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Ice-Breakers & Team Building Exercises

Ice-Breakers & Team Building Exercises

Author: Alyson Gorden

This tutorial will help you use ice breakers and team building exercises effectively. There will also be a links to resources that provide a large list of of these exercises as well as a description of what they are.

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What is an icebreaker?

An icebreaker is a facilitation exercise intended to help a group to begin the process of forming themselves into a team. Icebreakers are commonly presented as a game to "warm up" the group by helping the members to get to know each other. They often focus on sharing personal information such as names, hobbies, etc.

What is the purpose?

An icebreaker should be related to the subject or the purpose of the meeting. For example, if a collaborative learning environment is needed for a training project, then an icebreaker exercise that promotes collaboration could be chosen. If the subject of the meeting is reading books, then the subject of the meeting could be introduced through an exercise that revolves around participant's favorite books.

Icebreakers should be relaxing and non-threatening. For example, icebreakers in a professional setting should not require people to reveal personal information or to touch other people, as this may be stressful or culturally inappropriate. They should not embarrass the participants or make them feel compelled to participate. They should also not show disrespect for any social and professional hierarchies in the group, as this can be uncomfortable for participants.

At the end of a well-chosen icebreaker exercise, the facilitator should be able to summarize for the group what was learned during the exercise.

Let's get excited about team building and ice breaker activities!

List of Ice Breaker Activities

Below is a link to ice breaker activities that you may want to try broken down by category. Go to this website and browse through at least 3 different categories you think you may use with your group.

Tutorial Video - The Human Knot

Example of an Effective Ice Breaker for a Small to Medium Sized Group


The Human Knot Icebreaker


1. OER Commons

Here was a big list of icebreakers that could be grouped according to size of audience I would deliver to or by content.

2. Wikipedia

This link showed the different types of icebreakers and how to facilitate them (getting to know you vs. team building)

3. Flickr

Here is a picture of a group of people participating in an icebreaker that I cropped and changed to use in this tutorial