Icebreaker games are great ways to get both new and old teams feeling confident and connected with each other. Although we often think of icebreaker games in relation to the workplace, they have applications across all age groups, from school-aged children to teenagers at college.
Below, is a list of 28 of the best icebreakers suitable for adults, teenagers, and children. They all focus on being light-hearted, fun, and simple and we think you’ll love them!
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What are icebreaker games?
An icebreaker game is an activity designed to help a group of people break down barriers and feel a sense of warmness towards each other. As well as being low-cost to run, they also promote team building and allow teams to be creative, trust each other and work better together.
There are many types of icebreaker games. The simplest way to break the ice is to ask your group simple icebreaker questions. To spice this up, you can even make these questions holiday themed, which creates lots of festive fun. There are even options specifically made for virtual groups. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more versatile, we’ve included everything from human bingo to marshmallow wars on our list below.
9 Icebreaker Games for Adults
Icebreaker games for adults can be used in lots of settings. Most often, they are used in the workplace to get newly formed teams working together. However, they can also be used in workshops, further education courses, and even at parties!
1. Human Bingo
This is a fun, engaging, and competitive way to get your adult team talking to each other, working together, and, ultimately, leaving the session feeling confident in each other’s company.
To play, create a list of bingo human statements before the game begins. For example, good statements include ‘has brown hair’, ‘works for the HR team’, ‘has lived in Europe’, or ‘plays the piano’. Then, create some human bingo cards and print enough for each player. Give your participants 30 minutes to walk around the room and chat with the other players. The aim of this easy icebreaker game is that when the timer is up, they’ll have found someone that matches every question on the bingo sheet and, therefore, will leave feeling more connected to the other players!
2. The Line Up
This is a great icebreaker game for meetings because what better way to get your workplace team bonding than to focus on the uniqueness and special diversity within the team? It’s a great game to use for corporate events as it encourages good communication, teamwork, and shows who the natural leaders are.
If you’d like to try this game with your workplace team, think of a quality (e.g., birthday, age, height order, shoe size) and ask them to form a line ranging from high to low. For example, standing where their birthday falls on a line of January the 1st to December the 31st. Or, slotting into the correct shoe size in a line ranging from size 2 to size 15. Give your team a time limit and at the end, you must go along the line and everyone must call out their birthday (or whatever quality you’re using)… hopefully, they’ll all be in the right place!
3. Team Trivia
Team trivia is a fantastic free ice-breaking activity that allows adult teams to demonstrate their knowledge, learn something new, and have a laugh together.
To play trivia with your adult team, all you need to do is create a list of questions that you want to ask your team. These questions can be workplace-related questions, or they can be general knowledge questions (see below for some great examples). You then want to split your group into two or more teams, and whichever team calls out the answer first wins the point!
- Who was the President of the United States in 1988?
- At what temperature does water freeze?
- What is the capital city of Germany?
- What was our company’s profit last year?
- How many employees do we have?
- What’s the largest team in the company?
4. Virtual Escape Room
Virtual escape rooms are great for adult teams who are looking for an exciting and challenging adventure but need to do it remotely. Throwing themselves into an incredibly realistic setting, teams can work together to race against the clock and break out of prison, search for gold, pull off a money heist, or explore the bottom of the ocean.
To play, book your virtual escape room with the Team Building Hub and set up a meeting with your remote adult team. Then, let the experienced game’s host take over. With a go-pro attached to their head, the host will act as your team’s hands, eyes and feet and will be instructed by your team on how to find the riddles and clues and escape the room!
5. Team Volunteering Day
In a world where we often have access to what we want, it is easy to forget how privileged we actually are. Help your adult team feel a little more grateful for their lives and reconnect with themselves, and with each other, by arranging a team volunteering day.
Pick a day of the year when you’d like your team to have the day off and volunteer somewhere locally. Pick a place where you can all go together, and a place that everyone finds meaningful. This can be anything from a homeless shelter to a local museum.
6. A Group Lunch Hour
Food has always been, and will always be, a great way to enhance relationships. In cultures across the world food is used to create deeper connections and as a way to share and celebrate. The workplace should be no different.
Every now and then, arrange a lunch hour during the working day where you can take your team out for a bite to eat. Pick somewhere local, so that it’s easy to travel to, and pick somewhere with a range of food so that there is something for everyone to eat and something to talk about!
7. Virtual Quiz Game
Television game shows provide great ways to relax, unwind, and be entertained. So, why not get your team to participate in one to feel the same effects?
With plenty of online games to pick from, such as a puzzle online game or the holiday game, your adult team can get stuck into five rounds of fast-paced fun. Your team can put their collaboration and problem-solving skills to the test as they work through various brain teasers and code-cracking problems, just as they would in a real-life games show!
8. Cocktail Hour
Suitable only for adult teams because alcohol is involved, this is a great icebreaker game for large groups to help your team relax and unwind. All you need to do is find a local bar that offers a cocktail making experience and invite your adult team along so that they can make their favorite drink.
As a top tip, make sure there are non-alcoholic options available too so that everyone feels welcomed.
9. The Star Light Poem
This excellent, quick, and easy icebreaker game for work can be used on adult teams during meetings to allow them to think of all the possibilities and positives that lay ahead of the team.
This adult icebreaker is based on the poem “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight”. Team members must say the poem out loud and then write their wish on a piece of paper that is circulating the room. Once every team member has written their wish, the poem is recited and the paper is stuck on the wall so that your team can always be reminded of what they need to do for ultimate success.
10 Icebreaker Games for Teenagers
Being a teenager can be a challenging, confusing, and daunting time. When interacting at school or in other activities, teenagers can feel intimidated or nervous. One fantastic way to ease these feelings is to ensure you always have some fun icebreaker games for teenagers up your sleeve.
Below are 10 of the best icebreaker games for youths, we hope you enjoy using them!
1. Simon Says
This classic icebreaker game for large groups is suitable for teenagers, children, and adults! Designed to work for groups of any size, it’s the perfect way to get your group moving around and bonding.
To play, simply nominate one person in the group to be ‘Simon’. Simon must then stand at the front and give instructions to the rest of the group. When they say “Simon says” followed by a statement, the rest of the group must follow this instruction. However, if they say a statement without saying “Simon says”, the group must not do it.
For example, the group would follow “Simon says touch your toes” but they would not follow “run to the nearest window”. If a player follows an instruction when they are not meant to, they must then become the new Simon and will give out the next instructions.
2. The Blanket Game
This simple-yet-effective icebreaker is incredible for encouraging young people to step outside their comfort zone and get to know each other a little better. On top of this, it also promotes a bit of friendly competition, which is great for building some excitement.
To play you need to get everyone to go around the room and introduce themselves by their name. Then, split your group of teenagers into teams of 5 to 10 people and set up two chairs opposite each other. With the help of another adult, hold a blanket up between the two chairs so that they are ‘invisible’ from each other.
Players must then take turns sitting in one of the chairs and when the blanket is dropped, they must remember the name of the other player. The person who remembers first collects a point for their team, and the team with the most points wins!
3. Marshmallow Toss
The aim of this game is for teammates to catch as many marshmallows in their mouths as possible. It creates a friendly and light-hearted atmosphere, whilst promoting hand-eye coordination and creating a bit of competition!
Separate your group of teenagers into two teams and use masking tape to draw two lines on the floor that creates a distance between the two teams. Line the teams up opposite each other and set the timer for two minutes. Teams must then take turns throwing marshmallows into each other’s mouths and the team that catches the most marshmallows in the allotted time wins!
4. Solve a Puzzle
Solving a puzzle is a great icebreaker for teenage teams of any size because it challenges and educates them, as well as gets them to bond together.
This free activity requires your team to work together, think aloud, and brainstorm as a group. To play, give your team some fantastic brain teasers and give them a certain amount of time to solve them.
5. Back-to-Back Drawing
Get your young team to grow their problem-solving, verbal communication, and active listening skills with this icebreaker game for teams.
Working in pairs, one player must carefully describe a shape without naming it. Player number two must then try to draw the shape as correctly as possible. Due to the intricate nature of this task, it is an excellent way to enhance active listening skills in young people.
6. Paper Towers
Creative, exciting, and requiring teamwork… everything an icebreaker for teenagers should be!
To play paper towers, split your teenagers into smaller teams and give them sheets of paper. Set a timer for two minutes and get them to race to build the tallest freestanding tower with only paper. The team with the tallest tower wins!
7. City Hunt
Young people are often keen to explore, learn and feel independent. As a result, a city hunt icebreaker is a fantastic way for them to explore their local city and connect away from the watchful eye of an adult!
Find a list of interesting statues or buildings in your local area and send your teens out with the list, instructing them to take photos with each thing on the list. Give them a time limit in which they have to find all these things and get back to the starting point.
8. Compliment Circle
Low self-esteem is on the rise in teenagers, and with this being associated with anxiety and depression, it is important to take steps to limit this.
A compliment circle is an icebreaker game for small groups, due to its sensitive nature. It is an incredibly useful tool to help build up confidence, positivity and self-esteem in teenagers. In a circle, your teens must go around and compliment the person sitting to their right. They can compliment them on a personality characteristic or a recent achievement but this shouldn’t be about someone’s physical appearance.
9. The Name Game
The name game is a fun way to test your team’s knowledge of historical figures and/or celebrities. Plus, it’s also a great way of subtly getting teenagers to step out of their comfort zone and build their confidence in talking in front of others.
To play, gather some post-it notes and give one to each teenager. They must then write the name of a famous person on it and stick it to the head of the player to the left, who MUST NOT see what is on the post-it note. Taking it in turns, go around the room and each teenager can ask one yes or no question at a time to aid them in guessing who is on their head. For example “am I male?”, “am I a singer?”, “am I dead?” or “am I over the age of 60?”. Keep going until everyone has guessed who they are!
10. Double Take
In double take, participants can mingle with each other and explore their common ground. Teenagers can be shy and tricky to integrate at the start, so this game is a great way to get them to open up to each other.
Play some music and get your group of teens to walk around the room and talk to each other, finding out useful information. When the music stops, you are going to call out a characteristic, for example, hair color, eye color, number of siblings, age, or area that they live. The group must then find someone with the same characteristic as them. Continue for 10 rounds.
8 Icebreaker Games for Kids
Icebreaker games for young children need to be exciting, engaging, and amusing. Without this, kids can easily lose interest and your efforts will be wasted.
Below are the 8 best short, simple, and sweet icebreaker games for children.
1. Air Balloons
Keeping kids entertained is hard, but we all know they love bright colorful balloons… so use them to your advantage and play air balloons!
Separate your children into teams of 3-5 players. Each team has an inflated balloon of a different color and they must work together to keep the balloon off the floor for as long as possible. The team who does this wins a special prize!
2. Musical Chairs
Young children love music, dancing, and running around. Therefore, musical chairs is the perfect game for them to play!
The setup is very simple. In a circle, set up one less chair than the number of children playing. Play some music and when it stops, instruct the children that they must sit down as quick as they can. The last person to find a chair is out.
3. Sports Day
There’s a reason why sports days have been so popular at schools for so many years. They’re great ways to get children to work together and understand how to engage in friendly competition. On top of this, exercise has been shown to improve mood and prevent chronic health conditions, so it’s a win-win.
To create a child-friendly sports day you need a space large enough to host a number of events. Events such as the egg and spoon race, tug of war, sack race, or relay race are great events for children.
4. My Favorite Things
‘My favorite things’ icebreaker is a wonderful way to build confidence in children by allowing them to share the things that they love and are passionate about.
To play, give each child a piece of paper and get them to write a list of their favorite toys, food, people, and animals. Then, go around the room and ask each child to talk about their favorite thing from a section and explain it to the rest of the class.
5. Hide and Seek
This game works best with small children because they can hide in small and very exciting places!
Find somewhere great for lots of small children to run around and hide, such as a school hall or an enclosed green space. Pick a designated ‘seeker’ and tell them to count to 20. During this time, the rest of the children must run and hide in places and wait to be found by the seeker. When a child is found, they then join the rest of the seek in helping them to find the rest of the children.
6. A Great Wind Blows
This is a great game for allowing small children to get to know a bit more about each other. It is also noisy and active, which is excellent for young children who need to blow off some steam.
Arrange chairs in a circle and get the children to sit down. You must then call out “a great wind blows for everyone who…”, and fill in the blank. Anyone who is affected must stand up and find another chair that is at least 2 chairs away from their own. If they do not find a chair, they must stand outside the circle with the adult and help them call the next ‘a great wind’.
Some ideas: little brother, been to Italy, has stroked a horse, has been on a plane, been to Disneyland.
7. Piece by Piece
This is a perfect small group icebreaker for children as they can be creative by making a puzzle, whilst also learning how to be patient and work together.
To play, find a puzzle with around 50 pieces and put it in the middle of a group of around 5-10 children. For the first 2 minutes, explain that the children must complete the puzzle by alternating their turns (taking a piece of the puzzle from the middle and figuring out where it goes). After two minutes, they should continue taking turns but must not speak to each other. In the final 5 minutes, they can complete the puzzle any way they like!
8. Traffic Noise
Traffic Noise is a light-hearted and fun way to get children to break the ice and feel comfortable with each other. It’s also fantastic for children because it is fast-paced and thrilling, which is exactly what they need!
Print out some pictures of vehicles, making sure you print out 2-3 of each. For example, a sports car, tractor, ambulance, airplane, and motorbike. The children must then drive around the room making the noise and mimicking the action of the vehicle they have. The aim of the game is to find the other vehicles in the group that are making the same noise and pair up with them to find the remaining ones.
We hope you’ve liked our list of the 28 best icebreaker games for adults, teenagers, and children.
Although different age groups may require different icebreaker games, one thing is for certain: if you keep the games fun, light-hearted, fast-paced, and engaging, you will find it hard to go wrong!
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Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specializing in organizational psychology – helping teams work better together.