Icebreakers are used when you are new to the group and you need to learn a little about them and especially their names.
Icebreakers are also used on the very first day of a course when all the learners are new as well and they have to learn each others names.
There are a lot of traditional naming games around. Again, Knowledge Base Central would like to encourage you to be innovative in your approach.
For example: Going around the room to introduce yourself, after 3 students, your participants will have stopped listening and your mind probably wonders ... keep reading to find some fresh ideas.Be careful not to use jargon, like "energizer", "game" etc. You are working with adults, they don't want to see you wasting their valuable time with a senseless game. Call it an exercise, activity or simply nothing and just start involving them into the activity.
Below are some ideas of doing this initial introduction differently.
Make a jigsaw out of several pictures that are relevant to your training sessions. (if you are teaching car mechanics , perhaps have pictures of tools you will be using today).
If you have a class of 20 and you want them in 4 groups , you cut each picture up in 5 pieces. Mix all jigsaw pieces up and give each student a piece. Put some music (again could make this relevant to what you are teaching) and let students mingle to complete the jigsaws.
You have now divided them into groups and they could discuss what they think the jigsaw represents.
MY FAVOURITE NUMBER
Use preprinted A3 sheets (or use a pack of playing cards)with a range of numbers (1 to 10 is fine, but you might use number that are somehow relevant to your training session) and spread them out over the room.
Tell your student that when the music starts they need to run to a number that has some sort of personal meaning to them.
Depending on the size of the group and the amount of numbers used, you can either ask them in groups to discuss their reason for choosing this number, or if you have a small group ask each individual.
It is a great activitiy to get some interesting facts out of people, they might never have shared with a person they didn't know!.
THE BALL CHALLENGE
Yes, this is a challenge for you ... but once you have practiced it, it will immediately impress your students.
Start this with a small group and as you get better at it, try it with larger groups.
This is an ideal way of learning names in a big group quickly.
Have the group stand in a circle including yourself. You explain that you are going to throw a ball to a person. Since you don't know their name you will be mentioning your own name. The person who catches the ball will say their name and throw the ball to another person etc.
After a few rounds when the ball gets back to you, the rules change. Now, you will say your own name and the name of the person you are throwing the ball to. Let this go for a few rounds until it is apparent that most names seem to be known.
Once the ball gets back to you the rules change again. This time, you are going to throw the ball and say that persons name. Let this go for a few rounds and check that you have remembered all the names.
After every round the ball needs to be thrown with no hestiation and it should go faster and faster.
Once you are confident you know all the names, ask the group to mix themselves up and either stay in a circle or line. You will throw the ball to a person and say their name. If it is correct they can sit down. Hopefully you will remember them all. Good luck.
This can be a high energy activity if the group gets into it and could set the scene for the rest of the day.
HAPPY FAMILIESYou might be running a 3 hour workshop and it is not that important that you know everyone's name, or you are relying on name tags. This activity will at least break the ice and you can theme it to whatever you are teaching.
You need to have the room set up with tables holding 4 or 5 learners on each. Each table needs to come up with a "family name", decide on their holiday destination, what they would bring on holiday if they can only take 1 item each.
Let each table present their family. Whatever theme you give it (this example is a holiday theme) you might be able to use this throughout your workshop.
Have some fun and get creative with this activity.
CREATIVITY WITH PIPECLEANERS (CHENILLE STEMS)Have the class set up in small groups and a pile of pipecleaners in the middle of their table.
At the start of the session, ask each person to create something with the pipe cleaner that represents them. Give them 10 minutes or so to get creative.
Each learner will now be asked to explain what they have created and how it relates to them.
This is a creative activity for both a group who are totally new to each other, or a group who already know each other but you don't know them.
Traditional pipe cleaners are now available in a wide range of colours in arts and crafts shops. Buy a wide range of colours and allow at least 10 per learner .
HOBBIESHave participants standing in a group and you will start of by saying your name and your favorite hobby. While saying the hobby also show the group an action to go with it.
For example: "I am Karen and I play soccer" (kicking action to go with that).
The next person to say their name/hobby/action and then repeat the first one. Number three to introduce themselves and than repeat number one and two. The last person in the circle will feel sorry for themselves having to go around the entire group, but you will save them by showing the group you have learned their names/hobbies and actions.
To make it harder on yourself ... and you are up for a challenge, you could ask the group to re-arrange themselves and then go around the new circle . This activity is a quick way for all participants to learn each others names and if they know they have a hobby in common it might start some new friendships.
Works best with a group up to 20.
Have a big pile of scrabble letters available and ask each student to take a certain number of letters (3 or 4).
When introducing themselves they need to link the letters to something about themselves. For example; letters T, E, C. " Hi I am Joan and I love Chocolate, I have a dog called Tiger and I am an Excellent swimmer.
Again the student needs to come up with relevant information about themselves and very often they come up with some funny things they might not otherwise have shared on their first day. Make sure you play the game as well and set the scene for the type of information you are looking for. This is good icebreaker for a group who is more comfortable staying seated.
Prepare a bingo sheet in advance based on what you think relates to your participants.
Each bingo sheet to have 9 squares. Each square to have a statement like: laptop, wearing colour red, necklace, arrived by bus, non smoker, has a cat, has a swimming pool, loves chocolate, is single.
Participants walk around the room with their bingo sheet and ask people questions that can only be answered with yes or no. When they have found a yes, they need to write that persons name in that square. When they have found 3 in row (diagonally-across or down) they call out Bingo. They then reveal who the three people are.
This icebreaker is great to get students acquainted again, or if is just a 3 hour workshop and getting to know each others names is not that important, or your group is too large to learn their names in one session.
DO YOU KNOW THIS PERSON?
A great activity for people who already know each other but you are new to the group.
Give each learner a name tag that has somebody else's name on it. Using the back of the name tag they need to find out as much information about this person by circulating and asking around if they know this person. They can not ask the actual person any questions. As they gather interesting information from other people, they write down the facts on the back of the card.
After a few minutes, let each person introduce their new personality. The fun part is that the new personality has no idea what other people have said about them, so some funny or revealing information might come out.