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Ice Breakers

'Icebreakers for Small Groups' ... These icebreakers are simple to use and suitable for a wide age range.

Descriptions of group icebreakers, warmups, energizers and deinhibizers.

Pharaoh, Pharaoh

This is a great song icebreaker that last about 5 -10 minutes and is good for all ages.  You will need to play the song “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” by Steve Angresano for this activity.  One of the leaders goes up front to explain the hand motions for the song.  The motions follow the words to the song.  The first words of the song are “Pharaoh, pharaoh”, so the group puts their hands together over their head and makes like and Egyptian.  Then the next motion is two quick claps.  After that, the words are “Oh Baby”.  This is when the group makes an O with their hands together over their heads.  After you have the O, hold your hands together and swing them down to your belly, making like you are pregnant (Baby).  Then next line is “Let my people go.”  This is when the group points with both of their hands in front of them with their index fingers and then draws back their hands to point backwards with their thumbs.  Then the group does a Pelvic thrust for the “Uh” sound.  Then Steve sings “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”  This is when the group walks like an Egyptian.  Then one verse starts and the group just dances and claps their hands.  Then you repeat this action when the refrain comes back.  Now you are ready to start the song.  It is a lot of fun if the group is open to it, but if they are not open, it could be a disaster.  

Pile Up (Traffic Jam)

This ice breaker is good for all ages.  Have the large group sit in chairs in a large circle.  The activity leader calls out directions such as, “Everyone who listens to Michael Jackson move two chairs to your right.”  Then the people who like Michael Jackson move two places to the right and sit in that chair or on the person’s lap who is still sitting there.  This continues with other questions.  This is why we call this game pile up or traffic jam.  At some point there will be tall piles of people and empty chairs.  If a person who is being sat on agrees with the question then he moves without the pile.  The questions are individually based and not pile based.  Questions can deal with clothing, personalities, hobbies, etc.

The Little Known Fact

Ask participants to share their name, department or role in the organization, length of service, and one little known fact about themselves.

This "little known fact" becomes a humanizing element that can help break down differences such as grade/status in future interaction.

Desert  Island

Announce, 'You've been exiled to a deserted island for a year. In addition to the essentials, you may take one piece of music, one book (which is not the Bible) and one luxury item you can carry with you i.e. not a boat to leave the island! What would you take and why?'

Allow a few minutes for the young people to draw up their list of three items, before sharing their choices with the rest of the group. As with most icebreakers and relationship building activities, it's good for the group leaders to join in too!

Name that person

Divide into two teams. Give each person a blank piece of card. Ask them to write five little known facts about themselves on their card. Include all leaders in this game
too. For example, I have a pet iguana, I was born in Iceland, my favourite food is spinach, my grandmother is called Doris and my favourite colour is vermillion.

Collect the cards into two team piles. Draw one card from the opposing team pile. Each team tries to name the person in as few clues as possible. Five points if they get it on the first clue, then 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. The team with the most points wins. (Note: if
you select the most obscure facts first, it will increase the level of competition and
general head scratching!)

Would  you  rather..?

Questions may range from silly trivia to more serious content. On the way you might find out some interesting things about your young people! Place a line of tape down the centre of the room. Ask the group to straddle the tape.

When asked 'Would you rather?’ they have to jump to the left or right as indicated by the leader. Don't forget to encourage your adult helpers to join in too! I've included 20 starter questions, just add your own and let the fun begin.

Would you rather..?
•   Visit the doctor or the dentist?
•   Eat broccoli or carrots?
•   Watch TV or listen to music?
•   Own a lizard or a snake?
•   Have a beach holiday or a mountain holiday?
•   Be an apple or a banana?
•   Be invisible or be able to read minds?
•   Be hairy all over or completely bald?
•   Be the most popular or the smartest person you know?
•   Make headlines for saving somebody's life or winning a Nobel Prize?
•   Go without television or fast food for the rest of your life?
•   Have permanent diarrhoea or permanent constipation?
•   Be handsome/beautiful and dumb or be ugly and really smart?
•   Always be cold or always be hot?
•   Not hear or not see?
•   Eliminate hunger and disease or be able to bring lasting world peace?
•   Be stranded on a deserted island alone or with someone you don't like?
•   See the future or change the past?
•   Be three inches taller or three inches shorter?
•   Wrestle a lion or fight a shark?

Ask the group to sit in a circle. Write 20 'IF' questions on cards and place them (question down) in the middle of the circle. The first person takes a card, reads it out and gives their answer, comment or explanation. The card is returned to the bottom of the pile before the next person takes their card.

This is a simple icebreaker to get young people talking and listening to others in the group. Keep it moving and don't play for too long. Write your own additional 'IF' questions to add to the list.

1.   If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
2.   If I gave you $10,000, what would you spend it on?
3.   If you could watch your favourite movie now, what would it be?
4.   If you could talk to anyone in the world, who would it be?
5.   If you could wish one thing to come true this year, what would it be?
6.   If you could live in any period of history, when would it be?
7.   If you could change anything about yourself, what would you change?
8.   If you could be someone else, who would you be?
9.   If you could have any question answered, what would it be?
10. If you could watch your favourite TV show now, what would it be?
11. If you could have any kind of pet, what would you have?
12. If you could do your dream job 10 years from now, what would it be?
13. If you had to be allergic to something, what would it be?
14. If you sat down next to Jesus on a bus, what would you talk about?
15. If money and time was no object, what would you be doing right now?
16. If you had one day to live over again, what day would you pick?
17. If you could eat your favourite food now, what would it be?
18. If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
19. If you were sent to live on a space station for three months and only allowed to bring three personal items with you, what would they be?
20. If you could buy a car right now, what would you buy?

People Bingo

Great for new groups. Make a 5 by 4 grid on a piece of card and duplicate for everyone in your group. Supply pens or pencils. Each box contains one of the statements below. Encourage the group to mix, talk to everyone to try and complete their card. If one of the items listed on the bingo card relates to the person they are talking with, have them sign their name in that box.

End the activity after 10 minutes and review some of the interesting facts the group has discovered about each other. You can add your own statements appropriate for your group.

•   Has brown eyes
•   Has made the longest journey
•   Has eaten the weirdest food
•   Plays Tennis
•   Is wearing blue
•   Speaks a foreign language
•   Knows what a muntjak is (it's a small deer)
•   Plays a musical instrument
•   Has 2 or more pets
•   Has been to the most foreign countries
•   Hates broccoli
•   Has 2 or more siblings
•   Name begins with an 'S'
•   Loves Chinese food
•   Loves to ski
•   Knows what a quark is
•   Loves soccer
•   Likes to get up early
•   Someone who’s favourite TV show is CSI
•   Someone over 6ft tall

True or False

Ask your participants to introduce themselves and make three or four statements about themselves, one of which is false. Now get the rest of the group to vote on which fact is false.

As well as getting to know each other as individuals, this exercise helps to start interaction within the group.


Ask participants to get into twos. Each person then interviews his or her partner for a set time while paired up. When the group reconvenes, each person introduces their interviewee to the rest of the group.

Problem Solvers

Ask participants to work in small groups. Create a simple problem scenario for them to work on in a short time. Once the group have analyzed the problem and prepared their feedback, ask each group in turn to present their analysis and solutions to the wider group.

Yes, I Have Done That!

Make a list of 25 or more icebreaker questions for adults with lines after each for a signature and pass it out to everyone. You need to have at least one question for each person. Adults circulate, asking questions until they find someone who can answer, “Yes, I have done that!” That person signs their name on the line next to the question. Once they get at least one “yes” from each guest, they are allowed to obtain multiple “yes” responses from any guest. People may find they cannot find a new someone to answer “yes” to a particular statement. In that case, they must backtrack and remove the name of someone’s “yes” response to a particular statement in order to answer another statement “yes”. The first person to complete their list wins. You can use the list that follows or make one of your own.

  • Have you ever been to Europe?

  • Have you ever ridden on a motorcycle?

  • Have you ever lived in another state?

  • Have you ever met a celebrity?

  • Have you ever been to Disney World?

  • Have you ever planted a vegetable garden?

  • Have you ever been a car salesperson?

  • Have you ever planned a wedding?

  • Have you ever ridden in a limousine?

  • Have you ever driven a riding lawn mower?

  • Have you ever participated in a marathon?

  • Have you ever gone mountain climbing?

  • Have you ever been to a chiropractor?

  • Have you ever been a member of a sorority or fraternity?

  • Have you ever participated in a beauty contest?

  • Have you ever had a dog compete in a dog show?

  • Have you ever been somewhere while an earthquake occurred?

  • Have you ever been somewhere while a tornado took place?

  • Have you ever been somewhere while a hurricane occurred?

  • Have you ever been on a college sports team?

  • Do you speak a second language?

  • Have you ever played an instrument?

The Human Web

This focuses on how people in the group inter-relate and depend on each other.

The facilitator begins with a ball of yarn. Keeping one end, pass the ball to one of the participants, and the person to introduce him- or her-self and their role in the organization. Once this person has made their introduction, ask him or her to pass the ball of yarn on to another person in the group. The person handing over the ball must describe how he/she relates (or expects to relate) to the other person. The process continues until everyone is introduced.

To emphasis the interdependencies amongst the team, the facilitator then pulls on the starting thread and everyone's hand should move.

Ball Challenge 

This exercise creates a simple, timed challenge for the team to help focus on shared goals, and also encourages people to include other people.

The facilitator arranges the group in a circle and asks each person to throw the ball across the circle, first announcing his or her own name, and then announcing the name of the person to whom they are throwing the ball. (The first few times, each person throws the ball to someone whose name they already know.) When every person in the group has thrown the ball at least once, it's time to set the challenge – to pass the ball around all group members as quickly as possible. Time the process, then ask the group to beat that timing. As the challenge progresses, the team will improve their process, for example by standing closer together. And so the group will learn to work as a team.

Hope, Fears and Expectations

Best done when participants already have a good understanding of their challenge as a team. Group people into twos or threes, and ask people to discuss their expectations for the event or work ahead, including their fears and their hopes. Gather the group's response by collating three to four hopes, fears and expectations from each pairing or threesome.

These can be used to explore the topic at the outset, or perhaps to change pace and re-energize people during the event.

Word association

This helps people explore the breadth of the area under discussion. Generate a list of words related to the topic of your event or training. For example, in a health and safety workshop, ask participants what words or phrases come to mind relating to "hazardous materials." They might then suggest: "danger," "corrosive," "flammable," "warning," "skull and crossbones," and so on. Write all suggestions on the board, perhaps clustering by theme. You can use this opportunity to introduce essential terms and discuss the scope (what's in and what's out) of your training or event.

Burning questions

This gives each person the opportunity to ask key questions they hope to cover in the event or training. Again you can use this opportunity to discuss key terminology and scope. Be sure to keep the questions and refer back to them as the event progresses and concludes.


Brainstorming can be used to break the ice or as a re-energizer during an event. If people are getting bogged down in the detail during problem solving, for example, you can change pace easily by running a quick-fire brainstorming session. If you are looking for answers to customer service problems, try brainstorming how to create problems rather than solve them. This can help people think creatively again and gives the group a boost when energy levels are flagging.

Balloon Activities

Games you can play with balloons to get a group having fun and working together.  Includes the hilarious "Fire in the Hole" (balloon on tummy, running at another person, bursting the balloon).

Group Juggle

Throw balls to others in a sequence, using each person's name.  Works every time.  Can be extended to "Warp Speed" (to see how fast the group can throw balls through a set order to each group member).


Fun, interactive get-to-known activity.  Ask a group to organise themselves into smaller groups, based on categories such as favourite colour.

Have You Ever?

Active, fun group activity to explore and celebrate the rich diversity of people's past experiences.  Works well with large groups.


In a circle, people look at ground, then on "heads up" look into someone else's eyes.  If 2 people are looking at each other, they scream and are both out. Continue to see who is last - hilarious.

Pairs Tag

In pairs, one is the chaser. With a big group, this allows for lots of hiding behind others - fun and active.

Birdie on a Perch

Have everyone get a partner. Have them decide who is the birdie and who is the perch. Have all the birdies stand in a circle and all the perches stand in a circle surrounding the birdies. Have music ready. When the music starts, the birdies walk clockwise around the circle and the perches walk counter-clockwise. When the music stops, the birdies must find their perches and sit on them. Usually the perch kneels on one knee, making a perch out of the other leg. The last couple to pair up is out and the object is to be the last couple left. It's more fun if you make them move quickly in their circles so that they are at least jogging. To speed it up, you can make the last 3    (or more) couples to pair up be out.

Body Part Musical Chairs

Have everyone form a big circle of chairs with the chairs facing outward. Remove one chair. Have music ready. When the music starts everyone must walk around the chairs (again it's fun if you make them jog).  When the music stops, a caller yells out a body part. Then everyone races to touch that body part to a chair, one person per chair only. If they touch a chair before the body part is called, they are out. The one person who doesn't get a chair is also out.  To speed it up, you can remove more chairs. We usually start out simple - nose, hair, left elbow, etc. but towards the end we get more complicated - your bare feet, someone else's left hand (they must grab one of the people who are already out). The object is to be the last one left.

Captain’s Calling

This is a great blood pumping game for all ages and it lasts about 15 minutes.  You must choose one leader to be the captain.  This person is usually outgoing and loud.  Then you must have one of the leaders be a jailer.  Have the captain explain all the rules and control the game.  Have the group form lines, one behind the other, facing front.  Then have the captain explain that this game is a lot like Simon says.  You are crew members on a ship and I am your captain.  Whatever I say to do, you do.  If you disobey my orders then you go to jail, where the jailer will make you do push ups and jumping jacks (This is a good deterrent for the slackers to try).  When the captain says stern, the crew must run backwards.  When the captain says bow, the crew must come to the front.  When the captain says port, the crew must go left.  When the captain says starboard, the crew must go right.  Make sure the crew understands these directions before you go on.  The rest of the commands should be done when the captain says the call and they do not stop until the captain says captain’s calling.  When the captain says this, the crew must stand back at attention.  One of these commands is captain’s ball, where 2 people get together and dance with one another.  The person who is left out is out.  The crew must dance until the captain says captain’s calling.  If the captain says stern before he says captain’s calling and some people go backwards, they are out because they must be at attention before they can do any other action.  The other actions are rowboat, where three people get together and row a boat.  The people left standing are out.  There is also octopus, where 4 people get together and sit back to back and kick their legs up.  Then finally there is starfish, where 6 people link arms and swing around in a circle.  The game ends when there are two people left.  This gets the retreatants up and going and excited about the retreat.

Cinderella’s Shoe

This is an icebreaker that is great for all ages and lasts about 15 minutes.  Have the group find a partner and have the pair sit next to one another in a circle.  Now that everybody has a partner, take blindfolds and blindfold one of the partners in each pair.  Once at least one person per pair is blindfolded, tell the non blindfolded person to take off one shoe and throw it in the middle of the circle.  When a leader says go, all the blindfolded people have to go to the middle and bring back the right shoe that belongs to their partner.  Their partner can scream and yell from their seats, but cannot touch them or physically guide them to their shoe.  The blindfolded person must bring back the right shoe in order for the game to be stopped and Cinderella to live happily ever after. 

Crows and Cranes

Find a stick or other fairly sized object that is two sided. Pick two teams-crows and cranes. When the object lands on one side, crows chase cranes. When on the other side, the opposite happens. The teams start facing each other and a line is designated behind each as the goal. If the crows chase the cranes, the cranes have to get past their line before they are tagged. If they are tagged they become a crow. This lasts FOREVER!!!

Do you love your neighbor?

Here's a icebreaker that they can play as a group. With chairs formed in a circle, make sure everyone has a chair, you will then take away one chair and you can decide who will be the person that's out. The person that is out will go up to another person, and have that person stand up and they will switch places (person out now has that persons chair) still remain standing and face to face person that was out, asks "do you love your neighbor" ? New person out says Yes especially those who have eyebrows!  Then all must leave their seats and can only run to the chair open across from them, they may not move to the seat that is to either side of them. The group has only three chances to say no, to the question "do you love your neighbor"? When saying no, all must leave their seats and find another seat. Example for other replies to do you love your neighbor are, especially those who love Jesus, those who play basketball, those who are wearing T-shirts, or the color of clothing etc... If no is replied the fourth time, the game is over. It gets pretty loud, but the teenagers love this game.

How Much Do You Use

A fun adult icebreaker game, this game can provide plenty of laughs.

  1. Have the participants sit in a circle and tell them that you are going to pass around a roll of toilet paper.

  2. Invite players to “take as much as they will need to get the job done.”

  3. After every one has had a good laugh over the amount of paper they took, tell them that for every piece of toilet paper they ripped off, they must tell the group one thing about themselves.

Crazy Questions and Answers

An adult icebreaker game that can take quite a bit of time, Crazy Questions and Answers is perfect if the party is slow to start or bogs down halfway through.

You will need two index cards for each adult that will participate. If you collect and keep the cards, you can use this game multiple times.

  1. On half of the cards, write as many questions as you have adults, and on the other half, write answers from our list.

  2. Stack the cards in two piles, one for questions and one for answers.

  3. The first player chooses a question and reads it aloud.

  4. The next player chooses an answer and reads it aloud. These two cards are set aside.

  5. Continue the game until all the questions have been asked and answered.

You can use the questions and answers below or create your own:


  • Would you like to be a millionaire?

  • Would you like to find yourself in a harem?

  • Do you often visit restaurants?

  • Do you go to work with pleasure?

  • Do you wear a wig?

  • Have you any shortcomings?

  • Do you like music?

  • Are you always so polite as today?

  • Are you able to love?

  • Do you like to dance?

  • Would you like to sit next to me?

  • Do you love children?

  • Do you often have appointments?

  • Do you love me?

  • Do you behave decently while drunk?

  • Are you jealous?

  • Are you sorry that you are married?

  • Are you modest?

  • Would you like to have many new friends?

  • Do you often tell lies?

  • Can you flatter?

  • Can I rely upon you?

  • Do you smoke?


  • No, once I tried, but it ended up a disaster.

  • Being on the verge of despair only.

  • We are not angels. Things happen.

  • It is my life’s work.

  • I do it with the greatest pleasure.

  • Once, but only in a weak moment.

  • I am not capable of such a stupid thing.

  • I have only one dream and that is it!

  • No, I’m well bred.

  • I will answer you in private.

  • I must plead the 5th amendment.

  • Only in the bathroom.

  • Every other day.

  • By no means!

  • If it is cold outdoors.

  • On a payday

  • It is quite necessary on Saturday.

  • To while away the time.

  • Only while having a rest in the health resort.

  • People do not speak about it aloud.

  • During my lunch hour.

  • I’ll do it if you will do it.

  • I dream about it after dinner.

Betty Boop

A rather noisy, but very fun adult icebreaker, this game is sure to relax the group.

  1. Divide the group into 3 Teams – Betty, Popeye, and the Wolf.

  2. You are going to read the following story and when you mention “Betty” that team stands up and says, “Boop-Boop-De-Doo” (with hip action).

  3. When you mention “Popeye” that team stands up and says: “Well, blow me down”(with arm waving action).

  4. When you mention “Wolf” that group stands up and gives a “Wolf Whistle.”

  5. Make sure you pause for group action each time you mention Betty, Popeye, or the Wolf.


The Magic Word

This great adult icebreaker game can be played with many different variations. You can even have this game last throughout an entire party (or conference meeting).

  1. Hand a lei, cheap bead necklace, or some party favor to each of your guests when they first arrive.

  2. Give each of them a “magic” word they cannot say at any time during the party.

  3. Choose words that are commonly said in regular speech to keep people paying attention.

  4. Each person is to listen for their magic word and collect leis, necklaces, or favors from other guests who say them.

  5. They can also trick people into saying their magic word.

  6. The winner is the person who collects the most trophies.

If you wish, you can give a small surprise at the end of the game.

Scavenger Hunt

Put an adult twist on this well-known game.

  1. Divide the group into teams of up to five.

  2. Provide them with a list of items to find.

  3. Choose items that can be found in the immediate area, pockets, purses, or on-line. For example: a credit card, a digital photo of a bald man’s head, a pair of reading glasses, a baby picture, a recording of a toilet flushing, and the address of a donut shop in Miami, Florida.

  4. Tell participants to use the many types of technology that adults carry on a daily basis – cell phones, PDAs, laptops, etc. The team that finds the most items wins.

Belly Balloon Break

This adult icebreaker game is best played by pairing couples, or at least people who know each other well. The goal is to try to break a blown up balloon between two bellies. Have at least three blown up balloons for each pair. Have everyone stand or sit in a circle, with the blown up balloons in the middle. They are to begin when you say, “Go!” The pair who burst the most balloons wins. You can set a timer for a specific amount of time – five minutes works well – if you wish.

If I Could Have, I Would Have

Books and movies abound with stories of people seeking different paths in their lives, and almost everyone has wished at some point that they had done so. Ask each adult to state their name and what path they have been on – personally or professionally – and what path they would have taken if they could start over, if they knew then what they know today.

Sentence Starters

  1. Before the adults get together, write sentence starters on slips of paper.

  2. Have each person pull a slip from a bowl and write their name, read the sentence starter, and then complete it.

  3. They should also provide several additional sentences of information that coincides with their sentence starter.

  4. Read the completed slips when everyone has arrived to help everyone get to know each other.

Variation: Have the adults sit in a circle and pull one slip at a time from a bag, basket, or box. Read the sentence starter and have each person take turns completing them.

The following is a sample list of sentence starters:

  • Although most people don’t find…

  • I am…

  • I have never…

  • I love it when…

  • I love to…

  • I think I have the best…

  • I would never…

  • My idea of beauty is…

  • The best thing I ever did for my child is…

  • The best way for me to relax is…

  • The best way to save…

  • The biggest and best…

  • The funniest thing that ever happened to me was…

  • The greatest thing my child ever did was…

  • The lowest…

  • The most important decision I ever made in my life was…

  • The most unbelievable thing…

  • The thing that makes me laugh is…

  • There is nothing I enjoy more than…

  • When I think of prunes…

Cup Stacking

Everyone, including adults enjoy stacking cups! Have plenty of durable plastic cups on hand and a sturdy, flat tabletop completely empty. Every person that walks through the door must take one cup (or more if you do not have that many people coming) and stack them one on top of another. As more people arrive, the mountain and the difficulty of not knocking everyone else’s cups down intensifies. If they are all knocked down and many people are still arriving, you can start over.

Paper Balls

Paper Balls can be played by the whole group, or you can divide the group into teams. Groups of from three to five adults work well. Pass out a sheet of newspaper to each person and tell them to roll it into a tight ball. Have the participants stand at the far end of a room with a basket of some kind on the other side of the room. The object of this adult icebreaker game is to roll the balls as close as possible to the basket. Those who do so score points.

A Frog’s Perspective

This story starts off with a guy walking in with no emotion on his face, but has a (hopefully stuffed) frog on his head.  Then he begins his story, staying without emotion the whole time.  I have a friend who had the weirdest problem you’d ever heard of.  He had a frog stuck to his head.  So he went to many different doctors throughout the United States and nobody could help him.  So he finally went to this one doctor that all the other doctors he went to recommended to see.  He walked to the receptionist’s desk and signed.  It just so happened that the doctor saw my friend while he was walking down the hall.  The doctor did not know what to do because he never had seen anything like this before.  So he called his Harvard professor and researched different books, but couldn’t find an answer.  Finally the doctor told the receptionist to let him in, since he was sitting in the waiting room for a very long time.  Once he got into the examination room the doctor asked my friend what the problem was.  My friend just stood there looking at the doctor.  The doctor asked again, “What seems to be the problem?”  Still no answer from my friend just a blank stare.  Finally the doctor exclaimed, “If you do not tell me what the problem is then I cannot help you and you will have to leave.”  As the doctor said this the frog spoke up and said, “Can you please help me get this wart off my ass.”  This story just goes to show you that you can take different perspectives on a similar issue.  You can be open to what the retreat has to offer or you can look at this retreat as a total drag.  It is all in your perspective.  

Fruit Game

This is a fun icebreaker for all ages and lasts about 10-15 minutes.  Have the large group form a circle with their chairs facing inward.  Have everyone go around and state a fruit. Tell them to remember their fruit name and that nobody can choose the same fruit.  Then choose one volunteer from the audience and remove his chair.  Hand a towel or rag to the volunteer.  He is the person who is “it”.  He must tag any person that is standing up before he/she sits back down in his/her chair.  The way the game works is the person who is it calls out a fruit.  Then the person who chose that fruit stands up and states his fruit and another fruit before sitting back down in their seat.  Then the new fruit stands up and states her fruit name and another fruit name and so on.  These people must say their fruit name, another fruit name, and sit down before the person who is it tags them with the towel.  If the person gets tagged before he/she sits down then they are the new person that is it.  The one rule is that the person who is it cannot attempt to hurt anybody or throw the towel.  If people start memorizing the people with the fruit names then it is time to stop the game.   


This is a good in-between game for all ages.  One person stands up front on a chair and explains to the large group that all they have to do is clap every time he crosses his hands.  The leader should cross his hands two or three times then fake one and see how many people clap.  Some people will.  Then you can slow down your crossing motion or even tell them how many times you are going to cross your hands.  People will still clap.  Do not do it too long because it gets old pretty quick.

Inside Game w/ Chairs

Have them sit in a circle with one less chair than people. Odd person is in the middle. They say have you ever...fell asleep in church? Or, cheated on a test?, etc. Everyone that it applies to has the get up and move at least 5 chairs from where they were sitting. The person in the middle tries to get a seat and so someone else will be left in the middle. It works best to not only be specific but general as well - "Have you ever attended this YG before?"

LaVida Tag

Break the group into two. Have them line up shoulder to shoulder facing the other group about 10 feet away. (This should make two rows of people standing side by side looking at each other 10' apart. Choose two people on the end. One is it the other gets chased. They have to run around and between the two lines of people until one is tagged. Boring, right?  Here's where it gets fun. The person being chased can run up behind someone and push them  in the back into the middle where they become the one being chased. The person being chased can only make someone else run by pushing them into the middle from behind.  Now "IT" is outside the rows and the other person is inside. Let them play like this for a while until they get used to it.  Now add this rule; If you are in the rows you can turn around and face the person trying to push you in and not allow them to change positions with you by facing that person. Another option is to have the rows move until they are about 1 foot apart. (This makes it really difficult for the person being chased).

Musical Circles

Have each person find a partner. Have them make two circles - one inside the other (each partner should be in a different circle facing their partner.) The object is to be the last couple in the game. NOTE: you'll need a CD player or tape player.  When the music is ON they should be walking around in their circles - In opposite directions. (i.e.: inner circle clockwise and outer circle counter-clockwise.) When you STOP the music yell out 2 body parts (i.e.: foot and ear) and they need to find their partner and connect the body parts (i.e...touch one persons foot to the other person's ear). They need to hold their position until you tell them to circle up again. After a couple of practice rounds, start calling the last 2 or 3 couples out, and have them sit by the side. If you have some good music, have them clapping with the music to keep from getting bored (or in trouble) You can use

any number of body parts i.e.: rump, knee, foot, ear, head, nose, etc...usually as a last one - when there's only a couple of couples left, (for the older kids) use something like nose to nose, or nose to ear... they don't really end up doing anything, but it looks incriminating, and the hesitation can often be funny.

Pass the Carrot

Have everyone form a circle.  Place a carrot between the knees of the tallest person; he or she must pass the carrot to the knees of the person to the left without using their hands.  This continues until the carrot goes entirely around the circle.  Then break off a piece of the carrot and pass it around again.  If a person drops the carrot, he or she is out of the game.  The last person left is the winner.  Give him or her a fresh carrot to take home.

People to People (Anatomy Clumps)

This is good for all ages.  Have the large group stand in a circle.  Have a leader call out a body part and a number. (ie. 5 elbows)  Everyone has to immediately get into groups of five with their five elbows sticking together in the center.  Keep doing this with different body parts and numbers.  The last one should be a ridiculous number with a ridiculous body part (ie. eyelashes).  No one will do it and they will probably sit back down.  They now know the game is over.   

Pope Visit

This is not an activity, but a story joke.  This is good for a transitional icebreaker between talks or calling people back together on a longer retreat.  It goes like this:

My friend and I went to Italy this past summer because we wanted to see the Pope.  When we arrived we were walking around aimlessly trying to figure out where exactly we could see His Holiness.  Finally, we pulled aside this nice older lady and asked her, “Where is the best place to see the Pope?”  She replied, “I would recommend standing outside the gate of the Papal Gardens because His Holiness goes there everyday to pray.”  We thanked her kindly and went to the gate of the Papal Gardens.  My friend took out his hibachi and started grilling up some hamburgers for us to eat.  We waited and waited and still the Pope did not come out of the gardens.  My friend then asked me, “What do you think would happen if we hopped this fence?”  At first I thought he was joking , but by the look on his face I knew he was serious.  I replied by saying, “The guards would arrest us for trespassing.”  He said, “Oh!”  Then I turned around and enjoyed the sights.  When I turned back towards him all I saw was his butt hanging over the fence.  I said, “What are you doing?”  He replied, “I am tired of waiting.”  Then he hopped down to the ground on the other side of the fence.  He told me to come over also and not to forget his all precious hibachi.  So I threw over the hibachi and climbed over the fence too.  My friend fired up the hibachi again and cooked some more hamburgers.  All of sudden I saw the Pope on top of a hill in the distance and he was making his way towards us.  I was deathly afraid of getting caught so I ran off and hid in some bushes (pointing to the left).  Then I saw the Pope come down to my friend and do this to him (Sign of the cross).  Then the Pope left.  I ran out of the bushes to my friend and said, “That was amazing you got blessed by the Pope.  He replied, “Oh, it was nothing.”  I then said, “Nothing?  You were blessed by the Pope.”  He then stated, “Actually the Pope said that I want you (pointing forward), your hibachi (pointing downward), and your friend in the bushes (pointing left) to get out of my garden (pointing right).”

Rainstorm Game

This is a good calm down game that gets everybody ready to listen to a talk.  It is good for all ages and lasts about 10-15 minutes.  Have everyone sit in a large circle facing inward.  Then have one of the leaders explain that they should do whatever he/she does when he/she passes them.  Then they should keep on doing this action until the leader passes them again with a different action.  Emphasis this activity must be done quietly.  The leader starts off by going around the circle snapping his/her fingers.  Then she rubs her hands together.  Then he/she claps her hands.  Then he/she stomps her feet.  After that, it goes back to clapping hands, then to rubbing of hands, to snapping, and finally to silence.  That was a rainstorm, which has helped everyone to be quiet.


Sit the group in a circle. Pick the "leader". Beginning with the leader (#1), number off all the way around the circle. Everyone needs to remember their number. The leader starts the rhythm, which is - clap your hands onto your thigh tops twice, then hand-clap twice, then finger-snap once on the left and then on the right. The leader begins and on the first finger snap says his/her number (which of course is 1) and then on the second finger snap calls out another number (must be in the circle). That person becomes "it". The rhythm keeps going continually - thigh clap/hand clap/snap/snap..... Whomever the leader has identified by calling his number is then ]responsible for calling the next set of numbers on the next finger snaps. First finger snap is his/her number and second one is someone else in the group. Whenever someone misses his number, miscalls, etc., he moves to the end of the circle and becomes whatever the last number was. Everyone else moves up a seat and their numbers change. Kids, seemingly, can play this for hours. The real object is to unseat the "leader" and as people keep progressing, new people assume the "leader" role and try to hold onto it.


This is a great get them up and going icebreaker for any age and lasts about 5 to 10 minutes.  You need one leader to stand up in front of the group to control the action.  Whatever the leader says and does the group has to repeat it.  So the leader starts out by saying, “Shake your foot.”, while shaking his foot.  The leader has to do this in a loud crazy voice.  Then the group starts shaking their feet saying “Shake, shake; shake, shake your foot.”  Then the leader repeats himself and says, “Shake your foot” and the group responds, “Shake, shake; shake, shake your foot.”  The leader then says, “Now freeze!”  The group freezes where they are at.  Then the leader says again, “Shake your foot.”  Then the crowd responds by saying, “Shake, shake; shake, shake your foot.”, while shaking their feet.  Then the leader adds other body parts.  For instance, the leader will say, “Shake your head.”  and the group will respond “Shake, shake; shake, shake your head.”, while shaking their heads.  This follows the same pattern up top.  Then you can add shake your partner also.  This really gets them going! 

Shuffle Your Bunns

Get everyone to put their chairs into a large circle facing the middle.  Make sure the chairs are tightly packed.  Have one person in the middle.  Also make sure there is one extra chair.  The person tells the group of  people sitting in the chairs to shift one way by yelling out “Left!” or “Right!”  Then the people in the chairs start shifting into the empty seat.  The object for the person in the middle is to sit in that empty seat that all the people are shifting into.  The person in the middle can also catch the group off guard by saying switch, which means the group has to switch the way it was going. (E.g..  If the group was going  left then they have to start going right if the person says switch.)  If  the person finally sits down in the empty chair the person, who was supposed to shift to that chair gets put into the middle. 

Sit Down Game

This game can be used for junior high school, high school, and college.  It should take about 10-15 minutes.  Have everyone gather into one big circle and stand as close to one another as possible.  Have everybody turn to the right and get as close as they can to one another or it will not work.  Then have everyone sit on the knees of the person behind them.  After everyone is settled, or somewhat settled, have everyone walk forward around in the circle without breaking the sit down chain.  It is hard to do and fun to watch.  Enjoy!

Streets and Alleys

Have everyone line up in rows, so that they're kind of in a rectangle. there should be room for people to run in between people.  One person is it and is chasing another. Everyone puts their hands out shoulder height and sideways. This is streets. If they put them up, same height, but front to back, this is alleys. Send the two who are chasing and being chased running through the maze of people. Start with streets. They can not cross the lines of hands. Switch as often as you want. when the two get tired pick other people-they love it!

The Wave With Foam

This is a fun ice breaker to do with a group of middle school kids and lasts only about 10-15 minutes.  I am sure you have done the wave before, either at a baseball game or just for fun.  This is the same concept only the foam is now added.  After a wave crashes on the shore there is a foam that is left behind.  So have the group sit down either in rows, in circle, whatever, it really does not matter the shape of the group.  Have the first three people start the wave by generating it.  Have them stand up and bend over, while spinning their fists over one another.  After they have generated the wave a little they should stand up and scream putting their hands over their head, then sit down.  Then the people next to them stand up and scream putting their hands over their head, and then sit down.  This continues until the wave gets to the end.  The last five people have a very important job, they are the foam.  When the sixth to the last person has finished his wave, the last five people all at once put their hands directly to the right (that is if the wave is going right), while making a crashing sound.  This can be done with various speeds to make the wave more fun.  Use comparisons of real waves to make it more interesting.  Some waves take longer to build up and break.  Some waves are bigger and quicker than other waves. 

Fact or fiction?

Ask everyone to write on a piece of paper THREE things about themselves which may not be known to the others in the group. Two are true and one is not. Taking turns they read out the three ‘facts’ about themselves and the rest of the group votes which are true and false. There are always surprises. This simple activity is always
fun, and helps the group and leaders get to know more about each other.


Divide the young people into pairs. Ask them to take three minutes to interview each other. Each interviewer has to find 3 interesting facts about their partner. Bring everyone back to together and ask everyone to present the 3 facts about their partner to the rest of the group. Watch the time on this one, keep it moving along.

My name is?

Go around the group and ask each young person to state his/her name and attach an adjective that not only describes a dominant characteristic, but also starts with the same letter of his name e.g. generous Grahame, dynamic Dave. Write them down
and refer to them by this for the rest of the evening.


Each person is given a sheet of paper with a series of instructions to follow. This is a good mixing game and conversation starter as each person must speak to everyone else. For example;

•   Count the number of brown eyed boys in the room.
•   Find out who has made the longest journey.
•   Who has the most unusual hobby?
•   Find the weirdest thing anyone has eaten.
•   Who has had the most embarrassing experience?
•   Who knows what 'Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia' is a fear of?
Nearest guess wins. If that's too easy you can try Arachibutyrophobia, Alektorophobia, Ephebiphobia or Anglophobia. (Answers on last page!)


The question web

You need to have a spool of string or wool for this game. Ask the young people to stand in a circle. Hold on to the end of the string and throw the ball/spool to one of the young people to catch. They then choose a question from 1-20 to answer. A list of 20 sample questions is given below. Adapt for your group.

Holding the string they then throw it to another member of the group. Eventually this creates a web as well as learning some interesting things about each other! At the end of the game you could comment that we all played a part in creating this unique web and if one person was gone it would look different.

In the same way it's important that we all take part to make the group what it is, unique and special.

1.   If you had a time machine that would work only once, what point in the future or in history would you visit?
2.   If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
3.   If your house was burning down, what three objects would you try and save?
4.   If you could talk to any one person now living, who would it be and why?
5.   If you HAD to give up one of your senses (hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting) which would it be and why?
6.   If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
7.   Do you have a pet? If not, what sort of pet would you like?
8.   Name a gift you will never forget?
9.   Name one thing you really like about yourself.
10. What's your favourite thing to do in the summer?
11. Who's your favourite cartoon character, and why?
12. Does your name have a special meaning and or were you named after someone special?
13. What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
14. If you are at a friend's or relative's house for dinner and you find a dead insect in your salad, what would you do?
15.  What was the best thing that happened to you this past week?
16. If you had this week over again what would you do differently?
17. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about God?
18. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
19. If you could ask Christ to change one problem in the world today, what would you like him to change?
20. What book, movie or video have you seen/read recently you would recommend? Why?



You will need crayons or paints, markers, scissors and white card for this activity. Give each young person a piece of white card. Ask them to draw and cut out a life- sized shape of a face. They can also cut out eyes and a mouth if they wish. Each young person is then asked to decorate their card face. One side represents what they think people see/know/believe about them i.e. on the outside. The other side represents what they feel about themselves i.e. things going on the inside, what people do not necessarily know or see.

This is best used in an established group where the young people are comfortable and at ease with each other. 'Masks' is also a good discussion starter on self-image and self- worth.



Flags is a get-to-know-you activity, helping young people express what's important to them or more about themselves. Provide large sheets of paper, crayons, markers and paints. Ask each young person to draw a flag which contains some symbols or pictures describing who they are, what's important to them or what they enjoy.

Each flag is divided into 4 or 6 segments. Each segment can contain a picture i.e. favourite emotion, favourite food, a hobby, a skill, where you were born, your family, your faith. Give everyone 20 minutes to draw their flags. Ask some of the group to share their flags and explain the meaning of what they drew.


A group tries to create a unified story from a set of sequential pictures.  The pictures are randomly ordered and handed out.  Each person has a picture but cannot show it to others. Requires patience, communication, and trying to understand from another's point of view in order to recreate the story's sequence.

Animal Sounds

Participants are blindfolded and assigned an animal.  The challenge is to use animal noises in order to meet up with other animals of same species.  Releases energy. Loud, fun, chaotic, then gradually order and unity emerge.

All My Neighbors

A fun, moving-around activity that breaks the ice, loosens people up, gets people alert and engaged.  Good for a group just beginning to get to know one another.

Gotchya (Grab the Finger)

Fast-moving 5 min. group activity to get people together and focused.  In a circle, right finger on next person's left palm.  Try to grab a finger before yours gets grabbed.

Human Knot

In a circle, people put their arms in and hold someone else's hand, then try to unravel the knot without letting go of hands.  Involves getting physically close to others, stretching, laughing and problem solving.

2 Truths & a Lie

People write down two truths about themselves and a lie.  Then introduce the three "facts" to the rest of the group who tries to guess which one is a lie.

Fear in a Hat

Group members write personal fears anonymously on pieces of paper which are collected.  Then each person randomly selects and reads someone else's fear to the group and explains how the person might feel.  Fosters interpersonal empathy.

Shoe Salesman

There was a man who was a shoe salesman in New York City and he was doing really well with his business.  So he decided to branch out and open a factory in a small village in Africa.  He sent all his developers and engineers over there and everything was going as scheduled.  One day the shoe salesman wanted to see how the factory was doing and set out for Africa.  He arrived in Africa and set out for the village.  When he arrived he noticed that nobody in the village wore shoes.  Stunned, the man called back to New York City and  stated, “You’re never going to believe this, nobody around here wears shoes.  Cancel the order!!!”  Another man who was a shoe salesman in Los Angeles decided to branch out and open a factory in a small village in South America.  He sent all his developers and engineers over there and everything was going as scheduled.  One day the shoe salesman wanted to see how the factory was doing and set out for South America.  He arrived in South America and set out for the village.  When he arrived he noticed that nobody in the village wore shoes.  Stunned, the man called back to Los Angeles and  stated, “You’re never going to believe this, nobody around here wears shoes.  Double the order!!!”

The point is that both shoe salesmen saw the same thing, that nobody was wearing shoes, but they had different reactions.  One saw it as a catastrophe and the other saw it as an opportunity.  You will all see the same things here on this retreat: the same talks, the same skits, the same activities, the same everything.  It is up to you how you are going to react to what you see.  Some of you will close yourself off and say, “What a waste of time, cancel the order.”  While others might be open to the experience and say, “That was great! Double the order!”  It is all up to you. 

Another Shoe Game

Everybody takes of a shoe from one side (lets say right side) and throw that shoe in a pile. Then everybody grab (at random) a shoe from the pile and put in on. Now the aim is to pair up the shoes. Each person must find the people who are wearing the same shoes as he/she is, and stand such that the pair of shoes are together. E.g. I'm wearing my shoe A and somebody's shoe G, I must find the person who is wearing the other shoe A, and stand so that pair of shoes are together (AA), and I must find someone wearing shoe G, and put my shoe G with his/her shoe G. Both shoes A and shoes G should be together in space and time (i.e. the object is to form a sort of a line or 'twister' kind of formation where all the shoes have been paired up.) 

Barnyard Game

There are several ways of doing this. Either in the dark or in a lighted room. Dark is a lot more fun, but you need to make sure none of the adults are playing (because of liability and Harassment). It does work well in a lighted room too. While the "kids" (Term used loosely - since most of the people reading this would probably consider me a kid at 20) are coming into the room assign them animals (i.e.: Donkey, Chicken, Horse, and Elephant; get creative). Tell them not to tell anyone what animal they are. They have to find everyone else with the same animal that they have. They do this by making the animal sounds (They may NOT talk). Give them a while, and when it seems like they've all found their groups, let them stop. You can also play other games with the groups they've made. They can do some mixers in the small groups - get to know each other.  NOTE: You can have each group hold hands once they've found their group - Jr. Hi Usually Loves the idea, and High School usually doesn't really care.