Transcript of "Youth Icebreakers - Knowing the Ice"
Learn some key
principles for making
your ice breaker the
highlight of your next
party, team event, and
When planning ice breakers,
think about the “ice” that
needs to be broken.
1. If you are bringing
people, the “ice” may
simply reflect the fact that
people have not yet met.
2. If you are bringing
together people of
different grades and levels
in your organization for an
open discussion, the “ice”
may come from the
difference in status
3. If you are bringing together
people of different
backgrounds, cultures and
outlooks for work within your
community, then the “ice”
may come from people’s
perceptions of each other.
You’ll need to handle these
differences with sensitivity. Only
focus on what’s important to your
event. Remember, you want to
break some ice for your event, not
uncover the whole iceberg! And
as you move on to design and
facilitate the event, it’s always
best to focus on similarities
(rather than differences), such as
a shared interest in the event’s
A simple way to figure out what kind
of “ice” you’re facing is to consider
the following factors:
1. Size of the Crew
Some icebreakers work best in large
groups of 20 or more, some are
better for small groups of 5 or so. If
you have too many people for the
icebreaker, split into smaller groups of
the right size and run the icebreakers
Another often overlooked
consideration is the size of the
premises you will be conducting your
activities. It’s always advisable to
have twice as much free room as
participants if there is to be any
running or moving around.
2. Knowing Your Crew
One obvious point to consider is
the audience. You will want to
A) Age (which affects the physical
energy level and mental ability)
B) Backgrounds (Familiarity
between participants, culture,
personality types, etc.)
3. Plotting Your Course (Purpose)
The tone for the remainder of the
event is set by the icebreaker. What
are you doing after the ice breaker?
• Are you brainstorming new
• Discussing year end results?
• Kicking off a new project?
• Teaching an important lesson?
• Team building?
Match the mood of the ice
breaker to the mood for the
meeting. The participants may
immediately come to a conclusion
about how the rest of the session
will go based on the tone of the
opening ice breaker.
Ask yourself: Is the icebreaker
• ease introductions
• increase understanding of
• improve communication
• build group cohesion
• build trust
• get mental juices flowing
• just be downright silly
• increase the energy level
of the group in the
MIDDLE of a meeting
In any case, the group members
should be able to take something
away from the activity that will be
beneficial to the remainder of the
4. Preparing for the Journey
• Try out your explanation of
how to play in advance and
carefully choose your words
• Run through it with other
leaders and facilitators in
• Take note of any materials you
might need before leading the
• Consider the safety of
activities, furniture, etc)
5. ETA (Time)
Be realistic about the time you
have for the meeting ice breaker
and stick to it.
• Choose a short punchy
icebreaker to get energy
• Choose longer icebreakers
when more disclosure is
• Remember icebreakers
always take a bit longer than
we think they will take.
6. Full Speed Ahead (Take It to the
An important part of choosing an
icebreaker is deciding whether or not
a serious message will be
incorporated into the activity. One
must remember that regardless of
whether or not learning is a focus of
the activity, icebreakers inherently
contain hidden messages.
We always prefer to use icebreakers
that contain significant learning
points because they can create
powerful teaching opportunities
without appearing like we are
lecturing the students.
7. Disembarking (Debrief)
When finished with an icebreaker,
it is important to take a few
minutes to help the participants
find meaning in the activity. If the
time is not taken to bring it all
together, the participants may feel
as if they were simply playing a
game. Discuss the purpose of the
activity, what was learned from it,
and how it can be related to their
lives. Be sure to make the
discussion interactive. The
participants will take more away
from the debriefing if they are a
part of it, rather than being
A standard debrief that we use
following our icebreakers or
activities has this basic structure:
• “What happened?”
What actually happened in
the activity? What did you
What factors limited your
success? What factors
contributed to your success?
• “What changed?”
What did you do it differently?
What changes did you make in
your strategy? What made it
more successful the second
• “So what?”
How does this apply to us?
What lessons can we learn
• “Now what?”
What is one thing you would
change in your life because of
this? What would you do
differently as a result of this
Be sure to give participants the
opportunity to ask questions
throughout the activity. Nothing
promotes learning like dialog. We
encourage participants to discuss
among themselves what they have
learned and what the activity
means to them. You may be
surprised at the level of depth and
insight your participants will have!
A well chosen icebreaker is
worth it’s weight in… ice!
Choose your icebreakers
wisely and you can impact
This EBook not only provides 52 of the
world’s most popular group icebreaker
activities, but also includes lesson ideas and
questions to smoothly transition into
discussions about issues common to most
Click here to find out more!
Icebreakers Ahead: Take it to the next Level
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