15 Icebreaker Games for Kids

Michele Meleen
girls shaking hands

Icebreaker games for kids help children get to know each other through guided fun. Help kids get past any reservations by using creative icebreaker games that won't seem like personal introductions. From youth group icebreaker games to middle school icebreaker games, there's an icebreaker game for every age group and type of group.

First and Last Name Matching Game

Make your own memory matching game using construction paper to help young children learn each other's names in a new setting. Using sheets of the same color paper, write each child's first name on one piece and their last name on another. Flip all the papers upside-down in a grid pattern so you can't see any of the names. Kids will take turns flipping over two papers as they try to match a child's first and last name.

Go Fish Favorite Things Card Game

Use index cards to create your own Go Fish Favorite Things Icebreaker Game. Young children in small groups are the ideal players for this game. You can make it more complex for older kids by choosing more difficult categories and make it for larger groups by increasing the number of cards you create.

kids playing card game

Materials You'll Need

  • 50 index cards
  • Writing utensil
  • Large table or playing area on the floor

Game Directions

  1. On each index card write a favorite things category such as "Favorite Movie" or "Favorite Lunch Food." Aim for about 50 cards for a group of five kids.
  2. Each player is dealt five cards and the rest of the cards are placed face down in the "pond."
  3. On a turn, a child chooses another player and asks if that player's favorite thing matches theirs. For example, if the card says "Favorite Movie," the players asks "Is your favorite movie Finding Nemo?"
  4. If it's a match, the player takes the card out of their hand and keeps it in front of them.
  5. If it's not a match, the card stays in their hand.
  6. The player with the most cards in front of them, or matches, at the end of the game wins.

Who Likes What? Marco Polo

Turn the classic pool game of Marco Polo into an active icebreaker game indoors or outside. This large group game is best for older kids in an outdoor setting, but works for all ages and locations. One child is "It" and walks around with their eyes closed calling out a question about who else likes something they like. For example he might say "Who likes french fries?" All the other kids keep their eyes open and move around the space to avoid getting tagged by "It." Whenever "It" calls out a question, kids must honestly answer and "It" uses his hearing to try tagging someone who said they do like french fries.

You Look Different

People make snap judgements about others based on their looks. This dress-up game challenges how strong those first impressions are. Kids will need to be able to dress themselves to play this fun icebreaker game.

Girl trying on glasses

Materials You'll Need

  • Variety of typical clothing and accessory items
  • Private changing area or separate closed room
  • Stopwatch

Game Directions

  1. Put all the clothes in the separate changing area or room.
  2. Have all kids enter the room and give them a minute or two to look at each other while you explain the game.
  3. Call out one child's name and she must run to the other room. She can put add or remove as many clothing and accessory items as she wants.
  4. When ready the child re-enters the main room and everyone else has one minute to determine what is different about her outfit.
  5. Game play continues like this until every child has left and re-entered the room.

Crack the Code Group Icebreaker Game

Create your own secret code then come up with a message that includes the same number of characters, including spaces and punctuation marks, as the number of kids in your group. This challenging icebreaker game requires critical thinking skills, so it's best for older elementary kids. Attach one symbol or punctuation mark from your secret code message to each child. Don't attach anything to the kids who represent the spaces. Hide a few clues around the room to help kids crack the code. The goal of the game is for the entire group to decode the secret message by arranging themselves in the correct order.

Fantasy Character Meet and Greet

Kids of all ages get the chance to show off their creativity and imagination as their first impression in this fun game. This kind of fantasy icebreaker game is great for kids who aren't comfortable talking about themselves or sharing personal details of their lives.

Materials You'll Need

  • Several computers or tablets
  • Internet access
  • A few different fun fantasy name generators for kids

Game Directions

  1. Find a few different fantasy character name generators such as the Ultimate Supervillain Name Generator and others from Name Generator Fun or the Alien Species Name Generator from Fantasy Name Generators.
  2. Set up stations with one name generator at each on a computer or tablet.
  3. Randomly assign a few kids to each station.
  4. Kids will take turns using the name generator then make up a short story to share with their group about the name they receive.
  5. Once each group member has had a turn on the generator and telling their story, mix up the groups and send kids to new generators in new groups.

How Would You Save the Day?

Kids will learn a lot about each other in mock stressful situations. Split the group into teams of about three. Each team will set up a pretend situation where one or all of them need to be saved. For example, they might use toys and blankets to create a "house" that's on fire with all of them sleeping inside. Teams should set up their scenarios a good distance from each other, then everyone should leave the room. Choose one team to act out their scenario first. One at a time the other teams have to come in and show how they would save the day in that scenario. Each team awards points for creativity, bravery, and planning. Do the same for all teams the see who won each category.

What's My Name?

Use a creative name game to help kids get to know each other in a new setting like a classroom, camp cabin, or church youth group. Kids of any age can play this icebreaker game as long as they can draw.

Materials You'll Need

  • One piece of paper per child
  • Crayons, markers, and/or colored pencils
  • Small notebook or extra sheet of paper per child
  • Nametags
  • Pens or pencils

Game Directions

  1. Each child draws out pictures that will lead others to guess their name. Kids cannot use letters or numbers. They can use one image or several.
  2. When everyone has finished their name drawing, start the game.
  3. Set up like a speed dating event where half of the kids stay seated for the entire game and the other half rotate around the room every few minutes.
  4. Give every child a nametag with a different number on it.
  5. Each pair gets three to five minutes together. Each child gives their name drawing to their partner.
  6. Kids can't talk, but they can use head and hand movements to help their partner guess what the images are.
  7. Each child uses their partners pictures to try guessing the partner's name before time is up.
  8. Kids use their notebook to write down the name of their partner, or their number if they don't guess their name.
  9. Once everyone has been paired up, have everyone share the names they figured out. If there is anyone who's name wasn't guessed, help the group figure it out.

Whose Favorite? Hide and Go Seek

Add a creative twist to a classic active kids game like Hide and Seek with fun facts about each child. This is a great icebreaker game for kindergartners, but can work with almost any age group in any setting. Make a list of categories for kids' favorite things like cartoon characters, desserts, and songs and privately ask each child to give an answer to all your categories. Play by normal Hide and Seek rules, only you'll give "It" a specific category and reply to search for like "Their favorite dessert is ice cream." When "It" finds a hiding kid who matches what they're searching for, they ask that person's name then call it out. Game play continues with a new "It" and fun fact each time.

Kids Playing Hide And Seek

Desk Ushers

Introduce kids to a new classroom with a fun icebreaker where classmates help each other find their new desks.

Materials You'll Need

  • Student questionnaires
  • Images or toys matching student likes from questionnaires
  • Classroom with desks or tables and chairs

Game Setup

  1. Send home a student questionnaire over the summer and ask families to mail it back before school starts. Questions should include things like "What's your favorite food?" or "What's your favorite movie?"
  2. Create a seating chart for the class.
  3. Choose three favorites from a child's questionnaire and find images or toys that match them. Place the three toys/images on that child's desk.

Game Directions

  1. Once all students enter the classroom, split them into pairs.
  2. Number each person in the pair either Number One or Number Two.
  3. Provide each student with a blank questionnaire (the same one you sent home).
  4. To start, all Number One's must help their partner find their desk.
  5. Pairs have three minutes where Number One can interview Number Two using the questionnaire.
  6. After the three minutes, Number Twos aren't allowed to talk anymore. Their partner has to use what they learned to match their partner with a desk by leaving the questionnaire with their partner's name on it on the desk.
  7. Partners switch roles and repeat.
  8. The first team to correctly seat both people wins.

Getting To Know You Snake Chain

Kids in small or large groups will need to find things they have in common to form the longest snake possible in this icebreaker game. Choose one child to start as the rest of the group moves or runs around the room. This child starts asking questions such as "Who has a birthday in March like me?" to find at least two other people who have something in common with them. Kids link by holding each of theirs hands with another child to form a long chain. Kids at the end of the line after each person has both hands linked are the next ones to ask the questions. The "snake" chain of kids must move around the room until all kids are linked, then they stop and the game is over.

Group Common Denominators

Help kids in a camp or youth group setting see how much they have in common with a fun team-building game. Since children in these settings don't necessarily know each other at all, seeing how they are alike can help break the ice.

Materials You'll Need

  • Large piece of paper and pencil or large writing surface like a chalkboard
  • Stopwatch

Game Directions

  1. Set a time limit of 20 or 30 minutes. The larger the group, the longer the time limit should be, but no more than 45 minutes.
  2. Set a goal of 5, 10, 15, or 20 commonalities depending on the age group. Older kids should have a larger goal.
  3. The entire team must work together to find the set number of commonalities before time runs out.
  4. Each commonality must be unanimous, or pertain to every person in the group. For example, they are all humans.
  5. If the team reaches their goal, they win.

That's Not My...

Older kids in small groups in a classroom, camp, or church setting can play this easy icebreaker using only things they brought with them. Look for an item that many kids brought such as a hat or a backpack and place them around the room while the group has their eyes closed. On their turn a kid describes their hat or backpack using one clue at a time. For example, the child might say "That's not my hat, my hat is blue." The rest of the group has to find one blue hat to bring back. If it's incorrect, the player gives another clue that includes only one descriptor. When the group finds the right item, the player shares what they love about that item, where they got it, or another fun fact.

Personal Fun Facts Hangman

If you've got only a few kids or even just two, you can turn a classic word game into an icebreaker activity. Pair kids up to play Hangman. The twist is each child takes a turn creating the secret phrase and it must be a fun fact about themselves. For example, Player One might draw the blank lines for the phrase "My middle name is David." Player Two will guess letters until either the stick man is hanged or he solves the fun fact.

Going on a Friendship Journey

Similar to the "I'm Going on a Picnic" game, kids in a camp or youth group will describe things they will bring to this new friendship. You can use the letters of the alphabet, a specific number of turns, or another fun pattern for kids to describe what they'll bring. The whole group sits in a circle and one child starts by saying "I'm starting a new friendship and I'm bringing an adventurous attitude." Each successive player names what the person before them said and their new thing to bring.

Help Kids Get to Know Others

Using icebreaker questions for kids along with getting-to-know-you games and activities helps you find the most comfortable way for each child to participate. Whether you've got a completely new group of kids or a mix of kids who are familiar and new, icebreaker games give everyone the chance for a memorable introduction.

15 Icebreaker Games for Kids