Posts Tagged ‘icebreaker’

Paper Plate Team Building Exercise

Paper Plate Team Building Exercise: The following is a fun team building icebreaker or team exercise to get a group of people to problem solve and work together. Set up 64 numbered paper plates in the following pattern on the floor. (You can use more or fewer numbered plates, but 64 seems optimal.)
Paper Plate Team Building

The rules of the paper plate team building exercise.

  1. The exercise is completed when all plates are touched in numerical order.
  2. If any plate is touched out of order, then the participants must begin again at one.
  3. Only one plate can be touched at a time.
  4. Coaching from the team is encouraged.
  5. The exercise will be timed.

The facilitator’s main job is to encourage participants to think outside of the box and look for patterns, but don’t give the solution away. Ask questions such as “Is there any way to cut your time in half?Is there any way to be more efficient?” Challenge the group by giving them a time to beat. Make every new time limit quite a bit shorter than the last. The group will usually live up to the challenge. Eventually get them to a point where they can complete the entire exercise in less than 60-seconds.

Paper Plate Team Building Solutions

  1. Pattern: After a few times through the exercise, this pattern will begin to develop.
  2. Solution 1   Solution 2

  3. Rearrange Plates: Creative teams may decide to rearrange the plate into an easier order. As the facilitator, you must tell them to restart the exercise every time they touch a plate out of order. Teams really thinking outside the box will ignore this distraction and continue putting plates in an easier order.
  4. Other solutions your team may invent.

This can be used as a warm up or icebreaker before a larger team building activity. It can also be used as a fun way to get your team interacting during a meeting.

Ice Breaker Activities

One of the most often request that we get from callers into our office is for ice breaker activities and team building games, so here are a few very simple team building ideas that you can do as an introduction to your meetings or as a way to breakup a larger meeting and add some fun.

Just a quick warning. These are quick, stand alone exercises that can work well as a fun break to your regular meetings, but just stringing together a series of these activities as an event, can have big drawbacks. (See http://www.leadersinstitute.com/what-is-team-building)

We will add to these games over time, so make sure and bookmark or link to the page and come back over time for new ideas.

Ice Breaker Activities

Seven Card Stud: Since groups of seven people are typically a good size to do other activities, Seven Card Stud is a good way to organize a large group into smaller, more manageable groups. Just distribute a single playing card to each person and ask them to organize themselves into a winning hand of seven card stud. (If you just distribute cards eight through ace, you’ll end up with all Royal Flushes.)

Have You Ever: Create a big rectangle out of paper plates or some other type of place marker and make sure there is a singe placeholder for each person in the group. Then ask a question starting with the words “Have you ever…?” Anyone who has done the thing asked in the question has to move around the rectangle one complete time and look for any open placeholder to stand by. After the first question, remove a single placeholder so there is one more person than placeholder, and the person who is not able to secure a placeholder will ask the next question. Keep going a few rounds, and you should start to have some very interesting and fun things happen within the group.

Shrinking Disk: this is a great way to get a group organized into smaller teams. Hand every person a paper plate or some other type of placeholder and have everyone drop the placeholder to the floor and place the toe of their shoe on the edge. Give a direction to move to a different disk or placeholder and everyone will move. Then, take a few placeholders away, and ask them to move to a different disk again. Many will be confused, because now there are fewer disks than people, but just keep saying “Find a new disk… Hurry!” and they will figure out that they can now double up with other participants. Keep removing disks until you have the sized small groups that you want. For instance, if you have 21 people and want three groups of seven, just keep removing disks until you only have three left. Participants will automatically equalize their groups.

Bippity Bippity Bop: This game is similar to Simon Says in that the goal is to “trick” a teammate into slipping up. Organize the group into a big circle and have a single person go from person to person saying either “Bippity Bippity Bop” or just “Bop”. If the speaker says Bippity Bippity Bop, then the person being looked at must say “Bop” before the speaker finishes. If the speaker says “Bop” then the person being looked at can’t say anything. The key is to move and speak quickly and take the listeners by surprise. Keep adding new rules to make the game more challenging.

Yes… And: Divide the group into two lines of people where the line leaders are facing each other. One of the two line leaders starts a story, and then they take turns adding to the story beginning each new part of the story with “Yes, and…” Human nature is that people will want to change or alter the story by starting their addition with a “but” or a “however”. Once someone flubs and tries to alter the flow, they go to the back of the line. The goal is to see which team can go the longest without having their entire team flub a line.

One Word Story: Start a story by giving the group a title and an opening line such as “The Mysterious Stranger… No one really know where the stranger came from. He just showed up one day at the…” and point to the first participant. Each participant adds one, single word to the story. Keep going to see the story develop. Anytime a participant struggles or the story starts to diminish, just add a new sentence put leave the end of the sentence dangling just like you did with the first sentence.

Each of these ice breakers and games can be used as an introduction to meetings or larger events. Have fun summarizing the “take aways” from each exercise.

Using Memory Stacks as Fun Icebreakers

Have Fun at Work

Our minds think in pictures. I’ll prove it. Think about the BEST moment of your life thus far. Maybe it’s the day you were hired into your current job. Maybe it’s the day you graduated from college. Maybe it’s the first time you held a newborn child. Maybe it was the day you got married. Maybe it was the day you got divorced (I’m not judging).

Whatever the BEST moment of your life thus far is, chances are good that what popped into your mind was a picture or image. Maybe it was even a video clip. The point is that it was likely some type of a picture – not written words on a page. That’s because we store information in pictures. Our brains like receiving information that way, and memories are created that way.

A fantastic icebreaker to use is a memory stack. It meets all of the criteria for choosing a really great icebreaker – it’s brief, only lasting about 10-15 minutes; it’s very interactive; people will remember it for long after the program has ended; it is creative, as there are endless possibilities for making up new memory stacks; and they are a ton of fun!

To create an outstanding memory stack, you should first think of a group of things that you want the group to remember. For example, memory stacks have been made representing a list of principles all related to one topic, like communication. A memory stack can have as many items in it as you like, but keep in mind that your participants will need to be able to remember all of the items in a short period of time (like about 2 minutes). So it’s a good idea to aim for between 7-14 items.

Once you’ve clarified your list of items, start at the top of the list and create an image or picture for the first item. For example, let’s say the first item on your list is this: “Be proactive instead of reactive”. You might have the picture be of a PRO athlete doing jumping jacks (being active). The picture doesn’t need to describe the entire item, word for word, in order to be memorable. As long as some part of the picture represents the concept, your audience will get it.

To add another concept to your stack, think of the next concept on your list. Create a picture for that concept, and then link the two pictures together. For example, starting with our first concept: “Be proactive instead of reactive”, and building to the next concept: “Be slow to anger, especially over petty issues”, the picture representing the second concept could be a volcano, which builds slowly before erupting. To make the two pictures interact, simply have the pro athlete doing jumping jacks standing on the rim of a volcano that is getting ready to erupt.

For each additional concept, repeat the process. Imagine a memorable picture to represent the concept, and then find a way to make the images interact or link together. It may seem challenging at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. If you are struggling to come up with images to represent your concepts, one great way to overcome that is to go to your favorite search engine and click on the “images” tab. Then enter your key words and see what comes up.

Memory stacks are one of my favorite ways to get a group opened up, relaxed, laughing, and more receptive to what I’m going to do next with them. They are a lot of fun and easy to do. If you’re looking for more fun ideas, give us a call!

Ellen Patnaude

Ellen Patnaude is Vice President of Instruction for the Northeast region. She is based in Detroit, Michigan, but she also teaches in Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toronto, Baltimore and other Northeast cities.

Interested in a Team Building Event of Your Own?

How to Choose a Great Icebreaker Activity

By Ellen Patnaude

team building icebreaker activityLooking for some fun and interactive team building icebreaker activities? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing or choosing a team building icebreaker. When a group first gathers for a meeting, conference, or new activity, it is often a good idea to begin with an icebreaker exercise. The main purpose of an icebreaker activity is to make sure the group will be receptive to whatever activity is coming next. You want to get the group warmed up. You want them to interact with each other. If they are moving around, any nervousness or resistance they feel towards the main activity will naturally be lowered.

Here are some of the qualities of a good icebreaker activity:

  • They are brief. A generally good icebreaker activity last between 2-5 minutes. If it goes any longer than 10 minutes, it risks taking over the broader purpose of the meeting or gathering. Remember that the icebreaker is there to setup something more important.
  • They are interactive. As we said, the main purpose of an icebreaker is to get the group mentally ready and more receptive to the main activity coming up next. Ways to make an icebreaker interactive include having the group move around the space in some way; talking to each other, either in pairs or small groups; or giving them a brief assigned task to complete.
  • They are memorable. The best icebreaker activities are ones that the participants will remember for a while after the fact.
  • They are creative. There are a million ways to spin off new variations even on the oldest exercises. So even if you decide to use a “tried and true” icebreaker with your group, find a way to customize the experience to your group. Get creative!
  • They are Fun! – For a group to relax, it is essential that the icebreaker exercise incorporate fun! As a result, participants will be more relaxed and open to the main event that’s coming next when they are laughing and having a good time.

Where can you find a good icebreaker activity?

You can find tons of ideas for activities on the internet, in the library, or by asking around! SO, if you use the criteria in this article to gauge the quality of the activity, you can make sure you are selecting one that will be a good fit for your group. So to get the best out of your group at your next meeting, conference or activity, consider including an icebreaker that will start everyone out on the right foot.

Ellen Patnaude

Ellen Patnaude is Vice President of Instruction for the Northeast region. She is based in Detroit, Michigan, but she also teaches in Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toronto, Baltimore and other Northeast cities.

Interested in a Team Building Event of Your Own?

Have You Ever Ice breaker

Have You Ever Team Building Ice Breaker | This Leader’s Institute video offers a free team building ice breaker that can add fun and teamwork to any company team building activity.   The “Have You Ever?” exercise is a fun way to get the energy in a room up and add enthusiasm, and your group will get to know each other better at the same time. Doug Staneart, a keynote speaker and author of the book 28 Ways to Influence People, explains how to turn the old “questionnaire” team building warm-up activity into an event that adds more energy by getting small groups to compete with each other to accomplish a camaraderie building series of fun challenges.

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