The LAITS team has come up with some virtual and in-person activities that can be used in the classroom or in the workplace to welcome new students and staff, warm up the conversation in discussion sessions and meetings, and enhance team-building skills.
Use this ice breaker activity at, or very near, the start of a course, workshop or meeting where people don’t know each other to help get to know everyone’s names. Have the group sit in a circle where everyone can see the others. The first person says their name. The next person continues, but after saying their own name, they repeat the first person’s name. This continues with each person repeating one more name. Reassure people towards the end that it’s ok if they get stuck & encourage the others to jump in to help if anyone is lost.
The Four Quadrants Activity
The Four Quadrants one of the tried and true team building icebreakers to break the ice with a group or team. It is super easy to prep for and set up – you only need large sheets of paper (flipcharts or similar) and markers. Have people draw up a 2×2 grid and ask them four questions. They should draw the answers in each quadrant. Afterwards they can show each other their drawings and discuss the creations. The exercise is fun, colorful and visual and can be modified to work with any group and/or topic (just by changing the questions). Questions can cover topics like current challenges, stressors, defining moments, moments of pride, fears, desired outcome for the current gathering etc. Team icebreakers that encourage openness are great for team building and ensuring everyone in a group is heard!
The game requires two people to sit facing away from each other, where one team member is given a picture of an object or word. Without specifying directly what it is, the other person must describe the image without using words that clearly give away the image. This is a great game to develop verbal communication and remember that icebreaker games for work do not need to reinvent the wheel to be effective.
The Marshmallow Challenge
This challenge from Tom Wujec, a business visualization expert, makes the perfect icebreaker and team-building hybrid. Break your meeting attendees into groups of four. Give each group 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and one marshmallow. Ask them to build the tallest freestanding structure they can. Sit back and see what happens.
The goal of Blind Retriever is to guide a blindfolded person to a certain point or a hidden object. The game is a great way to test how your employees work together under pressure and how well they respond to instructions. To play, split your team into small groups, blindfolding one person on each team. The first team that can successfully direct their blindfolded colleague to a hidden object wins.
Read My Lips
How many times has a Zoom meeting had audio troubles? Help your team get over those frustrating situations with some lip-reading practice. To play, have someone mute their mic and say a word or phrase. Players then try to guess the word or phrase correctly within a one-minute time limit. To make it easier, have the turn-taker give clues in the chat box when needed.
Spreadsheet Pixel Art
Spreadsheet Pixel Art is when you add a little code to automatically replace numbers with a color fill for that cell. You can then use these colors to “paint the numbers” and create pictures of nearly anything.
Virtual “Pub” (Website) Crawl
Join a virtual meeting or conference with your team members. Everyone goes to an interesting website, and chats about the contents. Every 15 minutes, move to a new website. This is a fun virtual (and work/school appropriate) equivalent of a pub crawl.
Arm’s Reach Show and Tell
Set a 1-minute timer for participants to find something within arms reach that is meaningful to them. Each person them has one minute to share about their object, including information like where they got it and why they keep it. This is a quick and easy way to get a glimpse into the home lives of your co-workers and students.
Here are a few links to some common games, virtual-edition, that you can play with your team over Zoom!
Code Names: https://www.marieclaire.com/home/a32268495/games-to-play-on-zoom/ (rules here)
Card Games: https://playingcards.io/
Digital Escape Rooms: https://www.simplemost.com/free-digital-escape-rooms/