5 Fun Icebreaker Games for Large Groups & Families
Icebreakers help to get positive energy circulating in a group of people who are unfamiliar with each other. The reason they’re called icebreakers is they’re meant to break the tension, the “ice” in the room.
They can be games, physical challenges, creative activities, or reflective questions. It helps large or small groups get to know one another, build trust and communication skills, and help people ease into a new dynamic.
Icebreakers are used commonly in the classroom, workplace, athletic field, camps, and more. They can be used in any social setting, especially if the gathering includes people unfamiliar with one another. At the end of the day, icebreakers are lighthearted group activities enjoyed in any setting.
Five Fun Icebreaker Activities for Large Groups
- TowerBall: Your New Favorite Tossing Game
- Team Building Balance Game
- Simile Introduction
- Scavenger Hunt
- Secret Handshake Contest
Look through these five icebreaker games you can try the next time you’re with a group of people. It’s never a bad idea to share little bits of ourselves with others over some fun and games!
1. TowerBall: Your New Favorite Toss Game
It’s a bit like Cornhole, horseshoes, HOKU, or ring toss— games that focus on tossing an object accurately.
However, TowerBall takes this concept to another level. With targets facing in every direction, the game is played from all sides. That means the door is open for 360-degree action and that it works great for large-sized groups.
How to Play TowerBall
Players toss hacky sack balls at targets on each side of the four-sided tower. Each side has a different number of targets, ranging from 1-4. The size of the targets gets smaller with each side as well, with the side with one target having the largest hole and the side with four targets having the smallest holes to toss the ball through.
Each toss is worth the number of points correlating to the number of targets on the side of the tower. For example, side one is worth one point per shot; side two is worth two points, and so on.
Players take turns throwing balls at each side of the tower. Add up the score of each player or team. The round ends once each tower side has been tossed four times. That’s a total of 16 shots and 30 possible points per round.
How to Use TowerBall as an Icebreaker Game
There are obvious appeals to using TowerBall as an icebreaker game and a few more benefits beneath the surface.
To start, it’s a fun and exciting game. It’s unique, and people will be glad to try out something new that they may have never seen before.
It’s great for large groups because it allows many players to play simultaneously. The official rules say up to 16 players, but there are other ways you can play and rules you can implement to optimize it for larger numbers.
You can also add rules to make it even more effective as an icebreaker.
Alternative Ways to Play
If you have a large group, you are best off if you’re equipped with lots of Extra Balls. TowerBall comes with eight balls (ideal for two players), but you can add on as many balls as you want so even a big crowd can get in on the fun.
Another way you can do it is to split into teams and play it as a relay race. Instead of keeping score, you see which team can finish the challenge first. The challenge is for each player to make a successful toss on each side of the tower.
They must make the shots in order, only progressing to the next side of the tower once they’ve made the previous shot. Once a player makes a shot on each side, they pass the balls to the next player on their team.
The first team to have all their players finish wins.
2. Team Building Balance Game
This game focuses on working together mentally and physically to achieve a difficult task. All the game requires is a curb, log, or line on the ground long enough for everyone to stand on.
The game's object is for everyone to work together to switch the line into reverse order without stepping off the curb (or log, line, etc.). The whole group must return to their original positions if someone steps off.
It requires the team to communicate and devise a strategy to solve the problem. To be successful, the group must not only work together but trust one another and work together to complete the task.
It works well as an icebreaker game and a team-building exercise because it’s contingent upon the success of the whole group working together, not just one person.
3. Simile Introduction
This icebreaker activity is ideal if you’re looking for a quick exercise that allows people to get to know one another and share their personalities. It also doesn’t require any equipment and works just as well in a virtual meeting.
Each individual must introduce themselves to the group using a simile. For example:
“My name is Henry. I’m like a turtle because I stay in my shell until I feel comfortable.”
“My name is Lisa. I’m like a cow because I hang out with my friends in large groups.”
The simile introduction is an effective icebreaker that’s easy and helps people get to know one another. It’s sure to stir up a few laughs and stretch people outside their comfort zones.
Standing up and introducing yourself to a group of people is a good skill but something many fear. An icebreaker has a chance to be an encouraging practice for those individuals.
4. Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is something most people are already familiar with. It doesn’t have to be super complex or difficult to set up.
For a quick and effective scavenger hunticebreaker, focus your efforts on just one area, such as a living room, backyard, classroom, or office space. This will require much less effort than if you were trying to do it around the entire neighborhood, for example.
Once you’ve chosen a manageable area, you need roughly 15-20 objects to hide in plain sight. Small items tend to work best. Think of what you used to search for in the Eye Spy Books. Things like pencils, marbles, toy army men, a stick of gum, etc.
Place the items in peculiar places. Hmm, is that a jolly rancher on the mantle? A pipe cleaner wrapped around the leg of the piano bench?
You can list items or clues to the items so the participants have a list to check off. Alternatively, you can just give the participants a blank sheet of paper (or ask them to make a note on their phone) and see how many they can find without any specific clues as to what they’re looking for.
5. Secret Handshake Contest
For this game, divide the group up into pairs. After everyone gets familiar with their partner, each pair has five minutes to devise a secret handshake. Think NBA players during pregame warmups.
Then they have to perform their secret handshake in front of the whole group. You’ll be surprised by the creative ideas people come up with. Smooth execution is important as well!
If the handshake is really good, you might ask the pair who came up with it to teach it to the rest of the group. Then you’ll have an official secret handshake to share with the whole group.
Tips for Organizing an Icebreaker Game
You can do a few things to make icebreakers for large groups go smoothly.
First, you need to be clear about what is happening and why. Then, get the group member’s attention and tell them that everyone will participate in a team-building activity.
The goal of your icebreaker game might be getting to know one another, getting the creative juices flowing, enjoying something fun before working hard, or even passing the time until the late people show up.
Once you’ve explained why the group is doing the game, it automatically becomes more purposeful and significant to the group.
Help people get into groups or find a partner. This is especially true when working with children, but anyone is subject to feeling a bit shy and unsure about how to assert themselves in the activity.
Let the group know how long the activity will take, and give them a heads up when you’re halfway through.
Next time you’re with a large group, running a meeting, or hosting a gathering, consider playing an icebreaker game to get things started. It’s a nice way to ease into whatever activities follow, get to know people better, and participate in a fun game as a group.
We’d love to tell you more about how we help co-workers, families, and friends play together. See you soon!
Icebreaker - Definition, Meaning & Synonyms | Vocabulary.com
Icebreakers - Center for Teaching Innovation | Cornell University
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