Ice Breakers

Icebreakers have long been a big part of what we do in USY. These fun activities designed to help USYers meet new people and break the tension in the air are ways to begin a program. However, as time has passed, we’ve seemingly lost touch with why we do icebreakers – too often people complain of “boring” icebreakers or say that they didn’t meet anyone through icebreakers. I say it’s time that we revolutionize the way that we do icebreakers! Let’s make sure that they work by knowing what we want them to accomplish: do we want USYers to make new friends? Do they all know each other already and we just want to break the ice? Figure out your goal, and then pick an exciting icebreaker. In order to make sure that you don’t run “boring icebreakers,” here’s a list of new icebreakers (sorted by goal) to introduce to your chapter to get people excited again about icebreakers! Good luck, and may your ice ever be broken!

-Shelly Tsirulik

Hagalil Regional Membership and Programming VP 2014-2015

Goal: Learn names and who people are:

  • Ask me about – As people walk in to the event, give them a nametag, but instead of having them write their names, have them write a prompt on their nametag instructing other people to ask them about something cool pertaining to them. Example: “Ask me about my summer on Wheels!” This way, there are conversation starters for everyone in the chapter so that anyone can feel comfortable approaching anyone. Allow the first 10-15 minutes of the event for members to schmooze about what is on other people’s nametags.
  • Speed Dating – Have everyone arrange themselves in two circles, one inside the other. The inner circle should face the outer circle, and everyone should pair up with someone from the other circle. Then, the person running the icebreaker reads a question which the pair discusses for 1 minute. After 1 minute, have the inner circle rotate one person over, and ask a new question.
  • Bingo – Give everyone a bingo board which, instead of numbers in each square, has things like “Someone who likes brussel sprouts” or “someone who has been to more than 15 states.” Everyone has to go around the room and get other people to sign on their boards for any spot that applies to them, but make sure to limit the amount of times that any one person can sign based on how many people are in the room! Ideally, the bingo boards have as much of a variation of names as possible.
  • Best Friend Game – USYers pair up and spend 5 minutes trying to learn as much as they can about the other person. Then, everybody gets a piece of paper which on one side says “Me” and the other says “You.” The person running the icebreaker then asks “Which one of you is more likely to…” and the each USYer answers if they or their partner is more likely to do the thing. If you both say the same person (one says “Me” and the other says “You”), you get a point! The pair with the most points at the end wins!
  • Cinderella is My New Best Friend – Have half of the USYers take off one shoe and throw it in the middle. Then have the the other half pick up one shoe and find the owner. Then, the owner and the finder have to find something unusual that they have in common. It cannot be “We’re both boys,” but rather along the lines of “We both think that Star Wars is way better than Star Trek.” Then, each pair reports what they have in common to the group.
  • Zip-Zap-Zoom – Everyone forms a circle except for one person, who stands in the middle. The person in the middle randomly points to someone in the circle and says “Zip” “Zap” or “Zoom.” If they say “Zip” the person pointed to must say the name of the person to their left, if they say “Zap” the person must say the name of the person to their right, and if they say “Zoom” the person must say their own name. When someone hesitates or messes up, that person switches places with the person in the middle.

Goal: Break the ice

  • Newspaper Crumple – Each team starts with a stack of newspapers. Establish a dividing line in the middle of the room, and give them 3 minutes for the teams to crumple the paper and throw it over the line. The team with less pieces of paper on their side at the end wins!
  • Bumper Bods – Everyone squats down and holds their ankles. No one is ever allowed to let go of their ankles! Once the round starts, everyone tries to knock everyone else over by bumping into them. If someone lets go of their ankles or falls over, they lose. Last one standing (squatting?) wins!
  • Catch me if you can – Everyone is paired up and stands facing their partner. Partner 1 is given 30 seconds to look at Partner 2 and memorize exactly what they look like. Then, the Partner 1 must turn around while Partner 2 visibly changes one thing about his/her appearance – takes off a bracelet, pulls up a sock, etc. Then the Partner 1 turns back and has to identify what was changed in Partner 2’s appearance. Switch roles for the next round.
  • Tag with more than 1 “it” – Play tag with multiple “its!” This way, you can’t keep track of who is “it,” and it’s super fun for everyone!