Youth group ice breakers help teens who are sometimes hesitant to move out of their comfort zone relax and prepare for participation in youth group activities. Our selection of icebreaker games for youth include those for introductions and getting-to-know each other. Some of the games listed are just for fun and some are active and require some advance preparation or special materials. Whichever youth group icebreaker you choose, prepare for fun and some unexpected outcomes.
Table of Contents
- 1 Youth Icebreakers for Introductions
- 2 Getting-to-Know-You Youth Icebreakers
- 3 Fun Icebreaker Games for Youth
- 4 Active Youth Icebreaker Games
Youth Icebreakers for Introductions
Most of the time, the members of the youth group will know each other. However, there are those situations where youths gather at camps, meetings, or conventions and must interact and engage in activities with relative strangers. Our introduction icebreakers help when youth group members need to learn one another’s names.
For this youth group team game, you will need a blanket or dark, non-transparent sheet for each team.
- Divide your group into teams consisting of six or eight people.
- Let two teams mingle for a couple of minutes introducing themselves to each other.
- Next, two teams sit on either side of the bed sheet. Have two leaders pull the bed sheet or blanket up, hiding both teams from each other’s view.
- Each team selects a player silently for the round.
- The two players move to opposite sides of the hanging barrier.
- The leaders drop the barrier so the two players can see each other.
- The first player to correctly yell the other person’s name wins a point for their team.
- Keep playing rounds until everyone has had at least one turn.
You can then switch paired teams and play again. Continue until all team members have competed against each other. If your group is very large, you can set a time limit.
Guess My Name
- Have each member of the youth group writes his or her name on a slip of paper.
- The leader collects the slips of paper and places them in a bag, box, or basket.
- Then the leader chooses a person to go first, pick a paper, read the name aloud and then guess whose name it is.
- If they guess correctly, that person is on their team.
- Later in the game, if the first player’s name is guessed, he and the person (people) who he guessed in the first round go to the guesser’s team.
- Play continues with the first person until he guesses wrong.
- The wrong person who he asked takes a turn next.
For Example: John goes first and draws the name “Nathan.” He correctly guesses which person is Nathan, so Nathan is on his team. He continues and draws the names “Sarah” and “Paul, correctly guessing who Sara is, but is wrongly identifying Paul. John now has Nathan and Sarah on his team. Paul goes next and tries to identify the names he draws. The first is Sandra and, since he is correct, he now has Sandra on his team. He draws John – the very first player – so now John, Nathan, and Sarah are on Paul’s team. When Paul makes an incorrect guess, play passes to the person whose name he misidentified.
Play continues until only two players are left not on teams. The winner is the player with the most teens on his team.
Getting-to-Know-You Youth Icebreakers
Have the youths in the group pull out their IPods and program 10 to 15 minutes of songs from their music catalogs or, if the group is large, one song that is their favorite. Have them sit or stand in a circle and share their favorite song.
Give each participant a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and have them write their name vertically down the left side. Have the youths fold their papers and drop them into a box or basket held by the leader. The leader picks a paper randomly. At this point, the leader can do one of two activities:
- Read the descriptive words in order and have the person who wrote the key words explain why the words were chosen and how they relate to them.
- Read the descriptive words out of order and have people guess to whom the words belong.
Continue until each piece of paper is drawn and read. If you wish, you can alternate the two activities given above.
“Never Have I Ever . . .”
This fun icebreaker is a fun way for a youth group to learn more about each other.
- Have the group stand or sit in a circle with right hands held out, fingers and thumb spread out.
- Go around the circle and one at a time, each person announces something that they have never done beginning with the phrase, “Never have I ever. . .” For example, a person could say, “Never have I ever been to Alaska.”
- For each statement that is said, other players drop a finger if they have done that statement. Therefore, if three other people have been to Alaska, those three people put down a finger, leaving them each with 4 fingers.
- The goal is to be last person in the game with fingers remaining.
Fun Icebreaker Games for Youth
Some icebreakers are perfect for simply having fun. They can be used anytime a youth group has a meeting – at the beginning, the end, or whenever teens need to be revitalized. Our selections are teen tested and sure to provide your youth group an enjoyable time.
- After the participants are in a circle, have each person secretly write the name of a famous historical figure, actor (actress), singer, or sports celebrity on a small piece of paper or a “post-it” note. It has to be a person that everyone in the group knows.
- Provide tape for each person to tape their chosen name on the back of the person on their left.
- Everyone circulates the room asking others one yes or no question about the name on their back.
- The person who guesses their person with the least number of questions wins.
- Guessing continues, with the winners observing, until everyone has guessed their Secret Identity or you can set a time limit.
The members of the youth group stand in a circle. The youth group leader starts this icebreaker by saying any noun – the name of a person, place, or thing. The teens take turns saying associated words. For example:
Leader – “hotel”
Teen A – “bed”
Teen B – “room”
Teen C – “service”
Teen D – “food”
Teen E – “restaurant”
Teen F – “Chinese”
Any word association is okay to say. However, if the association is not obvious, the teen is asked to explain. If the teen cannot answer within 5 seconds, or if the association is invalid, he or she must stand up. The last student seated is the winner.
Active Youth Icebreaker Games
This game takes some preparation, but the fun generated is well worth it.
- For each team of teens, you will need a frozen T-shirt. To freeze the shirts, place one neatly folded shirt in a plastic bag and pour in 1 ½ to 2 cups of water. Freeze the shirts and keep them in an ice filled cooler until ready for the game.
- Hand out a bagged T-shirt to each team.
- The goal is to have one team member put on the T-shirt. In order to do so, the team must thaw the shirt by whatever means possible. They may choose to microwave the shirts, run them under hot water, or pound the ice till it is crushed and falls out.
- The first team to come back with a team member in a t-shirt wins.
Spaghetti and Marshmallows
Divide the youth group into teams and give each team a packet of spaghetti and a package of marshmallows. Set a time limit for teams to build a tower made from their materials. The team that builds the tallest marshmallow and spaghetti tower wins.
- A fun version of musical chairs, students sit in a large circle with one unseated individual in the center.
- The person in the center of the circle calls out a personality trait, experience, or physical characteristic.
- Those who share whatever is called out must find a new chair, but not one directly adjacent. This means those sharing the attribute must scramble for each other’s chairs.
- The youth left standing must call out the next attribute.
Elbow Tag is perfect for play in a large indoor area or outside.
- Divide the total number of teens into pairs, or have them choose a partner. Partners then spread out in a designated playing area.
- The leader chooses a pair to split up and one person in the pair will be the chaser – “It” – and the other is chased. The person being chased may hook elbows with any pair at any time.
- The person in the pair at the opposite end of where the chased person hooked on releases and begins being chased by “It.” If “It” tags the chased person before they can link with another pair, the tagged person becomes “It.”
Variation: When the person on the opposite end breaks away, they become “It” and must chase the person who was originally the chaser.
- Divide your group of teens into teams of 4 to 6 players. The number of teams depends on the group size.
- For each team you will need two bowls, one filled with dried peas and one empty. Make sure the bowls with the peas have the same number for each team.
- The goal is for each team to transport the peas from the full bowl to the empty bowl using only a straw.
- Place the two bowls on either side of the room.
- Give each teen a straw.
- Place empty bowls on one side of the room, and bowls full of dried green peas on the other side. Make sure there you put an equal number of peas in each bowl.
- Give each team member a straw.
- When you yell, “Go!” team members are to transport the peas by sucking the straw so the peas stay fixed to the end.
- If a person drops a pea, they must pick it up again using the straw.
- The winning team is the one that transports all their peas first.
Duct Tape Stick-‘em-up
The goal of this youth group team game is to tape a teammate to the wall or a tree using duct tape. To win, the person must hang on the wall for one full minute.
- Begin by dividing your group into teams of 6 to 8 players.
- Give each team 3 rolls of heavy duty duct tape and a pair of scissors.
- Instruct the teams to begin when you yell, “Go!” and that they will have five minutes to tape a teammate to the wall or tree.
- The teammate stands on a chair, so that when the chair is removed, they will be hanging with their feet not touching the floor.
- The team who is able to keep their teammate hanging for a full minute wins. If two teams tie or more teams tie (Very unlikely!) see which person remains the longest.
Note: The duct tape may harm wall paint, so choose your location carefully.
If there is not suitable place to hang a person with duct tape, try this variation. The goal is to stick as many paper balls on a chosen teammate as possible. Give each team two rolls of duct tape, scissors, and colored paper – a different color for each team. Give the teams five minutes to make balls out of the colored paper and 10 minutes to wrap a person with duct tape, sticky side out. They are not to cover faces.
When a person from each team is wrapped, have them stand seven to eight feet away from their team. Explain to the teens that the goal is to stick as many of their team’s colored balls to their wrapped teammate as possible. If they stick one of their colored balls on another team’s person, that team loses a point. Allow ten minutes for tossing paper balls. At the end of the time, count one point for each of a team’s own colored paper balls, and take off one point for another team’s color. The team with the most points wins the game.
Icebreakers for youth groups serve many purposes, chief among them getting a group of teens ready and willing for group activities. To learn names, know, each other, have fun, or burn off some energy, our icebreakers for youth groups are sure to please.
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.