Student Engagement

Ice Breakers


Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 10-20
Purpose:  Energizer, just for fun

  • Arrange participants into two equal lines facing each other.

  • One group turns around while the other gets 30 seconds to change 10 things about them (switch jewelry, change hair style, untie shoelaces, switch watch to other arm, trade clothing, etc.) as long as they are all things in sight. The first group turns back around and must identify the 10 changes.

  • After they identify the changes, or time is up they swap so they other team gets to make changes while they guess.

Do you Love Your Neighbor

Material Needed: Place markers (half sheets of paper, tape, name tags).
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 10-40
Purpose: Physical energizer, getting to know you

  • Organize group members into a circle and have them put their place markers behind them at their feet.

  • The facilitator should be in the middle explaining the game and should not have a place marker.

  • Tell participants that in order to get out of the middle the people surrounding them in the circle need to ask in unison, "Name of person in middle, Do you love your neighbor?"

  • The person in the middle will then respond by saying one of two things.

  • The first thing they can say is "No" in which case everyone needs to move from their spot and find a different one. They may not take a spot directly next to the one they are already at. This gives the person in the center time to take a spot and escape from the middle.

  • The second thing the person in the middle can say is, "Yes, especially those who are wearing blue jeans". And then only those people wearing blue jeans must move and find a different spot.

  • The person in the middle may say anything within reason to get people to move. For example: I especially love my neighbors who have ever been to the beach, eaten spaghetti, been to a baseball game, watched cartoons, etc.

Grab Bag Skits

Material Needed: A bag of 5-6 random items for each group
Time required: 15 -20 minutes
Group Size: 10-50
Purpose: Physical energizer, just for fun

  • Organize people into groups of 3-6 people.

  • Hand out bags filled with random items.

  • Explain that each group must come up with a skit that uses all of the items in the bag.

  • Encourage the groups to be creative with the items in their bag. Objects can be whatever they imagine them to be (i.e. a hairbrush can be a microphone, a roller skate can be a time traveling device, etc.).

  • As a facilitator you can create pre-made skit topics for each group, or you can give all of the groups a vague topic relating to your organization/ company/ conference.

  • Give groups 5-7 minutes to create a three minute skit.

  • Have each group perform their skit in front of all the other groups.

Green Glass Door

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 5-10 minutes
Group Size: 2-20
Purpose: Ice breaker, time filler

  • Tell participants that we are going on a picnic and in order to come on the picnic, they need to go through the green glass door.

  • To get through the green glass door each participant must bring something to the picnic.

  • What they can bring to the picnic depends on the first letter of their first name. Each person may only bring objects to the picnic that start with the letter of their first name.

  • For example: The facilitator (whose name is Sam) would start by saying. "I am going through the green glass door and I'm bringing Sandwiches, but I am not bringing the watermelon. What are you bringing Larry?"

  • Larry might respond by saying I'm going to bring the potato salad, but I am not going to bring the juice. In which case the facilitator might say, I'm sorry Larry, you can't bring the potato salad, but Patty, you could bring the potato salad. Continue doing this until everyone catches on to the rule.

Variations: If everyone catches onto the rule quickly, you can create more difficult rules.

Suggestions are: Participants may only bring items that have double letters in them, (i.e. balloons, food, berries, jello, cheese, etc.), participants may only bring items that start with the first letter of their last name, etc.

Have You Ever

Material Needed: Place markers. A half sheet of paper or tape works really well depending on the floor surface.
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 10-30
Purpose: Physical energizer, getting to know you, getting to know your team/group better. Especially for big groups.

  • Organize participants into a circle.

  • Give each person a place marker and have them put it behind them on the floor at their feet (the facilitator should be standing in the middle of the circle directing this activity, not taking part).

  • Have each person step on their marker.

  • Explain that there is one more person than there are spots on the circle and the job of the person in the middle is to take one of the spots so that they can get out of the middle.

  • How they get people to move is by asking the question, "Have you ever..." and then fill in the blank with something they have done. For example: Have you ever been to a concert?

  • Everyone who has been to a concert will then move to a different marker on the circle that is not directly next to the one they are already on. Once people start to move the person in the middle tries to take a free space.

  • The last person in the middle without a spot then has to say, "have you ever..." and the game continues.

Note: It is a good idea for a newer group to have people introduce themselves before saying "have you ever", for example: My name is Sam and have you ever eaten sushi?

You can add rules to the game as it progresses, such as if you have already been in the middle and get caught a second time, you may choose somebody else to be in the middle who hasn't yet.

If everyone has a chance to be in the middle you can change, "have you ever" to the phrase, "I would like to...." to focus on future ambitions and goals. For example, My name is Sam and I would like travel to Europe. Everyone with the same goal would then move to a different spot.


Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10-15 Minutes
Group Size:  10-50
Purpose: Physical energizer, getting to know you

  • Teach participants the mingle song, which goes, "Mingle, mingle, M I N G L E" (the mingle song is open to interpretation, dance moves may be incorporated depending on the creative mind/ coordination of the facilitator.

  • Explain that while the mingle song is being sung, participants must move about the room.

  • After participants have mingled to the satisfaction of the facilitator, the facilitator will yell out a number, and the participants must then stop mingling and get into groups of that number. For example: After participants have mingled, the facilitator will yell out, "GROUPS OF 3". Participants would then make groups of 3 as quickly as possible.

  • After giving participants about 15 seconds to make groups. The facilitator then yells out 2-4 questions for everyone to ask their group members. The questions should be get-to-know you questions decided by the facilitator.

  • After giving participants adequate time to ask and answer the questions, the facilitator then starts singing the mingle song, everyone should join in and the game starts over.

  • The group size and questions should change throughout the game. For example on the second round, participants may need to get into groups of 5 and they have to answer 2 questions instead of 3.

Note: After a round or two, the facilitator should say that participants can't be in a group with more than 1 or 2 people (depending on the size of the group) they have already been in a group with.

Suggestions: If it is a new group, make one of the questions, "What's your name?". If you have trouble making up questions off the top of your head, you may want to come prepared with a list of questions.

Move it, Laverne!

Material Needed: Chairs or place markers
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 10-40
Purpose: Energizer, getting to know you

  • Organize participants into a circle either standing or sitting. Make sure there is one less place marker or chair in the circle than there are people.

  • The facilitator should start in the middle and give participants 30 seconds to learn the first, middle and last names of the people on both their left and right.

  • The person in the middle then approaches anyone on the circle and says either "right" or "left" and then begins counting to 5.

  • The person must then recite the person's full name on their right or left before the person gets to five. If they say an incorrect name or can't do it before the person counts to five they need to become the person in the middle.

  • At any time someone can yell, "switch!" and everyone must get up and change places, giving the person in the middle an opportunity to take someone else's chair.

Name Tag Grab

Material Needed: Sticky- back name tags, marking pens
Time Required: 10 minutes
Group Size: 8-50
Purpose: Physical energizer, name game

  • Organize participants into a circle and hand each person a name tag.

  • Tell each person to write their name on the name tag.

  • The facilitator then takes all the name tags and redistributes them at random to the participants. (You may not have your own name tag or the person to your right in the circle).

  • The facilitator then instructs the participants to place the name tag they are holding on the back of the person to their right.

  • On the "go" signal everyone must move among the group members and try to locate their own name tag while avoiding someone finding the name tag that is on her or his back.

  • Once a person finds their own name tag, they grab it off of the person's back and place it on their chest for all to see.

  • Each person stays in the game until they find their own name and the person whose name was on their back finds her/his name.


Material Needed: None
Time Required: 20-30
Group Size: 10-20
Purpose: Physical energizer, getting to know you

  • Participants are all in a circle, seated or standing.

  • Explain that one person needs to volunteer to be the psychiatrist and leave the room. While they are gone the rest of the group will create a pattern of how they will be answering the questions the psychiatrist will ask when they come back into the room. For example: Everyone will answer the questions as if they were the person on their left.

  • Once the group members have created a pattern they bring the psychiatrist back into the room and the psychiatrist must begin asking people questions in order to figure out the pattern.

  • If the psychiatrist asks a question to someone and the person answers correctly nothing happens and the psychiatrist moves on to ask someone else a question. If the person answers incorrectly, someone in the circle must say "psychiatrist" and everyone gets up and switches places. For example: If the psychiatrist asks Sam, "What color eyes do you have?" and Sam says, "blue" and then Katie, on Sam's left really has green eyes, Katie would say, "psychiatrist" and everyone would get up and switch places.

  • It is important to keep with the pattern once places are switched. Meaning that if you are answering as the person to your left, you will have a different person on your left when you switch places.

  • The game ends once the psychiatrist figures out the pattern. If the game goes on for a long time and the psychiatrist can't figure out the pattern give them hints or eventually just tell them the pattern.

Note:It is a good idea to start with a really easy pattern for the first round so that everyone can get a handle on how the game works.

In addition to answering like the person, you can make it so people have to gesture or physically mimic the person they are supposed to be as well.

Salt and Pepper

Material Needed: Quarter sheets of paper, tape, writing utensils
Time Required: 20-25 minutes depending the size of the group.
Group Size: 6-40
Purpose:  Physical energizer, getting to know you

  • Prior to starting the activity, the facilitator should take the quarter sheets of paper and think of obvious things that go together in pairs, for example: salt and pepper are a pair of items that go together.

  • Using the paper, the facilitator should write these things on separate sheets. The facilitator should make as many of these are there are group members, but they should all be different items.

  • At the beginning of the game the facilitator will tape one of these on the back of each participant without letting them see what it is.

  • When the facilitator gives the "go" signal the participants must walk around, asking only yes or no questions to find out what is written on their back and who their matching partner is.

  • Once they successfully find their partner, they must sit down with them and do an interview, finding out 3-5 interesting facts about them.


Material Needed: Coin, empty plastic water bottle
Time Required: 10-20 minutes
Group Size: 10-40
Purpose: Energizer, demonstrate teamwork

  • Divide group members into even teams

  • Have teams sit at opposite sides of a rectangular table, or stand in two straight lines, shoulder to shoulder facing the other team.

  • Instruct team members to hold the hands of the people next to them.

  • Place the water bottle at one end of the table.

  • Explain to participants that, at one end of the table a facilitator will be flipping a coin. When the coin lands on tails, nothing happens. When the coin lands on heads, the team member at the end of the line closest to the coin will squeeze their team member's hand setting off a chain reaction all the way down to the end.

  • Once the person on the other end, next to the water bottle feels their hand squeezed, they need to grab the water bottle as fast as they can before the other team.

  • You cannot grab the water bottle unless you feel your hand squeezed.

  • If you're team is successful in grabbing the water bottle before the other team, your team members rotate, so the person nearest the water bottle will move down to be nearest the coin.

  • If for whatever reason you start squeezing when you shouldn't be (accidentally squeezing the person's hand next to yours, the coin lands on heads) and you grab the water bottle out of turn, your team rotates backwards a person.

  • The goal is to have each person rotate to the start position (or the end position). The first team to rotate all the way through wins.

Note: There should be no talking during the game, and it is a good idea to have everyone's eyes closed except for the person who needs to see the coin. You can make a rule that they can only look in the direction of the coin and not toward the other end of the table.

Take What you Need

Material Needed: A roll of toilet paper or 2 depending on the size of the group. If you are concerned with waste you can also use poker chips or bingo markers or small squares of paper, etc.
Time Required: 10-25 minutes
Group Size:  10-30
Purpose: Getting to know you

  • Ask participants to form a circle either standing or sitting, whatever is comfortable.

  • Bring out the roll of toilet paper and tell participants to "Take as much as you think you'll need".

  • Pass it around the circle, and give everyone a chance to take some.

  • If anyone asks any questions about what they will be using the toilet paper for, or anything like that, just repeat, "take as much as you think you'll need".

  • Once everyone has some, ask participants to count their squares of toilet paper.

  • Then go around the circle and for every square of toilet paper they took, participants must tell a fact about themselves to the group. For example of you took 7 squares, you must tell 7 facts about yourself to the group.

  • If you have a really large group and somebody took half a roll you can limit the number to 5 or whatever seems appropriate to stay within your time limit.

Question Ball

Material Needed: Rubber Ball or Beach Ball
Time Required: 10 minutes
Group Size: 5-25
Purpose: Getting to know you

  • A ball is pre-divided with random questions written on it.

  • Ask the group to pre-determine right or left thumb

  • The participants toss the ball around the circle introducing themselves and answering the question closest to their chosen thumb.

Allow participants to choose which question to answer

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