Whether at camp, an after-school club, or any group get together, it’s great to have a few fun icebreaker activities and games up your sleeve! They’re a great way to help kids make new friends and feel comfortable in new settings.
So if you’re on the hunt for the perfect getting-to-know-you activity for your next event, check out this ultimate guide to icebreakers for kids. These have been vetted by the fun experts at iD Tech, and I can speak from personal experience that there’s something for every age group, energy level, time frame, and supply list here.
Please note, some of these activities can be easily adapted for a virtual environment, while others are best kept in our back pockets until federal, state, and local safety guidelines give the green light for in-person gatherings.
(For more virtual-friendly icebreaker questions for kids, chec out our 57 open-ended questions to ask kids and teens!)
Icebreakers & Get to Know You Games for Kids
These time-tested icebreaker games are great for elementary and early middle school kids. They’ll get your group laughing, moving, and having a blast!
1. Alphabet Name Game
Make a circle facing one another. The first player must state an adjective that has the same first letter as the first letter in their first name, followed by their first name (ex. Preposterous Pete). The next player states their name combination and then all of the combination names that preceded them. After completing the circle, all of the players have a chance to show off their ability to perfectly recite the names in order.
Stay in the circle and pay attention! A great twist is having the players rearrange themselves and try to remember all of the names!
2. Elephant Giraffe Unicorn
Arrange your students into a circle with one student in the middle. The person in the center acts as the Pointer, and they will call out an animal and point to any individual in the circle. The person that is pointed at, as well as the person on each side of him/her will have to coordinate their actions and make each animal as described below:
Elephant: center person will stick both arms out in front of their "nose" to form a trunk. The persons on the left and right will form the "ears" by placing one hand near the center person's hip and the other by their head.
Giraffe: center person will place their hands directly over their head to form the tall "neck." Outside persons will lean over and touch the middle person's toes, forming the "legs."
Unicorn: center person will make a horn on their head with their finger. Outside persons will arch their arms to form a rainbow.
Each group has until the count of five to get into positions. If they are unable to do so, the last person to get into position will become the Pointer.
3. On-the-Spot Story
Get those creative juices flowing! Sit with a small group and spend 10 minutes creating a story on the spot. Each person contributes one sentence of the story, and the only rules (aside from only adding appropriate content) is that the story must continue for the allotted amount of time. The story can be silly, adventurous, or go wherever kids’ imaginations take them!
4. Who am I ?
To play this game, every player is given a note card with a word (a celebrity, movie/book character, be creative!) on it. This word is their new identity. No one can look at their own card. Every player tapes the card, or just holds it to his or her forehead to prevent peeking.
All the players may then mingle and ask 'yes or no' questions to all the other players about themselves. You can change the 'yes or no' rule so long as no one asks 'what am I?' The other option is that they have a short conversation with each other player, addressing them as though they are the thing on their card to give them hints. (This is better with older players who are more crafty with their word choice.)
You can't ask more than one question to anyone until you've asked everyone else at least once. Once everyone thinks they know who they are or until enough time seems to have passed, the game ends and players can volunteer to say who/what they think they are. Finally, they can look at their cards and have a good laugh!
5. Look up/Look down
This is a short fun way of mixing up the group a bit. All of the players stand facing one another in a circle. When they make full eye contact with a person across the circle, they scream/make a dramatic reaction, and they’re out. Continue until there are two victors!
6. Trust Walk
Ask group members to pair up and then explain the trust walk: one partner will shut their eyes or be blindfolded. The other will be their guide, and lead them with verbal instructions around the space. Encourage them to explore unusual areas where the air might feel different. Have all pairs return after a specified time and switch roles.
7. Helium Stack
For helium stack, participants will work as a team to move the object (slow and steady finishes this game!).
A Hula Hoop or Wooden Pole is placed at the center of the group, and every player puts a single finger on the bottom of the object. The game begins once the object is above the groups' heads, and players need to carefully lower the object to below their knees and back above their heads without having a single finger leave the object.
Once a player's finger leaves the object - even for a moment - the game starts completely over again. After a group gets the hang of it, try timing them to see if they can beat their own score.
8. Quick Picks
This is a simple competitive activity that will really get kids thinking. The players stand in a circle facing inward with one player as "It" in the center. "It" is given a category from the facilitator and must come up with as many items that fit that category as possible. While the one who is "It" is listing items, the group passes a soft sphere around the circle as quickly as possible. Once the soft sphere has completed one revolution, "It" must stop and the score is tallied. The category is changed and a new "It" is chosen until everyone has had a chance—who can score the highest?
9. The Wild Wind Blows If…
For this one, everyone stands in a circle with one person in the middle of the circle. That person says a fact about themselves, such as “The wild wind blows if you have a sister.” Then, everyone in the circle who has a sister/the stated fun fact applies to them runs to find a new spot in the circle. The person without a spot shares the next fact!
Icebreakers for Teens
This age group can be a little hesitant to jump in with activities, but never fear; these icebreakers for teens are eye-roll proofed, age-appropriate, and so much fun!
10. Blind Draw
The organizer must draw on a sheet of paper various shapes and designs; not too complex but not too simple either. The sheet should have 5-10 various objects drawn on different points on the page. It's best if they are abstract: circles, squares, zig-zags, etc. This should be done twice—two different sheet designs, one for each person on the team.
Arrange the group into pairs of two with teammates sitting back to back. One teammate looks at the paper with various drawings, shapes, and designs on it, then dictates drawing instructions to the other teammate who has a blank page and pencil. The teammates work together to try and replicate the drawing as best they can only use verbal instructions.
Once the pair is done, they then switch roles and use the second drawing to replicate the game. You’ll need:
- Pens/Pencils: one per person
- Clipboard/Hard Surface: one per group of two
- Blank white paper: one per person
- Game Paper: one per person
11. Human Bingo
The game organizer must create custom bingo cards for each participant—a 5x5 grid with various personal qualities on them.
Examples: 'has a dog' / 'loves cheese' / 'met a celebrity' / etc.—get creative!
These cards are given to each player, along with a marker.
The players then go around 'interviewing' the other players and trying to find out specific qualities, with the goal of marking off each square on their card, a person can be on a card more than once.
This game gets the group to get to know each other on a personal level and allows for individuals to find common ground and similarities.
12. Build a Leaning Tower
Divide the group into teams of three to six players. Participants are to build the highest tower that they can, using only the paper given (or whatever other materials you'd like to use). Nothing else can be used, and the tower cannot lean on or be supported by anything. After 10 minutes, see who has the highest, free-standing tower!
13. Surprise Party
At this party, you never know who is going to show up! Have one player volunteer to be the party host. This player should leave the room, or go to an area where they cannot hear the prep.
When the host leaves, pick four or five other players out of the group to be party guests (depending on how many players you have). Then have the other people shout out character ideas for each of the party guests (these can be personality quirks or celebrities/fictional characters). Once you are sure each of the party guests are clear on their characters, call the host back into the room.
Let the party begin! The host starts his or her party (it's up to them what kind of party it is) and one by one the guests start arriving. Each guest should allow just a few minutes before entering.
The goal is for the host to guess what each person is supposed to be. If they guess right, that party guest can leave.
14. Rock Paper Scissors Entourage
This epic Rock Paper Scissors game starts with each player finding a partner and playing a single game of RPS. The loser of the game becomes the personal cheerleading squad of the winner! The group must then find another similarly sized group and continue until only two groups are left. The groups face off in a best two out of three match with all of the non-playing members cheering on their leader!
15. Photo Scavenger Hunt
For this one, the game organizer must create a custom list of things for the teams to scavenge for. This should be tailor made for the specific setting. A scavenger hunt sheet is given to each group, (split up so there is at least four to five groups), and each group heads out with a leader and searches for the things on the list. Once found, the group takes the photo with the object or place.
Once all teams have completed their list, the photos can be shared, providing a good way for the players to get to know each other and work towards a common goal.
16. Birthday Lineup
The players must line up in order of birthday without making a sound (or writing anything down). Depending on the size of the group, give the players just enough time to finish with nearly perfect accuracy!
17. Tic-Tac-Toe Relay
For this game, create a Tic-Tac-Toe board. You can use a pad of paper, hula hoops, or draw one with chalk outside.
Put the board at one end of the playing field, and have the two teams stand on the other end. One team is X's and the other is O's. You can use colored items as well such as blue and yellow rags or a white board marker. Each team only gets three of their item to make it extra challenging!
Team members have to run to the board and place their item in a spot before running back to tag their next teammate in line. After all three of a team's items have been placed, the next team member has to move one item to an open spot to try and get three in a row. The first team with Tic-Tac-Toe wins!