When you are first starting the semester, there are many students that you do not know yet. Whether you are a student or a teacher, icebreakers for college students can help everyone get to know each other. They help students introduce themselves and learn interesting facts about each other. They can be used for roommates, classmates or campus events. Pick your favorite or use several of the icebreakers for college students on the list to start breaking the ice.
These icebreakers for college students are especially good for freshmen and transfer students. These students arrive on the campus without knowing anyone. Within a few weeks, they will make lifelong friends. The icebreakers help to get the ball going by helping students become familiar with each other.
1. The Reception Line
To do this icebreaker for college students, you need to separate the students into two groups. Have each group face each other. Then, each person has to talk to the person across from them until the signal happens for them to move. When you give the signal, the person at the very end of just one line moves to the end of the line. This makes everyone in the line have a new person to talk to.
You can pick your own conversation topics or use one of these questions each time you rotate the students.
Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
If you could take a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
What is your favorite hobby?
What is your favorite movie or television show?
Why did you enroll at this college?
What is your favorite music group?
What is one quote that you live your life by?
What do you want to study in college?
2. Zippity Do Da
For this icebreaker, make the students sit or stand in a circle. One person sits or stands in the middle of the circle. Then, the person in the center points a figure at one of the person in the circle. They say, “Zippity do day, zippity yea, what a wonderful day.” Before they can finish saying this phrase, the person that they point at must call out the name of the player directly to their right.
If the player cannot remember the name or does not call it out in time, they have to change places with the person in the center of the circle. If they manage to say the correct name for the person on their right, then the person in the center has to do it again to someone else in the circle. To make this game a little easier, you should definitely have the players introduce themselves before you try playing.
3. Guess Who?
At the start of any event, social or class, make the students create a note card with their name as well as three statements about himself or herself. Then, collect the cards. You will read a statement about the student without saying the name. The people in the group have to guess who you are describing. Use each statement just once as you play this game.
4. Embarrassing Moments
This is a fun game to play during your first class. Let the students know that they will share their most embarrassing moment at the end of the class. This will give them time to think about their most embarrassing moment while the class is going on. Each student will get a maximum of two minutes to share their funny, embarrassing moment. Let each student share their moment at the end of the class. You can also modify this game by letting students share something good or new that happened to them in the last 24 hours.
5. Paper Bay Plays
Separate your class into groups of about three members. Each team will be given a paper bag that has different objects in them. These items can be things like soap, computer disks, wooden spoons or screws. Then, the teams have 10 minutes to think of a skit or play that uses the props in the bags. If you want to make it easier, you can also give each team a specific topic to base their skit around.
Once the teams have 10 minutes to plan and practice their skits, they can perform them in front of the class. This is a fun way to break the ice and get everyone’s creative juices flowing.
6. Taking Sides
For this game, students have to decide between the following categories. You call out the options, and students have to go to one side of the room or another based on which option they choose. Once they are on their side of the room, they can discuss the reasons why they chose that option. You can create your own options for this or use your own ideas for the game.
Terminator or Happy Gilmore
Watch a football game or see a play
Strawberry or chocolate
Pop or country
Morning or night
Have a few close friends or many acquaintances
Plan a vacation or wing it when you get there
Khakis or jeans
Batman or James Bond
Liberal or conservative
Speak or listen
Be a baseball or a bat
Montana or Texas
Build a car or design a car
7. Whose Shoe?
Make all of the students stand in a large circle. They should be standing shoulder to shoulder. After everyone is ready, have the students take off their shoes. They should tie their right and left shoes together. Then, have everyone run into the center of the circle and toss their shoes into a pile. Then, they return to the edges of the circle.
Once everyone is ready, students must take turns grabbing a pair of shoes that is not their own from the entire pile. Once they choose shoes, they should describe what they think the owner is like based on the style and type of the shoes. When they have stated their deductions, the owner comes forward to introduce himself or herself. Then, the owner gets to pick a pair of shoes. The students keep going until everyone in the room has had a chance to pick some shoes and introduce himself or herself.
8. A Pat on the Back
For this game, start by passing out standard pieces of paper to the college students. Each student must trace their hand on the piece of paper. Afterward, attach the hands to the backs of the students using tape or pins to fix them to the shirt. Next, have the students circulate around the room. Each student writes on every other students “hand.” They write something positive about the student. When everyone is finished, they can take off the hands and read through the comments. This doesn’t always work as an icebreaker because students have to know each other a little to write something. It is a good game to do before tests or exams so that students can relax and feel confident.
9. I Chose This School Because . . .
This is a great game to play with the residents of a dorm. Make the students form into a circle. Each student stands up and says their name. Then, they tell everyone the reason why they chose this college. Keep going around the circle. Each additional player must repeat the name and reason of every player before them. You can also play this game by having students state their major instead of the reason why they chose this school.
10. Back to Back
Each student should fin a partner who is as close to their weight and height as possible. If this is too hard for the students, you can pair them up instead. Afterward, the partners should lock their arms with their backs to each other. Now, each pair should sit down on the ground with their arms still locked. When you say, “go,” the pairs should try to stand back up without releasing their arms or falling over.
11. Who Done It?
In this game, you need to have some index cards. Pass them out with some markers so that every college student gets one. Then, the students must write down an interesting fact about themselves on the card. This could be a place they have gone, a hobby, something they have done or a similar fact. When they are done, take the cards back from the students and shuffle them. Hand out one card at random to every student. Afterward, the students must go around the room and try to guess who’s card they have in their hands.
12. Alphabet Freeze
In this game, the students have to recite the alphabet together. When you yell, “stop,” they have to stop reciting it. They have to pay attention to the letter they stopped on. Then, everyone in the circle has to step forward and say something they are looking forward to in college that begins with that letter. Once everyone has had a chance to say something, have them begin reciting the alphabet again. On the second go around, you can have the students say one of their personality traits that starts with the letter that they have stopped on. You can keep changing up the type of adjective or trait each time you play the game.
13. Who Are You?
This is a game that can be played in groups of three. If you have a large group, divide them into smaller groups of three. You can create these groups by just counting off three people or by the color of their clothes. Once they are in a group, have them find a place to sit. When you tell them a topic, they have to talk about the topic that you give them. Every three to five minutes, give them another topic to talk about. You can create your own topics or use some of the ones in the following list:
What do you value the most in your life?
What are five words that your friends or family would use to describe you?
What do you hope to be doing in five years from now?
What is one thing that very few people know about you?
What would you like to learn how to do better?
What quality do you like the most about yourself?
What do you value the most in a friend?
What are the hardest and easiest emotions for you to express to others? Why?
What is the one goal you want to accomplish in the next year?
What is the greatest challenge that you face in your life?
What is one motto or rule that you try to live by?
14. Sentence Completion
Before you gather together, have the students or a leader of the students create a list of sentences. These sentences can be read so that all of the group finishes them together or the leader can read out a sentence to each student in turn and make them finish it. Some of the different sentences you could use include:
My weirdest friend is . . .
The one thing that I would like to accomplish the most this year is . . .
The one word I would use to describe my family is . . .
Before I came to this college, my main focus in life was . . .
Five years from today, I wish that I would be . . .
The thing that worries me most about college is . . .
The things that I value the most in life are . . .
The thing that I remember the most about high school is . . .
15. Comic Chaos
Use a newspaper to cut out multiple comic strips. Then, cut each strip into two parts and put them into a container. Once class starts, the students will draw one strip out of the container at random. Then, they have to search for the student that has the other half of the comic strip. If you use an actual comic book, you can also make the pairs form into groups to put the comic strip into the right chronological order. You can use multiple comic books so that there are several teams of comic books in the class. If you do it this way, you can make it into a competition to see which group can form, order the strips and finish first.