Instructor Resources

Activities/Icebreakers

M&M Game

Pass around a bag of M&Ms and have each person take as many as they want. For each color of the M&Ms have a question they can answer. For instance, red can be, "Name a campus resource." You can play this with other colored candy also.

Person Scavenger Hunt Bingo

Instead of creating a Bingo board with numbers, create a Bingo board of things anybody could have done or might have in their possessions. Give each player a copy of the board and get them to go around asking the other players if they match any of the details on the squares. If a player does they have to sign their name in that square (for example, you have 2 brothers). Whoever gets all squares signed first wins.

Nonverbal Birthday Lineup

Ask everyone to line up according to the month and day of birth without talking.

Name Chain

You know how this one goes - you start with an adjective/fruit/animal/superhero/etc & then your name. The next person says your name & their name & so on.

Think, Pair, Share

Each student is given a 4 x 6 Index card. They are to write: Name; Home town & state; Something they like to do; What they did last summer; Intended Major; Favorite Food, Book, Superhero..Your Choice! Pair off & share what each has written. Start with yourselves, then each person will introduce their partner to the groups indicating what they have learned about that person.

Cheers & Fears

This activity can be done as a big discussion group, or you may break into 2 groups. The questions for discussion are simple: What are you most excited about with starting college? What are you most concerned or apprehensive about?

Call on volunteers & ask people to explain their responses. Connect campus resources & events with the Cheers & Fears they describe, as well as your own experiences.

On All Sides

Get everyone in a large open area. Tell them that you'll call out "Find a Partner." Once they have a partner, then you'll call out either "side-by-side," "back-to-back" or "face-to-face" & they should arrange themselves accordingly. For side-by side, they should share vital statistics (name, age, hometown, etc.), for back-to-back, something about their extended selves (family, friends, associations, etc.) for face-to-face, something about personal interests or hobbies.

Theme Song

Divide participants into smaller groups. Tell them to discuss among themselves until they find a common theme. Once they've got a common theme, have them come up with a theme song that explains that theme. Then, they share their theme song with the larger group & the larger group has to guess their common theme.

Who am I?

For this activity you will need one sticky note per person. On each note write the name of a celebrity, political figure, cartoon character, book character, etc. You can choose one category or mix them up. Use a different person for each note. Place a sticky note on the back or forehead of each participant. The participants are to figure out who they are, but can only do so in the following manner. Find a partner and read each other's stick notes. You may ask the other person three questions to which they are yes or no answers. Once your questions have been asked and answered, make a guess as to your identity. If you are correct, move the sticky note to your chest and you become a "consultant" who gives clues to those still trying to figure out their identities. If you are not correct, find a new partner and repeat the process. SPECIAL NOTE: Be sure to choose characters that are appropriate to the age of the participants to avoid "generalization gap frustration."

I've done something you haven't done

Have each person introduce themselves and then state something they have done that they think no one else in the class has done. If someone else has also done it, the student must state something else until he/she finds something that no one else has done.

Group Juggling

Have participants stand in a circle. The leader tosses a ball to the person across the circle saying his/her name, then puts their hands behind their back. This repeats until everyone has been tossed the ball and had their name said. The leader throws the ball again to the same person, and everyone must throw the ball in the same pattern as the first time, calling out the person's name and throwing the ball. Each time the ball returns to the leader another ball is added in. Continue adding balls and see how far the group can get without messing up. This can be tried nonverbally if everyone knows each other's names, and other objects in addition to balls may be used.

Paper Bag Fashion Show

Group size should be 4 to 5 people per group. Each group will need a paper bag filled with stuff (roll of toilet paper, construction paper, markers, scissors, miscellaneous stuff, and an index card). The task is to create a garment on someone in the group using all the materials except the card in 10 to 15 minutes. Then the group will write a description of the garment on the card which will be given to the fashion show commentator. Everyone but the models will become the audience and the fashion show begins. The commentator reads the descriptions as the fashions are modeled. This can be adapted to fit a topic, such as make a garment that a great leader might wear, and so forth.

Interview

Everyone is sent off in pairs to "interview" their partner. They're each given 3 to 5 minutes to ask questions, such as "what resources on campus have you used since school began" or "what was the hardest transition for you coming to NIU." Let students share their interviews with the class.

Take What You Need

The facilitator passes a roll of toilet paper around the room, telling everyone to "tear off as much as you need." Once everyone has torn off a sheet or two, or 10, the facilitator announces that for each square they've take, they must share something about themselves. Example I was born in _____. I have a weakness for ______.

Pipe Cleaners

Have people take a pipe cleaner and use it to form into something that represents who they are. (Something that they are good at, they like to do, about their family, etc.) It can be an actual representation or symbolic one. When they are done, have them walk around and pair up with someone and try to guess each others shape. Then pull the group together and have people share.

Life Boxes

Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half and then in half again. Unfold and you have 4 boxes. Have markers or crayons available and have people write the following headings in the 4 boxes 1) Childhood 2) High school 3) College 4) Future. In each of the boxes they are to draw a simple picture that represents an event or action that was extremely important to that particular time of their life. Have people go around and share their experiences.

Four Facts

Good for pairs or the entire group. People say 4 things about themselves. 3 are true and one is a lie. People try to guess which one is false.

Hobby Huddle

The group sits in a circle. Person #1 says his name and favorite hobby. Person #2 (to his right) repeats Person #1's name and hobby, then states their own. Person #3 states Person #1's and Person #2's names and hobbies, then adds his own. Go around the entire circle. Encourage people to help each other when needed.

Value Discussion

Have participants find two people who are wearing the same color as them. Have them find a spot where they can talk together. Instruct them they will be talking about some issues and you will give them new topics every few minutes. Here are some samples:

  • Talk about the most important thing you learned this year.
  • What do you want to be doing in five years?
  • What is one goal you have for next year?
  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you value most in life?

Introductions with a twist

The master pan of this ice breaker is to give people an opportunity to learn something silly about each other and to divulge something personal about themselves. As a kick-off to the class, everyone is asked to introduce themselves by telling something informational (name), something silly (where you'd be if you could be anywhere right now, you favorite dessert), and something reflective (what you hope to get out of this class). Facilitators should, during the rest of the class, spontaneously recall specific things people said as a way of maintaining humor and giving members opportunities to connect.

Yarn Toss

Everyone stands or sits in a circle, with the facilitator holding a ball of yarn. Hanging on tightly to the tail of the yarn, toss the ball to someone else while completing the sentence "I appreciate you for." After the ball of yarn has been passed to everyone in the circle, the group slowly raises and lowers their parts of the yarn to reveal the intricate web of relationships in the group. This is a good activity for the end of the year once students fully know each other.

Finish the sentence

Go around the room and complete one of these sentences (or something similar):

  • The best job I ever had was..
  • The worst project I ever worked on was.
  • The riskiest thing I have ever done was.

This is a good technique for moving on to a new topic or subject. For example, when starting a class and you want everyone to introduce themselves, you can have them complete "I am in this class because..." You can also move on to a new subject by asking a leading question. For example if you are instructing time management, "The one time I felt most stressed because I did not have enough time was."

Involvement Game

Encourage and show students how they might be able to get involved on campus. This exercise works best if students are placed in groups and are encouraged to find as many organizations and ways they can get involved from the student newspaper. Allow 15 minutes for groups to make lists and then allow time for each group to report to the entire class. This helps individuals realize that organizations come in every shape and size. Give assignments at the end of one class to have students bring to class a list of every possible way they could get involved on campus. Suggest they write down information on flyers, stuff they find in the newspaper, websites, etc. Offer a prize to the student that brings in the most opportunities and have each student present his or her findings. This also works as a group homework assignment too.

Two Cents- Closing Activity

This activity is designed to provide closure for a group or team through sharing positive comments about individuals. The facilitator introduces the program by talking about throughout the year how everyone has contributed their two cents. They go on to say how normally when someone shares their two cents it is usually referring to them trying to benefit the group by providing their ideas. Then the facilitator gives every participant two cents and shares that they are to give away their two cents to other individuals in the group. The only stipulation is that to give away a penny they must say a positive quality that they have admired about the individual to whom they are giving it too. The activity works well in as a round robin activity so everyone can hear who each other recognizes, or as a free for all format where individuals all at once get up and share individually with people. Goal is to try to give away all their pennies, even the ones they receive.