Breaking the Ice  

ice-breakerAs part of a class I attended last winter, we had to do presentations on our final papers. I kept mine as short and visual as possible while adding stories to go along with the paper. We had 20 minutes each, so there was no chance of going over. We all had similar presentation styles, until the last one.

One of the class members, Jim, started us off with an ice-breaker. It was unexpected as we had been in class together all semester. The course was mostly online, but we had two all day sessions, so we pretty much knew each other by that point. Still, I was a little envious I hadn’t thought of something similar. We were all tired at the end of a long day, so it was a perfect way to perk us up and give us a chance to unwind and laugh.

The game, required us to stand in a circle with one person in the middle. It was set up so there could be multiple circles depending on the class size. The person in the middle points to either him/herself or another person and says either me, you, left, right. So the person he points at has to process me, you, left, right realizing when he says me, while pointing at you what name you must say. Same with left and right. You need to think your left and your right. It doesn’t take long but it is a process. You must do this while the person in the middle says bippity, boppity, boo. It was great fun and a real energizer.

It also gave me an insight into our instructor, that was completely unexpected. Throughout the class, there had been issues with not knowing what date we met, when things were due, etc. However, in class, she was articulate, funny, knowledgeable and a great resource. During the game, she was unable to play. It turned out that she had a small stroke that had limited her short term memory. It made me think, that icebreakers are not only a great way to get everyone energized and comfortable in each other’s presence, it was also a way to look for strengths and weaknesses. Is someone having trouble remembering the rules? Does someone else have trouble with names or colors? It could be a great resource for taking a quick course survey or needs assessment without anyone realizing it is being done and while they are having fun.

So, whether it is for the original intent, to get to know each other or to check for issues, ice breakers are fun and a great way to start a class or workshop. Here are some you might want to try:

There are lots of options out there, including TableTopics®, a cube with lots of ways to get something started. Regardless of what you use, try using icebreakers and let me know what you think.



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