See also

See also: Fun games.

General tips

  • Make it relevant if you can
  • Think about what zone / frame of mind you want people to be in
  • Gauge the room. Some groups love wacky icebreakers, some are completely turned off by them

Getting to know each other

(Each bullet point represents a different activity! This is not all one activity.)

  • Write down something nobody knows about you, then we have to guess which one is who.
    • In person:
      • this goes on folded pieces of paper.
    • Remotely:
      • Get people to add cards to a Trello board or similar
      • Or you can use a spreadsheet and just agree to not pay attention to who’s writing what. The more people, the less likely people will register who wrote what.
  • Use paper and crayons (and glue and whatever else you want to give them) to introduce yourself.
  • Split into pairs and share something small you find satisfying, eg cycling over crunchy Autumn leaves. Then share your partner’s satisfying thing with the rest of the group.
  • In groups of 3, design a superhero. You get to choose one super power each and combine them into one hero. Draw a collaborative picture of the result.
  • Say three surprising things about yourself (two true, one false), then everybody asks you questions to find out more, then everyone has to guess which one’s false.
  • Get everyone to paste a baby pic of themselves into a spreadsheet (give them a few days to get this part done).
    • Then everyone has to guess who’s who.

Simple icebreakers

  • stand back to back, one describes a picture, the other draws it.
  • If still stuck for ideas, just google “icebreakers”
  • Use to play a game
  • Use costumes! Or just hats. A lot easier when everyone is remote.
  • Play14 has a lot of games listed here, and some remote-friendly games here

The Dictionary Game

  • Prep: You need to find some unusual words, so you need goog googling skills or a big dictionary.
  • Split into groups of three.
  • Each group is given an unusual word, plus its definition.
  • Between them they have to come up with two false definitions of the word and decide who will read out each of the 3 definitions (false mixed with true).
  • Back in the main group, each sub group presents the true definition plus the false definitions, and everybody else has to vote on each of the definitions. Finally for each group the true definition is revealed.
  • This will take some time so you might want to save some of the words-plus-definitions for later in the day.

Human rock paper scissors

  1. Whole group agrees on physical poses to represent rock, paper and scissors
  2. Split into two teams
  3. Each team has 30 secs to agree whether they’re going for rock paper or scissors
  4. Facilitator shouts “GO”
  5. Play for the best of 3 or 5 to see which team wins
  6. More info here

rock paper scissors championship

  • Works best with large groups
  • Everybody in the room finds a pair and plays three rounds of Rock Paper Scissors
    • Give rules! Otherwise some people do one, two, play and some do one, two, three, play
  • The winner finds another winner to compete against. The loser becomes their cheerleader and has to follow them round chanting their name
  • The number of players becomes smaller and each player gets a larger and larger group of cheerleaders until there are only two players left, and one of them wins!
  • We played this at the thoughtworks Away Day in Birmingham, and at the Agile Leadership meetup at Made Tech in London 13/1/20 - I won!

“1,2 … 3,1”

  • Everybody stand up.
  • When the leader says “One,” everyone else must say “Two.”
  • When the leader says “Two,” everyone else must say “Three.”
  • When the leader says “Three,” everyone else must say “One.”
  • Start by practising that, then when they’ve got the hang of it, tell them that every time THEY say “One,” they must clap (it’s harder than it sounds).
  • That’s it!

Spirit Animals

  • Everybody draw an animal or if in Miro, choose an avatar for your animal using Icon Picker (three dots at the bottom of the tool bar on the right). Write / add a post-it next to it something like “Hello, I’m Clare and my spirit animal is a hedgehog”. Take it in turns to explain why you picked your animal, then pick the next person to also explain their animal
    • Potential gotchas:
      • It’s hard to work out whether everybody has gone yet. One way to fix this is for the facilitator to simply call out people one by one, for instance based on the list of attendees.
      • If these are people who have only just met and you only ask people to describe their spirit animal and why they chose it, you still don’t know very much about each individual. You might want to ask people to do a quick self-intro as well, eg what they do for a living.
    • Alternatives:
      • A nice addition is to split people into pairs / small groups after they have created their avatar. They tell each other abnout their avatar and then you come back into the main group and everyone introduces somebody else, rather than introducing themselves.
        • If you do this and these are people who have not met each other before, ask people to also do a brief personal intro - eg describe what they do for a living - so people get a little more context on each other.

Balloons and Names

This could be a warmup exercise… (via Amanda Nicholls on LinkedIn)

“A wise teacher once brought balloons to school, told her pupils to blow them up and write their name on one. After the children tossed their balloons into the hall, the teacher moved through the hall mixing them all up.

The kids were given five minutes to find the balloon with their name on it, but though they searched frantically, no one found their own balloon.

Then the teacher told them to take the balloon closest to them and give it to the person whose name was on it. In less than two minutes, everyone was holding their own balloon.

The teacher said to the children, “These balloons are like happiness. We won’t find it when we’re only searching for our own. But if we care about someone else’s happiness…it will ultimately help us find our own.””

Drama Games

  • Some of these games designed for drama classes can work well as energisers.
  • There are some more drama games listed here - this list is a bit more generically play-focused, rather than specifically focused on acting skills.

Retro Games

  • Count to 3 repeatedly (1,2,3,1,2,3) but do it by taking it in turns between the leader and everybody else. So:
    • Leader says 1
    • Everybody says 2 (in unison)
    • Leader says 3
    • Everybody says 1
    • But every now and then the leader will throw a spanner in the works by saying a number out of sequence
    • When this happens everyone must follow the leader’s number. Like this:
      • Leader says 1
      • Everybody says 2 (in unison)
      • Leader says 1
      • Everybody says 2
    • Now introduce a new rule: Whenever the group says 1 they also have to clap their hands
    • Now another rule (introduce rules one at a time, with a practice round each time): Whenever the group says 2, they also have to cross their forearms and point diagonally upwards
    • Now another rule: Whenever the group says 3, they also have to do jazz hands
    • Now another rule: No words from the group, just actions. So the leader says words (and does no actions), but the group has to do actions only
  • Everybody does stamp, stamp, click, click, in the same 4/4 rhythm
    • At the same time everybody recites in unison the following 3 bars: my name is x, I come from (also begins with X), my favourite food is (begins with X)
    • …except not X but the first letter of the person’s name
    • The only bit not in unison is the thing beginning with X (or whatever letter)
    • take it in turns 
  • I went to the market and I bought …
    • take it in turns
    • each person has to repeat all the previous items
    • each item should begin with next letter in alphabet