Friday, October 12, 2012

Favorite Icebreakers for groups

My co-counselor and I are still starting some first round groups through the end of the month.  We try to see as many students as possible in groups rather than individually because of our high case load.  The first few session of any group should have an ice breaker or energizer.  Below are my current top 5 favorites:

Name and Activity – The first group session we want to learn the names of the members and something about them.  An engaging way to accomplish this is have each person say their name 3 times in any type of voice they want to use while acting out something they enjoy doing during free time.  The counselor might model Mary- Mary-Mary in a high squeaky voice while pretending to read a book.  The entire group repeats the sequence Mary-Mary-Mary matching the type voice used and doing the actions.  After everyone has gone, then repeat the names 3 times and actions together
Silent Interviews - Divide the group into pairs - try to make mix the group into pairs of children who don't know each other well. Ask the members to introduce themselves to their partner. Instruct the group that from this point forward, speaking is not allowed..  This includes whispering, mouthing words, and making sounds, too! The counselor should model I like jogging by pointing to eye, making a heart with both hands, and jogging in place Inform the group that they must tell their partner 3 things about themselves without speaking, similar to a charades game. These things cannot be physical characteristics. Once all of the partners have finished miming to each other, call everyone back into a circle. Ask each pair to verbally introduce their partner to the group, as well as the three things that they learned (or think they learned). If you are working with very young children, you can do this as a group activity, where one child acts out a hobby for the group to guess.
Snowball Fight - Members write 3 things about themselves on a sheet of white paper. They do not write their names on the paper. Wad it up and on your command, have a "snowball" fight (aim below the waist). At the end of 1 minute, each student grabs the nearest snowball.  They open the ball and read and try to guess who wrote it.
Two Facts (Nonfiction) and One Fiction – The counselor models first by stating 3 things about self, but one is not true. Make sure you model the type of things that fit with the group goal.  Example: I have one best friend, I have moved 3 times, and I love to bike ride. This version of two truths and a lie is a good way to reinforce the concept of fiction and non-fiction and get to know group members.
Venn Diagram of Students - Divide students into groups of three or four. Give each group a large sheet of butcher paper and a different color marker for each person. Have them draw a Venn diagram with an oval for each student. The students in each group are to discuss what their similarities and differences are. After the discussion, they are to fill in the diagram showing their similarities and differences. If a group has a hard time getting started, give them some guidance by asking questions such as, "What is your favorite music?", "When is your birthday?", "What sports do you like?, or "Where were you born?"

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