Ice breakers are a great way to get a group of people, especially a group who does not already know one another, to work together to solve a problem. However, it can be difficult to come up with ice breakers to get your team or employees communicating, and even more so to find activities that are engaging for everyone. This is why I have compiled a list that might help you create an exercise (or series of exercises) to get the teamwork flowing and to allow your employees to have a little fun, Here are ten different team building ice breakers to get you started. Feel free to adapt them to your needs or to come up with an entirely different exercise that you think will best serve your team.
Each participant is given a pen, but the entire team is given just a single sheet of paper. The goal of the exercise is to have each participant add on to the drawing without seeing what was put onto the paper before them. Give the instructions for each team to draw, for example, a horse. The first participant hides their drawing from the rest of the team as they draw the head. They then fold the piece of paper to hide what they have drawn, leaving just enough of the bottom of their addition to allow the next participant to add on. Make sure you time each addition to keep from taking too long!
Divide your participants into small groups and give them something incredibly low in value, such as a box of paper clips. Their goal is, within the allotted amount of time, to trade up with their object as far as they can. The team with the most valuable object wins. They can only barter with what they have as their item (the box of paperclips, or the item(s) they have traded up for) and they must stick together as a group.
Give each group a stack of newspaper and scotch tape. The goal here is a simple one: the team who builds the tallest tower out of tape and newspaper, and only tape and newspaper, is the winner. The larger the team, the more communication that has to happen between members, but try to cap each group at about five people at the most. Set a timer for five to ten minutes. At the end of the allotted time, measure each tower to see which team is the winner. For an added challenge, see whose is the sturdiest by dropping them on the floor or trying to knock them down.
Given a pack of post-it notes and a pen, each team must create a story. However, each member of the team can only add one sentence to the story before they pass it along to the next member of their team. Give them a topic to get started, even if it is just an item within the room that they must incorporate into their story. The teams are given a certain amount of time in which to write their stories. The team with the longest story wins, but the team with the most interesting story is also a winner!
If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing that you would bring with you and why? This question is a common one, but this icebreaker puts a fun twist on an old classic. Once everyone has gone around and answered this question, divide participants into groups. See if they are capable of figuring out how to get off of the desert island using only the items that they have chosen to bring with them. Make sure that the group uses every item listed in their attempt to get off of the island.
Picture Scavenger Hunt
Divide your participants into teams or small groups. Give them a list of objects that they need to find around the building, company, or even the city. The scavenger hunt is completed not by bringing the items back, but rather by taking a picture with each of the objects on the list. Make sure you set a time limit for the activity so that everyone comes back for the judging. The team who collected the most images of the items on the list is the winner.
This one might get some odd looks in the beginning, but it promises to be a lot of fun! Have everyone in the room take off one of their shoes (just one) and throw them into a pile in the middle of the room. Once this is done, have everyone randomly grab a shoe – not their own – from the pile in the middle of the room. Have participants go around the room and mingle, trying to figure out whose shoe they have.
The goal of this exercise is to have a group of people figure out ten things that they all have in common with one another. The commonalities that they find cannot have anything to do with work. One person should be taking notes, and this person should be prepared to share the list with the other groups in the room. Participants might even have things on their list that another, separate group has on theirs. Make sure that you allow for a free flow of conversation and don’t attempt to structure this particular activity too much.
Two Truths and a Lie
Break participants into pairs or smaller groups. Each participant must come up with two truths about themselves and a single lie. Ideally, the truths will be so bizarre that they seem like lies, or the lie is so mundane that it seems like a truth. The other members of the group all try to guess which of the three is the lie. As with the exercise above, make sure that you allow for conversation and laughter between the groups, as they will likely ask the participant to explain some of their more bizarre truths.
Hand out markers, pens, and index cards to each participant and instruct them to make a trading card of themselves. Each individual can choose how to make their card and what they choose to put on it. They might draw a picture of their likeness, add stats, write a small blurb beneath the picture- anything goes! The fun begins when all participants are through making their cards – give about ten or fifteen minutes for the creative process. Once they are through, have them go around the room and trade cards with other participants, mingling and reading the cards that they trade for. When time is up, have each participant describe the card that they finished with and allow time for questions of the person featured on the trading card.