The Five Best Ice Breaker Games


Orientations are designed to help students build relationships with others. For many students coming onto campus, a major concern is, “Who is going to be my friend? How will I get to know them?”

Ice Breakers is one of the best ways to ease that process. There are those who find the  juvenile, but I for one believe that no matter what your age, an appropriate ice breaker can be the key to a successful event.

I have listed my five favourite ice breaker games that you can use at your next school or work function. 🙂 I believe the best ice breakers are easy to understand and have minimal set up or clean up. Hope you enjoy!

1. Never Have I Ever

Have students sit in a circle on chairs with one person standing in the middle. The person in the centre will introduce themselves, with their name and school major, and then will complete the line, “Never have I ever”. Anyone who has done what the student claims to have never done, must get up and claim a different seat in the circle. The person in the middle also scrambles for a chair. Who ever cannot find seat goes into the middle and introduces themselves.

Why I like it: Students get to be creative and it allows people to move around and be active.

2. Line Up

Divide groups into teams. The team size could range from 7 to 12 people. Instruct the teams to arrange themselves in a line alphabetical order of their first name. Then instruct that they must do this without speaking or writing anything down. The first team to complete the challenge sits down to indicate they are done. When all teams are seated, have each person say their name aloud to make sure they didn’t cheat. 😉 You can continue the challenges by then asking for last names, birthdays, or the person who travelled the furthest to get to the school.

Why I like it: Students are able to work together. The competition promotes cooperation and focus. It’s also great to use for leadership retreats, as you can debrief to see who took on leadership and how that was helpful.

3. Paper Plane Game

Have the students write three facts about themselves (other than their names) on a sheet of paper. Teach students how to fold the paper into paper airplanes and get them to ‘launch” their planes. When the planes land, instruct the students to throw whatever plane they can find around until they are completely scattered. Finally get the students to pick up one plane each and try to find the person who matches  the facts written on the paper. At the end of the game have the person who found the clue introduce the person who wrote the clues down to the group.

Why I like it: Students have to meet and talk with a number of people before they know whose plane they have. Also it’s fun and creative!

4. Name That Person

Divide the group into two. Have each person write down five facts little known facts about themselves on a card. Examples could be: favourite colour is purple, grew up in Vermont, my dog’s name is Chester, I can’t tell my lefts from my rights, I once travelled to Peru.

Collect the cards from both teams. Draw a card from the opposing team’s pile and read the clues one by one. With each clue the team has a chance to guess one person from the opposing team. Five points are awarded if they get the first clue, four points for the second clue, etc. The team with the most points win!

Why I like it: Promotes team work, its challenging, fun, and a great twist to some of the other ‘get to know me’ games.

5. Two Truths and a Lie

Have the students come up with two true things about themselves, and something that is not true. Have the other students try to guess which one is a lie.

Why I like it: It’s classic, simple, and calm with no set up or clean up. It can be a great time filler while waiting for other students to arrive, or a way to productively fill time before moving on to the next activity.

There are so many people to meet and get to know, but it can be hard to make that first step. Planning ice breaker games at the beginning of leadership retreats, student orientation, first classes, or first floor meeting can be the best way to calm some of those fears.

Do you have ice breaker games that work for you? Let me know! I’d love to hear them!


About campusperspective

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was curious and passionate about a whole hosts of topics and interests. How would I combine everything I loved to do in one job? Then I stumbled into a career in higher education. Student Services pieced together my curiosity, creativity, passion for people, and thirst to learn. As I continue working in this exciting field I hope to share some questions, insights, and lessons learned. Enjoy! :)

2 responses »

  1. I really like this variation of Bingo as an icebreaker tool. I divide a board into about 12 blocks. In each block I write a personal quality or trait, like “has a tattoo” or “has travelled to France” or “can speak 3 languages”. Each person in the group gets a board, and then they have to move around the group looking for people who fulfil the qualities on the board. For example, if they find someone who has been to France, they can cross “has travelled to France” off the board. The winner is the person who crosses off all their blocks first. it’s fun because people get to mingle, and it has a bit of a competitive edge to it too.

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