Team building icebreakers and energizers


Awareness circle

Objective: Get to know each other.

The facilitator has a list of statements, such as: "I play a musical instrument", "I’m the oldest in the family", etc. S/he reads some of the statements, one at a time. If the statement is true for an individual, participants should step forward into the circle and look around to see who is in the circle with them and who is not. Then step back into the circle to listen for the next statement.


Ball around the world

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will be tossed a ball. When receiving it, they should present themselves and then throw the ball at someone, who will do the same and pass it on to someone else.


Birthday lineup

Objective: Communication; Get to know each other.

Group members will be instructed to line up in order of their birthdays. Alternative criteria may be used, such as middle name (line up alphabetically), or have each person choose an animal and all line up by the animals' sizes, smallest to largest.


Call of the wild

Objective: Have fun together.

Each person receives a card with an animal on it (participants should keep their animal a secret). With eyes closed, participants 'call out' the noise that their animal makes, and try to find their partner(s) making the same noise.


Celebrity/Stereotype party (also known as Who am I?)

Objectives: Communication.

Facilitators begin by assigning each group member a “personality” by sticking a nametag with the name of a famous person or character to his or her back. This nametag is not shown to the participant! Participants should be able to view the personalities of all other group members, just not their own. Facilitators will then instruct the group to mingle, and ask questions to the other "guests at the party." Individuals can ask yes or no questions about their personalities to others in the group, such as “Am I a woman? Am I a singer? Etc. Participants should make only one question at a time, moving on to another person after each question. When answering questions, participants are encouraged not to offer hints. This will keep going until everyone has guessed it or time runs out.


Common experiences

Objective: Get to know each other.

All participants will sit in circle/ around tables. The facilitator will distribute pieces of candy to each person. One person stands and tells of some experience they've NOT had that they guess most people HAVE had (e.g. I have never been to Hawaii). Every person who HAS had this experience must relinquish a piece of candy. The next person in the circle says something about themselves that they guess they share with at least one other person in the group (e.g. I have never gotten sick eating too much chocolate), and the process is repeated - all who HAVE gotten sick from too much chocolate surrender a piece of candy to the moderator. The last person to retain any of their candy (and thus has not shared as many experiences) is the winner, and is given a prize.


Common threads

Objective: Get to know each other; Collaboration; Communication.

Facilitators will divide the large group into smaller groups and instruct each small group to find 5-10 (depending on the time frame) things they all have in common. The first group to come up with the designated number of things wins, points for creativity too!


Diversity bingo (also known as Human bingo)

Objective: Get to know each other.

The bingo cards will comprise a grid of squares each containing a statement or question that will apply to some members of the group. Facilitators will hand out the bingo cards and instruct participants to mingle around, introducing themselves and finding other participants who can sign their cards, indicating that a statement applies to him/her. The Rules: the individual must sign their name against the statement that applies to them on the answer card; each statement must be signed by only one person; each statement must be signed by a different individual; you may sign your own sheet once. Facilitators can set the goal that everyone should try to fill their card in the time allotted, or to offer a prize to the person/people who finish first, or in typical bingo fashion, can have the person who finishes a row first yell out "Bingo!" and win a prize.


Impulse (also known as Pass the pulse)
Objective: Have fun together (involves running); Collaboration.
Facilitators will divide the group into two teams. Each team should stand in a straight line, shoulder to shoulder, facing the other team. The facilitator should sit at the back of the lines, flipping a coin so that only the last person in each line can see it. If the coin lands on heads, the two people watching squeeze the hand of the person in front of them. This sends an impulse down the line. No one may talk or make any noises. When the person at the front of the line receives the impulse, they grab for the ball, which is positioned evenly between the two teams. The team that successfully sends the impulse most quickly and obtains the ball can send the person from the front of the line to the back, and the process begins again with a new coin flip. If someone grabs the ball without heads being flipped, then they must send the person from the back of the line to the front, so that the team must win one more round to rotate through. Once one team has rotated all members through, it wins. Alternatively, the team which has rotated through the most members when you run out of time, wins.


Just three words

Objective: Get to know each other.

This is a short exercise to hear from everyone. The trick is they can only use three words. Seriously, just three words! Facilitators will set the topic for the "three words".­ This can be a question or a statement. For example: please give us three words that describe yourself. This will be done in a circle so people can see facial expressions.


Mistaken identity

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will be given a name card with someone else’s name on it, and asked to mingle and find that person.


Mnemonic name game

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will sit or stand in a circle (several circles for large groups). One person starts by using his or her first name followed by something s/he likes that begins with the same first letter. Each subsequent participant does the same and repeats the name and like of everyone that went before (e.g. first person says "I'm Christopher and I like Candy”, the next person says "He's Christopher and he likes candy... and I am Sylvia and I like swimming”).


My wish for today

Objective: Get to know each other.

Each participant will be asked to do the usual presentations: name, position, organization. But each participant should finish his or her presentation with a wish for the day, whether it is work-related or personal.


Snappy names

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will sit or stand in a circle. Faciliators will start with the rhythm: slap, slap, snap, snap. The slaps are on the knees with both hands at the same time, and the snaps are on the right hand then the left hand. One person will be designated as the leader, and s/he will then set the pace. The objective of the game is to get to the leader’s spot. The leader begins the rhythm, and on one set of snaps says his/her name on the first, and someone else’s on the second (his/her own name MUST always be said on the first snap, and someone else's name on the second snap). The person who’s name is called must respond on the next set of snaps by saying his/her own name and then someone else’s. If the person does it correctly, the game continues. If the person does not do it quickly enough or loses the rhythm, s/he must move to the end (the seat to the right of the leader) and the rest of the group moves up a seat (toward the leader’s spot) to fill in the seats. The exercice continues until group has learned names well or time runs out.


Sociometric introduction

Objective: Get to know each other.

There will be a person in each corner of the room, each holding a statement/answer. Facilitators will then ask a question and invite participants to position themselves next to the answer that applies most to them (they can obviously also stand in between). Then a facilitator will go to each group and pick a couple persons per group who will quickly introduce themselves and explain why they have chosen that particular answer.


Speed dating/networking

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will be asked to come up with a one-minute ‘elevator pitch’: an informal verbal introduction to themselves and their work. Each person’s elevator pitch should include a funny/ memorable snippet of information about themselves.Participants will form two concentric circles of equal number: an inner circle facing outwards, and an outer circle facing inwards. Each participant should now have a partner in front of them. Each participant in the outer circle will deliver their personal pitch to their partner in the inner circle. Then after one minute the inner circle partner does likewise. After the two minutes, a bell will ring, signaling to participants in the outer circle to move to the right and stop in front of the next person in the inner circle. The introductions will begin again. The process will be repeated until everyone in the outer circle has spoken to everyone in the inner circle.


Tell one fact about yourself

Objective: Get to know each other.

The group will stand up. Each group member should, in turn, tell one fact about her/himself that not many people know. Examples: "My great grandfather ran for president of Mexico", "I tried to open a restaurant and failed badly", "My ancestors from Mom's side came from area which is now part of Afghanistan!"


The north wind blows

Objective: Get to know each other, have fun (involves running).

For this activity, the participant in the center of the circle, or caller, announces "The North Wind blows for anyone who..." followed by a characteristic that the caller shares, e.g. "The North Wind blows on anyone who has more than one sibling". Everyone to whom that characteristic applies then walks into the circle and switches places with someone else from the circle who also shares that characteristic. The caller must also find a place in the circle, and whoever is left without a place becomes the new caller! Participants are encouraged to get creative!



Objective: Have fun.

Participants will stand/sit around a table or sit in a circle on the floor. Participants will be asked to put right hand on the table/chair and left hand on the table/chair crossing the person to the left. The objective is to pass a rhythm sequentially around the circle (hand to hand, not person to person) by slapping the table or floor. At any point a participant can slap twice, reversing the direction. Additional rules can include fist to signify skip one hand and double fist to signify skip reverse. Other rules can be added for increased complexity. If a participant slaps out of order or pauses, he or she removes that hand from the circle. When both hands are removed, a participant is “out” and can help judge from outside the circle.


Tiger tails

Objective: Have fun; Collaboration.

The objective of the game is to collect as many tiger tails (handkerchiefs) as possible while protecting your own. Participants will team up with a partner, tying their legs together as a three-legged team. One partner places his or her tiger tail on the left pocket and the other on the right pocket. The pair is active until both tails have been taken, at which time they are frozen to the ground. While frozen, participants can continue to grab tiger tails without moving their feet. The person with the most tails wins the game.


Warp speed

Objective: Collaboration.

Facilitators will start by asking the group to stand in a circle and throw the ball back and forth from person to person so that everyone in the group gets it at least once, and it ends up back at the first person. Participants will be asked to repeat the sequence as fast as they can.


What's different?

Objective: Practice observation skills.

Facilitators will ask everyone to team up with a partner (preferably someone they don't yet know), introduce themselves and stand back-to-back. Once participants are all back-to-back, each person will be asked to change 5 things about their appearance (including one which is silly). Once both partners are ready, they will turn around and try to guess the 5 things that have been changed.


What's in a name?

Objective: Get to know each other.

Each person in the group will be asked to share the story behind their name (e.g. why that name was chosen, what it means, who they were named after, other people they know who have the same name, any nicknames they have, etc.). Ex: “My name is Amy. I was named after my father’s mother. My parents were going to go with the French spelling Aimee, but decided Amy would ultimately be easier for me and others to spell. Amy means "beloved" and has a Latin base in the word for love. There were six Amys in my neighborhood when I was growing up. It was the second most popular name when I was born”.


What's in your pocket/purse?

Objective: Get to know each other.

Everyone will select one or two items from their pocket, purse, wallet or backpack that has some personal significance to them. Then introduce themselves and do a show and tell for the selected item and why it is important to them.


What's so different?

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will get into groups of at least 5 people and be ask participants to find 3 things that everyone in the group has in common and something that is unique to each person in the group. 


Would you rather...?

Objective: Get to know each other.

Participants will get into a group and take turns asking each other questions from a pre-prepared list. E.g.: Would you rather always take a cold shower or sleep an hour less than you need to be fully rested? Would you rather always get first dibs or the last laugh?