, long piece of PVC pipe to make it look like a peppermint stick. Depending on your team, you can create a story to go with this activity:

Santa’s elves have lost one of their peppermint sticks. It appears they’ve accidentally dropped some of the reindeer dust on it because it has a tendency to float up. It’s fairly fragile and very light weight. Because we don’t want to break it, we’re just going to use our index fingers to touch it. In order to reverse the effects of the reindeer dust, we have to set it on the floor as a team. Everyone must be touching the peppermint stick with both index fingers, and they must remain touching it the whole time.

This activity takes a lot of communication and cooperation to complete. It’s much harder than it seems at first.

Debrief questions:

  • What worked well during this activity?
  • What was your communication strategy in the beginning?
  • How did that change over time?
  • What observations did you make during this exercise?

3. Holiday Spectrums

Spectrums is a game that I learned personally from Mark Collard of Playmeo. The game is an icebreaker that asks participants to line up on a continuum based on two choices.

Designate two end points on the spectrum you’ve created. (You can use a couple of small cones, 2 chairs, roll out a long piece of webbing or duct tape, etc.) Tell your group members you’re going to read off what the 2 ends of the spectrum represent. For example, “dog lover” at this end (and indicate which end that would be) or “cat lover” at this end (point to the opposite end of the spectrum). You can choose to move to either end or pick somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter where you go, just pick a spot that you feel represents your answer.

Possible questions/categories for this team building activity:

a. Christmas is (The holidays are) awesome! OR Bah Humbug!

b. Griswold Christmas Lights… or Never put lights up

c. Black Friday shopping… or Stay at home and avoid the crowds!

d. I love holiday traditions… or I love to try new things every year!

e. I use wrapping paper… or I use gift bags.

Get more ideas by downloading the free PDF!

f. Create your own spectrum question(s).

After each person has selected their place, ask them their reason for selecting that particular spot on the spectrum (you don’t have to ask everyone – just get a few responses.)

What can we learn from each other during this activity?

4. Deck the Halls Scavenger Hunt

Option #1

Make a list of holiday items and assign points for each item. The larger or more hard to find items should have more points attached to them.

Give each team a list of the items and a time limit to gather items (typically 1-2 hours). If teams are late, they could face disqualification. I would suggest that you have the teams stay together for this activity. You can designate the teams stay within a certain area or allow them to venture out. (Just be aware that the larger the teams, the harder it will be to stay together if they are allowed outside of a certain area.)

See sample items in the PDF (Free download)

Option #2

This is the “bigger and better” approach to a scavenger hunt. Give each team a small item (small Christmas stocking, candy cane, ornament) and ask them that their job is to go out into the community and ask for something “bigger and better” than what they currently have. The idea is for each team to trade up to the most extravagant item that they can find in a certain amount of time.

Usually you give teams an hour or two to complete the task, meet back at a certain time (or face disqualification), and reveal what each team has been able to come up with. You can select a winner based on size of item or most expensive item. You could also give out other awards such as:

  • Most creative item obtained.
  • Biggest item.
  • Weirdest object.
  • Most likely to be found in a Michael Jackson video.
  • Most likely to be found in our boss’s house.
  • Create your own fun awards!

5. Holiday Mapping (Where in the world?)

Instructions:
Imagine the floor where you are is a map of the world. The center of the map is where we are physically. I will ask a series of questions and you move to the spot on the imaginary map that represents your answer to the question. For example, if I asked “Where were you born?” go ahead and move to that spot now. For each question, don’t worry about being able to afford

Additional question ideas:
a. Where in the world would you like to spend the holidays?

b. What other country’s holiday tradition(s) would you like to learn more about?

c. If you could take a 2-week vacation during the holidays (all expenses paid) where would you go? (You could also ask what they would do there once they’ve moved to their spot.)

d. Where in the world would you like to go for the New Year’s celebration?

e. What place would you absolutely NOT want to visit during the holidays? (This could create some laughs!)

f. <Insert your creative question here.>

After each question, call on a few individuals to name the place where they are and you might ask the reason they chose that particular place.

You’ll have great fun with these activities. Don’t forget to download the PDF (FREE) that also includes ideas for the scavenger hunt items above, as well as additional ideas not listed in this post.

What activities are you planning to use? What other holiday activities do you use for team building? Let me know in the comments below!

4 Free Apps to Use for Team Icebreakers

Apps used for icebreaker exercises

Here are some free app’s that you can use to run icebreaker activities in meetings and for special events. All of these app’s are free; although, some of them offer “Pro” or paid versions that offer even more activities or icebreaker questions.

For each app, I’ll tell you a little about the app, let you know what I like about the app but also what I think could and should be improved. I tried a total of 7 app’s. One of them I couldn’t even get to open up. It kept crashing when I tried to launch it. One of them I had to connect via a social media network, answer 10 questions, and then would not let me continue to the main part of the app. I would avoid these 2 app’s like the plague.

1. Icebreakers

Icebreakers is an app specifically designed with facilitators and team builders in mind. It is obvious that it is designed for teams to use in meetings, activities, events, etc., not only for icebreakers, but also for some team building activities.

What I like about this app:

The app includes a good number (more than you might think in a free version) of activities and icebreaker games. They are divided into different categories, as well as options to select them according to group size and situations (such as Sales Meetings, Staff Meetings, Classroom, Outdoors, etc.)

I like that this app includes an explanation of what icebreakers are, their purpose, and also directions on facilitating these, as well as encouragement to debrief these upon completion.

I also like that this app includes different variations with some of the exercises, provides a degree of physical activity (low, medium, high), and also includes how long each activity should run.

What could be improved:

Many of the icebreakers in the app are really more team building activities. Not a bad thing, but the developers might think about renaming the app since quite a few of the games are beyond simple icebreaker activities.

Visually the app could use some improvements. The way the app is designed, some of the instructions are hard to read. It seems like everything is tabbed over to the right somewhat, scrunching things up.

The most annoying thing (really the only annoying thing) about this app is the ads that keep popping up that you have to close in order to use the app.

Screenshots:

App for icebreaker games       Apps to use for icebreaker games 2

Overall recommendation: Of the app’s I reviewed, I would say that this one is definitely worth getting.

Click here to get this app.

2. Let’s Talk

Although this app is not designed for the specific purpose of building teams, the questions in the app can be used as such. This app wouldn’t be the most versatile of these free app’s, but it could be a good place to start in your coworkers getting to know each other.

What I like about this app:

In the free version, there are 4 different categories (there are 9 in the paid version.) Each category has questions that you can scroll through and ask members of your team.

You can also click on a small heart at the bottom of the screen to tag questions as “favorites”. This would be helpful for a facilitator to go through these ahead of time and tag questions they would use to facilitate a group discussion.

The app allows you to go forward and backwards through the questions (not all app’s listed here allow you to go back to a previous question).

What could be improved:

The categories are limited, as are the questions that you get in the free version. Usability is ok, but this app is very simplistic in both design and functionality. Again, it’s not designed for the purpose of icebreaker games, but it is designed to stimulate discussion (whether on a date or with friends or family). That being said, it would be nice to be able to choose questions based on different categories, not just your situation (small group, date, etc.)

Screenshots:

Apps use for icebreaker activities        Apps used for icebreaker activities 2

 

Overall recommendation: Even with its limitations, this could be a good app to use to start discussion among team members. Just remember, the categories are very limited.

Click here to get this app.

3. Icebreakers – Meetings

This is another app specifically created to lead icebreaker activities for your group or team. This app is focused on different categories of icebreaker questions. There are not icebreaker activities in this one, just questions.

What I like about this app:

There are 12 different categories of icebreaker questions to choose from in this app. I like the variety of subjects that you can pick from. The categories include:

Professional Experience
Leadership
Job History
Project Experience
Television
School
Personal/Family
Change
Future
Childhood
Spare Time
Hobbies

That’s a significant number of categories for the free version. Kudos to the developers for that. Having different categories allows you to get to know a person on a deep level (say if you included the Personal/Family and Childhood category) or on a professional level, with questions pertaining to Job History and Leadership.

What could be improved:

The app only takes you through different icebreaker questions. It would be nice for other icebreaker games to be included in this app, if only a limited number in the free version.

Icebreakers are more than just questions. You can learn all kinds of things about people by having fun and doing different kinds of activities beyond just asking questions.

The questions also seem to repeat themselves quite often within each category, regardless of which category you choose. Not sure if more questions need to be added, or the way that the app selects the questions need to be modified.

Overall Recommendation:

If you are merely looking for icebreaker questions, this app is great. If you are looking for more than just icebreaker questions, you might want to keep looking.

Click here to get this app.

4. Wealthy Walrus

This app is another one that’s not designed specifically for icebreaker games, but you could certainly use this to get to know your team mates better.

What I like about this app:

I like the creative premise behind the app:

A wealthy walrus has plenty of money to give out, but you must do certain things in order to earn that amount.

For example,

For $14 million,

“Would you press a button that blows up an uninhabited planet outside of our solar system?”

You then answer Yes or No, and it shows you the percentage of people that have chosen each answer. Some are quite surprising!

What could be improved:

Again, it’s not made specifically for the purpose that we are talking about; however, there are a limited number of questions, and every so often, a pop-up displays asking you to buy more questions (which several additional question packages are available for $0.99 each)

Overall recommendation:

This would be a great app for a creative way to get to know your group. It is pretty limited in its scope, but you can also upgrade to expand the questions. For a simple icebreaker game, though, the free version would be just fine.

Click here to get this app.

All in all, these are a few apps that you could use as icebreakers for your team. My top pick is the first one, simply called Icebreakers. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there are very few apps to choose from in this subject area. It might just be time to create one! 🙂

What apps have you used to foster discussion in your group? What other recommendations do you have for apps to use for icebreakers?

[photo credit Nicola via Flickr]

5 Quick and Easy Icebreaker Games You Can Do with 1 Piece of Webbing

webbing for team building activities

Here are a few icebreaker games you can do with a short piece of 1″ Tubular Webbing. You’ll need one piece of webbing about 15 feet long for each of these activities. If you only have one group (up to 10 or 12 people), you can use the same piece of webbing for each one. If you will be facilitating these icebreaker games for more than one group at a time, then you will need one length of webbing per group.

You can find tubular webbing online, or at local outdoor stores, such as REI. It comes in several different colors, and you want to get webbing that is an inch wide.If you don’t have a local outdoor store near you, you might also find webbing at horse tack shops and/or military surplus stores.

Use these for individual exercises, or group them together for a unique team building experience. I would also recommend using some creative debriefing exercises following each activity if you’re doing more than one.

1. Webbing House

For this icebreaker activity, you will need your length of webbing, and you will also need to print out the following image on a piece of paper:

webbing icebreaker game

The object of this activity is to make the webbing look like the picture. There are 3 levels that a person can enter into (don’t let the participant know what “level” they’ve achieved until after completing it one time.)

Level 1 – The webbing crosses over itself in at least 1 place.

Level 2 – The webbing does not cross over itself at all, but the ends do not touch.

Level 3 – No webbing crosses over itself and the loose ends meet.

After an individual or team has attempted the activity once, let them know what level they entered at, and see if they can “level up” from there. At this point, you can let them know what it takes to get to the next level.

(*Facilitator’s note. I learned this activity from Mark Collard, formerly of Project Adventure. As far as he knows, no one has ever achieved Level 3; however, do not let participants know this. When you debrief with them, you can talk about adventure. Part of adventure is experimenting with what is possible. Would you try something if you knew it wasn’t even possible?)

2. Where ya from/Where ya been?

This activity also uses a circular piece of webbing. The goal of this activity is for each person in the group to:

1.) Share where they are from or a place they have been to recently.

2.) Create a shape with the webbing that represents the place they have described and then share what about that place makes it important to them.

It’s a simple activity, but it’s a great way to get to know your group better. We all have significant places in our history – it’s part of our story. This game allows people to share that part of their story with others.

3. Twice around the block.

This fun icebreaker game helps people introduce themselves in a non-threatening way. You’ll need a piece of webbing for every 5-6 people. The webbing should be made into a circle using a water knot.

The person closest to the knot goes first and lets go of the webbing. As she begins to introduce herself, the rest of the group starts sliding the webbing through their hands so that the knot moves around the circle.

Once the knot goes twice around the circle and ends up back at the person talking, that person’s turn is over, and it moves to the next individual.

If the story is interesting, people can slow the rotation down to hear more about the speaker. If they would like the person’s time to end, they can speed it up! Often, teams will speed up the knot passing, laugh, and then slow it down to let each person have ample time to speak.

4. That’s a Wrap!

Each person takes turn telling a story about themselves. The participant chooses the story and as they talk they begin to wrap the webbing around their index finger. The story ends when all of the webbing is wrapped around the finger.

The person who told the story must unwind the webbing by holding on to the loose outside end, and flinging it through their legs backward. Just don’t hit anyone in the process! 🙂

5. Spectrums.

This is a great get-to-know-you activity where people answer questions based upon where they fall along a given spectrum. For instance: Cat lover or dog lover? Chocolate or vanilla? etc.

Make sure there are no knots or kinks in the webbing and lay the piece of webbing along the ground in a straight line. Also, be sure there is ample room on either end of the webbing, in case more space is needed.

You will ask the group certain questions, and each person will need to position himself or herself along the line according to how they answer each question.

For each spectrum chosen, let your group know which end corresponds to what answer. Participants can line up anywhere along the spectrum. For example, if you say one end represents “Chocolate” and one end represents “Vanilla”, people can choose one end or the other, or anywhere in between.

Ask for some people to share why they chose that specific place along the spectrum. Be creative, and use as many questions as you want. What ways would you like to get to know your team?

What other ways can you use webbing for an icebreaker game? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, and if you decide to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you.  Please know that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something but because they are helpful and useful, .  Please only spend money on these products if you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your or your team’s goals.

[caption photo courtesy DaveOlsen, Flickr]

 

How to Use Team Building Activities in the Classroom

team building activities for students

This week’s post is dedicated to teachers everywhere. You are a hard-working bunch, and I admire what you do and the dedication you bring day in and day out. I have a lot of gratitude and respect for educators. I consider myself an educator; although, not in the traditional sense.

Here are some suggestions on how to use different kinds of team building exercises in the classroom. I’ll also include some specific names and ideas of activities you can use, as well as some links where you can go to find more detailed instructions.

Most team building activities are designed to be done in smaller groups (10-12), but there are always ways to modify them. I would encourage if at all possible to do these outside. Allow your students a chance to take a break from the classroom and enjoy a change of scenery.

Set Your Goals

Before doing any kind of team building activity, I always recommend setting goals. This will help you be very focused and intentional about the activity and its purpose. Questions to ask when settings goals for these exercises should include:

  • What is the purpose of this activity?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What do you want the end result to be?
  • How will your team (or class) be different when they’re done?

It’s important to be intentional about these activities from the beginning. Although you can do activities just for fun, I find that the more purposeful you are, the better the activity will go, the more the students will get out of it, and the more effective they will be in the long run. It does take a bit more time on the front and back end (because you also want to make sure you debrief the activities, including icebreaker activities [link]).

Icebreakers

Icebreakers are great activities to use for your classroom. There are all kinds of icebreaker exercises that you can use. They are good for having your students get to know each other (and you) better. They are fun and high energy, so be aware that they might get your students engaged but some will also be loud and spirited.

Depending on your goals, there are different categories of icebreakers that you can use. There are problem-solving icebreakers, get to know you games, and more. Check out a few problem-solving activities here. [link]

Icebreaker Ideas
Group Juggle 

Groups of students form circles of 12-15 each and attempt to toss a number of objects around the circle without dropping them.  There are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Say the name of the person you are tossing to before tossing
  • Toss across the circle (don’t just hand it to someone next to you)
  • Underhand tosses only
  • Everyone gets it once, except the person who started.  The game starts and ends with him/her.

Name Samurai

Using a foam sword, students sit in a circle with legs extended. The “samurai” stands in the middle trying to tag the people speaking. Someone in the circle starts by saying their name and then “to [another person’s name], so it would sound like, “Jeff to Amy”, “Amy to Molly”, “Molly to Braden”, etc. The player who gets tagged while speaking then becomes the Samurai. Great activity for learning names!

Man – Gun – Bear

Think the full-body version of rock-paper-scissors. Divide the group into pairs (perfect for a large group). The pairs start back to back and after the facilitator counts to 3, they jump around assuming one of the 3 characters (man, gun or bear). Karate man beats the gun-slinger, gun-slinger beats the bear, and the bear beats the karate man, and if you tie, both die! Play until there’s one winner.

Team Initiatives

Team initiatives are great for getting groups of students working together to achieve a common goal. You can focus on leadership, communication, problem solving, and more. These challenges can vary from short 10-15 minutes problems or longer (30-45 minutes or more) exercises that require some planning.

Marshmallows & Knives

Using the large marshmallows and knives (like you would find in your school cafeteria), teams must figure out a way to keep the knives off the table using only the materials given (just those 2 items). This is another great problem-solving and brainstorming challenge!

Tallest Tower

Using strands of dry spaghetti, small marshmallow, and a roll of tape, teams must create the tallest free-standing tower possible in 10 minutes. For an extra challenge, give all the teams less time. {You can also do this with a roll of aluminum foil and see how high they can go).

Hula Hoop Hut Relay

Teams use 6 hula hoops to create a “hut” and then all team members must pass through the hoops without letting the hut fall down. Want to make it more challenging? Require each team member to start through a different opening or have the team member passing through be blindfolded!

team building exercises for students

 

(photo courtesty of Flickr, Create-Learning, no changes made)

Helium stick

Teams figure out how to lower a lightweight dowel rod with just their forefingers. The crazy thing is – it wants to go up instead of down! Great for communication and leadership!

Icebreaker and Team Building Resources

Teampedia is a collection of team building activities and icebreaker ideas.  It’s a great collection that is searchable by activity name and category.  You can also add team building activities here if you know one that’s not in the database.

www.teampedia.net 

Playmeo is also a collection of team building activities, icebreakers, group games, and more.  The difference is that many of the activities also have a video to accompany them, and they also offer a monthly or yearly subscription that allows you to access ALL of their activities, videos, and awesomeness!

www.playmeo.com (affiliate link)

 

What team building activity will you use with your students?  What other team building activities have you used?  Let me know in the comments below. 

How to Choose the Best Team Building Activities, Part 1

High ropes course team building

You have a team retreat or event coming up and need to choose a few team building activities to get your group excited and working well together so you can be uber-productive during the retreat. The best team building exercises build on each other so that your team can accelerate its performance not only during the event but also in the weeks and years to come.

How do you choose which activities to run? Here are a few suggestions on choosing team building activities. We will discuss the different types of team building activities you will encounter (in this post) as well as how to choose the best ones for your team, and what resources are available online to help you.  

First, you need to understand the different kinds of activities that fall under the team building umbrella:

Icebreakers

Icebreaker games accomplish what their name suggests. They help people feel more comfortable with each other and start breaking down walls. These activities are great if you have new team members or if your members are not that familiar with each other.

These serve as “get to know you” type activities and can be used not only in the beginning of a retreat, but they are great to sprinkle throughout the retreat as warm-ups to more intense activities.

Group Team Building Activities & Initiatives

These activities come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From exercises that are more indoor problem- solving challenges and survival simulations to the more active and outdoors, these activities use different elements to get your team working together, communicating more effectively, and can really provide an eye-opening glimpse into how your people actually work together.

For the well-trained facilitator, these events can show the leader how to proceed with the group and also what activities the group needs next (or more of).

Low Ropes Challenges

Depending on where you do your corporate retreat, these may or may not be feasible for your group. Most of the low ropes activities are designed to be facilitated by a trained instructor (someone who knows the in’s and out’s of this type of event) and are run on a specific course.

These include the spider web, junk yard, wobbly woozy, the black hole, and many more. These events usually take longer and you’ll need at least 1/2 a day to make these worth your while.  Though there are some portable elements, many of these are set up as a stationary course that can be worked through as a group.  There is no specific order, but varies upon the team and the group’s goals.  

High Ropes Course

A ropes course requires a trained facilitator; however, if you have the time (at least a half day, but a full day is recommended) it can be a good investment for your team. The types of activities a group would encounter on a high ropes course include the incline log, multi-vine traverse, trapeze jump, and a host of others.

These are some of the most intense (physically and emotionally) exercises a team and individuals can experience, but they are definitely worth the time and expense if a company is willing to invest in them.

Transformational Leadership Exercises

Transformation leadership exercises can be quite intense and can provide a team (or an individual) with some of the most incredible breakthrough’s and “a-ha” moments of any activity listed here. These events are mostly held indoors (but are also often paired with outside challenges).

These also require a facilitator familiar not only with how to set up and perform the activities, but also someone that is familiar with how to process the events afterwards.  For this type of group bonding activity, the debrief process is just as important (if not more so) than the actual activities.  

These exercises are not for the faint of heart. They are usually done on multi-day events where a team needs or wants to dig into specific issues that are holding a team back from being effective.

Depending on the group’s goals and the amount of time you want to spend on them, any of these activities can help launch a team to the next level. Set your goals before your next corporate gathering, and use the activities that will help you achieve your goals whether they are more of the fun, get-to-know-you games or the more intense transformational leadership exercises.

To continue reading part 2, click here.

What are your favorite team building activities?  What team building activity resources do you use?  Talk to me, Goose!  Use the comments below. 

10 Fun Icebreaker Games for Your Team

Here are 10 icebreaker activities you can use with your team.  They all have fairly detailed instructions, but if you need more help, please feel free to contact me here or leave me a voice mail (click the button on the right-hand side of the browser).  I would be glad to answer any questions about any of these activities.  

These icebreaker games can be used by themselves, at a retreat, or you can use them as part of a larger team building event.  I have divided them into three categories:

1. No-Prop Icebreakers

2. Get-to-know-You Icebreakers

3. Problem-Solving Activities

The Purpose of Icebreaker Games

Icebreaker activities are used to “break the ice” and have people begin to interact and get to know each other or help increase team spirit.  They are not meant to be heavy or intense mental or physical exercises (although there is a time and place for those).  

These are meant to be fun and lively to get the group engaged and begin to break down barriers in team issues, such as trust and communication. You won’t solve major problems with these games, but you will begin to break down some walls.

No-prop Icebreakers

1.) Numbered Groups

This is a great activity for dividing groups into a certain number.  If you want people to get in groups of 4, for example, use this game to get them there (but not right away).

Instructions:

Tell the group that, in a moment, you’re going to call out a number, and when you do, they are to get into groups with others, in that exact number.  If there are any remaining, then they will be “out”.  So everyone must do their best to get into these groupings as quickly as possible.

Game time!

Do a couple of practice rounds to get people used to how the activity will go.  Use a variety of large and small numbers (this will depend on your group size as well).  During the practice, people won’t be “out” but remind them that once you start, if they are left out, they will be out.  

Go through several rounds, weeding out people as you go.  You can go until there’s just 2-3 people left and then start over.  When you’re ready to get the groups into their final groups, call out the number you need.  You might have to rearrange some groups at this point, but it’s a fun way to get them there (way more fun than just having them count off 1, 2, 3, etc.)

2.) Man – Gun  – Bear

This game is a full-body version of rock-paper-scissors.  It’s a fun icebreaker game for your team and gets everyone engaged.

Instructions:

Players start out back-to-back.  When the facilitator counts to 3, the players jump around to face each other and pick one of the following choices:

a. Man – This is a man in a karate pose, and as the player turns around, they yell, “Hi-yah!”

b. Gun – Get out your shotgun and yell “ka-boom” as you turn around and face your opponent.

c. Bear – Let out your most ferocious “Grrr!” as you turn around and pose like a bear.

The way this works is the man beats the gun (chops or kicks it out of their oppenent’s hand).

The gun beats the bear.

The bear beats the karate man.

And if you tie, both die.

 Before you start the game, make sure all of the players know the rules and who beats who.  You can say it in chant, and get all of your team to say it with you.  Repeat it a few times to let it sink in.  Then, do two or three practice rounds and let your team figure out their strategy.

Game time!

Once the practice rounds are over, start the game.  The game continues until there are 2 opponents left and there is either one winner, or if the last 2 tie, they both die, and you can start the game over.

 

3.) Massage Line

The purpose of this exercise is to get your team loosened up and more comfortable with each other. I typically use this in a multi-day event as an early-morning wake-up and to start breaking down walls for the challenges to come.

Instructions:  

Have the team stand in one long line, everyone facing the same way and get close enough to reach the shoulders of the person in front of you.

Game time!

Take the team through rubbing the shoulders of the person in front of them.  Start with a good massage rub, have them do some karate chops, some fist pounding (always keeping it non-violent!), scratching and light rubbing in the end.  Make sure they also keep it above the person’s equator!

When you have finished the first round, you can say something like, “In almost every major philosophy or religion, there is a saying that talks about sowing and reaping. And it goes something like this, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’”  Have the team about-face and repeat the process to the person that was behind them and is now in front of them.

Get-to-Know-You Icebreaker Activities

4.) Human trains

In this game, you need enough chairs for everyone on your team.  The object of this icebreaker is to get to know the other people in your group.

Potential questions:

a.) What is something unique about you?

b.) What was/is your favorite subject in school?

c.) What is something unique that is in your dorm room (office)?

d.)  If you weren’t working at your current job, what would be your dream job?

e.)  What has been your favorite vacation spot?

f.)  Where would you like to go on vacation that you haven’t visited?

g.)  Who has been your favorite teacher and why?

Instructions:

There is a little bit of setup for this activity.  You need 2 rows of chairs that are side-by-side.  One row faces one way and the other row faces the other way so that people should be sitting side-by-side facing opposite directions (and they should have a teammate in front of and behind them unless they are either first or last).

Only one row of people will move, the other row stays put.  The row that doesn’t move will be the questioners.  The other row will answer the questions.  Each questioner gets an envelope that has strips of paper with the questions above on them.

Play the Game!

The questioner has 2-3 minutes (decide on a specific amount of time) to ask questions and asks as many questions as possible in the time allotted.  Once the time is over, everyone stops and the row that answered the questions moves forward (the person in the front will go to the very back of the chair line).  [Find an illustration for the chairs.]

After the game is over, have people volunteer unique answers that either they or their team mates discovered during the activity.

 

5.) The Name-Action Game

In this icebreaker game, the goal is to learn everyone’s names.  This is done by pairing an action with each person’s name and then repeating it until everyone has introduced themselves.

 Instructions:

Have the team get in a circle and spread out enough to where everyone can move a bit and won’t be crowded.

 Play the Game!

The first person introduces herself, and then picks some kind of motion to represent her.  For example, Sally says, “Hi, I’m Sally” and then does a ballet twirl.  Everyone responds, “Hi Sally”, and then everyone does the ballet twirl. After the second person goes, the group says their name, does the action, and then repeats the first person’s name and action.  This continues until all team members have introduced themselves.

6.) Name Samurai

This game is a good game to get to know people’s names.  The object of the game is to keep from being hit by the person in the middle and becoming “it”.

 Instructions:

Have everyone sit in a circle with feet straight out.  Leave enough room for a person in the middle to move around a bit (but not too much).  Then, have everyone go around the circle and introduce themselves.  Feel free to have them say their name and favorite movie, color, etc.

There will be one person in the middle, and one person who starts the game who is in the circle.  To start the game, the designated person in the circle says their name and then someone else’s name (also in the circle, i.e. ‘Bob to Mary'”).  Then the next person says their name and someone else’s name.  This continues until someone is hit by the Name Samurai.

 Play the Game!

The person in the middle, The Name Samurai, will be given a foam pool noodle and will try to hit the feet of the person who is speaking.  If the Name Samurai succeeds, the person who got hit becomes it, and the person who was it takes their place in the circle. 

Have your team play a few rounds until you feel the team knows everyone’s name.

Problem-solving Icebreaker Activities

7.) Rope handcuffs

This is one of the problem-solving icebreaker activities I’ve used with teens and adults alike.  It can be used to show how “independent” we get and not ask for help if we need it. The object of the game is to remove the rope handcuffs without actually taking them off.  There is a way to do it; although, it is quite amusing to see people try to figure out how to do it!

 Instructions:  For this icebreaker, you need to get some p-cord and make enough rope handcuffs where you have one per player.  The handcuffs are made by tying off a loop at both end of the p-cord (big enough for hands to go through).  You also need to leave at least 12 – 18” between the loops to give each play enough room to maneuver to get the handcuffs off.

Watch this video to see how to setup and play the game, and the secret for removing the rope.

 

8.) Human Knot

This icebreaker activity is a good one to get people starting to touch and get close.  If you have a group that is not familiar with each other, I would not necessarily start with this one.  The object of this activity is to get the group untangled from the knot that you are about to put them in.  (Sometimes, you may end up with 2 different circles, and that’s ok).

Instructions:  

Have your team stand in a circle and then move in to where they can reacch out and grab someone else’s hand. The rules are that they can’t grab both hands of the same person nor can the grab the hand of someone right next to them (it’s better to reach across the circle.)

Play the game:

Once the team has formed the circle and grabbed hands with 2 different people, their job is to get themselves untangled without letting go of any hands.  (Safety note:  If it looks like it might be virtually impossible for somone to get untangled without ripping off a limb or serious injury, give a couple of free passes to let go of hands breifly to avoid injury.)

The activity is over once the group has successfully become untangled.

9.) Group Juggle

If you need one of your icebreaker activities to help a group learn names, this is a great one! The goal of this exercise is to juggle multiple objects around the group without dropping them.

Even though this is an icebreaker, you can use this to talk about goal-setting and problem-solving as well.

Instructions:

Have the group stand in a circle.  The first task of the group is to set the order that they will juggle.  Pick one object that is fairly easy to throw.  Hand it to one of the team members and tell them that they are about to set the order that they will toss the object and this order will remain the same throughout the rest of the game (this is very important).  Here are the rules:

a.  You must toss the object underhand.

b.  You must say the name of the person before you toss it (safety).

c. You cannot hand it or toss it to someone right next to you (tell them it’s better if they toss it across the circle).

d. Everyone gets it one time except for the person it starts with and once everyone else has gotten it one time, the object comes back to the starting place.

e.  If you do not know someone’s name, you may ask, but you must say the name before you throw the object.

f.  You may not switch positions with anyone in the circle or move from your place.

Play the game!

Have the group now set the order, making sure they follow all the rules.  Once the order is set, see if they can get the object all the way around the circle without dropping it.  Have them do this 1 -2 more times without dropping it.  Then tell the group that you want them to do it again and say, “No matter what happens, keep going.”  At this point have the first person start tossing the first object.  Once it gets 2-3 people along, introduce a second object, then a 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

The game gets fun and crazy at this point!  Once they have finished tossing all the objects around the circle, ask them about their experience.  Now, have the group set a goal to see how many objects they can get all the way around the circle without dropping any of them.  [The group can also set a goal to give themselves some leeway.  For example, the group would set a goal of getting 5 objects around the tossing order with 2 drops.]  Most groups will challenge themselves to get all the objects around the group without dropping any.  If they do not and are successful at their goal, challenge them to make a harder goal and go for it!

10.) Warp Speed

The object of this game is to see how quickly team members can pass an object from person to person.  I often go into this icebreaker activity from Group Juggle (above) and have them keep their same order.

 Instructions:

Keeping the same tossing order from the Group Juggle, have your group pick one of the objects that they want to use for this activity.  Tell them the object of the game.

Rules:  The object must touch everyone in the group and the tossing order must remain the same.  Those are now the only 2 rules.

Play the game!

Have a stopwatch or phone ready to time the group.  This can get very fast!  Tell the group when to start and have them yell out when they are done so you know when to stop the clock.  Continue to challenge them until they think they’ve gotten the best time possible, and then challenge them some more!

I’ve had groups complete the task in under 2 seconds, so make sure you have a stopwatch and a quick trigger finger.  Continue to challenge the group to get better and better.  (You can even tell them you’ve heard of groups who have done it in less than 2 seconds to get the competitive juices flowing).

Debriefing Icebreaker Activities

I typically debrief most activities, including some of these listed above. Every moment is a moment that we can learn something about ourselves or others.  Stopping to reflect takes just a few minutes, but can pay off in dividends down the road.

Here are six quick questions you can use to debrief icebreaker games:

1.)  What worked?

2.)  What didn’t work?

3.)  What would you do differently if you were to repeat this activity?

4.) What did you learn about each other?

5.) What did you learn about yourself?

6.) How can you apply what you’ve learned to your work, school, life, etc.?

What other team building activities have you used with your group?  What are your favorites?  Let me know in the comments below!

Image credit: anpet2000 / 123RF Stock Photo