Any time you get a group of kids together who do not know each other, the first thing to do is to get all of them relaxed and feeling comfortable. The best method for doing so is to use icebreaker games designed specifically for kids. It is important not only to choose the right game, but also to consider the situation, location, and purpose for playing. We have provided an excellent selection of icebreaker games for kids, as well as suggestions for when, where, and why to use them.
Our icebreaker games for kids do not include games using candy for two reasons. Using candy at the beginning of an activity can create a group of hyperactive kids almost impossible to control. Secondly, many venues in which you will be using these activities emphasize healthy activities and candy does not contribute to this goal. We have also screened our games to make sure there are no hidden “temptations,” such as pinching or name-calling.
Table of Contents
- 1 Icebreaker Games for Very Young Kids
- 2 Icebreaker Introduction Games
- 3 Outdoor Icebreaker Games
- 4 Team Work Icebreaker Activities
- 5 Icebreaker Games That Need Some Planning and Preparation
- 6 Icebreaker Games for Older Kids
Icebreaker Games for Very Young Kids
Little kids like silly games, the sillier the better. Icebreaker activities for little kids need easy-to-follow directions with very little preparation, as younger kids have shorter attention spans. The games we have chosen need almost no preparation and few materials. They are designed to keep little kids ages four through eight engaged, while they get comfortable in a new group. When working with very young children, it helps if adults participate in the games with the children to demonstrate how to play the game.
Don’t Smile or Laugh!
- Have the children sit in a circle.
- Explain that no one is supposed to smile or laugh except for one individual.
- Everyone must look at the kid smiling and laughing and keep a very straight face.
- Start with the youngest and tell them to smile and laugh for one minute and see how many other people do so.
- Proceed around the circle until everyone has a chance to take the challenge.
You probably will not have a “winner” – everyone will end up smiling and laughing.
Who Are You?
This game uses icebreaker questions for kids and is excellent for ages four and up. You will need a beanbag, ball, or small stuffed animal – any item appropriate for tossing to a child.
- Adults should sit in a circle on the floor with the group of kids.
- Explain that each person is going to ask a question of another person in the circle.
- The question can be anything – “What is your name?”, “Do you have a brother (sister)?”, or “Do you have a dog?”
- An adult member of the group goes first, tossing the beanbag, ball, or stuffed animal to a child in the circle and asking a question.
- The child catching answers the question, and then throws the object to another child and asks a question.
- Continue this continues for as long as you wish, or until the kids begin to lose interest.
Icebreaker Introduction Games
Kids often feel uncomfortable in a group if they do not know others. These two games will help children begin to learn the names of other group members.
Question Sit Down
- Have everyone stand up.
- Tell them you are going to make statements and if the statement applies to them, they are to sit down. For example, you can say, “Sit down if you have a dog,” or “Sit down if you have a brother.”
- Have each kid who sits down tell his or her name and something about the statement, such as “My name is Stan and I have a bull dog.”
This game serves the dual purpose of learning names, as well as something about the others in the group.
An icebreaker for kids name game that is sure to get children laughing and put everyone in a good mood also helps kids remember names.
- Choose a category, such as Disney characters, flowers (for girls), cars (for boys), or animals.
- Tell the kids to sit in a circle.
- Then have them choose a word to put with their name that starts with the same letter their name starts with.
- Then ask each child in turn to say his name. For example, a girl name Ruth might choose, “Rose Ruth,” or a boy might choose “4-runner Fred.”
- Go around the circle with each child repeating the other names they have heard and adding their own.
- The last person must be able to say all the names.
For older kids, pair the group up and have them “interview” each other. When it looks like everyone has finished up, have the kids take turns introducing the person they interviewed by name and telling five interesting things he or she learned. If you think the group needs some additional guidance for this activity, you can have them start with favorite color, food, and type of animal.
Outdoor Icebreaker Games
Some games are best played outdoors, as they are messy. Two such games are Cheese Puff Tossing and Bubble Gum Bobbing. Both games are excellent for pool parties, or anywhere that water is available for cleanup.
Kids love these two games! You can also play these games indoors if you have the room to do so and an easy way to clean up the mess! What kid doesn’t love whipped cream, cheese puffs, and bubble gum? However, maybe not together, and on their faces!
Cheese Puff Tossing
- Have the kids split up into pairs. You can do this by numbering them and putting number one with the last number, number two with the second to the last number, etc. If you have an uneven number of kids, pair an adult with one or have the extra child help supervise the game.
- Arrange chairs in a row and have one member of the pair sit and the other stand about four feet away.
- Give the seated child a pair of dollar-store sunglasses to wear and then place spray whipped topping on their face.
- Give each standing child a small bag of cheese puffs.
- The goal is to throw cheese puffs at the whipped cream covered face and see how many you can get to stick.
- Have the kids start on the count of three and toss the cheese puffs until the bags are empty.
- The team that manages to get the most cheese puffs to adhere wins.
Bubble Gum Bobbing
A game with lots of giggles, you will need paper plates, cans of whipped topping, and unwrapped bubble gum for this icebreaker activity.
- Place two to four plates on a waist high table with mounds of whipped topping and a piece of unwrapped bubble gum dropped on top.
- Let two to four kids line up and bob for the bubble gum.
- Have them hold their hands together behind their backs.
- The goal is to be first to find the bubble gum, and chew it.
- Tell the kids to keep chewing their gum.
- Repeat with groups of two to four kids and new whipped topping covered plates until all kids have their gum.
A this point, you can have a bubble gum blowing contest to see who can blow the biggest bubble.
Team Work Icebreaker Activities
In some situations, the goal is to create teamwork and working together during an icebreaker activity is a perfect way to begin. The two icebreakers for kids we have chosen work best for ages seven and up, as they take some dexterity for success.
- Have all the kids stand in a closed circle.
- Have each child extend its left hand across the circle and clasp the left hand of the person across from him.
- Have each child do the same with their right hand.
- Once everyone is hold hands, have them attempt to untangle themselves without letting go of one another’s hands.
- It is possible to do so, but takes teamwork and good communication for success.
Flip or Fail
For this game, you will need a flat sheet or tablecloth large enough for everyone in the group to stand on.
Place it on the ground or floor and instruct the kids that they must turn it over without anyone using their hands to do so. Additionally, they cannot step off the surface or lift each other up. It takes teamwork, and some methodical thinking to succeed.
Icebreaker Games That Need Some Planning and Preparation
The games in this group of icebreaker activities for kids require some that advance planning and preparation. However, they are excellent if you need a game that provides group members additional information about each other or takes a bit more time. Such games are good on the first day of school, day camp, or summer camp – anytime you have a group of children who will be spending extended time together.
Who (What) Am I?
- Prepare for a game that uses icebreaker questions for kids of time by cutting out pictures from old magazines.
- Tape a picture to the back of each child, making sure no one sees his or her own picture.
- Have the children stand in front of the group one at a time and turn so that the group can see the picture.
- Then the child who just displayed their picture turns back around and asks the group yes to no questions until they identify their own picture.
You can use random pictures or choose a theme appropriate for the occasion. For example, for a summer camp, choose pictures of plants and animals.
See, Hear, and Touch
This is an icebreaker guessing game for any age.
- Fill a box or basket with small miscellaneous items, such as a stick, shell, marble, rock, paper clip holder, or a piece of candy – just about any small item you have lying around.
- Blind fold one kid at a time and give them an item to hold without looking.
- The goal is to guess the item simple by using their senses.
They can touch the item, smell it, or shake it. Alternatively, you can place each item inside its own bag and have the blind folded child touch, smell, and shake the item without taking it completely out of the bag.
For this game, you will need to create a bingo card for each child with brief statements in each box instead of numbers. Older children can follow your directions to create and label their own cards. Statements such as “Have a cat.”, “Have a brother.”, or “Born in (town or city).” work well.
The kids walk around asking questions in the boxes and having kids write their names in boxes where statements apply to them. Older children can ask names and write them in themselves. The “winner” has all their boxes filled in first.
Icebreaker Games for Older Kids
Icebreakers are not only fun, but also can teach life lessons and social skills. The first game we have chosen for older kids demonstrates the nature of gossip. The second gives older kids an opportunity to learn how to introduce someone else to a group.
A game known by many different names – Telephone, Chinese Whispers, and What Did You Say? – this game works especially well for older kids.
- Have the kids sit in a circle and say a relatively difficult sentence. If you wish, you can use a sentence you come up with to avoid potential problems, such as unacceptable topics or words.
- Whoever goes first whispers the sentence to their neighbor.
- Each kid then whispers the sentence successively until the last in the circle.
- The last person says the sentence aloud.
You will be surprised at the difference from the original sentence.
Although this icebreaker game needs a bit of preparation, it is perfect for older children.
- Create a “clue” sheet with multiple unfinished sentences such as, “My favorite color is __________”, “I have a pet and it is a ________”, and “My favorite food is ________.”
- Each kid’s goal is to fill in all the blanks on their sheet by “interviewing” one other kid.
- After the kids fill all the sheets, scramble them up and pass them out, making sure no one gets their own sheet.
- Have the kids move around the room asking questions until they figure out to whom the clue sheet belongs.
- Then have them introduce their “suspect” to the whole group using the clue sheet to tell about the person they introduce.
Icebreaker games for kids help children get to know each other at the beginning of the school year, camp, or in any environment where kids get together. Many of the games are non-competitive, helping kids learn each other’s names and interests. Younger children not only learn to follow directions and rules, but also master listening skills. Competitive games teach older children in a newly formed group how to solve problems and work as a team. Use our list of icebreaker games and activities to begin successfully any activity involving kids.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.