Games that Gather
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Large Group Icebreakers That Aren't Awkward
Often, large group icebreakers are awkward. Some participants will stand apart from the others and feel left out of the action. To solve the issue of awkward first meetings, here are 25 easy icebreakers that aren't awkward.
5 Fun Icebreakers Without Props
For group leaders who don't want to worry about bringing props or equipment to the meeting, here are five icebreakers that don't need anything other than the people participating.
1. Rock Paper Scissors
Nearly everyone knows the game Rock Paper Scissors. It is one of the most common games played in the United States. The game is used to figure out who starts and is sometimes used to end a debate. Rock Paper Scissors doesn't require a lot of skill, and it is an easy way to get people face to face in a large group setting. For those who don't know how to play, here's how:
Rock beats scissors. Paper beats rock. Scissors beats paper. Traditionally, two people will face off and count down from three. Before counting, decide whether to show your hand on three or just after three. You can also count down from three by saying the name of the game: "Rock, paper, scissors." At the same time, both people will show their hand. They will have their hand balled in a fist (rock), their pointer finger and middle finger extended while holding the ring finger and pinky with the thumb (scissors), or a flat hand with the palm down (paper). The person with the winning choice wins the round.
When playing Rock Paper Scissors with a large group, make the game into a tournament. Separate the large group into two smaller groups and line everyone up to face a new person. The two people facing each other will play three rounds of Rock Paper Scissors with the winner advancing. Form two lines again with the winners and do another three rounds. The winners will continue to advance until there are only two players left. Make sure to have a prize prepared for the ultimate Rock Paper Scissors Champion.
2. Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is an interactive game that can be played with large groups of people. To play the game, have everyone write down two true things about themselves and one lie. An example of this would be:
- I write my own music.
- I went on a date with my Grandmother without knowing.
- I speak five languages. (Lie)
Everyone sits in a group, and a person reads off their three things, trying not to indicate which one is the lie. The rest of the group has to guess which of the three is the lie. This game can lead to hilarious stories as the group members try to explain hilarious truths that have actually happened to them. It encourages the group to learn funny and interesting details about each other, helping them feel more comfortable throughout the night.
When playing this game, make sure that you have enough time to give each person three to four minutes. If you only have 30 minutes for the game and 20 people, separate the group into smaller groups of five to ensure everyone gets the time they need to introduce themselves.
Opinions is a great game for groups that like to argue and open their minds to new ways of thought. However, this might not be the best game for all crowds. Tp play, have everyone stand up in the same room. Then ask a question that most people would hold an opinion on. Designate one side of the room for yes, one side of the room for no, and the middle as indifferent. If you're asking a question that requires the people to choose one thing over another (such as spicy food or sweet food), designate one side as one thing and the other as the other option. Tell everyone to go to the side of the room, depending on their opinion of the question. Once everyone has chosen a side, have the two sides debate and talk about their opinions. Hopefully, this will encourage conversation on difficult topics and show everyone that they all have something in common regardless of their opinions.
Some great icebreaker questions (without being overly controversial) are:
- Which is better: cats or dogs?
- Do you believe in ghosts?
- Do you believe in aliens?
- Which is better: action or romance?
- Which is better: e-sports or real sports?
- Should Pluto be considered a planet?
- Would you rather be able to fly or breathe underwater?
If you're in a debate setting, you can also introduce more controversial topics. Ask questions that make the group think about their place in the world and debate with one another about human ethics and world conditions. This helps expose the people to political topics in a safe place where they can safely debate over opinions.
4. Speed Friendship
The game "Speed Friendship" is a fast way to get everyone introduced to one another. The game is a twist on the common activity "Speed Dating." Traditionally, in Speed Dating, two lines of people sit across from one another. Each pairing is given between one and five minutes to introduce themselves and ask basic questions. Once everyone has had time to meet each other, the participants can write down who they felt good with, which can lead to a second date.
Speed Friendship is a variation of Speed Dating. However, instead of dating each other, the goal is to make friends. Regardless of gender, make two lines where each person has a partner. Depending on your time constraints, set a timer between one minute and five minutes. Start the timer and instruct the pairs to ask each other a list of questions, getting to know each person. To make it more interesting, give each person a different list of questions, so the activity doesn't become monotonous. At the end of the game, everyone should know the name of their fellow participants. This activity aims to introduce each person to everyone else, ensuring that the participant feels comfortable making new friends. It's the perfect icebreaker for large groups because it personally introduces each person to everyone else.
5. Squeaking Pigs
Squeaking Pigs is a fun game for all ages. As long as the kids can speak, they can play this game. This game is also fun for teenagers and is bound to make the group break out in a laughing fit. To play, randomly choose one person to be the farmer. The farm will stand in the center of the circle with a blindfold on. Spin the farmer to make sure that he or she is completely disoriented. Then, the farmer will randomly point in a direction. The person who the farmer points at will try to squeak like a pig (this is where the hysterical laughing begins). The farmer's goal is to guess who the pig is. If the farmer guesses correctly, the person squeaking takes the place of the farmer. If the farmer guesses incorrectly, the farmer spins again and points to a new pig.
You can also play this game with different animals if, for some reason, you don't want to use pigs. Instead of pigs, you can pick dogs, horses, cows, cats, lions, or any other animal that makes a distinct sound. Avoid using animals like bunnies or squirrels that don't make specific sounds. This game helps the players learn names and laugh together, getting to know each other's personalities. Squeaking Pigs is a fun game for groups of all ages. It can be played with students, youth groups, or birthday parties.
5 Icebreakers With Props
Icebreakers with props are sometimes more entertaining and can take up more time (if you're looking for ways to fill up an hour). Here are five icebreakers with props:
1. Name Nine Square
Name Nine Square is a variation of the game Nine Square. To play Nine Square, you will need a Nine Square court. The court is made up of raised three by three sections typically made from flexible metal or plastic. Each participant stands in one of the three by three squares, with the middle square being the "Queen or King" square. The purpose of the game is to advance to the middle square. Other players can move up by eliminating the players ahead of them. To play, a ball is introduced to the court, and the players hit the ball up through their square and into another person's square. If the ball is hit out of the court or falls to the ground, the player who either let it fall or hit it out is out of the game. The players below the player who was eliminated move up, and a new player joins in the bottom square. To learn more about the rules of Nine Square, visit CastleSquares.com.
This game can easily be modified into a name-learning game. To play "Name Nine Square," you will need to alter the rules slightly. When a player hits the ball, they need to say the name of the person who they are passing the ball to. If the player can't remember the name or they pass it to the wrong person, they are out. This encourages players to remember the names of each group member. It also encourages the names to stick because the players have to remember the names in a high-speed setting. Before each game starts, have the players repeat their names to avoid unnecessary confusion.
Name Nine Square is the perfect icebreaker activity for those looking for additional competition. It helps the players to become more active while also learning to work together. It can be played with groups of all ages.
2. Name Tag Swap
Name Tag Swap is a game that helps people to connect and learn each other's names. The game is most entertaining when playing with a big group, rather than a small group. When playing with less than ten people, the game will go by extremely quickly. On the other hand, a big group will make the game more challenging. To play, each person needs a name tag. They will write their name on the name tag and then give the name tag to the facilitator or organizer of the icebreaker game. Once all the name tags have been collected, the leader will pass them back out to the players. Everyone should then have a name tag that isn't their own and put the name in their pocket so that the name isn't on display. Everyone should walk around, introducing themselves to each player. If the other person has the name on their name tag, the person can give the player his or her name tag. However, even when a player gives away their name tag, they still have to walk around until they are given back the name tag with their name on it. This means that they will introduce themselves to almost every person in the group.
This icebreaker idea is a great way to mix up a large group, encourage conversation, and help new group members make friends. This game is best for first-time meetings rather than later meetings. It's focused solely on learning names. Use this as a great first team building activity.
3. Court Jester
Everyone loves to laugh. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can stimulate your organs, relieve stress, soothe tension, improve your immune system, decrease pain, improve your mood, and help you connect better with other people. Because laughter has so many benefits, it's the perfect game for large groups. Playing Court Jester will get the entire group laughing with one another, encouraging attendees to feel happier and more confident at the event.
To play Court Jester, pick one person to be the Queen or King. The purpose of the game is to make the Queen or King laugh. To pick the Queen or King, you can either choose randomly by having the group members pick a number between one and 100 or pick the youngest member of the group. Grab a chair and have the Queen or King sit in the "throne." The royalty can nominate a Court Jester who then has 30 seconds to make the royalty laugh. One by one, have the other group members humbly approach the royalty and tell a joke or skit to make the royalty laugh. The first person to make the Queen or King laugh becomes the new royalty. Again, everyone has to try and make the new Queen or King laugh. The game continues until you run out of time. Court Jesters can also go up to the royalty together and make it a group effort. If a group wins, the entire group becomes the next royalty.
This game's rules can be modified and changed depending on the ages, size of the group, and needs of the icebreaker activity. Feel free to modify the game; however, you want to make sure that your group activity is successful.
4. Guess Who
Guess Who is one of the most popular team building group activities to play. The game encourages people to talk to each other, ask questions, and learn one another's names. To play the game, you will need one note card for each person and a few pens. Hand out a notecard to each attendee. Instruct them to write down a name. The name could be a famous person, cartoon character, fictional character, or historical figure. Some great examples are:
- Clifford the Big Red Dog
- Harriet Tubman
- Frodo Baggins
- Taylor Swift
Picking names that are well known is best for the game. Obscure names, though they may be well-known in a small circle, aren't always best for Guess Who because no one will be able to guess who they are. Once everyone has picked a name, the players hand in the cards, and the group leader redistributes them. Tape the cards to each person's forehead so that the players can't see their own cards.
The players will walk around and ask each other questions about the card on their forehead. These questions can be phrased like this: "Am I a person?" and "Am I well-known for acting?" The players can only ask one question at a time before they have to move onto a new person. Once someone figures out what their card says, they can remove it from their forehead and continue helping others figure out their own cards.
5. Photo Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a fun way to get everyone involved. To plan a photo scavenger hunt, create a list of places of things that can be found locally. Then, separate your group into several smaller teams. The best size for this ice breaker activity is between four and six people. If the teams are too large, some team members may feel left out or isolated from the others. If you keep the groups small, it gives the team members a chance to participate and become familiar with their other team members. Give each team a list of items that they will need to find in their area. Here are some items that might be on your list:
- Gas station
If you're working with a specific theme, you could add themed items to the list. You can also play this game in a Walmart or Target and add specific grocery items and household items to the list. When a team finds the objects, they take a group picture with the item. For most age groups, you may need a chaperone for the group. Once all the groups have found their items, have the groups show off their favorite picture, or the picture that they had the most fun with.
This game can be played as a youth group activity, student activity, or as a fun icebreaker at a birthday party. The initial group size does matter for this activity as long as you can break the group into smaller groups.
10 Virtual Icebreakers for Social Distancing
In some cases, meeting in person is not an option. Or, if you're planning on getting a large group together, it might be better to plan the meeting virtually. Regardless of why you are meeting remotely, you should still plan your favourite ice breakers to help your participants to feel comfortable. Here are ten icebreakers for virtual meetings:
1. Within Reach
An easy ice breaker for remote teams is a game called Within Reach. The game is extremely simple. During the virtual meeting, have everyone reach for an item. The item should be within their immediate vicinity or in the same room as them, not across the house. Then, have each person talk about the item they grabbed and tell a story about it. This simple activity allows participants to show off items in their home and tell a story about what that item means to them. This helps the other virtual team members feel connected to one another, even if you're not meeting in person.
2. Meme Chat
Memes are a great way for younger generation kids to connect. Memes are ever-changing and are a way for teenagers to interact and understand each other's humor. This activity is best for students in middle school and high school. At the start of your virtual meeting, tell the participants to put a meme on their screen or into the chat feature. If the students want to talk to each other and laugh about their memes, let them. This activity should be loosely structured. Instead of having a strict format for your Meme Chat, let the students lead the activity.
You can also have the students vote on the best memes and hold several rounds of voting. This makes the activity slightly competitive, encouraging the students to take the activity more seriously. This activity can also be short (no longer than five minutes), which makes it great for an introduction to a class.
3. If you had a Million Dollars
Have you ever wondered what you would do if you had a million dollars? Would you travel the world? Would you donate the money? Would you buy a house and a car? Most people have wondered at some point in their lives how they would respond if they were suddenly given one million dollars. For an easy activity, ask everyone what they would honestly do if given one million dollars today. Go around and discuss what everyone would do. If possible, you can even turn the discussion into a lesson about how money can't buy complete happiness. Turn the focus into trying to achieve what the participants want without having one million dollars. If someone says that they want to buy a dream home, show them how to build a plan of saving money and being financially frugal to one day live their dream.
This activity helps expose what the group members think would make them happy and help them have a fulfilling life. No matter what answer is given, remember to stay respectful and encouraging. Some participants might give bizarre answers, which should still be treated respectfully. This activity helps the participants to understand each other's drives, ambitions, and desires.
4. Story Turns
Story Turns is a fun way to be creative during group games. Creativity is important when fostering relationships with other people. As humans, we are gifted with a strong sense of imagination. We love to read fantasy and imagine ourselves at the center of the action. Authors write fan fiction that centers the story around themselves, allowing their character to watch as Harry Potter takes on Voldemort. Because creativity is so important, focusing group games on creativity can help the group members feel connected.
To play Story Turns, all you need is a sentence. One person starts the story with a random sentence. Then, the next person adds a second sentence to continue the story. The story continues with each person adding a sentence, changing where the story goes. This game requires creativity and teamwork and encourages everyone to work together to create a story. The hardest part of this game is the starting sentence. Here are some example starting sentences:
- There was a secret meeting in the morning, and she absolutely had to be there.
- I opened my eyes and had no idea where I was.
- There are only three of us left – the only three left alive in the world.
- The cab driver suddenly turned left instead of right, and I had no idea where he was taking me.
- Every time the clock struck midnight, the entire house would go dark for 10 minutes.
Be creative with your stories, and don't be afraid to stray from the traditional. This game is all about collaboration and innovation.
5. Joke Time
Having a five-minute break to introduce a Joke Time to your virtual meeting can help relieve tension and bond the participants. Everyone loves a good joke. Laughing is one of the best outlets to relieve stress and foster relationships. If you're holding a virtual meeting, take a few minutes to hold Joke Time. You can tell the group members beforehand to bring a clean joke to share with the other members. Then, make time to tell all of the jokes, allowing the meeting's stress to wear off during the Joke Time. Small, simple jokes are the best for Joke Time. Here are some fast joke ideas:
- Why do we tell actors to break a leg? Because every play has a cast.
- Yesterday I saw a guy spill all his Scrabble letters on the road. I asked him, "What's the word on the street?"
- Hear about the new restaurant called Karma? There's no menu: You get what you deserve.
- Did you hear about the claustrophobic astronaut? He just needed a little space.
- What do you call a parade of rabbits hopping backward? A receding hare-line.
You can also tell funny stories during your Joke Time, which allows the participants to laugh at each other's daily events. Our lives can often be funnier than the one-liner jokes found on the back of Laffy Taffy, so encourage your group members to tell the funny things happening in their lives.
6. Personality Quizzes
People feel more connected to those who have similar personalities. It's easier to relate to someone who has the same response to a stressful situation and more difficult to relate to someone who responds in an entirely different way. Personality tests are fun and entertaining because they help us understand ourselves and the people around us better.
During a remote meeting, consider having everyone take a personality quiz. After each group member takes the quiz, share the results, and then group those who have the same results. Let the groups discuss and then create groups where everyone has a different result. This helps the group members to feel connected and find commonalities with those who are different from themselves.
7. Passion Presentation
Sometimes, you might not have the time to introduce every person in your virtual meeting. Instead, focus on a single individual each time you meet. Before the meeting, invite one group member to prepare a topic that they are passionate about. For example, maybe a person is passionate about adopting animals. Or maybe the person is passionate about cooking vegan food. Whatever they feel passionate about, set aside three to five minutes and let the person talk about their passions.
The other members will feel connected to the person through their passion. If another group member shares the same passion, it will give them something to talk about after the meeting.
8. Introduce your Partner
Sometimes introducing yourself to a group can be stressful because you're not sure exactly what to say about yourself. As the group leader, you can minimize the stress of introductions by pairing up everyone with a partner. Give each person a list of questions to ask one another. At the end of five minutes, have the partner introduce the other person. This eliminates the stress of talking about yourself while also forming a bond between the two partners.
This type of activity is best for the first time meeting. However, you can adapt it to later meetings by asking more obscure questions, encouraging the participants to dive deeper into friendships, and develop new bonds.
9. Virtual Playdough
For this activity, everyone will need a small tub of playdough or modeling clay. Before the meeting, instruct everyone to go out and buy their own tub of playdough. Then, during the meeting, instruct everyone to craft the answers to questions. Start by asking, "What's your name?" Then have everyone make their name out of the playdough. Then ask, "What's your favorite animal?" Everyone can then craft their favorite animal. As the questions progress, ask harder and harder questions, making it more difficult for them to make it out of playdough. This will make the activity more entertaining as the other group members look around the hilarious creations of the group members.
You can also play this game with a pen and pencil instead. Rather than crafting it out of the clay, have everyone draw on a piece of paper. This might be easier for some groups because you won't have to go out and buy clay.
10. Would You Rather
Our final suggestion for a remote meeting game is Would You Rather. Would You Rather is a fun game that lets the group members think through bizarre scenarios and decide which they would rather have or rather do. This can be a funny activity and help the group members to laugh with one another. Here are some Would You Rather ideas:
- Would you rather lose the ability to read or lose the ability to speak?
- Would you rather the aliens that make first contact be robotic or organic?
- Would you rather be covered in fur or covered in scales?
- Would you rather have one real get out of jail free card or a key that opens any door?
- Would you rather know the history of every object you touched or be able to talk to animals?
- Would you rather be able to talk to land animals, animals that fly, or animals that live under the water?
- Would you rather have all traffic lights you approach be green or never have to stand in line again?
Would You Rather questions spark fun and exciting conversations. This is a great remote meeting game, but it can also be used as a social distancing in-person activity.
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