Team Builders and Icebreakers! Ideas for Café Warm-Up Activities, and Leadership Team Building

Most teens are social by nature and a great icebreaker activity can work wonders in getting them to meet and interact with one another. Many Teen Science Cafés hold them prior to introducing the café speaker to add to the fun ambience of the event as well as to help everyone feel comfortable in asking questions aloud and conversing with the speaker. Don’t forget to include the presenter in this part of the Café, as it is a great opportunity for them to interact and become comfortable with the teens and for the teens to interact with them.

Alternatively, some of these activities could be used at any meeting of Teen Leaders, including Teen Leader training or celebration events.

Fact or Fiction (Two Truths & a Lie). Ask each person in the group to think of two true facts about themselves, and one lie (give them an example). Break into smaller groups or do as whole group. Each person takes a turn telling the group their 3 items. The group then has to agree on which fact they think is a lie, and announces their decision. The speaker tells the group the correct answer. The speaker tells the group the correct answer, and it becomes someone else’s turn to tell their 2 truths and one lie.

Fast Friends. AKA Speed Dating, but without the dating! The leader randomly breaks up the group into pairs. The pairs introduce themselves to each other. The leader then gives the group a topic to discuss with their partner for 30 sec. or so. When time is up, the leader will call for the group to switch partners and calls out a new topic. Try to pick fun and insightful topics. Examples:
If you could have lunch with anyone from history, who would it be, and why?
If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
Describe your perfect day.
If you could eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If you were stranded on a deserted island, who are the 3 people you would want with you?

Beach Ball Game. Everyone stands in a circle. Leader has a beach ball that has various questions written on it (ex. What is your favorite color? What is your favorite beach or mountains? First email address? Horror or comedy movies?). Whichever question your right thumb lands on the ball is the question you must answer. Person then throws ball to next random person until everyone has answered a question.

True That, Double True! Everyone stands in a circle. One person says something about themselves (anything, ex. favorite food, tv show, etc.). For anyone else who agrees with the statement, they step into the circle and yell “True that!”. For anyone who really agrees with the statement, they step into the circle and yell, “True that, double true!” Turns are taken saying statements until everyone has participated. The more enthusiasm with the chanting of “True that, double true,” the better!

Silent Line-Up. Everyone stands and must form a straight line that is alphabetical by middle name without talking (leader should first ask if there is anyone who does NOT have a middle name). They can make hand signals, but cannot say anything to one another. Once they’ve formed the line, they each say their middle name in order to see if they’ve gotten it right. Variations: Birthdays (by month or oldest to youngest), Place they were born, First names.

Human Scavenger Hunt. Participants are looking for others in the room with various traits, all the while learning a bit about their classmates and getting out of their comfort zones a little. Tell participants they have 10 mins to find someone who fits the following categories on the page (that you give them, with pens), and each person can only sign your paper once. They cannot sign their own sheet. Human Scavenger Hunt.

Hand Game (and energizer).
Everyone must either lie in a circle on their stomaches with their hands in front of them or sit in a circle around a table with their hands in front of them. Either way, have your hands ready to slap a flat surface.
Once everyone places their hands directly on the table or ground in front of them, move your right hand in between the hands of the person to your right. This creates an alternate hand pattern. Ex. (From left to right) My LEFT hand, then the person on my left’s RIGHT hand, then the person on my right’s LEFT hand, then my RIGHT hand, and so on.
To start, one person calls out the tapping direction, either Left or Right, and starts by slapping their hand once on the ground/table. The hand closest to the one that slapped, in the named direction, slaps the table/ground, then the next closest, and so on.
If hand A slaps, hand B can either single slap or double slap. A single slap keeps the slap going in the correct direction, while a double slap sends the slap in the opposite direction.
If someone slaps out of turn, they must remove that hand. All other hands stay where they are. When both hands are out, the person is out of the game.
The game is over when there are 2 people left.
Try and go faster as the game progresses. If you make a mistake, then you leave the circle.

Newspaper Fashion Show. (A Team Builder). Split into small groups. Give each group a bunch of old newspapers and a roll of duct tape. Have each group create a costume using just the materials they are given. The costume must be on one of the members of the group. Give each group 15 mins to complete their look and have a fashion show at the end of the time.

Magic Stick. Have the group divide into lines of 4-6 people and have 2 lines face each other. Explain the technical rules to the group (very important):
Everyone’s index fingers MUST remain in contact with the stick at all times, and the stick must rest on the top of their fingers at all times (no grabbing, finger curling etc.).
Have the group extend their index fingers a waist level. Lay the stick across the group’s fingers. At that time, the group must work together to lower the stick to the ground.
Inevitably, the stick rises almost instantly – causing laughter, frustration, or confusion. The rise is caused by the small ripples of upward pressure as individuals try to remain in contact with the stick.
After refocusing, the group will be able to lower the stick.

Magic Carpet. Start with a small tarp or rug that allows all of the group members to stand on it. Tell the group that they are now on a magic carpet and cannot step off. The group must work together as a team to flip the tarp or rug over without having anyone step off. If a group member falls off the carpet, the team must start over.

I – So – Go. This activity has three hand motions and verbal commands:
I – Hand across chest
So – Arm curled in a C over your head
Go – Hands clapped flat together in front of you
Stand in a circle and explain the hand motions. You always go in the order of I-So-Go. Person starting says ‘I’ and lays their hand across their chest with the hand pointing in the direction they want to go in. So if the right hand is across the chest the person on their left will be next. The person on the left will say ‘So’ and makes a C shape with their arm over their head, again pointing in the direction they want to go. So if they make a C with their right arm then it will pass to the person on their left. That person now says ‘Go’ and claps their hands together in front of them and points across the circle at someone (they cannot point at the people next to them). The person they pointed at starts again at ‘I’. Increase the pace to make it difficult. If someone messes up, everyone yells “You’re outta here!” and that person has to go to the outside of the circle. They are still involved though, as their job now becomes to distract everyone else without touching them or entering the circle. – Credit: Anne Springs Close Greenway

Observation games
Dance Move Leader: Everyone stands in a circle. Choose a detective. The detective leaves the room. Once the detective is out of sight, choose a dance leader. The dance leader starts dancing and everyone else has to copy them. The dance leader is required to alter their dance moves every few seconds, with everyone else copying the change. Call the detective back in the room and give them three chances to figure out the dance leader.
Poison Dart Frog. Everyone sits in a circle on the floor. Detective leaves the room. Choose a poison dart frog and invite the detective back in. The poison dart frog ‘poisons’ people by sticking his tongue out at them. Anyone who gets ‘poisoned’ must die as dramatically as possible. The detective gets three chances to guess the poison dart frog.
Eye Contact. Everyone stands in a circle looking at the ground. With instructions from the leader, everyone looks up at someone else in the circle. If that person is looking back at them and they make eye contact, both are out and sit down, kneel, or put a finger on their nose to indicate they are not actively playing. Game is finished/starts again when you are down to two people. – Credit: Anne Springs Close Greenway

Meet Ya. Have everyone wander around the room mixing and mingling. Periodically call out, “Find someone who has the same ….. and then …..” and fill in the blank, i.e. “Find someone with the same number of siblings as you and then high five them and introduce yourselves.” Make it more interesting by telling them, “WITHOUT TALKING find someone…”. Go through this a few times and then say, “Go find the person you high fived” or “Go find the person with the same number of siblings as you so that they meet the same person a few times. – Credit: Anne Springs Close Greenway

Whoosh Ball (quick game, but requires some initial instruction time).
Everyone stands in a circle with you holding an imaginary ball of energy called a whoosh ball. There are a variety of instructions to this game. Start with the first few and slowly introduce more. Although this game does require initial explanation, it is a quick easy game to do once everyone knows the instructions.
For each instruction the person holding the imaginary whoosh ball says the verbal command while performing the action. This game is meant to be done with excessive actions and loads of energy!
‘Whoosh’ — fling the imaginary whoosh ball to either your left or right.
‘Whoa’ — when someone tries to ‘whoosh’ the ball to you, throw your hands up and yell ‘whoa!’ to send it in the other direction.
‘Zap’ — send the whoosh ball across the circle to someone by throwing your hands toward them and making eye contact.
‘Boing’ — bounce while holding the whoosh ball and everyone else must bounce and say ‘boing’.
‘Freakout!’ — everyone runs as silly as possible while yelling and finding a new position in the circle.
‘Frenzy’ — everyone finds a new position in the circle but must move in the exact same way as the person who called out ‘frenzy’.

The Name-Action Game. In this icebreaker game, the goal is to learn everyone’s names. This is done by pairing an action with each person’s name and then repeating it until everyone has introduced themselves.

Have the team get in a circle and spread out enough to where everyone can move a bit and won’t be crowded.

Play the Game! The first person introduces herself, and then picks some kind of motion to represent her. For example, Sally says, “Hi, I’m Sally” and then does a ballet twirl. Everyone responds, “Hi Sally”, and then everyone does the ballet twirl. After the second person goes, the group says their name, does the action, and then repeats the first person’s name and action. This continues until all team members have introduced themselves.

Other sites to search
There are many good websites with ideas for safe and fun icebreakers. Below are a few we have found:

Icebreaker Games – This site contains icebreaker games grouped by audience and includes small groups, large groups, adults, kids, and meetings. Some are old favorites and many are new.

Icebreaker Games and Activities – This site also has games for all ages and situations.

Ultimate Camp Resource – This site is aimed at camp atmospheres, but breaks their activities nicely into categories.

Public Speaking Activities –

What is your favorite icebreaker? Tell us how you are using these in your Cafés by posting to this topic in the Forum. Login and share your suggestions!

Thinking of qs they want to ask the scientist and writing them on a big flipchart paper (Boulder does this). The scientist then sees.