You may remember that shy, uncomfortable feeling of showing up to a new classroom or summer camp as a child without knowing any of your peers. Yet somehow, once a game begins, there is a significant shift in your experience. Kids naturally interact with each other through play.
Here are 22 fun icebreakers for kids to help get them out of their shells so they can feel welcomed and excited to play together.
What Are Icebreaker Games For Kids?
An icebreaker game is an organized activity where children are encouraged to play, communicate, and interact with their peers. Like a warm-up before a workout, these games prepare kids for group experiences in classrooms, camps, parties, and sleepovers. They should incite laughter and conversations and share things about themselves.
22 Fun Icebreakers for Kids
Icebreakers should be upbeat and communal without leaving anyone out. You will notice that most activities start with kids seated in a circle. Psychologically, sitting in a circle helps children feel a sense of belonging within their classroom. As you decide which icebreakers to use, ensure that kids feel equally included and welcome.
#1 Find a Friend Bingo
This simple icebreaker is a combination between a scavenger hunt and Bingo. It’s suitable for kids of all ages and works great with a large group.
What You Will Need: A pen and printed Bingo sheet for every child (feel free to copy the one below)
Find a Friend Who…
|Plays a sport:
|Favorite color is orange:
|Likes to make art
|Loves to cook:
|Eats pineapple on pizza:
|Is born in August:
|Loves science class:
|Favorite ice cream is chocolate:
|Has gone on a boat:
|Has blonde hair:
|Likes to read:
|Is an only child:
|Likes to play games:
|Is a good swimmer:
|Has more than 3 pets:
|The first name starts with an “S”:
|Has visited another state:
|Who loves cats:
|Has been out of the country:
Set-Up: Bring everyone into a circle and pass around one Bingo sheet and pen to each participant.
How to Play: Instruct the kids that they will have 10 minutes to find at least one person to write their name in each square. They will have to talk to each other to determine who meets the criteria for the box they want to fill. Only one person can write their name for one space. The first one to get a complete “BINGO” wins a prize. Then start a timer and say, “ready, set, go!”
#2 Duck Duck Goose with Names
Perfect for younger groups, this game is a fun way for kids to memorize their classmates’ names while playing a familiar game that gets them moving around.
What You Will Need: An open space without anything that kids can trip over
Set-Up: Sit kids in a circle cross-legged and facing each other. To start the game, assign one kid to be “it.”
How to Play: The person who is “it” begins by announcing their name and walking around the outside of the circle just like Duck, Duck, Goose. They tap each participant’s head and say their word. If they get to somebody’s head whose name they don’t know, they have to say “you’re it!” and run around the circle to their original seat.
The new “it” should stand up as fast as possible, announce their name, and trade places with the “it” person that tagged them. Then, they continue naming people until they get to a classmate they don’t know. The first kid to name all the classmates in the circle wins.
#3 Toilet Paper Fun Facts Game
What You Will Need: A roll of toilet paper
Set-Up: Sit everyone in a circle on the floor and pass around the toilet paper roll. Instruct everyone to rip off between 1 and 5 pieces of toilet paper (but don’t tell them why). You can get fun giggles or potty jokes as the kids pass around the roll and feel unsure about how much to take.
How to Play: Similar to the candy bowl game, once everybody has passed around the roll, it is time to share. Announce that each kid must share one fun fact about themselves for every piece of toilet paper they ripped from the roll.
#4 About Me Jenga
Get to know you games for kids are a great way to inspire creativity in expressing their interests and background. When combined with the strategic thinking of Jenga, these “about me” questions help participants quickly warm up to each other.
Set-Up: In this game, each block represents a question. If you have volunteers, you can assign them to write a conversation-starting question on each block. If you are short on time, simply number every block with a permanent marker and print a numbered list of questions. Here are 450 questions for any occasion (you may need to sort some out for kid-friendliness).
How to Play: Stack the tower in the classic Jenga-style and begin the game with one kid pulling the first block. Have them answer the listed or corresponding numbered question to the group. Continue around to each participant until the tower falls. Allow time for discussion about mutual interests in between each answer.
#5 Beach Ball “Get to Know You”
What You Will Need: An inflatable beach ball (no hard-surface balls)
Set-Up: Stand with children in a large circle and have one person start by holding the beach ball.
How to Play: The person with the ball begins by saying someone’s name and tossing the ball to that person (for example, “John”). The child who catches the ball must repeat their first name aloud and share one thing about themselves (for example, “I’m John and I like fishing”). Next, they say the name of somebody else and toss it to another person in the group.
The game continues until every participant received the beach ball. Then, you can go one more quick round to help everyone remember each other’s names. Except for this time, the thrower says, “this is for John who likes fishing,” and tosses it to John. Continue until everyone has caught the ball and repeated someone’s name/fun fact for the second time.
#6 A Great Wind Blows Chair Game
What You Will Need: One chair for each participant
Set-Up: Arrange the chairs in a circle with the seats facing inward (similar to musical chairs). Have every child sit down before starting the game. Assign one kid or adult as the “caller” to stand in the middle and lead the game.
How to Play: The caller begins by saying, “a great wind blows for everyone who….” They finish the phrase with a characteristic that can apply to different children in the group, for example, “a great wind blows for everyone who… has a dog, ate fruit for breakfast, has blue eyes, has curly hair, has a younger sister, etc.” Let the caller get creative with the category.
Then, anyone who identifies with the phrase has to stand up and move seats. Their new seat needs to be at least 2 chairs away from where they started. Like musical chairs, one chair is removed every round, and anyone left standing goes “out.” The last child with a seat wins the game and gets a prize.
#7 Candy Bowl “About Me” Game
What You Will Need: A bowl full of different types of candy or treats (enough for each participant to have at least 5 pieces)
Set-Up: Sit the kids in a circle and pass the bowl around. Ask everyone to take 1 to 5 pieces of candy. Don’t tell them what they will do with it, but be sure they know not to eat it yet.
How to Play: Go around the circle again and tell each kid to share something about themselves for every piece of candy they took. You can assign a specific topic to each type of candy. For example, chocolate means they have to share something about their family, or jawbreakers mean they have to talk about their favorite things. After everybody has a turn to share, they can enjoy the candy together.
#8 Line-Up Game
What You Will Need: No materials necessary, just a larger group of children ages 6+
Set-Up: Split the group into teams of 5-7 people and have them select one group member to be the “caller.”
How to Play: Announce to everyone that the caller will say, “everyone, please line up _____” at the beginning of each round. They can finish the phrase with “everyone, please line up from youngest to oldest” or “from shortest to tallest” or “in alphabetical order by your middle name.” Then, begin a countdown of 10 seconds to see which group can get lined up first. This game requires kids to communicate with their group about their place in line. There is also a friendly competition between groups. The fastest groups to line up can get a small prize.
#9 Crocodile Race
What You Will Need: A beginning line and finish line marker (use chalk outdoors or tape in an open indoor area)
Set-Up: Divide children into teams of 5-10 players and have them stand in straight lines.
How to Play: Bring the team lines to the starting line and have the first person in each line be the team leader. Each kid puts their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them, and then they all crouch down to look like a crocodile. They have to say crouched down for the entirety of the race. Then, say “ready, set, go!” and have the teams race to the finish line as a “crocodile” line—the first team to finish wins.
#10 The Human Knot
Holding hands is scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase bonding hormones like oxytocin. This icebreaker warms kids up to their peers and helps them feel more of a close connection with each other.
What You Will Need: A group of 10-20 kids in an open area (break up larger groups into teams if needed and spread them out)
Set-Up: Ask players to form a circle facing inwards and standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Each child begins by using their left hand to hold the left hand of the person next to them. Then, they cross and extend their right hand to have the person’s right hand on the other side.
How to Play: Once everyone has their hands crossed in front of them and are holding the hand of the people next to them, have players introduce themselves to their partners on each side. Then, instruct them that they have to try to untangle themselves without letting go of anyone’s hand. They can adjust their grip, but they aren’t supposed to unclasp their hands.
Encourage them to talk to one another and twirl around as needed until they figure out how to untangle everybody’s hands. Use a timer for 10 minutes, and if the group has not made any progress, allow only two players to unclasp and re-clasp, then start again.
#11 Never Have I Ever
What You Will Need: Participants can sit or stand in a circle facing each other
Set-Up: Instruct everyone to begin with both hands up and all ten fingers extended. One person will be the first speaker. Then the game will move clockwise around the circle.
How to Play: As you go around to each person in the group, participants say something they have never done before. As the leader of the game, be sure to provide plenty of examples to start, such as:
- Never have I ever gone to summer camp.
- Never have I ever had a pet.
- Never have I ever wet the bed.
- Never have I ever played basketball.
- Never have I ever worn a dress.
Don’t be afraid to let kids get a little silly with their phrases! If the child has done the activity, they put one of their fingers down. The first player to put all the fingers down wins the game.
#12 Face to Face
What You Will Need: Enough chairs for every participant and pre-prepared discussion topics
Set-Up: Before the game, set up two lines of chairs facing each other in pairs. Prepare age-appropriate conversation topics on index cards, for example:
- If you could be any superhero, who would you be?
- What is the best ice cream flavor?
- What is your favorite sport?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- Which animal is the best of all?
How to Play: Allow the kids to pair up sitting across from one another in the chairs. Then, shuffle the conversation starter cards and begin by calling out one topic. Set a timer for 30 seconds to allow each pair to discuss the topic. When the timer is up, the teams must shuffle down to pair with another child. Then, announce the next topic and repeat. Once every kid has paired at least once, the game can end.
#13 Icebreaker Hopscotch
This fun game adds a twist to the classic childhood hopscotch game. Kids get to share their favorite things while also practicing their alphabetical recall.
What You Will Need: A chalk or taped-off hopscotch board (try to create at least 1 hopscotch board for every 5-10 kids)
Set-Up: Once the hopscotch reaches the floor, mark a random letter in each square.
How to Play: Line up the kids in front of each hopscotch and tell them to hop ahead as far as they’d like. Whatever square they land on, they have to share one of their favorite things that begins with that letter. For example, if a kid hops forward and ends with each foot on an “A” square and a “Z” square, they can turn to the rest of the group and say, “A is for apples, my favorite fruit,” and “Z is for zebras, my favorite animal.”
Once a kid has completed the board, they can sit alongside the hopscotch to watch their peers hop over the board until everyone has had a chance to play. Because the sole purpose of this game is to get kids talking about their favorite things, there is no “winner” or “loser.”
#14 Conversation Cubes
It’s easy to get kids chatting with each other when they are prompted with a topic to discuss. Rolling the dice adds an element of surprise and anticipation to make conversation with their group more exciting.
What You Will Need: Purchase a Conversation Cube game from Amazon (this one includes 6 foam dice with 36 total conversation starters for kids ages 6-10). You will need one cube game for every group of 10-15 children.
Set-Up: Split a group into two teams of 5-8 kids each. Have them sit around a table or in a circle on the floor. Place the dice in the middle.
How to Play: Go around the table and allow each person to roll a colorful foam cube. Then, have them answer the upright question aloud. You can also have every team member answer the rolled question.
#15 Team Architect
Creative art projects are proven to help people feel more relaxed to socializing. With this game, even introverted kids can find some inspiration to make something unique and learn some team-building skills.
What You Will Need: Miscellaneous art and building materials such as marshmallows, toothpicks, books, bottles, popsicle sticks, or tape
Set-Up: Divide the group into small teams of 4-8 kids and sit them at tables with equally distributed supplies.
How to Play: Instruct everyone that they will have a certain amount of time to pretend like they are architects. They have to create a structure out of the limited or unusual art supplies provided, and they aren’t allowed to use anything else. Tell them their structure should be as strong or as big as possible.
You may want to demonstrate by using toothpicks and marshmallows to build a tower that supports an empty bottle at the top. Or perhaps construct a bridge of popsicle sticks and duct tape that can hold a book. Let each group get creative with how they can use the random supplies to their advantage. Then, the whole group can vote on the best structure to win.
#16 High Five Competition
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Gather a large group of kids and ensure their hands are clean.
How to Play: Instruct the kids that they are having a high five contest. They will have a set amount of time (5-10 minutes) to go around to their peers, ask their names, and exchange a high five. Optionally, create an upbeat atmosphere with a timer and music that gets kids excited to high-five as many new friends as possible. When the timer goes off, gather everyone together and say, “raise your hand if you high-fived 10 people… 20 people…” and onward.
#17 Teddy Bear Introduction Game
What You Will Need: A stuffed animal and a medium or large group of kids under the age of 6
Set-Up: Have the children sit in a circle with an instructor holding the teddy bear.
How to Play: Let them know they are playing a game where each person pretends they are a teddy bear. They will use the stuffed animal to introduce themselves and share one of their favorite things. To start, you hold up the teddy bear and pretend like they are talking for you. Say, “Hello, my name is Sally, and my favorite color is blue.” You can use goofy voices and move the stuffed animal’s arms to make it more playful.
Then, pass the bear around the circle and give everyone a chance to create their persona for the teddy bear. This icebreaker game is perfect for shy youngsters because they get to take on the persona of the cuddly stuffed animal.
#18 Circle Up!
What You Will Need: Colored chalk or tape and a group of 10+ children
Set-Up: Mark off 5 circles on the ground that are large enough for 5-8 kids to stand inside of. Make sure each circle is a different color.
How to Play: Gather the kids around the circles and announce the game’s rules. You will call out a color (based on which circle they should run to) and a topic. On the count of three, the kids will run to group up in each circle based on shared interests. For example, you can say, “circle up in the green if your favorite animal is a dog.”
Then, the kids who love dogs will run to the green circle and wait. Next, you can say, “circle up blue if you like chocolate ice cream,” and so on. Continue for up to 20 minutes to allow kids to see what their peers are interested in.
#19 Favorite Things Hide and Seek
What You Will Need: A playground or indoor area with hiding places
Set-Up: Ensure that kids have plenty of places to hide and count.
How to Play: This game is played with all the normal Hide and Seek rules, except the child who is “it” has to look for someone who shares their favorite thing. For example, they may announce that they’re searching for someone whose favorite holiday is Halloween. Then, when they finish the count down and go seeking, they have to ensure the kid they find fits the description. If they do, that child is the next “it” who has to search for a new kid who shares the “favorite thing” topic.
#20 Guess the Animal
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Gather a group of 10-15 kids to stand in a circle. Invite one participant to move to the middle alongside the instructor.
How to Play: Whisper a certain animal to the child in the middle and assign them to act it out without using words (they can only use sound effects like growling or bird calls). Let the rest of the group know that they must guess the animal as quickly as possible after you say “ready, set, act!”. Once the middle child begins miming the animal, the first kid outside the circle to shout out the correct animal swaps places with them in the middle and begins a charade for the next animal. This is a fast-paced game that keeps kids moving and excited.
#21 Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
What You Will Need: An even-numbered group of kids
Set-Up: Divide the group into pairs
How to Play: Begin by counting backward from 3 to build anticipation and then announcing “rock, paper, scissors” aloud with the whole group. Continue for the “best two out of three” and have losers sit down in a circle on the exterior. Have the winner of each round pair up with another winner in the middle. Repeat until you get to the last two champions and then have a big final round to see who wins the tournament prize.
#22 Telephone Game
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Sit kids in a circle and find one volunteer to devise a silly phrase or saying.
How to Play: Begin the game by having the volunteer whisper their phrase into the ear of the child next to them (be sure it is age-appropriate). Then, this kid whispers to the next person and continues around the circle. Once it reaches the final person, they must say the phrase aloud and see if it is the same as the original. It almost always gets mixed up along the way! The original volunteer can share what the whole phrase was, and the kids can learn a fun, valuable lesson about the dangers of gossip.
Key Takeaways: Fun Icebreaker Games Help Kids Feel Comfortable Socializing
The best icebreaker games help kids feel a little more at home in new situations. Instead of leaving them to socialize on their own accord, these planned activities ensure that kids don’t get bored or nervous around new peers.
When choosing the best icebreakers for kids, remember to:
- Prioritize get-to-know-you games for kids: Everyone loves to talk about themselves, but kids are excited to express their interests to their classmates and peers. “Get to know you games” are the simplest way for children to warm up and find new friends that share their hobbies or favorite things.
- Keep it simple: Sometimes, the most basic activities tend to be the most fun. Ice breaker games with too many steps or rules may leave certain age groups confused or overwhelmed. When in doubt, pick icebreakers that are easy to explain and draw off familiar activities.
- Put a new twist on classic games: Almost every kid is familiar with Bingo, hopscotch, Jenga, Duck Duck Goose, or scavenger hunts. Use this to your advantage by putting a simple twist on the classics. For example, you can always add a conversation starter or “about me” question in the rules of these games.
- Emphasize laughter: Don’t be afraid to get silly. As a chaperone or leader, your willingness to be goofy and embarrass yourself at the start of a game can open the door for kids to express their innate fun attitudes. Laughter is one of the most important
Gamifying socialization can help kids prepare for better personal and professional relationships later in life. Whether an educator, counselor or parent, you don’t want to miss this Social Skills Training for Kids: 8 Super Steps to Success.