Break The Ice: Five Team-building activities to use this Fall

By: Grace Hudgins

Getting acquainted in a new place is probably one of the hardest things to do as a young adult. I’ve heard it doesn’t get much easier when you’re an adult either – not to be a Debby-downer or anything. But as students, we’re constantly meeting new people, becoming a part of a new team or leading a set of students on our own.

I’m currently rewriting a book that has 365 team-building activities – emphasis on the 365 – so icebreakers and team bonding exercises are the only topics that I can think about this week. It’s kind of beneficial for me though because of the leadership positions I have in college. I’m always trying to think of new activities to bring my group members closer together, and this book has given me a couple of great ideas.

So this week, I’ve decided to pass along my now expert-knowledge on teamwork and introductions to you all just in case you have a leadership position back at school like me.

Below, I’ve listed 5 icebreakers that don’t suck are sure to make your first few classes/team meetings/orientations a breeze.

1. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic icebreaker that’s used at pretty much every orientation, team meeting, or first day of school/classes. It’s a great way to get to know people. No matter if they are just your classmates, teammates or club members, it’s a great start to conversation.

How it works: Everyone will write two true facts about themselves and one lie. Taking turns, everyone will read what he or she wrote and have the others guess at which fact is the lie. It’s fun to include personal facts that are surprising to people, and hear about what people actually have and have not done.

78_32944772. The Name Game

I’m sure there are more versions of this game, but the one I’ve listed is a lot of fun. I’ve played it at many leadership retreats and dance camps, and it’s always successful.

How it works: Each person writes his or her own name on a tag. The leader then collects all the names and the team sits in a circle. The leader then sticks the tags on the backs of the people at random. When the leader says, “go,” everyone gets up and tries to find his or her tag. Each person also tries to prevent others from seeing the tag that is on their back. When team members find their tags, they grab them and put them on their chests. The game ends when everyone has found his or her tag.

3. Find the Common Thread

Different details can be added to this exercise to make it fit the occasion you’re using it for. It’s fun to play because you get to see how much you have in common with those around you.

How it works: Divide your team/class/group members into two, and give them a chart with how many ever slots your heart desires. From there, your team will have to walk around and talk with others to find out if they have anything in common. Ten is usually a good number because it’s not too long or too short. Whoever has the most first wins.

4. Gifts and Hooks

As I was researching different team-building exercises for the book I’m revising, I came across this one written by a managing director for leadership strategies. It’s simple, will get your team talking, and maybe even form a bond of trust between group members. It can be used for students also to help with group projects and assignments.

How it works: Have each person write down their “gifts” or skills they think they can contribute to the team, along with a “hook,” which is a flaw, that they think they could improve. Once that’s finished, have them walk around and discuss it with a partner or have them post their answers on a wall. From there, the leader (if that’s you) can decide who will work best with whom or figure out how to tackle the year ahead. For more details, read the instructions here.

5. Color Personality Tests

These are a lot of fun, and they make people think about their everyday actions. You can find these online anywhere, but it’s basically a survey that will tell your team members what kind of personalities they have. Once everyone has figured out what color and personality type they have, it will be easier to group certain students together based on their results.

How it works: Check this one out as an example.


Here are three that suck are not very good.

1.What Animal Are You?

Yeah. I saw this one as an employee team-building activity. I don’t really think I need to explain it either. Piece of advice: Don’t make students who are in high school or college play animal charades as an icebreaker, much less full-grown adults at work. Just take my advice and don’t do it.

2. Make the Largest Bubble67_3979458

Yes, you read that right. This is an exercise where team members have to make bubbles out of soap. Not sure why anyone would think this activity builds character, but I wouldn’t suggest it to people 10 and up (or period, but that’s just me).

3. Share the Crayon

This is another one I researched that didn’t really make sense to give to people older than 10, but to each his own, you know?

How it works: Each team member gets a different color crayon. Give the team a subject to draw and color. They must create the object together. Everyone must use his or her own crayon and only one person can draw at a time. The goal is for everyone to use his or her crayon at least once in the picture. You can choose different objects to draw.

At the end of the day, you know your team the best. So, if the last three activities I listed would work well for your team, then by all means give them a go. Just try to keep in mind the age group of your team’s members and what your team needs to become stronger.

The Internet is a great research tool, as well. So if you can’t wait for my new book to come out in a few months or so, I know Google would suffice until then (wink). Happy preparing to all you fellow leaders/presidents/board members!

Good luck, and have fun team building!

 

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