Making the Most of Showing Up – Team Builders and Ice Breakers

Try these whole group activities– ice breakers and team builders– to help teen leaders ‘gel’ en route to becoming a team.  Some of them could also be used to help attendees at a Teen Science Café feel more comfortable with others in the room. When we feel comfortable, we enjoy ourselves and our participation more, are more likely to voice our questions and ideas, and grow as leaders. (Plus, these are a lot of fun).  

The excerpts below are from this downloadable presentation:  Making the Most out of Showing up – powerpoint slides by TSCN member Jeanna Michalek, based on her work with teens in Girl Scouts, 4-H, and other leadership programs. It was presented at the 2017 TSCN Summer Workshop in St. Louis, MO. 


Ice Breaker: Alpha Beta Gamma Planets

You will be given a playing card from a deck, please check below to see what “planet” you are from and how that planet communicates:
  • Diamonds = Alphas – Speak very loudly, enjoy shaking hands and interacting with strong physical touch, and want to meet as many people as they can with no concern for planetary origin
  • Hearts = Betas – Are never the first to engage in conversation, they don’t mind shaking hands, but would rather not engage in too much physical touch, and only meet people who introduce themselves to the Beta
  • Clubs = Gammas – Speak very quietly with as few words as possible without making eye contact, they do not enjoy physical touch, they would rather keep to themselves or other Gammas
  • Spades = Deltas – Are willing to start conversation and are looking for deep and meaningful relationships, they will engage in physical contact when it is strengthening their new friendship, they ask meaningful questions to find connections with peers, they take more time with fewer interactions
What did we learn?
  • How does our communication style impact our first impression?
  • How did you feel about the physical touch?
  • What is the value of this ice breaker?
  • What can we do to remain more open to new relationships?
  • How do we know what people are looking for with their relationship/communication?


Not Another Name Game

  • Group makes a circle
  • One person introduces themselves with an action and their name
  • The next person repeats the first person’s name and action, then adds their own.
  • The third person repeats the first 2 sets of information, and so on.
Always consider how to work with the differing abilities of participants in these activities.  Adapt the game!
  • Ex. Physical abilities – Choose to use an alliteration rather than a movement
  • Ex. Mental abilities – Repeat each name with the whole group
  • Ex. Emotional abilities – Do the activities in smaller groups to take away stress


“Party Quirks”

  • The scene begins with the party host getting ready for the upcoming party when the door bell rings or their is a knock at the door. The host answers the door and in walks the first guest. The guest immediately starts portraying their party quirk while the host offers them to help themselves to the food. Thirty seconds later the second guest arrives and immediately starts acting out their quirk. Once the second guest has arrived the host is allowed to start guessing what the guests’ quirks are, but must do so while in character. The host may say “Please help yourself to the crackers bird trainer guy.” or “Have a seat and rest those feet lady who’s been stepping on broken glass.”. About thirty seconds after the second guest arrives the third one attends the party.
  • Once a players quirk has been guessed they leave the “stage”. Upon guessing all the quirks the game is over and a new group of players are chosen.

Cross the Line / Standing in the Gap

The goals of this activity include helping participants learn about themselves. It gives participants an opportunity to reflect upon their self- and cultural identity, and allows the community involved to better appreciate its own diversity, and learn.
  • Create 2 lines with a 5-10 ft space between them
  • Share a statement that some may identify with and ask them to step into the gap
  • Give participants a response time to look and see who shares this similarity or difference with them.• Start with more generic questions
    • Move to questions that the participants will be able to bond through


If You Really Knew Me…

  • Each person may share completing the sentence, “If you really knew me…”


10 Tips to Encourage Cohesion

  • Best Practice Inclusion
  • Icebreakers
  • Teach Conflict Management
  • Include Yourself
  • Practice What You Preach
  • Create Bonding Experiences
  • Be Flexible
  • Sing Songs
  • Promote Team Building
  • Use the Strengths and Abilities of the Group