Whether it’s the first day of school, a new sports team, or a summer camp, bringing together a new group of teenagers can be daunting (to say the least)!
Here are 31 get-to-know-you games for teens (plus virtual icebreakers for teens) that you can use in any situation.
What Are Icebreaker Games For Teens?
Icebreaker games are organized activities and get-to-know-you games that help people warm up to new social situations. These simple activities can help teens overcome awkwardness to connect and build bonds with their peers. They create an environment where people feel comfortable collaborating and learning together.
31 Fun Icebreakers for Teens
Gen Z teens are growing up in an era dominated by technology and social media. While this means they are up-to-date on the latest trends and innovations, it is also associated with shorter attention spans and more antisocial behavior.
Leading a non-boring icebreaker game requires keeping things simple, fast-paced, and inclusive. These group activities are designed to get teens off of their phones and ready to interact with each other IRL without feeling awkward or alienated.
#1 Shoe Exchange Icebreaker
What You Will Need: A group of teens and an open space
Set-Up: Instruct everybody to leave one of their shoes by the door.
How to Play: Bring the group into a circle and redistribute the shoes, so everyone has one that doesn’t belong to them. Then, set a 5-minute timer and tell everybody to find the shoe owner, introduce themselves, and have a 2-minute discussion with an announced conversation starter, such as: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
- What’s your favorite TV show and why?
- Do you think that life exists on other planets?
Here are 450 more fun conversation question ideas.
#2 Toilet Paper Fun Facts Game
What You Will Need: A roll of toilet paper
Set-Up: For one of the simplest get-to-know-you games for teens, sit everyone in a circle on the floor and pass around the toilet paper roll. Instruct each participant to rip off as many pieces of toilet paper as needed (but don’t tell them why).
How to Play: After everybody has passed around the roll, it is time to share. Everybody must share one fun fact about themselves for each piece of toilet paper they ripped from the roll.
#3 Toss and Chat Game
What You Will Need: An inflated beach ball and a permanent marker
Set-Up: Write silly random topics on each colored portion of the beach ball, for example:
- Have you ever waved at someone thinking you know them, only to realize they are the wrong person?
- If animals could talk, which would be the most sarcastic?
- Do you eat or drink soup?
- What is an embarrassing song that you secretly enjoy?
- Do you think penguins have knees?
How to Play: Have the group stand in a circle and begin by tossing the ball to each other. Whoever catches the ball must answer the question that their right index finger ends up touching. Continue until everyone has had a chance.
#4 Time Bomb Introductions
What You Will Need: A tennis ball
Set-Up: Have the group stand in a circle facing the center. Then, go around the circle and have each person say their first name.
How to Play: Explain that the tennis ball is a “time bomb.” When someone throws it in the group, they only have 2 seconds to say someone else’s name and throw the ball to them. If they can’t remember anyone’s name in 2 seconds, the “bomb” explodes, and they are “out.” Have participants who forget names step to form an outside circle.
As the inner circle gets smaller, the group will continue tossing the tennis ball until they know everyone’s name in the group. You can offer a prize for the last ones standing who learned their peers’ names and didn’t get “blown up” by the tennis ball time bomb.
And while this game is amazingly fun, having meaningful conversations can lead to great self-improvement and can turn any negative vibes to positive ones. Here is a formula you can use to develop your self-improvement skills:
Communicate With Confidence
Do you struggle with small talk? Do you often run out of things to say or feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations?
💪 Speak so people listen,
🤐 No more awkward silences,
🚫 No more small talk.
#5 Mix and Match Candy Challenge
What You Will Need: A bowl of multicolored candy (like M&Ms or skittles) and a posterboard list of challenges correlated with each color
Set-Up: First, decide what each candy color will require, for example:
- Blue candy: Sing a line from your favorite song (and see who can guess it)
- Red candy: Hop in a circle on one foot
- Orange candy: Imitate your favorite celebrity
- Green candy: Do a famous TikTok dance
- Purple candy: Tell a funny joke
Write these on an extensive list (but don’t show the list until after everybody has selected their candy).
How to Play: Bring participants into a circle, pass the bowl around and have each teen pick a handful of candy. Tell them they can eat all but one piece. Then, go around the circle and have everyone perform the challenge associated with the selected color. If they don’t like that challenge, they can find someone to swap colors with.
#6 Pictionary People Game
What You Will Need: Index cards, markers, and pieces of paper
Set-Up: Begin by dividing teens into two groups. Pass out an index card to each person and have them write their name on one side and three of their favorite things on the other side. For example, “ice cream,” “movies, or “dogs.”
How to Play: Have each group stack their cards in a pile and then swap stacks with the other group. An assigned dealer from each group pulls a card out, memorizes the activities written on it, and then shuffles it back into the deck. They then sketch out one of the objects while the rest of the team shuffles through the cards and tries to match the activity with the person. Both teams are racing to guess who is associated with the object the dealer is drawing on the sheet of paper. The first team to link the thing drawing with a name wins!
#7 Two Truths and a Lie
What You Will Need: Chairs or a place to sit
Set-Up: Circle up the group and explain the rules
How to Play: The first person will begin by listing three things about themselves— two factual statements and one false statement. It helps to make the lie somewhat believable. Then, the rest of the group can shout out which thing they think is inaccurate. Once someone guesses correctly, the next person can tell their two truths and a lie. Continue around the circle until everyone has shared and had their lie successfully detected.
#8 Sit Down icebreaker
What You Will Need: An open space
Set-Up: Bring the group into a circle and assign a group facilitator
How to Play: The group leader begins by completing the sentence “sit down if…” with silly or strange phrases, such as:
- Sit down if you ate chocolate today.
- Sit down if you have been to South Dakota.
- Sit down if you eat pineapple on your pizza.
- Sit down if you have a pet cat.
- Sit down if you have a TikTok account.
Instruct teens to sit down if the statement is true for them. They continue saying random “sit down” commands until only one person remains. The last person standing gets a prize.
#9 “Find-Someone-Who” Human Bingo
What You Will Need: Pre-made Bingo cards, pens, and prizes
Set-Up: This activity works like a scavenger hunt for people. Prepare ahead of time with enough pens and Bingo sheets for each person.
How to Play: Pass out Bingo cards and explain that participants need to talk with each other and find someone who meets the criteria listed in each box within a set time frame. When you select a timer and say “ready, set, go,” teens will go around seeking signatures from their classmates in relevant boxes. To encourage them to meet as many people as possible, only one person can sign each Bingo space. You can play until someone gets a full BINGO or aim for a “blackout” game. Either way, the first to get the proper amount of signatures wins a prize.
#10 Common Three Game
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Divide the teens into three teams.
How to Play: Each team has 5 minutes to discuss their interests and find three things they have in common, such as:
- A shared favorite holiday
- Their favorite subject in school
- Growing up in the same area
- The same favorite color
Then, one player from each team will announce their commonalities to the larger group so everyone can get to know each other. Feel free to shuffle up the teams and repeat multiple rounds.
#11 Bag of Stories
What You Will Need: A large bag and random everyday items (such as a book, phone, pencil, photograph, chapstick, keyring, snack, etc.). Be sure there are at least as many objects as there are people.
Set-Up: Place all the objects into the large bag. Then, circle up the group and choose one teen to be the leader.
How to Play: To start the game, pass the bag around the group and have each person reach in to grab one of the objects without looking. Then, the leader begins a story based on their holding object. After a few sentences of narration, the next participant continues the report based on their item. Continue around the circle until everyone has contributed to crafting an intriguing tale based on objects from the bag.
#12 Don’t Break the Frown
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Divide the group into pairs of 2 and have them stand back-to-back.
How to Play: After a countdown from 3, each pair turns to face their partner and stare into their eyes. They must try to hold a frown without saying anything to their teammate. Explain that the game’s goal is to stay frowning for as long as possible. The first person to break a laugh or smile has to sit down. Then, the remaining standing players pair up and continue the game. The final two people who are best at keeping their straight faces end up in a “standoff” where the kids left seated try to bully them into breaking their frowns and laughing.
#13 Building Team Challenge
What You Will Need: Random construction items like glue, popsicle sticks, tape, marshmallows, etc.
Set-Up: Split participants into teams of 4-6 teens in any area that can get messy. Distribute an even amount of the construction objects to each group.
How to Play: Set a timer for 10 minutes and instruct the teams to build a structure that can meet a challenge. Encourage teamwork by having each group assign specific roles to their team members, such as “the engineer,” “the presenter,” “the decorator,” and “the tester.” The challenge could be to make the biggest, tallest, most vital, or weirdest-shaped structure.
In the end, each group presents its structure and sees how it measures up to the challenge (for example, you may want to see if a book can balance it). The facilitator can judge the best structures, or the group can vote on who wins for each challenge category. This is the perfect creative team-building exercise for groups of any size.
Tom Wujek goes over this exercise in his fun TED Talk:
#14 Human Knot
What You Will Need: A large group
Set-Up: Bring the teenagers into a big circle. Have them cross their right hand over to grab the right hand of the person next to them. Then, cross their left hand over their body to hold the left hand of their other partner.
How to Play: Once everyone clasped their hands together, instruct the group that they have to figure out how to untangle themselves. Nobody can unclasp or re-clasp their hands. Instead, they must maneuver their way out of the “knot” until everyone is standing in the circle holding hands with the person next to them. This activity encourages communication and teamwork.
#15 Nature Treasure Hunt
What You Will Need: Baskets or buckets and outdoor space such as a forest or garden
Set-Up: Give each teen a collection container before beginning.
How to Play: This treasure hunt is all about being creative and finding unique items in the natural environment. Instruct the group to find one natural object that represents each earth element:
Set a timer for 20-30 minutes and send everyone out to fill their collection basket with natural objects. Be clear that they should not disturb or harm any part of the natural area and instead search for items already on the ground.
Once time is up, gather everyone together in a circle and go around to share their earthly treasures. Participants need to explain why they collected each object. Allow them to get creative in their interpretations.
For example, a pine cone could represent fire because many pines require fire to sprout seeds, or a bird feather could represent air because birds fly in the sky. Because nature helps reduce stress and anxiety, this is one of the best icebreaker activities for shy teens.
#16 Crossword Name Game
What You Will Need: Pen and paper
Set-Up: Divide into smaller groups of 5-10 teens. Set a piece of paper in the center of a table and have one group leader write their first name in the middle of each team’s paper with capital letters.
How to Play: After writing their names, players begin looking for ways to attach their name to the first player’s name in the center, creating a crossword. They can go down, up, or diagonal. The first team who connects all of their names wins. It should look something like this:
#17 Guess That Movie
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Dive a larger group into small teams of 4-6 people.
How to Play: This game is played similarly to charades. Have each team secretly decide on a movie scene they want to re-enact. They will only have 3 minutes to present their scene to the whole group to see who can correctly guess the movie. The team who correctly guesses the most movies wins.
#18 Birthday Mixup
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Bring teens into a large circle and assign someone as the announcer.
How to Play: Begin by having the leader call out a birthday month (or astrological sign). Anyone whose birthday is in that time period moves to the middle of the circle and has to share one random fact about themselves. For example, all Geminis (May 21 to June 21) could be called to the center and asked to say something about their favorite sport, hobby, or food.
Repeat until the team covered the entire calendar year. Ask the group if anyone noticed any similarities amongst people born in the same month or astrological sign.
#19 Card House Challenge
What You Will Need: Tables and a deck of cards for each team
Set-Up: Dive into smaller groups of 4-6 people and hand out a deck to each team.
How to Play: Instruct each group to build the largest card house in 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, have everyone step back from their table and see which card house stands the longest.
If their house falls, they lose the challenge. If several teams have card houses that stay up, begin to lightly blow on the houses to see which one can resist the “wind” the longest. The group with the best house of cards wins a prize.
#20 Blindfold Trust Walk
What You Will Need: Chairs and blindfolds (bandanas will do)
Set-Up: Have kids arrange the chairs in a sort of obstacle course path through a room. Split the group into two equal teams.
How to Play: This game is all about communication, focus, and trust amongst teams. Have each group choose one player to be blindfolded. Stand this person at one end of the room and spin them around 2 to 3 times. Then, explain that the game’s objective is for the team to guide their blindfolded member through the obstacle course using only their voice. The opposing team may try to trick them by giving incorrect directions.
The blindfolded player who reaches the end of the course fastest gets the point for their team and trades off the bandana to the next team member. If someone touches a chair, they are “out.” Continue the game until one team reaches 5 points.
#21 Icebreaker Questions Jenga
What You Will Need: Large Jenga blocks game(s) and permanent marker
Set-Up: Write high school-appropriate icebreaker questions on each Jenga block. Use inspiration from this list of 450 fun questions to ask people or create your own!
How to Play: Divide the group into teams of 5-8 teens. Have each team assemble their Jenga tower and begin to play as they usually would. When one person pulls a block, they have to answer the question written on it. If someone tumbles the tower, they need to answer 5 icebreaker questions in a row.
#22 Deserted Island
What You Will Need: Nothing!
Set-Up: Sit teens in a circle.
How to Play: Tell the group, “imagine that you were going to be banished to a deserted island for a year, and all essentials provided, but you also get to choose one song, book, and a luxury item to bring along. What would you choose and why?” Go around the circle and have members of the group share their answers.
#23 Popcorn Catch
What You Will Need: Popped bags of popcorn
Set-Up: Instruct participants to pair up and face each other a couple of steps apart. Hand out a bag of popcorn to each pair.
How to Play: Instead of talking, this fun icebreaker game simply creates laughter and fun by bringing back memories of childhood. One pair member will begin trying to throw popcorn and get their partner to catch it in their mouth. With each successful catch, they take one step backward and try again. The pair who can catch the most popcorn from the farthest distance wins a gift card to the movie theater.
#24 Watermelon Explosion
What You Will Need: Small watermelons and thick rubber bands
Set-Up: Divide teens into groups of 4-6 students. Hand each group a bag of rubber bands and one watermelon. Beware: this one is messy, so be sure you do this icebreaker game outdoors.
How to Play: Groups compete against each other to see who can explode their watermelon first, but they can only wrap one rubber band around the melon at a time. The first player from each team will begin by putting on their rubber band and then passing the bag of bands to the next player to continue the sequence. Eventually, the pressure will explode a watermelon, and that team can receive a prize or a separate fresh watermelon snack.
#25 Bubblegum Challenge
What You Will Need: Chewing gum
Set-Up: Make sure everyone gets an even number of gum pieces.
How to Play: For a super simple and fun challenge, divide pieces of gum amongst participants and see who can blow the biggest bubble.
6 Virtual Icebreakers for Teens
If you’re teaching in a virtual classroom, it can be much more difficult for students to get to know their classmates. These virtual icebreakers are perfect for helping teens connect during high school distance learning.
#26 Selfie Challenge
What You Will Need: Computers and smartphones or cameras
Set-Up: Create a dedicated #selfiechallenge chat for this ongoing game. Be sure that students keep their selfies school-appropriate.
How to Play: Assign a topic for a weekly photo challenge wherein teens get to share a selfie of themselves in different settings, for example:
- Selfie with a pet
- Selfie at your favorite place
- Selfie eating your favorite food
Have each student comment on at least 3 of their classmates’ photos with a compliment or shared interest. They can even try to guess the breed of pet, the location of their photo, or the restaurant they are eating at.
#27 Introduce Your Pet
What You Will Need: Video cams or chat room
Set-Up: Notify students the night before that they will be welcome to introduce their pet at the beginning of the following virtual class.
How to Play: Let teens show off their pet in their video camera or share a photo on the group chat. If they don’t have an animal, tell participants to share their dream pet and what they would name it.
#28 Virtual “Would You Rather?”
What You Will Need: Video or text chat
Set-Up: Make a numbered list of “Would You Rather” questions, such as:
- Would you rather be poor and work a job you love or work at a job you hate and be rich?
- Would you rather stay in the airport overnight or lose all your luggage?
- Would you rather have the ability to see 10 minutes into the future or 10 years in the future?
- Would you instead end world hunger or stop climate change?
How to Play: During the beginning of a virtual meeting, have each student select a random number from 1-10 (or however many questions you created). Then, they will answer the corresponding “Would You Rather” question and explain why they chose their answer.
#29 Rose, Thorn, and Spaghetti
What You Will Need: Video or text chat
Set-Up: This is great for students already familiar with each other. No setup is needed.
How to Play: Go around to each participant and have them share the three main highlights of their day/week/month:
- Rose: the best thing that happened to them
- Thorn: something they wish didn’t happen
- Spaghetti: the most unexpected or funny thing that happened
#30 Sketch A Classmate
What You Will Need: Video cams, paper, and pen
Set-Up: Message each participant individually with the name of one of their classmates. Be sure that they are already somewhat familiar with each other (this works best for hybrid classrooms).
How to Play: When it’s time for the icebreaker game to begin, set a timer for 5 minutes and have each student sketch the assigned classmate. After the 5 minutes, go around the group and have participants share their drawings on the video cam. The rest of the class must type in the group chat and guess who they drew. If students don’t know how to draw people, they could also draw objects or themes that remind them of that person.
#31 Spontaneous Virtual Show and Tell
What You Will Need: Video cams
Set-Up: Don’t warn students ahead of time about this one. It is supposed to be spontaneous.
How to Play: To begin the game, simply instruct participants to spontaneously grab one item closest to them for a spontaneous show and tell. Go around the class and highlight each student’s video. They will share where they got the item and its significance (if any), or even a funny story about the thing. For example, someone might have a photo, a stuffed animal, or a snack on their desk that they can share something about.
Key Takeaways: Icebreakers Help Teens Overcome Social Awkwardness
In a world of social media and virtual learning, modern teenagers aren’t socializing as their parents did. Icebreaker games can help facilitate more connection and less awkwardness by giving them things to talk about.
The best icebreakers for teens have a few things in common:
- They’re fast-paced: Teenagers get bored quickly. Upbeat, fast-moving games keep everyone interested and present. Avoid games that take longer than 20 minutes.
- They’re simple: It shouldn’t take long to explain an icebreaker game. Keeping it simple is easier for the instructor as well as the participants.
- They include age-appropriate prizes: Who doesn’t love free stuff? If you want to motivate teens to participate, be sure that you offer small prizes that are age-appropriate and culturally relevant.
- They initiate conversation: Conversation starters are vital to helping teens form friendships. Use questions and prompts to inspire unique discussions they may not think of on their own.
- They highlight commonalities: In such a divisive society, finding shared interests is as important as ever. The best icebreaker activities emphasize things that students have in common and help them connect over their similarities.
If you want to understand more about teenagers from a nonverbal perspective, try reading their body language and interpreting what you see!