Icebreakers For Trainers - CiteHR
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychological Counselor,
Behavioural Trainer & Manager

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Warmups and Energizers

Warmups or energizers are activities the trainer uses throughout the course to encourage participant involvement and interaction. These activities may be used at the beginning of each day to bring the group together and begin work on a positive note. They may also be used during the day to recharge the group (e.g., after lunch, after a long presentation). Here are number of warmups and energizers you can use.

The trainer gives the participants slips of paper, and asks them to write down at least three things they would like to learn during that day’s activities. The participants attach their slips to a poster board or piece of flipchart paper, which is posted in the classroom. The trainer can then review these expectations with the group and tell them which topics will and will not be covered. This activity can also help the clinical trainer focus the course on individual or group learning needs and interests


Required: Lipstick, small washable grease pencil or markers

Players: Small to large groups

Depending on the number of participants, you may want to pick a few helpers for this icebreaker game. The helpers will all have a small tube of lipstick in their pocket or hidden in their hands before the game starts. They can pretend at the last minute that they decide to join in the game; this helps them to find the person that they would like to stand next to. Have all participants line up in a straight line, side by side, instruct them that they have to look forward and they can’t turn their heads. Tell them that you’re playing the Cheeky-Cheeky game and everyone is to repeat what you do but must not move. Give them an example by lightly pinching the persons cheek on the right of you and say “Cheeky-Cheeky”. You should be at the beginning of the line. Note to them that that person is to do the same and then the next person all the way down the line until it reaches the end. Once demonstrated start out with Cheeky-Cheeky but this time behind your back you have lipstick that you put on your fingertips. After you’ve done Cheeky-Cheeky and the movement has gone down the line then do nosey, nosey. After that do chiny-chiny, eary-eary, heady-heady and right eary-eary. Each time add more lipstick to your finger tips without them noticing. In the process the person next to you should end up with lipstick all over their face. Pick a person that is a good sport to stand next to. If you’ve planted helpers in the line, a few other people should end up with lipstick on their faces also.

Submitted by Amy Sandison, GoTel Ministries

Dress the Mummy

Required: Rolls of toilet paper

Players: Small to large groups

Set up teams with 2-4 players on each team. One person on each team will be the mummy and each team will be given 2 rolls of toilet paper. They will have 5 minutes to complete the game. The team players are to circle around the mummy and pass the toilet paper to each other while wrapping the mummy in it. The leader of the group will be the judge and decide which team has created the best mummy design.

Gum Art

Required: Bubble gum, toothpick and index card

Players: Small to large groups

Give each participant a piece of bubble gum to chew, toothpick and index card. Allow them 10 minutes to chew the gum, place gum on index card and then design something on index card using only the toothpick as a tool (No Hands). The person with the best and most creative design is the winner. If you have quite a few players you can have several categories of winners, like “most ingenious”, “most creative” and of course the “What is that?” award. Please send in your ideas of award names and even pictures of your groups playing these games.

Submitted by Amy Sandison, GoTel Ministries

Ha Ha

Players: Small to large groups

Teams competing lay down side by side on floor or ground. The first person lays back of hand on next persons stomach and that person lays back of hand on the stomach of the next to him and so on. The first person in line is to laugh one HA. The next person in line is to laugh HA HA (two times). The third person is HA HA HA. And so on. Any person that breaks out into a giggle is out of the game and must get up and the hole is filled in. The last one to giggle, wins.

Ice Cube Hunt

Required: Ice cubes, food coloring and winter weather

Players: Small to large groups

Make up several ice cubes trays with food coloring in water. Once you have made ice cubes, distribute into search area. The person to find the most colored ice cubes is the winner.

King Boe Boe’s Ring

Required: Vaseline or mayonnaise (or anything mushy), chair, stool and blindfolds

Players: Small to medium groups

From the group select a number of persons that you would like to play this game. Send them outside.

Have some one (preferably a man) that has a very ugly toe, sit on the chair with his foot on the stool. Put some mayonnaise or Vaseline on his thumb. Let him bend the thumb and you put it on the jointed area. You also put some on the big toe that is on the stool.

You then invite one of the persons that have already been blindfolded to come in with his/her hands behind him. It must stay behind him as long as he/she is approaching the king. They are asked to bow before the king in respect (keeping hands behind). Take them very close to the king where they can actually kneel right in front of the toe that has the mayonnaise or Vaseline on it. They bow as to kiss the king ring and the king puts his finger out so that the person kisses the finger instead of the toe. The king then puts his hand behind him leaving the toe as the visible object that has been kissed.

The blindfold is now taken off and the person sees the toe and thinks that he/she has kissed this ugly toe. (Make sure that you keep adding more Vaseline to the finger as it will be kissed off, also make sure that enough is on the toe) Continue with the next person until all have come in. Do not tell the person what has happened but encourage the person to watch and see what has happened. He/she will laugh at himself.

The other players must be locked away so that they have no clue as to what is happening, they will hear the laughs and will be curious and anxious to come in. No one in the room is to tell them anything. The last person usually does not know what is happening. You may tell him or her if you choose to.

Submitted by Pat Henry

Memory Game

Required: Subjects for memory, tray, paper and pencil

Players: Small groups

Pick a subject like foods you would eat or crave. Lay them all in a tray for viewers to see and have participants pass tray around. Remove tray from sight and have participant’s list what was on tray. The person that lists the most objects is the winner. You can give extra points or break ties by asking specific questions like what flavor sucker and so on.

Messy Twist

Required: Paper or plastic plates, oatmeal, whip cream, chocolate, vanilla and other flavored puddings, paper, pencil, two small containers and clothes to get dirty in

Players: Small to medium groups

What you need for this game is warm weather, so it can be played outside with no shoes on. It's a game mainly for those youths that like to get messy and enjoy having fun. (It is played like the game of Twister but with a BIG twist.) Fill up 6-10 plates with the same items like oatmeal and then 6-10 plates of another item, try to have at least 5 different items that would give you 30 to 50 plates. If you have a large crowd have them play in shifts. On a sheet of paper make tags, which will be pulled out of two separate containers. One set of tags will name the items in the plates, like chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, whip cream, applesauce, mashed bananas, oatmeal or other items possibly non-staining items. The other set of tags with will go into another container that will be what they will use, right hand, left hand, right or left foot, head or even bottom. Lay out the plates in rows and have one person draw out a tag from each container. Players are to do what the tags state, example is Vanilla Pudding, Right Foot. The players are to put their right foot in the vanilla pudding and then another tag is pulled. If any player falls or fails to get a plate before some else gets it, they're out of the game. The last standing player is the winner and you can give him rights to hose off other players if necessary. Messy Twist is a great game for the wild Youth Groups, party game or picnic game if you have a lake to wash off in.

Moo Game

Required: Just people

Players: Small to medium groups

Pick three people to stand outside while the rest of the group gets ready. Form a circle large enough for someone to stand inside. Tell the group that They are going to pick someone from outside to come in and stand inside the circle and when you count to three everyone has to “MOO” as loud as they can. Then tell them on the last time, when the third person comes in to fake a “MOO”. Everyone should look like they are going to “MOO” but don’t. Pick someone from outside and tell them that they are to listen for the person who “MOOed” the loudest. Count to three and everyone “MOOs”. The person in the middle will then pick who “MOOed” the loudest and whomever they pick will be correct. Then tell that person that they have to “MOO” as loud as they can on the next round but to not “MOO” at all on the third round. Now the 2nd person comes in and you "MOO" and they pick who was the loudest and they are of course correct. But don't tell the 2nd person to not “MOO” on the last round. Now the third person comes in and you tell them to pick the loudest “MOO”. You count to three and everyone pretends like they are going to “MOO” except the 2nd person that came in who “MOOs” really loud all by him or herself. It’s really funny. You may have to explain the joke to the third person though.

Puzzle Piece Search

Required: Precut puzzle pieces and open table

Players: Small to medium groups

You can do this with a pre-made puzzle or use a large unwanted poster and cut into several pieces depending on the number of players. Hide pieces throughout play area while players are out of the room. Have a card table or work area where the puzzle can be reassembled. When a player finds a piece they are to bring it to the table to fit it together with the other pieces. Once they have found where that piece goes they are off searching for another piece of the puzzle. At the end, have the players think about all those pieces, each one a different shape, size and color but they all come together to become one big picture.


Required: Blackboard & chaulk (paper & pencil will do)

Players: Small to large groups

The first person from each team is to go out and make up a message together. This message will be used by all teams. Once signaled to start, the first person on each team is to whisper the Rumor to the next person on their team. They will whisper the Rumor to the next - and so on. The last person to receive the Rumor will run to the black board and write the message. The team that is the closest to the correct Rumor wins.


Super Model Exercise

Objective - Ice breaker or energizer - Great for laughs and relaxation. Shedding of status and roles.

Time required -5-10 minutes.

Space requirements - big enough for participants to form a circle.

How to do it:

1. Arrange participants in a circle.

2. Instruct participants that they have to act out your instructions. When pointed to and given the following commands:

"Super Model" - Participant should immediately pose as a fashion model. The two participants alongside the participant acting as a super model (the one on the left and the right) take the role of photographers and mimic gestures of taking a photo.

"Elephant"- Participant poses as an elephant by immediately thrusting two hands held together in front to represent the elephant's trunk. The two participants alongside form a circle with their hands and place them on the side of the participant pointed to serve as "ears" of the elephant.

"Jello" - Participant shakes his or her body like jello continuously. The two participants alongside hold each other's hands and form a circle around the target participant. The idea is to form a "glass" around the jello.

"Queen Bee" - Participant turns around and puts his or her hands together behind the back (just above the buttocks) and flutters them back and forth to mimic a bee's tail. The two participants alongside thrust their arms away from the bee and flutter them like wings.

"Donkey" - participant and those alongside him or her should freeze and not move at all

Expect that people will be confused and make mistakes. Such mistakes generate laughter and fun. To make the exercise competitive, participants who make a mistake (both the one pointed to and the two participants alongside him or her) can be eliminated from the game. The exercise can be used several times in a meeting or seminar.

Contributed by Ben Lozare, JHU/CCP

National Anthem - This warmup works best when you have participants from a number of countries. To conduct this warmup, you will need a source of music (tape player or radio) and a ball. The participants should stand in a circle. The trainer puts on the source of music and participants dance and pass the ball around in the circle. Whenever the music stops, whoever has the ball in his/her hand must step into the circle and sing the first verse of his/her national anthem. If he/she cannot remember the national anthem (which happens sometimes) he/she must sing a love song to pass. After this has been done satisfactorily, the trainer turns on the music again and participants again pass the ball in the circle. The game continues until many participants have had the opportunity to sing or the trainer feels that everyone has been energized.

Tell A Story - The participants should stand in a circle. The purpose of this activity is to build a story with each participant contributing one sentence that must:

• Make sense and at the same time add some fun to the activity,

• Build on to the last sentence, and

• Be grammatically correct.

For example:

#1: “I was walking to breakfast this morning.”

#2: “A dog came up to me.”

#3: “I said good morning to the dog.”

#4: “The dog asked me what I was going to have for breakfast.”

The activity continues until all of the participants have contributed or until the facilitator feels that the group has been energized.

The Last Word - The participants should stand in a circle. One participant moves and stands randomly in front of another. He/she makes a statement (e.g., “It is such a lovely day”). The person spoken to will move to another person and make a statement starting with the last word in the statement he/she received (e.g., “Day one of the course was very tiring”). Each participant takes turns to ensure that everybody gets a chance to participate.

The Telephone - Participants should sit or stand in a circle. The facilitator quickly whispers a message to one participant. This participant passes the message in a whisper to the next person and so on. The last person shouts out the message. Chances are the final message will be different from the original. Here is an example of an initial message (note how two different activities are blended into the initial statement, a sure cause for confusion when whispered quickly): “I had rice for dinner and then dressed in blue to go dancing.”

What Do You Have? - Divide the participants into teams of 4-6 people. Each team should make a list of 6-8 items that they would probably have with them. Make one or two items less common things. The team gets points for each person who has these items. Only one of each item per person can be counted and the team with the most points wins. The list could include: a photograph, a calculator, a pencil, a photograph of a family member, an unusual key chain, something red, etc.

Brainstorming - Divide the participants into teams of five people. Ask the teams to list: things that are square, things associated with a holiday, things that are red, things they can make out a coat hanger, etc. The teams are not allowed to discuss, just list items! The team with the most items on their list wins.

Ball Toss Brainstorming - Announce a topic (things associated with a topic, a holiday, the course content, etc.). Then, toss around a ball. When someone catches the ball, they shout out something related to the topic and then toss the ball to someone else. Continue the exercise until everyone has had a chance to speak.


When they catch the ball, each person tells what they thought was the most important learning concept was. Continue the exercise until everyone has caught the ball at least once and explained an important concept of the material just covered.

Each person tells one step of a process or concept when the ball is tossed to them. The instructor or learner, in turn, writes it on a chalkboard or flipchart. For example, after covering "client assessment," the trainer would start the ball toss by having everyone give one step in the client assessment process.

Calm Down! Sometimes the participants need to calm down or "come down" to reality after some intensive material is presented. Also, to get the full benefit of new material, some "introspective time" is needed.

Have the participants lay their heads on the table, lay on the floor, or get in a comfortable position. Then, have them reflect on what they have just learned. After about 5 minutes, say a key word or short phase and have them reflect on it for a couple of minutes. Repeat one or two more times then gather the group into a circle and have them share what they believe are the most important points of the concept and how they can best use it at their place of work.

Note: This may seem like a waste of time to many, but reflection is one of the most powerful learning techniques available! Use it!

Boom! - All participants should sit in a circle. They are instructed to count out loud around the circle. Each person whose number is a multiple of 3 (3-6-9-12, etc.) or a number that ends with 3 (13-23-33, etc.) must say BOOM! instead of the number. The next person continues the normal sequence of numbers.

Example: The first person starts with 1, the next one says 2, and the person who should say 3 says BOOM! instead, and the next person says 4.

Anyone who fails to say BOOM! or who makes a mistake with the number that follows BOOM! is disqualified.

The numbers must be said rapidly (5 seconds maximum); if a participant takes too long to say her/his number, s/he is disqualified.

The last two participants left are the winners.

Note: You can have the participants “clap” once instead of saying Boom.

Note: To make this energizer more interesting, when a specific number is reached (e.g., 30) have the participants count backwards towards zero. The game can be made more complex by using multiples of bigger numbers, or by combining multiples of three with multiples of five.

Unique Sayings - At the beginning of the week, form groups of three or four participants. Ask each group to record some of the sayings frequently used in their countries or in their region of the country. After 5 to 7 minutes, ask the groups to report their list of sayings. As each group reports their list, the trainer should check that the entire group understands each saying. Keep this list of sayings for another warmup later in the week. Write each saying on a piece of paper and place each in an envelope.

On the third or fourth day of the course or workshop, divide the participants into two groups, one group at each end of the room. One representative from each group comes to the center of the room to receive an envelope containing a saying. The representatives read the saying silently and return to their groups. Without speaking to her/his group, the representatives draw a picture on the flipchart to represent the saying s/he has received. The drawings cannot contain any words or parts of words.

The members of each group guess the saying that their representative has drawn. The first team to guess the correct saying receives one point. After one group has guessed the saying, each group sends a new representative to the center to receive another envelope with a saying and the activity proceeds as described above. The activity continues for 10 minutes or until all the sayings have been drawn and identified. The group with the higher number of points wins.

Hot Pepper - Participants sit in a circle away from the tables and close their eyes. The trainer gives a small ball to one participant who is instructed to pass the ball quickly to the next person saying “Hot!” Participants continue to pass the ball around the group. As the ball is passed from participant to participant, the trainer turns her/his back, closes eyes and calls out “Pepper!” The person who is holding the ball when “Pepper!” is called is removed from the circle. The ball continues to be passed until only one person is left.

Words - Divide the participants into three or four small groups. Write the word INTERACTIVE on the flipchart. The groups have 5 minutes to create as many three-letter words as possible from the word INTERACTIVE.

For example, some of the words could be:

• It

• Rat

• Retain

After the their time is gone, the group with the most words wins. Note: Depending on the topic, other words can be used in this way, such as “demonstration,” “counseling,” etc.

Spider Web - The participants should stand in a circle. A ball of yarn is given to one participant who tells the group something about her/himself, such as name, where s/he is from, her/his type of work, why s/he is attending the course, etc. (The information to include will depend on the size of the group and the time allotted for the activity.)

The participant with the ball of yarn holds onto the end of the yarn and throws the ball to another participant in the circle, who in turn must introduce her/himself in the same way. Participants continue introducing themselves by tossing the ball around the circle until all participants form part of this spider web.

As soon as everyone has introduced her/himself, the person holding the ball returns it to the person who threw it to her/him, as s/he repeats the information about that person. That person then returns the ball to the person who threw it to her/him, repeating her/his information. This continues around the circle, with the ball following its previous path in reverse order until it reaches the participant who first introduced her/himself.

Note: Warn the participants beforehand of the importance of paying attention to each introduction, since they will not know who will be throwing the ball at them.

The Post Office - The participants should sit in a circle, each having her/his own chair. The facilitator takes one chair away and the participant who is left standing stands in the center of the circle and begins the activity.

The participant in the center of the circle says something like:

“I bring a letter for all of my colleagues who have brown hair.”

All of the participants who have the characteristic stated (e.g., brown hair) and the person in the center of the circle change places. Whoever ends up without a chair to sit on, stands in the center of the circle and again states that s/he is bringing a letter, but for people with a different characteristic, such as:

“I bring a letter for all of my colleagues who are wearing black shoes.”

“I bring a letter for all of my colleagues who have never inserted a Copper T 380A IUD.”

The activity can continue as long as the group is interested and enthusiastic, but no longer than 10 minutes



Thank you, thank you very much my friend, As a trainer, this will be very useful to me. Please keep posting such useful and interesting material. Regards. Ganesh Ramachandran
Thank you, thank you very much my dear friend, As a Trainer, this is very useful to me. Please keep posting such useful and interesting materials. Regards. Ganesh Ramachandran
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