One of the challenges of working with large groups of individuals is the need to get people who may not know each other – or at least do not know each other well – to work together successfully. Large group icebreaker games can build teams, introduce group members, and provide a fun way to get everyone up, active, and ready for what comes next.
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Team Building Icebreakers for Large Groups
Sometimes the most effective way to work with a large group is to divide them into teams. The first two large group icebreakers for teams take up to a half hour, while the last works well if time is limited.
The Biggest and the Best
An active teambuilding exercise, teams of six to eight people compete by trading ordinary objects with the goal of ending up with the biggest and the best item.
- Start by passing out small objects that are low in value to each team – paper clips work well.
- The goal of the game is to trade and upgrade, obtaining the most valuable item possible.
- Set a time limit for teams to return; disqualify teams who return late.
- The team with biggest and best item wins.
This large group icebreaker game uses baseball scoring – singles, doubles, triples, and home runs – based upon levels of difficulty. Divide your group into teams of six to eight people. Give each person four sheets of paper and a pen or pencil. Tell each person to write the following letters, one each at the top of the sheets of paper: “S” for single, “D” for double, “T” for triple, and “HR” for homeroom. The players write interesting personal facts on each sheet of paper. The easiest facts go on the “S” sheets with each of the other sheets having progressively more difficult questions, with the hardest on the “HR” sheet. Collect the sheets from each team and divide them into four piles – singles, doubles, triples, and home runs.
Play Trivia Baseball the same as regular baseball. The room or an area outdoors is set up like a baseball diamond. Put the papers in piles on each corner – singles on first, doubles on second, triples on third, and the home run in fourth base. The first team has someone take a turn choosing to go for a single, double, triple, or homerun. The person then goes to the chosen base, takes a paper from the other teams pile, reads a personal fact and guesses to whom on the other team the statement applies. That person answers a simple “yes” or “no.” If the guess is correct, the person remains on the base and play continues with another team member. If the guess is incorrect, the person is out. When the first team has three outs, the other team takes their turn. You can either set a time limit for the game, or play until all the personal facts are used.
A fun-filled word and memory game, this large group icebreaker takes about twenty-five minutes. Separate your large group into two equal teams. Give each person three pieces of paper and a pen or pencil, instructing them to write any word or short familiar phrase on each piece, fold it in half, and put their papers into a fish bowl, basket, or other container. The play occurs in three rounds:
- Round 1 – Taboo
The first team selects a person to go first, grabbing a piece of paper from the container and using only words and sentences as hints. They have one minute to do so. They cannot use motions, “Sounds like . . .,” or spelling hints. If the person guessed the word, they continue with another slip of paper, with their team guessing as many words as they can within the one-minute time limit. If the team is unable to guess correctly, the person can pass and pull another slip of paper. However, a person can only pass once during his or her one minute. The second team then takes a turn, seeing how many words or phrases they can guess. If you run out of slips of paper, put them all back into the container for Round 2.
- Round 2 – Password
Played in the same manner as the first round, in this round, the hint can only be one word. After both teams take turns, put all the words back into the container for the third round.
- Round 3 – Charades
Again, the same sequence is played as in rounds one and two, however, this time, each person needs to act and use motions as hints for their team’s guesses. When all the words run out, tally all the points. The team with the most points wins the game.
The goal in this icebreaker for large groups is to name as many songs as possible with the word “baby” in the title or lyrics.
- Begin by dividing your large group into teams of four or five individuals.
- Pass out pen and paper for each team.
- Allow five minutes for the teams to write down as many song titles and lyrics with the word “baby” in them as they as they can.
- Then have teams take turns reading one title each.
- All teams with that same title or lyrics must cross it off their list.
- Continue until only one team has original titles left and wins the game.
Getting-to-Know-You Icebreaker Games for Large Groups
Working in teams frequently serves as a method for learning the names of group members. However, if you need a large group icebreaker specifically for learning names, we have the following game.
A high-energy game for large groups, this large group icebreaker helps people learn names and works well with people who do not know each other well. You must have a large, open space available for the group to form a large circle. Gather soft balls or small stuffed animals.
- Play begins by tossing one ball to someone in the group, saying their name so everyone can hear it.
- That person tosses the object to someone else, calling out his or her name.
- This continues until everyone in the group has received the ball once.
- The last person throws it to the leader.
- Practice the pattern a few times, with each person tossing the item and throwing it to the same person.
- Then, begin adding balls/object, one at a time.
- Keep going until five items in circulation.
A fun icebreaker, this game gets more chaotic every time the leader adds an object.
Adjective Name Game
A quick icebreaker for learning everyone’s name, this is one of the most popular and frequently used large group getting-to-know-you-icebreakers.
- The leader has everyone sit in a circle, and instructs participants to choose an adjective that describes them that starts with the same letter as their first name.
- The leader begins by stating their name preceded by an adjective. For example, Annie, who participates in many outdoor sports, may choose “Active Annie.”
- The next person repeats “Active Annie” and adds his or her own name preceded by an adjective.
- This continues until each member of the group has said all the names preceding theirs and added their own and you have returned to the first person.
Active Large Group Icebreaker Games
Sometimes large group icebreakers can revitalize participants and get them ready for a meeting or other activity that requires concentration. The following games vary in length and intensity, but all require energy and playfulness – a good way to wake everyone up and get them moving.
Everyone sits in a circle, facing each other. Tell one person they are going to be the Elephant King and then, move to the right, assigning everyone an animal going from the top of the food chain to the bottom. Each person is to do gestures as follows:
- Elephant – one arm out, extended away from your nose, the other arm holding the nose
- Bird – thumbs together with hands flapping like a flying bird
- Chick – hands under the armpits and arms flapping
- Alligator – arms extended in front, hands facing each other and clamping them up and down like alligator jaws
- Bear – hold two hands out, fingers spread, like bear claws
- Lion – connect hands above the head in a circle, and make a roaring face
- Snake – use one arm to make a slithering snake movement
- Fish – clasp hands and imitate a swimming motion
- Monkey – puff out cheeks and pull ears out from the head
- Worm – wiggle a bent finger
The goal is to become the Elephant King. To do so, you must follow the rhythm set up by the Elephant and do your gestures correctly. Elephant begins by patting a knee, clapping, and doing his animal gesture, then repeats with a pat, clap, and another animal’s signal. Let us say the Elephant does Alligator’s signal. Alligator pats, claps, does their own signal, then pats, claps, and does another animal’s signal. If a person either breaks the rhythm or makes a mistake, they become the worm, and everyone moves up a chair. Set a time limit for the game and the person who is the Elephant when the time is up, wins. You can add more animals and gestures if you have more players, or have two or three of each animal.
A variation of hide and seek, the goal is to find the hidden person, but then to quietly join them and stay hidden from the other players. Play this game in a large indoor area with the boundaries set.
- Ask a volunteer to hide first and give them a set amount of time to hide.
- When the time is up, everyone tries to find the hidden person.
- However, when they find them, they quietly join the hidden person and this continues until the hidden group resembles a can of Sardines.
- The last person to find those hidden loses the round and is the next person to hide.
You can vary this game by playing in pairs.
Simply Fun Large Group Icebreakers
We have included the following ice breaker games to provide fun for large groups. Two are “psychological” and the last is a quick, large group icebreaker that can be used anywhere or any time.
Are You Crazy?
With acting, guessing, improvisation, and foolishness, this large group icebreaker game has it all.
- One person plays a doctor and the others in the group all patients.
- The doctor leaves the room and the patients come up with a strange problem they all have. For example, maybe they all think they are monkey’s, are President Obama, or in the army.
- When the doctor returns, he or she asks questions of the patients, one at a time, and must make a diagnosis (guess) about what is wrong.
- Each of the patients cannot talk, but must act out the “disease” – chattering like a monkey, saluting, or making a speech.
- When the doctor guesses the disease, the person who gave the clue changes places and becomes the doctor.
Only One Liar
A psychological large group icebreaker game, participants must stand or sit in a circle with their eyes closed and remain completely quiet.
- The leader of the group says that they will choose one person for a task by a tap on their shoulder.
- The leader walks around the outside of the circle and then tells the group to open their eyes and look around to determine whom the leader chose.
- They are to remember whom they chose, but not tell at this point.
- The leader repeats the exercise, but this time tells the participants to count to three after looking around and then point to the person they thought the leader chose the first time.
- Then, they do the same for whom they thought was chosen the second time.
- The leader asks participants to share why they chose a person – was it facial expression, body language, etc.
- The leader then asks those who were touched the first time to raise their hands.
- Participants discover no one was touched the first time.
- When asked the second time, they discover they were all touched.
There was Only One Liar – the leader.
This stimulating large group icebreaker gets people focused and ready for activities.
- Have everyone stand in a circle, arms out to the side.
- The left hand palm faces up, and the right index finger points down and touches a neighbor’s outstretched palm.
- The leader explains that when the group hears “Go!” they are to grab the finger in their left hands while preventing the person on their right from grabbing their finger.
- Do this several times.
Icebreaker games for large groups are especially effective for meetings, conventions, retreats, and anywhere participants must interact and work together. Try ours. You will find the fun and variety you need to make any large group activity fun and memorable.
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.