23 Amazing Ice Breaker Activities for Team Building
If you are planning a team building event or activity then this is the site for you. Creating an amazing team building activity:
- Takes planning
- An understanding of your goals
- The activity level of your team
- Your teams trust in each other.
When looking at the activities we focus on:
- Purpose – Take special focus on this section, because it’s within this section that we share the overall goal. Most of the games can be manipulated to fit.
- Duration – This is self-explanatory but it provides you with a general overview of how long this game will take. Every game has the possibility to be shorter or longer depending on the extension questions and the facilitator’s skill level.
- Trust Level – This tells you the trust level required for the activity to be successful. For example, if this is a brand new group then doing an activity that requires an advanced level of trust might not be the best idea.
- Materials – Each one of these activities might require materials such as paper, pencils, or a specific item. Make sure that you select an activity that fits your budget, and preparation time.
- Description -This is where we describe the game its application and process.
- General Materials – These are some general materials that we feel will always help you engage your community while keeping focused on the task at hand, which is building your team. These are optional but if you have the budget and the time you should look to purchase these items.
- Speakers – There are all types of speakers that you can purchase that range from cheap to more expensive. I recommend the Sonos Play Compact Wireless Speaker. These speakers have served me well for all of my professional developments and team building sessions. If interested click –> Sonos Play Compact Wireless Speaker. Take a look at (Click –> Sonos Review) this review will provide you with some general information and will help you make a decision. If you are looking for something cheaper here are two other options. Option 2: Click –> Option 3: –>
- Presentation remotes – I have used a presentation remote for all of my presentations. I hate having to go to the computer or having someone press it for me. It slows my presentation flow and keeps me from engaging my crowd. If you are looking for remotes I recommend one of these two options. I listed them from my highest preferred to least:
- Option 1 –> Canon PR5-G Wireless Remote Presenter, Green
- Option 2 –>Kensington Expert Wireless Presenter with Green Laser Pointer and Cursor Control
1.Active Ice Breaker Activities: Create a Design
Group Size: 4+ divided into pairs
Trust Level: Basic
What do you need? Legos or Tinker Toys.
You need enough for each member of the team. You need to have the same pieces for each person. 10 or fewer pieces are suggested. How much time does it take? 10 to 30 minutes (prep time of 10 minutes to sort Legos into piles for each team member)
Description: Partners sit with their backs to each other so they cannot see what the other is doing. Each person is given a set of identical Legos. Partner A creates a design on the table/floor and describes the design to Partner B. The first time this is done, Partner B cannot ask any questions of Partner A. The roles are reversed and the same thing is done. Then, the activity is repeated for each pair, and this time the person receiving the directions can ask questions.
2.Active Ice Breaker Activities: Talking Piece
Purpose: Getting to know, Active
Group Size: Any
Tools: Common Ground Team Building Ball
Directions: Using the Common Ground Teambuilding Ball Form a circle and toss the ball. Players should toss the ball to whoever they want. Before tossing the ball, the person holding the ball should make eye contact with the person they are passing the ball to. Players must answer the question that is underneath one of their thumbs. Once the question is answered, players should pass the ball to another person.
If you are looking to build your team in a fun and active way then this ball is for you. Take a look at all of the different types of Click on –> Common Ground Teambuilding Balls
3.Active Ice Breaker Activities: Hot Subject
Group Size: 4+
Trust Level: Advanced
What do you need? Paper and pens
How much time does it take? 20 to 30 minutes (10 minutes of prep time)
Description: The facilitator should prepare and choose a topic that is current and that may be controversial. The facilitator explains to everyone that there is going to be a topic and they have to address it in a unique way. The team must make a statement that is either positive or negative but they must take a stand on a position as a group. The goal is that the topic is not that offensive so the facilitator should frame this expectation. For example: “People are taking extra time at lunch.” This can be rephrased as: “Being on time to work helps keep people on task and efficient.” Have the group scale their feelings about the “hot topic.” The group can rate it from 1 to 10. Since the scale is 1 to 10, 1 would be a topic that is least important to the group and 10 is a topic that is extremely important to the group and moves the group a lot. Have them write the number on a slip of paper and fold it. Have them put the slips of paper in a container. The leader mixes up the papers. This helps keep the team members anonymous. The facilitator should tally the score. The leader should keep this number to themselves at this point. Ask the team members to predict what they think the average score is about the subject. Announce the average score and reward the team member that came the closest to the average number. Break the team into 3 groups: Is, IOs, and judges. The is and IOs should spend about 5 to 10 minutes coming up with an argument in support of their side. The is are not in support of changing the situation. The 10s are in support of creating some sort of change. Each team will have 5 minutes to argue their case to the judges. The judges write down the 2 sets of arguments. They review the 2 arguments and make a decision about the winner. Note: This can go beyond a team building decision
4.Active Ice Breaker Activities: Make a Bid!
Group Size: 6+ (at least two teams)
Group Size: 6+ (at least two teams) Level: Advanced
What do you need? A chalkboard or flipchart, pen or chalk to write on board, objects to be used for building, play money (each group gets $100 in the alternate version), paper and pen for each team
How much time does it take? The first part will take 20+ minutes (10 to 15 minutes of prep time)
Description: This is part one of two activities. This can be used together or as individual activities. Divide the group into two smaller groups. On a board or somewhere where they can see (Powerpoint, presentation, flipchart, etc) write down items that you want your team to buy. The purpose of this exercise is to get the group from one point to the next of a specified area. The distance should be a minimum of 12 yards wide. Each group should purchase the materials that they need to get them to the desired point without touching the floor. Use a system to determine which group goes first such as flipping a coin, guess a number between 1 to 5 etc. The winning team must now bid on the objects and they only have 100 dollars. For example
- Team A $10 on rope $40 on board $50 on paper Team
- B $75 on paper $25 on rope The bidding is blind.
Each team must write down their bids and turn them into the leader. The leader then distributes the objects to the teams based on their bids. Discuss with them if they think they can build the bridge based on what they bought. How did they work out the bids in their groups? What was their bridge design? Did they draw it out?
5. Active Ice Breaker Activities: The Talking Piece: 2nd Variation
Group Size: 4+
What do you need? A stick or a unique item that can be passed around
How much time does it take? 15 to 20 minutes
Description: As a group, everyone should circle up. The rule is that only the person holding the item can speak. The way this work is the first person will ask a question and then pass the stick to the person on the left or right to answer.
Once the next person answers, he or she hands the stick to the person on his or her left. This continues until everyone has had a chance to answer. The next person then asks a question and this step continues until everyone has answered a question. This can go further by having someone ask a question to the person who just answered one. This could be a great way for teams to get to know each other and communicate. This game can be applied to a lot of other things as well such a restorative circle or if there is a need to have a tough conversation around a topic.
Here is a list of potential questions:
- What is your favorite color?
- What is your favorite book and why?
- Favorite superhero and why?
- Can you describe an event in your life that left a huge impact on you?
- What is your favorite candy?
- Name a movie that you like and why?
- Is there someone that you especially care for and why?
6. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Talking Piece: Get-To-Know Cube: Variation 3
- Purpose: Getting to know
- Group Size: 5+
- Materials: Learning Resources Conversation Cubes
- Directions: Using the Learning Resources Conversation Cubes, you should:
- Get everyone into a circle.
- Ask a person to throw the cubes at a person of their choice. Make sure that the person throwing makes eye contact with the person they are throwing.
- The person catching must answer the question where their right thumb lands on.
- Once answered they should repeat the process with another.
- The Learning Resources Conversation Cubes has hundreds of questions and could be a great way to facilitate morning circles, group meetings, or counseling sessions. Click on –> Learning Resources Conversation Cubes to find out more.
7. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Get Sorting
Purpose: Non-Verbal Communication
Group Size: 4 – Any
What do you need?: Nothing other than a goal.
Description: The goal of this activity is for a group to sort themselves without talking to each other. Here are the possible ways your group can sort themselves.
- Without talking get together with people who are within 2 years of the same age as you.
- Without talking get together from shortest to tallest
- Without talking find all the people that have the same amount of siblings as yourself.
The possibilities for this are endless.
8. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Missing Puzzle Piece
Purpose: Communication and teamwork
Group Size: 8+
Materials: Puzzle pieces for each group.
Directions: The goal of this game is to force your team to work together. The teams will be asked to figure out a simple puzzle with one missing piece. The facilitator should put one piece into another person puzzle. The facilitator should tell the group that no matter what the puzzle can be completed. What will happen is that teams will have to barter, communicate, and find a way to get their missing piece.
9. Active Ice Breaker Activities: One: Arm untangle
Purpose: Encouraging teamwork
Group size: 4+
Time: 10 minutes
Description: Each person stands up and comes to the center of the room. Everyone hooks hands with two other people, putting hands and arms over and under or in any tangled combination. Then, the game is to try and untangle the arms without letting go of each other’s hands. People will have to work together to communicate how they’re going to untangle themselves. Good for a younger group.
Follow up: How did everyone eventually solve the problem? What worked and what didn’t?
10. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Two: Back to back drawing
Purpose: Enhancing communication skills
Group size: 4+, even numbers
Tools: Enough chairs, pads of paper and pencils, simple line drawings on cards
Time: 20 minutes
Description: Pairs of people are put with their backs facing on chairs. Each person receives a picture card and has to describe how to draw this picture to their partner. They cannot say exactly what their picture is, only describe how to draw it, for example, “there are four long sticks attached to a flat board…”. When finished, the other person has their turn. The pictures are compared at the end of the game – who explained better?
Follow up: How do people respond when they can’t communicate face to face?
11. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Lifeboat
Purpose: Learning cooperation
Group size: 2+
Tools: None, or could use a blow-up life raft for a fun prop
Time: 15 minutes
Description: The team has to decide, collectively, what 10 items they will bring to a desert island when their ship sinks and they are forced to escape in a lifeboat. The trick is, everyone must agree on the 10 items and nobody should feel left out.
Follow up: How did the group navigate the challenge, and how were compromises made?
12. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Famous People
Purpose: Warmer, icebreaker
Group size: 4+
Tools: Post it notes
Time: 15 -20 minutes
Description: Prepare by writing the names of very famous people on yellow post-it notes. Now, without seeing what’s written on the note, each person has a note stuck onto their backs. The group mingle and chat among themselves. The goal is to find out the name that’s stuck to your back by asking people question that they can only answer with a yes or no, for example, “am I male?”.
Follow up: How did the group feel about the exercise?
13. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Choosing Sides
Purpose: Getting to know you exercise; warmer
Group size: 6+, the bigger the better
Tools: None needed
Time: Variable; at least 5 minutes
Description: Draw a real or imaginary line on the floor and stand on it. Then, the group is asked an either/or question, for example, “would you rather be rich or beautiful?” or “would you rather be famous for winning the Nobel prize or an Oscar?” etc. People then actively stand on either side of the line to show their choice. This is a great exercise to involve the whole group and get everyone moving, plus there are some laughs to be had when people discover the unexpected preferences of their group members.
14. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Square Flip
Purpose: Morale booster; warmer; teamwork
Group size: 10+ but the more the better
Tools: At least 50 pieces of paper or cardboard, differently colored on each side; otherwise, one side can be marked with one symbol and the other side a different symbol; an open field or hall
Time: 5 – 10 minutes
Description: Prepare the field or hall space by placing the sheets of paper or cardboard all over the ground. There should be an equal number of both sides showing, i.e. the same number of each symbol or color. People are sorted into two teams corresponding to the different colors or symbols on the cards. The winning team will have more of their symbol or color showing after two minutes. Someone sets a timer for 2 minutes, and then the teams have to very quickly run around and turn over the papers as fast as they can to make sure their symbol or color is showing. At the end of the 2 minutes, the papers are counted to see who the winning team is.
15. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Human Spring
Purpose: Building trust and cooperation
Group size: 6+, even numbers
Time: 5 minutes
Description: Group members stand in pairs facing each other. With elbows bent and palms touching, instruct everyone to gradually step their feet further and further back – they will eventually have to rely solely on one another to maintain their balance.
Follow up: Was trusting your teammates easy? Why or why not?
16. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Minefield
Purpose: Icebreaker; trust exercise
Group size: 5+
Tools: Various “obstacles”
Time: 10 minutes
Description: To prepare, set up a minefield made of obstacles all over the place, example chairs, books etc. One person is blindfolded and guided from one end of the minefield to the other through the help of his teammates, who are standing on the side shouting directions.
17. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Trust Fall
Purpose: Trust exercise
Group size: 2+, better with pairs
Time: 5 minutes
Description: Someone stands on a chair and the rest of the group positions themselves to catch them as they fall backward. This takes considerable trust on the part of the person falling but can be a good exercise if everyone gets a turn to trust in their team.
Follow up: what emotions came up during the exercise?
18. Active Ice Breaker Activities: The Perfect Team Member
Purpose: Cooperation, morale-boosting
Group size: 4+
Tools: A large piece of paper, markers and pens
Time: 30 minutes
Description: Lay a massive sheet of paper on the floor, and trace the outline of a person on the paper. This is to represent your “perfect team member”. The group takes turns discussing their best features and strengths they bring to the group. In turn, these are added to the drawing with colored markers and pens. After everyone has contributed, the group discusses how this imaginary person embodies all their best qualities, and how.
Follow up: How do members feel about discussing their strengths? Did people accept compliments gracefully? What strengths do you have that are unrecognized?
19. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Darkness
Purpose: Team Building
Group size: 4+
Tools: A very dark room
Time: 30 minutes +
Description: In a room as dark as possible, get the team members to try and cooperate together on a group task – even something as simple as preparing some tea – without the use of sight. The team will have to rely on verbal communication to cooperate.
Follow up: How do the members feel about their verbal skills?
20. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Puzzle
Purpose: Group morale, icebreaker
Group size: 4+
Tools: At least two sets of puzzles
Time: 15 minutes
Description: Two teams have to compete with each other to build a simple puzzle as quickly as possible, beating the other team.
Follow up: Discuss how people approached the task – did some people dominate?
21. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Building a Paper Tower
Purpose: Critical thinking, group work, icebreaker
Group size: 4+
Tools: Several sheets of plain paper
Time: Up to 20 minutes
Description: Break the group into two teams. Now, they must compete to build the tallest tower in a set time, for example, 5 minutes. The only catch is that they must find a way to build a tower using nothing but plain sheets of paper. The group will have to cooperate to find novel ways to build a good tower. Very good for children and younger groups.
Follow up: What skills did the group need to draw on to work together and build a good tower? How could they have done better?
22. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Compliments
Purpose: Group solidarity and morale
Group size: Any
Tools: Sheets of paper
Time: 20 minutes
Description: Each group member takes some time to compile a list of short (sincere!) compliments about every other team member. Then, the instructor tears the paper into strips and compiles a list for each group member consisting of all the compliments they received.
Follow up: This is a good way to start a conversation about praise in the workplace, self-esteem, and recognition. Talk about how each member felt about receiving their compliments.
23. Active Ice Breaker Activities: Budget Dinner
Purpose: Practical group work
Group size: Any
Tools: A set budget for each group, access to a supermarket and kitchen
Time: Approx. half a day
Description: This is a great exercise for conferences and team building weekends. In groups, people have to work together to plan and make a very cheap meal together. Given some parameters (a very, very low budget, dietary restrictions, number of people etc.) the group has to optimize as best they can and come up with a meal before the deadline. Group members have to learn to break the task up, plan, allocate tasks to different members, do a costing exercise and agree on a good meal to make to be successful. An optional “taste test” can be completed at the end to see which team made the best meal using their resources.
Follow up: What lessons did the team learn? What skills are needed to do this exercise well?