The 100 Best Ice Breaker Games to Play in 2021
While you've likely heard of and participated in ice breaker questions, have you ever played an ice breaker game?
An ice breaker game is not only a great way to warm up a group and get to know each other better, but it's also a lot of fun!
There is a reason that company outings and team building exercises are still being practiced. The more experiences a group has together — especially when they are upbeat, fun and interactive — means that the closer and more understanding everyone is with each other. This is precisely why ice breaker games and team building, in general, are essential in boosting a team's ability to bond while fostering open, engaging and energetic communication. It's been proven time again that strong employee dynamics yield better team performance, according to Harvard Business Review.
Ice breaker activities often get a bad rap because individuals feel pressured to participate in something awkward, which is actually proving that an ice breaker is necessary. Once any sort of awkward energy is forgotten, laughter and good conversation takes its place.
As a founder of a company with nationwide operations in the US and Canada and a team across three continents, I have experience with leading different successful teams. One of the key components to building a strong culture for us is team building activities.
Use this list of the best ice breaker games to allow the group to get to know each other better, kick off meetings, boost team building, improve collaboration or to simply have fun!
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- What Is an Ice Breaker Game?
- Why Your Team Should Play Ice Breaker Games
- The Benefits of Team Bonding
- Good Ice Breaker Games
- Virtual Ice Breaker Games
- Fun Ice Breaker Games
- Ice Breaker Games for Small Groups
- Ice Breaker Games for Large Groups
- Ice Breaker Games for Meetings
- Quick Ice Breaker Games
- Team Building Ice Breaker Games
- Easy Ice Breaker Games
Ice breaker games are simple activities that warm up groups by helping everyone get to know each other, relieve social anxieties and promote team bonding. The game aspect of these ice breakers allows individuals to relax and have fun while communicating and collaborating.
Ice breaker games and ice breaker questions are fun when presenting your team with challenges, common goals or creative thinking. Businesses can incorporate ice breakers into team building games as a way to warm up a group for conversation. It can be a way to shake off any nerves, allow people to get to know one another better and allow for a time to include every single person so that there is a sense of community and openness when sharing opinions, stories, creative solutions and more.
For example, if your group is planning a fun culinary team building experience, you can toss around some ice breaker games before embarking on your adventure. Who can name all of the city's most iconic foods before kicking off on a local food tour near you? Who can remember the most different pasta shapes before a group cooking class near you?
It is important to break down any communication barriers and social anxieties to offer more personality and human depth into the environment, which can lead to more comfort and connection as a group. Bonding as a team in fresh, casual ways is essential in maintaining a productive workflow, promoting creative thinking and helping coworkers find confidence in their work.
Ice breaker games can help teams feel like they can participate freely, speak up and share their opinions and input without fear of ridicule. Peter Renner, author of The Art of Teaching Adults: How to Become an Exceptional Instructor and Facilitator, notes that most adults are most productive and function best when in an atmosphere that offers respect and support — pillars that can be achieved through ice breaker games.
There are endless opportunities to kick off any social situation with ease, even if you're planning virtual team building activities for a remote team. Online team building activities like virtual wine tastings, online cooking classes or online coffee classes are excellent ways to jump-start conversation and break the ice. So, use these 100 ice breaker games as a jumping-off point for your next group activity.
- Have everyone think of two truths and one lie about themselves so that others can guess which is the fib.
- Hold a note! Everyone takes turns holding a note with one breath. When they run out of air, the next person continues the note! How long can the team hold their note?
- Ask the team to identify themselves as an animal of their choice and explain why.
- Have everyone share a little-known fact about themselves.
- Write a series of sentence prompts on slips of paper like, “The scariest thing I have ever seen is…,” and have everyone take turns selecting one and finishing the sentence with something about themselves.
- Play a word association game that is centered around a theme or even the topic of a meeting discussion.
- Break the team into smaller groups and have them collectively decide on what five items they would want to have if they became stranded on an island.
- Have everyone come up with a slogan that describes who they are.
- Arrange everyone in a circle. Participants will call out another person’s name and pass a ball to them. The longer you play, the more balls or other props get added into the mix.
- Everyone writes down something they have done in their life on a notecard and turns them in anonymously. The group must guess who did what!
- Plan a scavenger hunt in the office, around the neighborhood or even across town.
- Write down a six-word memoir, something that sums up your life in a short six-word sentence.
- Planning a virtual coffee shop meeting will lead to casual chatting while everyone prepares their morning beverages.
- Show-and-tell can be a blast for adults too. Share something from your home with the group.
- Drawing games like Pictionary can be played anywhere and there are also plenty of websites that cater to virtual games.
- Play a game of trivia with any theme imaginable.
- Play a classic game of charades.
- Have everyone come up with a movie pitch and the team lead will declare a winner for the best pitch or there can be a group vote.
- Tell a story using one word at a time through the group.
- Share a selection of riddles for everyone to solve.
- Take a personality quiz and have everyone compare their results.
- Set up virtual bingo.
- Try to remember the next lines of lyrics when someone hits pause on a popular song to test your memory.
- Send out a prompt of photo options and then have everyone take their own photo representations of the prompts to share with the group.
- Play a few rounds of Never Have I Ever.
- Comedy night! Everyone can share a few of their favorite jokes.
- Break the team into small groups for the marshmallow challenge. Every group receives 20 sticks of spaghetti, three feet of tape, three feet of string and one marshmallow to make the tallest standing structure they can.
- Plan a murder mystery!
- Set up a cupcake or cookie decorating challenge.
- Take an online quiz to determine which fictional characters or inanimate objects everyone is for a good laugh.
- Have everyone fill out an index card with a self-portrait, their name and some fun facts. Pass the cards around so that everyone can get to know some details and you have all created a deck of trading cards.
- In a speed dating fashion, give folks five minutes to learn as much as they can about one another before swapping partners.
- Fill the room with obstacles that team members will have to navigate through blindfolded with only the help of their teammate’s directions.
- Have a mindful moment of silence and then instruct everyone to write down some stresses that everyone can share.
- Pass out a pop quiz that features fun facts about coworkers, details of the business or general pop culture questions.
- Tell everyone they cannot smile for five minutes and see who can make it the longest without laughing.
- Give everyone a few minutes to scroll through their social media to find a post they would like to share with the group.
- Plan a debate on mundane things like pizza versus tacos or what color the office should be painted.
- Try to find 10 things that everyone in the group has in common.
- Every meeting, rotate to someone new and have them bring in or present their favorite ice breaker questions or ice breaker game.
- Provide art supplies and have everyone create a piece of art that can kick creative blocks to the curb.
- Have everyone share a video tour of their home spaces to let everyone learn more about each other in a personal and casual way.
- Learn how to do something as a team! Build a fire, change a tire or bake a cake from scratch.
- Go for a bike tour or sign up for a marathon together.
- Hang a world map on the wall and have everyone stick a pin on the location where they are from.
- Offer up a batch of “Would You Rather Questions” for everyone to answer and debate.
- Collect a variety of random objects and have the team rank them by importance, interest, aesthetics, etc.
- Play Jenga and as each person pull out a block, they have to answer a question written on it.
- Standing in a circle, a person makes a small gesture or movement and then everyone must repeat the motion without altering it in any way.
- Play “Red Light, Green Light.”
- Have everyone make a bumper sticker that is based on a chosen theme or problem that needs solving.
- Have the team build their own houses or structures out of an assortment of snacks.
- Play a sport outside, at an activity center or a modified version in the office.
- Everyone selects a type of candy from an assortment and then has to answer a type of question that is assigned to the color of the wrapping.
- Plan a field day!
- Everyone shares what skills they hope to improve in the next year.
- Take turns praising a coworker for their work and dedication.
- The group writes down their top three suggestions for improving anything in their work environment.
- Play a round of telephone that involves topics that will be covered in the meeting.
- Assign everyone a karaoke song to plan for the next group outing.
- Select a secret word for the meeting that when any time it is said, everyone has to stand up and do some kind of activity or dance.
- Write out a list of questions of any kind for the boss to answer at the start of the meeting.
- Play a scavenger hunt with only things in pockets, wallets or purses.
- Plan a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.
- Set up a meeting bingo sheet where the squares are filled with topics to be covered, gestures, phrases and any other thing that commonly occurs during meetings.
- Everyone shares their favorite knock-knock jokes.
- Give everyone 10 minutes to create their own decorated nametag.
- Everyone has to say their names backward as they introduce themselves.
- Everyone writes their name and two questions they would like to ask another person inside a paper airplane. Throw the airplanes and have everyone chat about their answers.
- In a circle, one person will say their name with an adjective starting with the same letter, for example Silly Shanna, and each person after must repeat those before them and add their own name to the list.
- Have everyone choose a song that summarizes who they are and explain why.
- Everyone takes a coin out of their pocket and try to recall something that happened the year marked on the coin.
- Have the group describe their ideal vacation.
- Each person shares a silly human trick they can do with the group.
- Ask each person to name a cartoon character, a car, a color and a cuisine that best describes their personality.
- Simply have everyone say their name and where they are from!
- Give an object to one person on the team and have them act out a scenario of an action that the rest have to guess.
- With the team standing in a circle, have everyone grab hands with one person across the circle and another person’s hand so that you have to twist out of the human knot!
- Provide a pile of office supplies and have everyone try to create a contraption around an egg that will prevent it from breaking when dropped.
- Split off into smaller groups and see who can complete a jigsaw puzzle fastest.
- Divide the group into pairs and have them sit back to back. Give one person a photo and have them describe to the other what to draw. Compare the two to see who gets closest.
- Have each member anonymously write down something that was frustrating during the week and allow the rest of the group to offer words of encouragement and even solutions.
- Plan an escape room outing or put together one for the office!
- The team must line up in the order of their birthdays without talking at all.
- Have the team stand on a sheet and then attempt to flip it over to stand on the other side without anyone stepping off the sheet.
- Break up into groups and pass out a bag of random objects to be used as props. Everyone has 10 minutes to come up with a skit involving the objects.
- Challenge the group to solve simple puzzles while blindfolded with the verbal guidance of their teammates.
- Play a classic game of tug-of-war.
- In small groups, select random objects in the room and plan a whole marketing plan for it, brand name, logo, slogan and all.
- Show the team a structure built from Lego blocks for 30 seconds and then instruct each group to recreate it from memory.
- Make a list of things, objects, scenarios or people that need to be photographed and have small groups set up various photoshoots to complete the list.
- Working in teams, folks must use their bodies to form letters of words that everyone else must guess.
- Keep a beach ball or balloon in the air as long as possible without it touching the ground and without one person touching it twice in a row.
- Pairs sit on the ground backs to each other and then as the instructor says, “Go,” all partners have to try and stand with their arms linked.
- With a variety of ingredients, everyone will try to make the best sandwich in one minute.
- Collect fun facts about everyone in a bowl and then have the room guess who belongs to each fact.
- Have everyone make three assumptions about another person and then allow time for conversation on real details.
- Take the time to interview another person and then give a brief presentation introducing them to the rest of the room.
- Create a set of celebrity and character name cards and stick them to everyone’s foreheads. Set a timer and see who can ask the right yes or no questions to help them solve who is written on their card.
- Learn a short dance routine together and have a dance party!
All work and no play can make coworkers feel down in the doldrums, so plan your next meeting with ice breaker games in mind. Spread the word about a special outing or competition. Bringing the team together in a new way will certainly lead to a valuable new sense of camaraderie that will impact productivity for the better.
What are your favorite ice breaker games? Did we leave one off the list?
What is an ice breaker?
An ice breaker can be an activity, game, event, or conversation starter that allows a group of individuals to warm up to the atmosphere, get to know one another a little better and literally break any tension, unease or anxiety in social or work settings.
What is an ice breaker game?
Games can be an excellent way to break the ice when meeting new people or bonding with coworkers. Ice breaker games tend to open up new lines of communication and collaboration as everyone is working together on a common goal, uncovering new information about one another, competing in a friendly atmosphere or testing knowledge on a variety of subjects.
How do you play ice breaker games?
Whether a team is meeting for the very first time or if a group is looking for a boost in collective morale, ice breaker games can get the ball rolling. Team leads can present game questions and rules to all and allow the group to work through whichever game is presented while collaborating together and bonding through conversation.
How do you break the ice easily?
Communication is the easiest way to break the ice, even if it may feel awkward at first. Groups that spend time getting to know each other tend to have a strong bond and trust that in turn strengthens productivity and focus. Starting a conversation from a simple ice breaker question or planning an ice breaker game makes it easy to form lasting connections.
Why is team bonding important?
According to a study published with the NCBI, work friends and groups that know each other on a more personal level have a significant positive effect on group task performance. Ice breaker games can improve communication, build team rapport, reduce feelings of isolation in the workplace, incorporate fun opportunities for interaction into meetings and help people feel positive and relaxed.
This list of engaging ice breaker games will have your team bonding and having fun in no time. For even more inspiration on team building activities, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.