Beginning a class or group session with an ice breaker is an effective way to energize and engage children, helping them feel more comfortable and confident in social situations.
Whether it’s for a middle school or high school classroom, a summer camp, a party, or any gathering involving kids, incorporating icebreakers can foster friendships, encourage teamwork, and facilitate meaningful connections.
In this article, we will discuss 20 exciting icebreakers suitable for various age groups, ensuring that children have a blast while breaking the ice, building camaraderie, and developing social skills.
We’ve separated our icebreakers for kids into three categories, so you can decide which kind of icebreaker activity works best for your group.
- Classic Ice Breaker Games for Kids
- Ice Breaker Games to Get Kids Moving
- Unique Ice Breaker Games for Kids
Table of Contents
Classic Ice Breaker Games for Kids
These classic icebreaker games for kids never fail to grab kids’ attention. You might have even played some of these icebreaker games as a child yourself, but the following icebreakers are classics for a reason. They create a sense of excitement and get kids talking, and these games can be adapted for older kids or younger students, too.
- Simon Says
Simon Says is a classic game that requires kids to follow the instructions given by the “leader” only when preceding the instruction with “Simon Says.” Younger students in particular love this game, but you can make it more competitive with older students. If someone follows an instruction without the leader using the phrase “Simon Says,” they can be out of the game.
This game enhances listening skills and concentration, creating a fun atmosphere with minimal preparation involved, too.
- Two Truths and a Lie
In this activity, kids take turns sharing three statements about themselves, with two being true and one being false. The others then guess which one is the lie, helping children learn more about each other and strengthening communication.
- Guess Who I Am
Each child writes down the name of a famous character or person on a sticky note and attaches it to their teammate’s forehead. The kids then ask yes-or-no questions to figure out who they are, fostering communication and critical thinking.
This game is always a hit with elementary students and high school students, but it can also be adapted for kindergarten students. You can prompt students to use cartoon characters or animals to help them enjoy the game.
- Would You Rather
Pose various hypothetical scenarios and ask each child to choose between two options. Participants take turns explaining their choices, promoting critical thinking, reasoning, and discussion.
Once students understand the game, you can put them into small groups and have different students create the scenarios instead, asking other members of their group to choose their preferred option. This is a fun way for kids to get to know each other and creates some conversation starters.
Charades is a classic party game, and can be used as a fun ice breaker game that gets the entire class involved.
One person will stand at the front of the room and silently act out a famous TV show, movie or book, but you can include other categories, too. Students must guess what the person is acting out, and the student who guesses correctly can be next to perform.
You can even have students write ideas on paper and then one student must choose a piece of paper from a bag, and then act out that idea instead. You can adapt Charades in many ways!
- What’s Missing?
This fun memory game is a classic icebreaker for kids, and a great way to get kids thinking.
The game begins with one person placing various objects on a tray, and the kids must memorize the objects on the tray for a short time. Then, you can remove objects one by one when the kids close their eyes. Students have to guess what is missing. If you want to add an element of competition to the game, you can award a point to the fastest student to guess the missing object.
Ice Breaker Games to Get Kids Moving
Getting students moving and participating in active icebreaker games helps to ease any tension or awkwardness there may be at the beginning of a new school year or youth group. We’ve chosen the best icebreaker games that promote physical activity whilst being fun and engaging for kids of different ages.
- Human Knot
Children form a circle and reach out to hold hands with two different people across the circle, creating a “human knot.” They then have to find a way to untangle themselves, encouraging communication, cooperation, and problem-solving.
- Freeze Dance
Play upbeat music and encourage kids to dance. When the music stops, they have to freeze in whatever position they are in. The last person to freeze is out. This game provides a fun way to encourage physical activity, listening skills, and quick reflexes.
Kids from any age group seem to love this game, and it gets the entire class engaged and moving, whilst having to look a bit silly at the same time. This helps to break the ice and provide some laughter to the classroom.
- Balloon Pop
Write various questions on small pieces of paper and insert them into balloons. Inflate the balloons and have the kids take turns popping them by sitting on them or using their hands. The child must answer the question inside before moving on to the next round, promoting conversation and interaction.
- Animal Charades
This is a variation on the classic Charades game and works particularly well for kindergarten students.
Write down the names of animals on pieces of paper and have participants act out the animal silently while others try to guess. This game boosts confidence, creativity, and encourages teamwork, whilst also testing students’ animal knowledge!
- Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
In groups, challenge kids to find objects or items starting with every letter of the alphabet within a given timeframe. This game can also be adapted for online learning, as students can find objects around their home.
This activity promotes observation skills, teamwork, and quick thinking.
- Group Juggle
Children stand in a circle and toss a soft object, like a beanbag, to one another randomly. Once someone catches it, they call out the name of someone else to whom they will throw it next.
This game may sound simple, but students quickly learn that their listening skills need to be top-notch to stand a chance at playing this fun icebreaker. The Group Juggle helps to build teamwork, and cooperation and enhances reflexes.
- Pass the Hula Hoop
Ask kids to form a circle while holding hands. They then have to pass a hula hoop from one side to the other without breaking the chain!
This icebreaker tests students’ ability to think outside of the box, whilst working together to achieve a shared goal. It helps to build team spirit and encourages children to share their opinions with the group, helping them to come out of their shell.
- Musical Chairs
Of all of the kids’ icebreaker games, musical chairs is one that’s guaranteed to get all the kids up and moving.
Each child sits in a chair to begin the game. Choose a fun selection of songs and encourage kids to dance when the music starts, showing off their best dance moves. As the music plays, take away a chair. When the music stops, kids have to sit down as fast as they can, and the last person standing is out of the game.
Unique Ice Breaker Games for Kids
Ice breakers for kids don’t always need to be traditional, and there are many unique ice breakers you can use to get kids thinking and communicating with each other.
Let’s take a look at some of the most original and fun ice breaker games for kids.
- Emoji Storytelling
Divide kids into pairs or groups and give each group a set of emoji cards. Participants use the emojis to create their own unique story, promoting creativity, communication, and teamwork.
This game can really help students to explore their storytelling ability, helping them to make new friends and share their creative side with one another. Students should be encouraged to present their story after an assigned time, or you can have students complete a “gallery walk,” in which they walk around the room reading each other’s stories and writing a positive comment next to each one.
- Memory Match
Create pairs of picture cards, shuffle them, and lay them face down. Children take turns flipping two cards to create matches, enhancing memory skills and encouraging friendly competition.
- Personal Timeline
In this icebreaker, kids create a personal timeline by drawing significant events from their lives, such as birthdays, vacations, or achievements. Students draw objects that represent these events to help decorate their personal timelines. Kids can also include things that they love in their timelines, such as their favorite sport, favorite animal or favorite food.
Encourage kids to share their timelines, helping others understand each person’s backgrounds and interests. This is a good opportunity for students to listen to each other and ensures that kids feel more connected to each other, opening the door for new friendships to blossom.
- Marshmallow Tower
Divide children into small groups, providing each with a bag of marshmallows and toothpicks. In a limited amount of time, the groups must construct the tallest tower using only marshmallows and toothpicks.
This activity promotes teamwork, problem-solving, and engineering skills.
- Name Bingo
Create personalized bingo cards for each child with names instead of numbers. Participants have to find the corresponding person for each name, encouraging social interaction and forming connections.
This ice breaker game really gets kids talking, encouraging students to interact with other kids and make new friends. It might seem daunting for some children, especially if they’re particularly shy, but it can be a great icebreaker game to get students out of their comfort zones early on in the school year.
- Pictionary Relay
Divide children into teams and provide each team with a whiteboard, markers, and a set of cards with simple drawings or words. One player from each team draws a card and must convey the word or phrase to their teammates through drawing, without speaking.
This activity enhances communication, teamwork, and creativity.
- Story Starters
Provide each child with a small piece of paper, and ask them to write the beginning line of a story. The papers are then collected, shuffled, and redistributed, allowing everyone to continue someone else’s story. You can adapt this game to include prompts, so that each new person must write about something in particular, such as the middle of the story or a twist ending.
This activity encourages imagination, creativity, and collaboration, and students love to listen to each other’s crazy stories at the end of the game!
- Rainbow Hunt
Hide colorful objects or cards around a designated area, and provide kids with color-coded lists.
Children have to search for items corresponding to each color on their lists, fostering observation skills, focus, and teamwork. Of all of the icebreaker games for kids, Rainbow Hunt is always a popular choice, and students enjoy an opportunity to be challenged in a fun way.
- Building Bridges
Divide children into pairs and provide them with craft materials like paper cups, popsicle sticks, and tape. Kids must construct a bridge using only the materials provided, promoting problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration.
- Rainbow of Friendship
Ask kids to stand in a circle, each holding a differently colored ribbon or string. The children toss their ribbons to someone else, creating a beautiful, colorful web of interconnectedness. This activity symbolizes friendship and unity, and students are always fascinated by the result of this fun game.
Enjoy Our Fun Icebreaker Games for Kids and Start the School Year Off The Right Way
Icebreakers not only help kids become comfortable in social settings, but they also encourage cooperation, teamwork, communication, and critical thinking.
By incorporating these fun icebreaker games into various activities, educators, parents, and organizers can create a positive and engaging atmosphere for children to connect, build friendships, and develop important social skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. So, let’s break the ice and watch children thrive together!
Eleanor is a qualified English teacher and has received a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), specializing in Secondary English, and holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Liverpool John Moores University. She is certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) and has worked with students in the U.K. and South East Asia. She currently works as an English teacher in Vietnam, teaching students across a range of ages.