Providing effective icebreaker activities for high school students can be challenging. You need to access moods, group dynamics, and the comfort level of participants. We have chosen a wide variety of icebreakers for high school students from which you should be able to find the perfect icebreaker game. We have included introductory icebreakers, team building icebreakers, some rather calm icebreaker games, as well as some that are just crazy and fun.
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Introductory Icebreaker Activities for High School Students
Frequently, high school students are grouped or paired with someone they do not know for learning or other activities. Our collection of introductory ice breakers help teens feel comfortable working and socializing with new acquaintances.
Each student is given a piece of paper and told to write five facts about themselves. After they have all written down their facts, tell them to wad the piece of paper and begin a snowball fight. When you think they have thrown enough – or they begin to get carried away – tell them to pick up the “snowball” closest to them, read the facts, and try to find out whose snowball they have by asking yes or no questions only. The first one to do so is the winner. Have the students continue until they have all succeeded. This works well for pairing up students for an activity or game.
For this game, you will need colored candies. M & Ms work well. Assign a different category for each color. You can use the following suggestions, or choose some of your own:
- Red – family
- Blue – hobbies
- Green – friends
- Yellow – favorite song or singing group
Pour the colored candies into a large bowl and tell each student to take as many candies as they want. You may want to set a limit to make sure the bowl lasts all the way around the group and to control the length of this icebreaker game. After all the students have taken candy, explain that the number of candies they choose equals the number of facts they will share about themselves with rest of the group. They must tell facts corresponding to the categories assigned each color. For example, if a student chose all blue candies, they will share only facts about hobbies.
What Do You Love?
This getting-to-know-you icebreaker game works well with high school students. The goal is to guess classmates favorite things. Give each participant paper and a pen or pencil. Direct students to write their names and record their favorites for some topics you provide such as:
- Music performers
- Sports or athletes
Collect all the papers and read the answers on each sheet. Have the group of students guess to whom each list of favorites belongs. If you wish, you can use this as a team icebreaker activity for a large group of students by giving points for each correct answer. The team with the largest number of points wins.
This is a simple and fun icebreaker game that takes very little preparation and works with any size group.
- Have each student write down the name of a famous person – an actor, singer, historical figure, etc.
- Collect the papers and tape one to the back of each student without letting them know who they have.
- The students then circulate around the room asking yes or no questions to identify what name is taped to their back.
- They can only ask each person one question, however.
- The student who guesses their celebrity first wins.
Shake is an excellent icebreaker to get everyone up and moving and only lasts about 10 minutes.
- The leader stands in front to control the action of the game.
- The leader gives directions that the group must follow. The leader begins by saying, “Shake your foot,” while shaking his foot. Directions should be given in a crazy or loud voice.
- The group shakes their feet saying “Shake, shake, shake your foot.”
- Then the leader repeats himself and says, “Shake your foot” and the group responds, “Shake, shake, shake your foot.”
- Next the leader says, “Freeze!” The group freezes immediately.
- The leader repeats the same set of commands, while the students shake their feet and respond. T
- he leader then adds other body parts. For instance, the leader will say, “Shake your right arm,” and the group will respond “Shake, shake, shake your right arm,” while shaking their right arms.
- Each command is followed with a “Freeze!” command. Continue until all participants are full of energy.
Sit Down Circle
This is another short energizing icebreaker game.
- Have the students form one big circle and tell them to turn right and stand as close to one another as possible. They must be close for this icebreaker game to work.
- Tell the students to sit on the knees of the person behind them.
- After everyone is settled, instruct the students to move forward around in the circle without breaking the sit down chain. They may need to try several times before they are successful.
Streets and Alleys
- Have the students line up in rows, forming a rectangle. Make sure there is room for people to run between the rows and lines.
- One student is “It” and chases another.
- Have the students put their arms out shoulder height and sideways to form “streets.” If they raise their arms up, same height, but front to back, they form “alleys.”
- The person being chased and the chaser run through the maze of people, starting with streets. They cannot cross the lines of hands. S
- witch from streets to alleys as often as you want.
- When the first two get tired, pick other students to participate.
The Wave with Foam
This fun ice breaker lasts only about 10 minutes. Most of the students will be familiar with the wave, but this one adds foam. Have the group sit down in a row. The first three students stand up, bend over, and spin their fists over each other. Then they stand up, scream, put their hands over their heads, and then sit down. This continues with groups of three until the end of the row. The last five people are the foam. When the wave gets to this group, these five students put their hands in the direction the wave is going while making a crashing sound. Thus, the wave ends with foam.
Swamp Island Maze
For this game, you will need twenty-two 8×10 sheets of paper, masking tape, and a bell or squeaker toy, The goal is to transport teams across a quicksand swamp. The leader sets up the course and makes a map indicating which squares are safe grass clumps and which are unsafe islands. Each team member attempts to cross the swamp, but must return to the back of their team’s line if they step on an unsafe island. Only one person may try to cross the swamp at a time.
Set up the swamp by having “start” and “finish” squares at each end of a rectangle with four rows of five sheets of paper each. The leader sets up the course with 14 steps that are safe and six that are not. When a player lands on a safe spot, the leader uses a squeaker toy or bell to indicate they are safe. The other team members must watch to determine which squares are safe. The first team to transport all their members across the swamp wins.
Drop the Ball
- Begin this challenging icebreaker games by dividing your students into small groups.
- Give each group 12 straws, 18 inches of masking tape and a golf ball.
- The goal is to build a container that will catch a golf ball dropped from about ten feet. E
- ach group selects a “ball dropper” who stands on a chair and hold the golf ball at eye level.
- Each team places its container on the floor under where they think the ball will land.
- Each group gets three attempts and the group that gets a ball to go into their container and stay wins.
Crazy, Fun, and Sometimes Messy Icebreakers
If you have a group of students who like gross or messy games, this group of icebreaker activities will provide the perfect options. You will need towels for clean-up, plus most of the games take specific supplies and advance planning. However, the outcomes are well worth the effort.
A fun game guaranteed to generate laughs, use cowboy hats to set the mood for this icebreaker game.
- Ask for two volunteers and arm each with a squirt gun loaded with water.
- On the forehead of each student, place an Alka-Seltzer tablet with double sided tape or a rubber band around the head.
- The two participants stand back to back and when given the command to start, take five paces, turn, and fire their squirt guns.
- The objective is to hit and melt the tablet and the first student to do so wins.
- Use swim goggles to protect the eyes. The tablet fizzes and foams all over, so have towels for clean-up.
- You can repeat this game with new students participating if you wish.
This fun icebreaker game works well with a large group of students. Split your large group into several teams and give each team a platter and a few cans of alphabet soup. For a less messy option, provide boxes of Alphabits cereal. The teams use the letters to make words or number series. Teams gain points by finding one or more of the following:
- Words of three letters
- Words of four letters
- Words with five or more letters
- Team member names
- Years – 1914, 2001, etc.
You can give extra points for the longest word if you wish.
As indicated by the name of the game, the goal of this game is to shave a balloon. You need blown up balloons covered with shaving cream, a razor, and plenty of towels for cleaning up, because if the balloon breaks, the shaving cream goes all over the place.
Water Balloon Shave
You can either have 6 volunteers – 3 girls and 3 boys – participate in this icebreaker game or pair up the entire group of students. The boys sit in chairs facing the audience holding a large water balloon on their heads. The girl partners cover the balloons with shaving cream, and with a single edged razor try to “shave” all the shaving cream off the balloon without breaking it. The first pair to succeed wins. Those who fail get dowsed with water.
This icebreaker game is messy, but a great deal of fun.
- Pair up your students.
- One student in each pair will sit in a chair and the other will stand blindfolded behind the seated student.
- Use a large plastic garbage bag with a hole cut out for the head as a bib for the seated student.
- The standing students put their arms under the seated person’s armpits and hold a bowl containing food in one hand and a spoon in the other.
- The seated person must keep their hands folded in their lap.
- The bowl contains something fun to eat – ice cream, pudding, and Jello all work well.
- The first team that successfully empties the bowl wins. You can also award prizes for the messiest eaters, the cleanest eaters, etc.
Our selection of icebreaker games and activities for high school students should provide you the perfect game for your party, classroom, or get-together. Remember that if one does not work, move on to a different one.
You may wish to ask some of the students for input as to which games they feel will work the best. The games included in our group of icebreakers for high school students were actually reviewed by some students for age appropriateness. We also wanted to make sure they were not considered “silly” or “stupid” and had the ability to actually break the ice for a group of high school students. Enjoy!
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.