Whenever you have a group of people who need to work together effectively, a team-building icebreaker provides the perfect tool for dividing your group into teams and getting everyone ready to go. Our collection of team building icebreakers work well in classroom, employee meetings and workshop, and gatherings designed just for fun. We have divided our collection of team building icebreakers into those that are quick and easy, those that help a group relax, and those that are a bit more challenging.
Table of Contents
- 1 Super Quick and Easy Team Building Icebreakers
- 2 Icebreaker Games with Purpose
- 3 Team Icebreaker Games to Relax the Group
- 4 Large Group, Large Area Team-building Icebreakers
Super Quick and Easy Team Building Icebreakers
Match Me If You Can
Begin by telling your group, “We are going to play a game that will show you some important things about communication.”
Pass out a sheet of paper to each person. Tell the group to close their eyes and follow the directions you give them. If you think they may be tempted to peek, you can provide blindfolds. Explain that they must follow the directions exactly and cannot ask any questions. As you give the directions, follow them yourself, making sure you give the group time to complete each step.
- Fold the sheet of paper in half.
- Tear off the upper right-hand corner.
- Fold the paper in half again and tear off the upper left hand corner of the sheet.
- Fold the paper in half again. Now tear off the lower right-hand corner of the sheet.
After every one is through tearing the paper, say, “Now open your eyes, and let’s see what you have. If I did a good job giving directions and you did a good job listening, all of our sheets should look the same.”
Hold your sheet up for them to see it. You will be surprised to see that very few match yours. Ask the group to share why they think the papers did not match. This works well as a lead-in to a discussion on the importance of communication in the workplace.
A handy icebreaker to use with any size group of any age, Got You! is sure to generate laughs. This team building icebreaker game works will at the beginning of a meeting or get-together, focusing attention and relaxing the group.
- Begin by having the participants stand in a circle, their arms out to the side, left hand palm up, right index finger pointing down and touching their neighbor’s outstretched palm.
- When the group is ready, say, “When I say the word, “Go!” do two things: grab the finger in your left hand, and prevent your right finger from being grabbed. 1 – 2 – 3 – Go!”
- Repeat several times.
You can use any trigger word you wish instead of “Go!” One idea is to choose a word that emphasizes the theme of your meeting, activity, or get-together.
- A quick and easy icebreaker activity to build teams, you begin by dividing the group into teams of five or six people.
- Give each team a copy of the same newspaper.
- Tell them the goal of the game is to find an article, advertisement, or column you describe as quickly as possible.
- Once they find it, they are to tear it out and bring it to you.
- The first team to do so gets a point.
- Set a time limit and continue calling out items until the time is up.
- The team with the most points wins.
Another quick and easy team icebreaker, all you need for this game is paper and pens or pencils. You can use colored markers if you wish.
- Divide your large group into teams and have one member of each team draw a line.
- When they have done so, they pass it to another team member and they continue drawing.
- Give each person five seconds to draw.
- When the drawings are finished, have the teams share their “masterpieces.”
The Magic Wand
A quick an easy team building icebreaker game, keep this in mind for whenever you need an exercise to help a group learn more about each other.
- Explain that you have a magic wand, the possession of which allows one to change three work related activities.
- A person can change themselves, their boss, coworkers, etc.
- Pass the invisible “magic wand” around the group and have them discuss the changes they would make.
- You can also have them explain why those chose those changes.
A variation is to have them tell what they would change if they became the boss for a month. Be prepared for some surprising revelations.
Icebreaker Games with Purpose
An engaging group activity, Sequence helps develop communication and problem solving skills for a group or teams.
- Create the game by separating the picture pages of an inexpensive children’s book into one-page sheets. You can laminate each page or place them in clear plastic sleeves to protect them and prolong usage.
- Mix up the pictures and hand out one to each person. Make sure you use a continuous sequence.
- Tell the group they may only look at their own picture and not show their picture to anyone else.
- The goal is for the group to put the pictures in the correct order. They may ask and answer questions to do so, but not reveal their pictures.
- When the group thinks they have all of the pictures in order, turn them over to see if they are correct.
- You can use a time limit to increase difficulty and enhance focus on teamwork.
- This icebreaker can be played with two or more teams and the same or different stories.
- You can score if you use teams by counting how many how many pictures are in sequence.
- You can divide the group into pairs if you have a large group.
- If you use this with very young children, allow the group to look through all of the pictures before they organize the story from beginning to end.
When you have a group that will be working together for several days, it is a good idea to build team identity and spirit. To do so, use this exercise to have teams decide on a name, a mission statement, and/or a slogan. Divide your group into teams and provide each team with a large piece of poster board and colored markers. Give your teams ten minutes to come up with a team name and five minutes to decide on a slogan. If you wish, you can continue this exercise on another day by having the teams design a logo and/or choose a mascot. You can also debrief after this exercise with the following questions:
- How did you decide on the logo?
- Why did you choose that mascot?
- Do you feel more a member of a team now?
An icebreaker that gets coworkers talking to each other, and gets them working with one another, One Question is quick and simple.
- The leader chooses a situation and asks a question pertaining to deciding a person’s suitability for being successful. For example, the leader may choose heading up a company, parenting, or being married.
- Divide the group into pairs and have each person on the two-person team come up with a question that would help them decide their partner’s suitability for the situation.
For example, if the situation is marriage, they might ask if the person plans to stay married even if they have some problems in the marriage. You can either provide the same or different situations for the pairs.
- Split you group into four equal teams of four.
- Begin by explaining that we tend to classify someone or something into stereotypical groups.
- The goal of this game is to divide into subgroups based upon criteria that are not prejudicial, negative, or discriminatory.
For example, all those that love dessert, or all those that have dogs as pets. This activity helps team members get to know each other better and collectively think of themselves as team members.
Team Icebreaker Games to Relax the Group
Sometimes a group needs to be calmed down and concentrate on material being presented. Introspection is important, and this icebreaker is a good way to prepare your group for getting on with a task.
- Have the group get comfortable – head on the table, lie on the floor, whatever works.
- Tell them to take about five minutes, close their eyes and reflect upon the words they hear.
- You can say words such as “beach,” peaceful forest,” or “sail away.” If you wish to get them ready for working on a particular topic, repeat words related to that topic.
- After five minutes, gather the group into a circle and have them share some of the thoughts they had.
An excellent icebreaker activity that perfect for small and large groups, you begin by asking each participant to close their eyes for one minute and think about the best moments in their lives. They can be moments alone, or with family or friends. They can pertain to professional success, personal experiences, or vacations and holidays. Have the group tell about their best moments. Then inform them you want them to close their eyes and what 5 minutes of their life they would want to relive if they only had five minutes left to live. The purpose of the first part of this activity is to reflect back on their lives, while the second part lets them get to know their coworkers better
Large Group, Large Area Team-building Icebreakers
For this fun and active team icebreaker activity, you need an outdoor area or a large, flat, open indoor space at least 30 feet square. You will also need 5 hula-hoops and 60 to 70 tennis balls.
Arrange the hula-hoops at the four corners of an imaginary square five feet on each side, with one of the hoops in the middle. Put the tennis balls in the middle hoop. Divide your group into four teams by counting off 1 through four and putting all the ones together, all the twos together, etc. Have each team get on a corner of the square next to a hoop. The goal of the game is to place all the tennis balls in the team’s hoop following the following rules:
- Team members may not throw or toss the balls
- You can take balls from other teams once all the balls are out of the middle.
- You cannot defend your hoop.
After the teams have attempted to gather the tennis balls, call a two-minute break, during which the teams are to strategize. After two minutes, have the participants start again. You will continue to allow attempts and give breaks to plan strategy until the teams experience frustration. Then allow the teams to get together and discuss strategy. At this point, group members may realize that the only way to succeed is to put all the balls in the center circle and put the teams’ hoops around them. If not, you can explain this to them and end the game.
Another game requiring a large area – at least 50 feet in length, this works well outside or in a large conference room. You will need cones or other markers to designate start and finish lines and a funny prop to serve as a talisman. Explain the participants are to pretend they are crossing a swamp. The goal of the game is for the group to move from start to finish with the following restrictions:
- People must have the Talisman physically with them as they cross.
- Each person may only use the Talisman one time going one way.
- The Talisman cannot be thrown or tossed.
Note: This activity is physically challenging, as the only solution is to have at least one person “carry” two other people across the “swamp.” Be aware of participants who may have back or knee issues before beginning.
A game similar to talisman, this icebreaker game requires no props and works with any size group. The time needed varies dependent on the size of the group. For ten people, you will need at least twenty minutes.
- Mark off the beginning and end lines of the play space.
- Have the group assemble behind the start line and explain they must travel over the end line with the entire group.
- The trick is, they must maintain in continuous contact with their feet.
- If anyone loses contact, the whole group must start over.
Team building icebreaker games have become extremely popular in many different environments. They help team members get to know each other, prepare participants for upcoming activities, and make any group encounter fun and memorable. Find you favorite in our collection and become known for your ability to effectively lead teams at, school, or anywhere else.