Using icebreakers for teenagers successfully can be challenging. You need to know your group of teenagers and the type of activity they prefer. To do so, follow these suggestions:
- Remember: Teens like active games and those they do not consider “childish.”
- When you decide which icebreaker activities to use, choose one based upon age, the groups familiarity with one another, and the purpose of the group gathering.
- Be flexible. Change the rules to suit the group and be ready to stop a game and start another if teens are not participating with enthusiasm.
- Build intensity. Start with simpler icebreaker games and increase difficulty gradually.
- Generate enthusiasm. Play an active role in the icebreaker activity.
- Use silly and fun props and equipment. Masks, stuffed animals, and brightly colored rubber balls and balloons add to the fun of an icebreaker game.
Table of Contents
Introductory Teen Icebreaker Games
Use this fun introductory icebreaker game to get teens to start working together.
- Have the teens stand in a circle and stretch out their arms with fingers touching so that they are not too close.
- Explain that you will be tossing an object to an individual while saying their name.
- The teen who catches the object tosses it to someone else, saying the receiver’s name.
- Remind the teens to pay close attention so that they know names of people and are ready to toss the object when they receive it.
- Use a ball, stuffed animal, or other soft object for tossing. Increase the speed and add objects to toss until the game gets too crazy to continue.
Begin this getting-to-know you icebreaker game by giving each teen a blank piece of paper.
- Each teen writes their name and an interesting fact about themselves on their piece of paper and crumples it into a ball.
- When all the teens have their paper balls, have them toss them back and forth around the room.
- The leader then yells, “Stop!” and each teen picks up a paper ball, opens it, and reads it silently.
- Have the teens take turns reading each paper to the group and introducing the person whose paper they are holding. Continue for the entire group of teens.
Fun and Crazy Icebreakers for Teenagers
Just a Minute!
A fun icebreaker idea for teens, one minute challenges, as the name implies, are only supposed to take a minute. However, in reality, they are so much fun that many will take longer as the teens want to keep playing.
- Name Game
Teens must learn as many middle names of the teens in the group as they can in one minute. The teen who remembers the most names is the winner
- Crazy Balls
Give the teens newspapers or other scrap paper and instruct them to see how many balls they can make in one minute. The teen who makes the most wins.
- Fill the Bucket
Teens must fill a bucket with water using only their hands to carry and pour the water.
If you have a small group of teens, you can divide them into teams and have them compete against each other. Playing these “one-minute” icebreakers as team games makes them last longer.
Amazing Body Tricks
Teenagers love these icebreaker games! Even if some of your teens have done these before, they will enjoy the reaction of group members experiencing these icebreaker activities for the first time.
Falling Through the Floor
- For “Falling through the Floor,” divide your group of teens into teams of two.
- One lies on their stomach on the floor. The second person holds the first persons arms up in the air by grabbing the arms at the wrist.
- The teen laying down relaxes their neck and hangs their head down.
- After twenty to thirty seconds, slowly lower the arms until they are flat on the floor and the teen laying down is flat on the floor.
- At this point, the person lying on the floor will feel as if they are actually falling through the floor.
The teens will need to take turns for this exercise, unless you have many doorways.
- Have a teen stand directly in the middle of the floor between the sides of a doorway and push against the doorframe with the outside of the hands as hard as possible.
- After they have done so for 45 seconds to one minute, have them step forward and relax their arms.
- Both arms will float up on their own!
About half of your teens will experience having a “Pinocchio” nose or feel as if their noses have disappeared with this activity!
- Pair your teens and have them sit on chairs, one with their back to the other. The one in the back is blindfolded and the one in front is not.
- The un-blindfolded teen takes the blindfolded teen’s right hand and places it on their nose.
- The blindfolded teen begins to tap and stroke the nose gently and randomly making identical movements on their own nose.
- After about sixty seconds, the blindfolded teen with have the sensation their nose is extremely long, or completely gone.
- Make sure the teens are comfortable doing this exercise and, if they are not, let them be spectators.
- Have all the teens get in a circle so they can observe each other.
- Tell them to squeeze their left hand shut as hard as they can or provide a bead for them to squeeze.
- After they have done so for at least thirty seconds, tell them to relax their hand and gently stroke all over their left hand with their right hand.
- Direct your teens to open their fisted hand all the way. They will have trouble doing so.
- Pair your teens and have one teen ball their hands into fists and press them together as hard as they can.
- The other teen pretends to tie the fisted hands together for 30 seconds.
- Then have the first teen push their fists together again, followed again by the second teen pretending to tie them together again.
- When the first teen attempts to pull their hands apart, it will feel as if there is a magnet between their hands, not letting them pull their hands apart. Have the teens switch places to repeat the exercise.
- Pair your teens and have the first one lay down face up with their eyes closed.
- The second teen pretends to slice open the prone teen’s legs, fill them with sand, and stitch them back up.
- This process is repeated for the stomach, arms, and forehead.
- Finally, direct the teen to stand up. They will find it difficult or impossible to do so.
My Favorite Scent
Our body and brains are remarkable, as demonstrated by this game.
- Pair your teens and have them take turns for this exercise.
- Have teen number one slap both the hands of teen two and ask which hand hurt the most.
- Next, take the hand they indicated and tickle each finger and ask which finger tickled the most.
- Take that finger and squeeze each part, the tip, the middle section, and the section closest to the palm and ask which hurt the most.
- Rub and stroke that section and ask what they would like it to smell like.
- Keep rubbing and stroking, then tell them to smell their hand. It should smell like their favourite scent.
Icebreaker Games for Teens Needing Advance Preparation
Some icebreaker games require advance preparation, either gathering the required materials or setting up the play area. If you have time for planning, these icebreaker games are some the teens enjoy most.
Ice Cube Hunt
An icebreaker game for teens to play outside on a rather cool day, variations contribute to the ability to customize this game depending on the size and composition of your group. You will need to freeze several trays of ice cubes colored with food coloring. Tell your teens set boundaries for the game and distribute the frozen ice cubes in the search area.
- The teen who collects the most ice cubes in a set amount of time wins.
- As a team game, have two or more colors of ice cubes and team members must find the color they are assigned.
- Teens must use plastic spoons to carry the ice cubes they find.
- Label large plastic cups with teen’s names and they must put their found ice cubes into their cup.
- Give each team a small bucket or large bowl to put their ice cubes in.
Puzzle Piece Hunt
- You will need a jigsaw puzzle with less than 100 pieces or cut a large picture into several pieces.
- Choose a specific area of an inside room and hide the puzzle pieces.
- Have a clear table top available for assembling the puzzle.
- Teens are to search for puzzle pieces and bring them to the table and attempt to reassemble the puzzle.
- If you wish to play this game with teams, have players put team initials or names on the back of the puzzle pieces. The team with the most pieces wins.
Prepare for this icebreaker game by gathering a pill bottle, tape, newspaper, money, and dice. Put some money in the pill bottle and wrap it with multiple layers of newspaper and tape. Have the teens stand in a circle and provide a tray or shallow box with sides for throwing dice. If a player rolls a double, they get a chance to begin unwrapping the surprise. Pass the dice around the circle with each teen taking a turn at throwing the dice to get a double. Anyone who throws a double gets a turn unwrapping the surprise. Eventually, one teen will succeed in doing so and will be able to keep the money inside the pill bottle.
- You can have several wrapped containers and the first teen chooses the container for the first game. Play more than one game until all the surprises are unwrapped.
- Use gag gifts, candy bars, fast food gift certificates, or small items such as key chains or party favors instead of money.
Gather the equipment you need for this fun relay race game. You will need empty bowls on one side of the room or play area and bowls with an equal number of peas on the other – enough bowls for the number of teams you have (dependent on the size of your group). Each player needs a straw. The goal of this game is to transport the peas from the full bowl to the empty bowl using the straw. If a pea is dropped, it must be picked it up with the straw by the person who dropped it and transported to the bowl. The winning team is the one which transports all their peas first.
Read our special collection of relay games.
Steal the Treasure
- Invite the teens to sit in a large circle with a chair placed in the middle.
- On the chair, place a “treasure.” Choose something that makes noise – a set of keys or a few bells on a ribbon work well.
- Have a teen volunteer to be the first guard, making sure the thief does not steal the treasure.
- The guard has a rolled up newspaper with which he attempts to swat the thief.
- If the guard succeeds, the thief returns to the circle, but if the thief gets the treasure, he becomes the guard. The fun part of this game is that both the thief and the guard are blindfolded.
Who Is the Killer?
All the teens sit in a circle. The group leader chooses one teen to be the detective, and that person leaves the room. The teens remaining close their eyes and bow their heads. The leader walks around the circle of seated teens and taps someone’s head. The tapped teen becomes the killer. When the detective comes back in, the goal of the killer is to “kill” others without being caught by the detective. The killer does so by secretly winking randomly at people in the circle, who then lie down and play “dead.” The detective gets three tries to guess the killer’s identity. If he does so, someone else becomes the detective for the next game. If the detective does not succeed, he is “out” and someone else becomes the detective. If you like this game, please read Mafia Party Game.
Use icebreaker games for teenagers for introductions and for teens to relax and feel comfortable in a new group. Although played traditionally at the beginning of an event or get-together, they work well any time: when teens begin to get bored, to liven up a group, or to close an evening of fun. Play on!
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.