Icebreakers help high school kids get comfortable with one another quickly. Games or activities that have them learning names and information about one another breaks down barriers and can turn strangers into friends, or at least acquaintances. Once high school kids are comfortable with one another, they relax and become more receptive to dealing with the reason that drew them together.
Who Are You?
In one "Who Are You?" icebreaker, kids ask each other three questions: name, favorite color and one interesting fact about themselves. After five minutes, the kids see how much they correctly remember about the other teenagers to whom they spoke. For a second twist on the "Who Are You?" theme, students draw cards from a basket with one of the following categories on each: person, place, animal or thing. If they pick, for example, an animal card, they must write the name of an animal, such as a cat, on the card. The kids ask each other "yes-or-no" questions to discover who or what the person, place, animal or thing is that they have written on their cards. Kids who guess correctly win the card. The person who ends up with the most cards after seven minutes wins. For a final icebreaker on this theme, write down the name of a person the kids know on a large card. The teenagers must ask questions to try to guess the identity of the person whose name you have written. Make this a version of Twenty Questions, with only "yes-or-no" questions allowed.
Focus on names and use name tags. For 10 minutes, teenagers introduce themselves to one another. At the end of 10 minutes, everyone takes off his name tag and changes position in the room. See who can best remember the names of those he met. For another icebreaker focusing on names, ask everyone to form a circle. Have the kids go around the circle stating their first names. Hand a large, soft ball to one kid and ask her to throw the ball to someone else in the circle. She must use the other person's name, saying, for example, "Chris, here comes the ball." The person receiving the ball catches and passes it on in the same way. Those who forget to say a person's name before throwing that person the ball are out. The faster the game, the faster the kids drop out.
I'm Going To...
Have the high school kids make a circle with their chairs. One teenager starts a clapping rhythm. "I'm going to the store and I'm going to buy...," naming some product, or "I'm going to the library and I'm getting a book by...," naming an author. Each person in the circle must maintain the rhythm while not only repeating what everyone else said in order, but also adding to the statement. Those who fall out of rhythm or who forget any item in the sequence, or forget to add an item, drop out. Also, kids can learn names by adding their names to the original statement: "I'm Patty, and I'm going to the store to buy..." After the game ends, see how many names the kids recall.
I Am Like
Have kids draw cards on which you have asked them to write a dessert they think they are like and why. They might be like pecan ice cream or chocolate cake. Do this exercise asking them to compare themselves to vegetables, fruit, sports, historical persons and celebrities. Have the kids share the "what" and "why" of each item. If some kids know each other well, let these kids guess at why the ones they know gave the answers they provided.
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