By Niki Svik
Icebreakers and energizers are activities that can enhance your learners’ experiences. Both can be used to engage the learner either by making the environment more comfortable or infusing energy into class. However, icebreakers and energizers serve quite different purposes.
Icebreakers are interactive activities in which learners get to know each other. Icebreakers can also be used to break through tension or anxiety when learners are not comfortable around one another. Icebreakers are typically used when
- A group of people have not met before;
- A team is newly formed
- Discussing topics unfamiliar to learners
Low energy learners are less likely to be fully engaged with the content. Energizers are quick bursts of activities designed to re-energize disengaged learners or boost energy levels. They are also good for breaking up a long training day or after lunch. These activities tend to be mentally stimulating or more physical.
Ice Breaker – Home Team Introductions
One way to break the ice when a new training class starts, is to organize your participants into “Home Teams”. They are given 10 minutes to complete five tasks:
- Create a name for their Home Team.
- Write each team member’s name on large poster page.
- List an expectation of the training.
- List a fear or anxiety they have about the training.
The team should select a spokesperson to present their poster to the class. Offer small prizes to the team that has the most creative team name or method of delivery if your budget allows. (Hint: Dollar Tree is a great place to get small prizes).
When the participants are reporting out on their expectations of the training, the facilitator should write those on the board and return to the list once the training is completed to make sure all of the expectations have been covered.
This icebreaker can be done both in a traditional classroom setting as well as a live virtual setting. In a virtual setting, use breakout sessions and Google Docs or Miro Board for report out.
Ice Breaker – 10 Things in Common
Participants are divided into table groups or teams. Each team will have 10-15 minutes to discover and document 10 things they have in common with each other. This number can be reduced, based on the amount of time you have. Each team will identify a scribe and spokesperson. After the time is up, the spokesperson will introduce each member of the team and share what they have in common.
This icebreaker can be adapted to virtual training. If you are training virtually, utilize breakout sessions for each group and having someone scribe from each group using Google Docs or Miro Board.
Energizer – Name That Candy
Who does not like a little candy in their life? This energizer introduces a friendly competition by having participants put their thinking caps on while solving some clues. The facilitator will read a clue associated with a particular type of candy. The first participant to raise their hand and give the correct answer wins the candy! If candy is not in your budget, you can do a fun game of local trivia instead.
|1. An explosion of celestial objects||Star Bursts|
|2. Little laughs||Snickers|
|3. The galaxy that contains our solar system||Milky Way|
|4. A clumsy person has these||Butterfinger|
|5. Charlie Brown’s good friend||Peppermint Patty|
|6. An employee’s favorite time of the week||Payday|
|7. Preservers of living things||Life Savers|
|8. A popular dance of the 90’s||Tootsie Roll|
|9. Total failures in the dairy industry||Milk Duds|
|10. Small tokens of affection||Hershey Kisses|
|11. Sticky forest friends||Gummy Bears|
|12. Secret identity of Superman||Clarke Bar|
|13. A famous street||Fifth Avenue|
|14. d’Artagnan’s good friends||3 Musketeers|
Energizer – Name that Song
Listening to music can help to reduce anxiety, while improving mood, mental alertness, and memory. Why not play a fun game of “Name that Song”?
Pick songs that are easily recognized within the first 20-30 seconds of being played. Participants then guess the name of the song. You could also add another challenge by having them guess the artist. This is a great energizer for those training sessions that run into the afternoon. Who isn’t happier after listening to some of these iconic songs?
|15. Eye of the Tiger||Survivor|
|16. Pretty Woman||Roy Orbison|
|17. Beat It||Michael Jackson|
|18. Karma Chameleon||Culture Club|
|19. Baby One More Time||Britney Spears|
|20. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)||Eurythmics|
|21. Wannabe||Spice Girls|
|22. Smells Like Teen Spirit||Nirvana|
|23. Stayin’ Alive||Bee Gees|
|24. I will Survive||Gloria Gaynor|
|25. We Will Rock You||Queen|
|26. The Final Countdown||Europe|
My goal in training is to create a fun, positive learning experience for my participants. Icebreakers and energizers are a great way to do this whether your training is live in the classroom or in a live virtual setting. Learners can bond through shared experiences while also setting a positive tone for collaboration and learning. A facilitator can never have too many icebreakers and energizers in their toolbox.