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Turning the heat up...

Why are activities that start groups running often named in memory of things that are cool? Some examples: "Ice breakers", "warming up the group". Quite simply, the first time that a group comes together, especially if they've never met, can be a daunting experience.

Thankfully, SYWO Practice is on hand to help would-be group workers. We'll help you defrost the frozen puddles of fear in your groups, hold those precious two sticks while you light the campfire: How? With a world famous collection of 'fun' icebreakers, of course.

What do we ask in return for giving you the best online games and activities? A mere donation of one or two activities that you have used so that we can publish them. More info can be found here.


This month: Name Games

(We'll archive these next month)

1 Name and adjective

This game helps participants learn names quickly by association. Gather the group into a circle facing inwards, then tell them that each person will introduce themselves by using their first name preceded by an adjective that starts with the same letter (Alliteration), for instance Jumping Jason, or Howling Hanif. Nominate one person to start off. This person steps into the circle, says their name and steps back. Going clockwise, the next person steps forward, says their name and also the previous name before stepping back. The person following steps forward, says their name, and the previous two names, and so on until everyone has had a go. This will get more 'interesting' as the game goes on.

2 Sharks

Gather a group into a circle facing inwards. Hand a sheet of newspaper to each person and tell the group to follow your movements carefully so as not to get lost, then rip your sheet of paper in two, stand on one half, violently screw up the other half and throw it into the middle of the circle. You now have a lagoon of shark-infested water and everybody is living on their own little island in the sea. This is an ordered society and everybody must live in alphabetical order, so tell the group where A starts and ask them to rearrange themselves by moving from island to island without falling into the shark-infested waters. The group must devise an effective way of finding out each other's names - this will probably be quite simply by shouting them out - and moving to their places.

3 Name Graffiti

Something a little less crazy now! This is for smaller groups. With the group sitting in a circle, place a flipchart sheet and marker pen on the floor and ask everyone to sign their name on it and then tell the group about their name. For instance: they like their name or its short for something else or they name means something specific.

4 Zombies

Gather the group into a circle facing inwards, from where they introduce themselves. Now find a volunteer to be the zombie, or Frankenstein's monster, and tell them to walk towards a person in the circle. That person must point out another person in the circle and shout out their name before the zombie gets them. If they shout someone's name in time, the zombie will turn and head for that person. If they don't shout out a name before the zombie gets them, they will become the zombie. Great fun with a younger group or qualified youth workers (!).

Notes All the icebreakers are designed to work with any number of people, although each will work better in some contexts than others. Workers should choose the exercises that are most appropriate to their group dynamic and the individuals within the group.

Taken from: Treseder, P (1997) Empowering Children & Young People - Training Manual, London: Save the Children. To order a copy of this book, contact Save the Children Publication Sales on 0207 703 5400 or visit