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The following activities can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used for beginning of the year activities, energizers for breaks during standardized tests, team building activities, etc. They work for almost any age group--try some at the next faculty meeting. Some of them will guarantee a good laugh!

Icebreakers and Energizers Menu:

People Bingo Murder
Data Processing Knots of People
Name Tag Match Maker Animal Scramble
Who am I? Sites with Games, Icebreakers, and Energizers
Venn Diagram of Students Sites with Icebreaker Items for Sale
Criminal Dealings  

People Bingo

bulletMake a 5 x 5 grid, like a bingo grid. Write "FREE" in the center space. In all the other spaces, write things such as "Born in another state," "Is the youngest child in family," or "Elvis fan." Fill in all the grids with items of interest to the students, which probably leaves Elvis out. If you do this with adults, you can use the Elvis idea. (Sorry, can you tell I'm a fan?) Run a copy for each person.

The students are to get the signature of a person who meets the criteria for each section. You might want to implement a rule that a person can only sign another person's paper in two spots. The first person with a completed card wins.

Don't forget to include the teacher.  Put in something to which only YOU can answer yes.  For example, for mine I put "married to a detective."  My teammate put "adopted two children from Kazikstan" for hers.

bulletStudent Search -- Here's a printable example of People Bingo found at Teaching is a Work of Heart
bulletPeople Scavenger Hunt -- found at Penn State
bulletPeople Non-Bingo -- found at Stewardship

Venn Diagram of Students

bulletDivide students into groups of three or four. Give each group a large sheet of butcher paper and a different color marker for each person. Have them draw a Venn diagram with an oval for each student. The students in each group are to discuss what their similarities and differences are. After the discussion, they are to fill in the diagram showing their similarities and differences.

If a group has a hard time getting started, give them some guidance by asking questions such as, "What is your favorite music?", "When is your birthday?", "What sports do you like?, or "Where were you born?"

Data Processing

bulletDivide the students into groups of 10 to 20, depending on the difficulty level you want. The more students in a group, the higher the level of difficulty. Give directions for the "data" groups are to use to "process" themselves. The more creative the "data" the more fun the "processing." Give prizes to the group who is the first to correctly processes their data. Several rounds can be played in a short amount of time, depending on the size of the groups.

bulletHere's a list of my favorite "data" for this activity:

bulletAlphabetical by best friend's first name
bulletAlphabetical according to favorite food
bulletLength of hair
bulletShoe size
bulletNumber of letters in last name
bulletLength of thumb
bulletFor teachers, number of years taught

Criminal Dealings

bulletSome of my 1996-1997 students taught me this one. At first, I was reluctant to play because of the name (which I have changed.) However, once I saw how harmless it was, and more importantly how much fun the players were having, I couldn't resist. (I love teaching 8th grade!)

Design a system for secretly identifying the "criminal" and the "cop." We used a deck of cards. You only need enough cards so each player may have one card. One card needs to be a jack--the criminal, and one needs to be an ace--the cop. All of the other cards should be below ten in rank. Let each person draw and keep a card, without showing it to anyone.

The criminal needs to recruit other criminals by winking at them, but without getting caught by the cop. Any person who sees a wink is to wait a few seconds, so as not to be obvious, and then say, "I committed a crime." That person then turns in his card and is out of the game. Play continues until the criminal recruits all players without being caught by the cop, or the cop identifies the criminal. If the cop misidentifies the criminal, he loses the game.


bulletThis is a variation on the Criminal Dealings game. Same set up with a deck of cards. Choose the number of cards needed according to the number of players. Be certain that the Queen of Spades is in the deck. All players draw cards. The player who chooses the Queen of Spades is the murderer.
Throughout the other activities, the murderer kills victims by winking at them. When someone catches the eye of the killer and is winked at, they are killed and (here is the fun part) can die in any manner they want. Some die quietly by dropping over; others die in a dramatic finale.
The object of all other players is to a) not get killed and b) try to identify the murderer.
I think you can make a case for using this in Writing - about the experience, about fear and anticipation and how that clouds activities, about processing fear, relaxing, then being alert again, etc.
bulletSubmitted by GwenEllyn

Name Tag Match Maker

bulletEach group member will need a 5" x 7" card for a name tag. Then give the following directions:

  1. Put your name in the center of your card.

  2. In the upper left corner, write four things that you like to do.

  3. In the upper right corner, write your four favorite singers or groups.

  4. In the lower left corner, write your four favorite movies.

  5. In the lower right corner, write four adjectives that describe you.

When everyone finishes, have them mingle with the group for a few minutes. Without talking, they are to read the upper left corner of the other group members' cards. When time is up, they are to find one or two people who are most like them and visit for a few minutes. When time is up, they are to mingle again reading the upper right corner of the other group members' cards. They then find the one or two people most like them and visit. Repeat with the lower left corner and lower right corner information.

To make sure everyone visits with several people, you could implement a rule that no two people can be in the same group more than once.

Knots of People

bulletDivide the group into teams of 8 to 12 members. Have each person join right hands with another person in the group, but it has to be someone who is NOT standing immediately to the left or right. Then have each person join left hands with another person in the group, but it has to be someone who is NOT standing immediately to the left or right and someone other than before.

Now the groups have to untangle themselves without letting go of hands. They may have to loosen their grips a little to allow for twisting and turning. They may have to step over or under other people. The first group to untangle their knot is the winner.

SPECIAL NOTE: There are four possible solutions to the knot.

  1. One large circle with people facing either direction.

  2. Two interlocking circles.

  3. A figure eight.

  4. A circle within a circle.

Who Am I?

bulletFor this activity you will need one sticky note per person. On each note write the name of a celebrity, political figure, cartoon character, book character, etc. You can choose one category or mix them up. Use a different person for each note.

Place a sticky note on the back (or forehead) of each participant. The participants are to figure out who they are, but can only do so in the following manner. Find a partner and read each other's sticky notes. You may ask the other person three questions to which there are yes or no answers.

Once your questions have been asked and answered, make a guess as to your identity. If you are correct, move the sticky note to your chest and you become a "consultant" who gives clues to those still trying to figure out their identities. If you are not correct, find a new partner and repeat the process.

SPECIAL NOTE: Be sure to choose characters that are appropriate to the age of the participants to avoid "generation gap frustration."

Animal Scramble

bulletThere is some preparation for this activity. On a slip of paper, write the name of an animal that makes an obvious noise. Create five to ten slips for each animal.

Give each participant a slip of paper, but tell them to keep their animal a secret. The participants are to find the rest of their kind, but there is no talking. So how do they find the others? They have to make the noise of the animal. Once two of the same kind have found each other, they stay together to find more. Continue until all of the like animals have created one big group.


Use Animal Scramble, but add a hint of danger by planting a couple of danger animals who if incorrectly approached can take you out of the game ( snake, lion, tiger, etc). The last survivor of non-dangerous animals is winner (Non-dangerous animals need to gather say 4 of a kind to be safe in a  pack; they can even fake being a dangerous animal but cannot take out anyone - someone catches onto this and the fun begins!)

bulletSubmitted by Phil Mizzi

Sites with Other Games, Icebreakers, and Energizers



Training Exercises and Activities -- found at ReproLine Tools for Trainers


Xtra Games -- found at Games Kids Play


220 Children's Party Games -- found at Party Games


Ice Breakers -- found at


Team Builders -- found at


Name Games -- found at

Sites with Icebreaker Items for Sale


Clever Catch Ice Breaker -- found at For Teachers Only


Inflatable ball that has icebreaker questions for students to answer.  Questions include, "What do you like best for breakfast?" and "What would you have in your will for the person you care about the most?"



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This site last updated 14 November 2007.

External links last verified 2 September 2007.

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