By Adam Pritchard

Icebreakers are a great way for people to get to know each other, to prepare students for other activities, or simply to have some fun.  Below are 10 tried and tested ice breaker activities for teachers that can be used with all ages, from children to adults. 

  1. 2 Truths and 1 Lie

This is very quick and simple to set up, and it’s also a great “getting to know you” activity for a group of students who don’t know each other very well.  Each student in the class writes three sentences about themselves, one of which is false.  They then tell a partner the three sentences, and the partner must guess which one is the lie.  Encourage the students to be creative to avoid obvious and overly easy lies. 

  1. Toilet Paper

Fun for all ages, for this activity the teacher hands round a roll of toilet paper, telling the students to take as much as they want but without explaining why.  This game works especially well in a class of children or teenagers, as one student always takes a lot.  When all the students have some paper, explain that for each piece they have taken they must tell the group one thing about themselves or ask someone in the class one question.  This is great for sharing some basic personal information in a relaxed environment. 

  1. Speed Dating

An old classic that is suitable for older teenagers and adults, this activity gives students a short time to get to know each other.  Students have 2-3 minutes to talk to a partner before moving onto another person.  They can either be themselves or, to make it even more fun, can invent a character.  It may be a good idea to ask one or two students to report on what their partner said after each round since it helps to focus them and ensures that they actually listen to their partner.

  1. 20 Questions/Who Am I?

A good way to get students mingling more freely, this activity will require the use of Post-It notes.  Each student writes the name of a famous person on a Post-It note and then sticks the note onto another student’s back.  The second student does not know the identity of their famous person, so they must find out by asking other people in the class questions.  These questions can either be free or restricted to yes/no answers.  The activity ends when all of the students have found out the identity of their famous person.  It’s a good idea to keep the students moving by limiting how many questions they can ask each person in the class.  This will encourage them to speak to different people, which is, after all, the purpose of the exercise. 

  1. Find Someone Who/Have You Ever?

This is another good activity to get everyone moving around the class and talking to different people while sharing some basic information about experiences.  The students are given a list of questions, or can write their own, about different activities.  They must then talk to different people in the class in order to find someone who has done each activity.  For example, “Have you ever been to Alaska?”  The winner is the first person to get a “yes” to each question, or the person who has the most after an allotted time.  You may need to monitor some students carefully if they are writing their own in order to prevent particularly outlandish and impractical questions.

  1. S and P

This is a great activity for getting students to think quickly, as well as to revise vocabulary across a range of topics.  It’s also very fast and requires no preparation.  All you need is a ball and a topic — for example, countries.  Everyone in the class stands in a circle.   The student who has the ball says the name of any country, then throws the ball to another student, who says a different country and throws the ball to someone else, and so on.  Students cannot say any country starting with the letters S or P and cannot repeat a country that has already been said.  If they do, they are out.  Topics can be changed to keep the game going and a time limit can be imposed to challenge the students and keep it exciting.

  1. Word Association

This is another game that’s useful for getting students to think on their feet.  Again, everyone stands in a circle and the first student says a word, any word.  The next student must say a word that is connected with the first.  This continues around the class.  For example, if the first student says “sun,” the second may say “sky,” as the sun is in the sky.   To this, the third might say “blue,” as the sky is blue.  To make it more difficult a time element can be introduced to force the students to think quickly.

  1. Word Disassociation

This is a deviation of the game above.  Essentially very similar, students must think of words that are not connected in any way.  For example, if one student says “blue,” the next may say “aardvark,” as there is no obvious connection.  Encourage students to challenge if they think there is a connection, and in ambiguous circumstances to vote on whether an answer should be allowed or not.  This has the benefit of keeping them focused and also gets students more involved as they have the power to referee the game rather than simply being told whether they are right or wrong by a teacher.

  1. Hotseat

In addition to getting students to work together in groups, this activity also acts as good revision for important vocabulary.  For Hotseat, students are divided into small groups who sit together in a circle.  One student in each group sits with their back to the whiteboard and cannot look at it.  This is the Hotseat.  The teacher writes a word on the board, which the students who can see the board must describe without using the word itself.  The first person in the Hotseat to guess the word wins one point for their group, with the team with the most points after an allotted time being declared the overall winner.

  1. Memory Game

Also known as the supermarket game, as the name suggests this tests the students’ memories.  The class stands in circle.  One person starts by saying “Yesterday I went to the supermarket and I bought…” and chooses something that they purchased.  The next person then repeats what the first person said, including their food, and adds something else.  This continues with the list growing each time.  In order to make sure that students are paying attention, keep it random as to who goes next such as by tossing a ball.  If a student can’t remember or makes a mistake, they are out.  This game is great for practicing new vocabulary as you can easily change the starting sentence and context.  The students also tend to run the game themselves, as they either help or hinder their classmates by prompting or distracting them.

More Activities

Of course, there are many more ice-breaker activities in existence; this is just a small list of those that have been tried and tested.  For more, please follow the links below:

Icebreakers for teenagers.

Icebreakers for adults.

Icebreakers for all ages.