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Top 10 Ice Breakers of 2011

Including collections and the best individual performers.


Why use ice breakers in the adult education classroom? Because they work—for introductions, making students comfortable on day one, warming up students for lessons, energizing silent classrooms, reviewing for tests. Be creative. Whip out an ice breaker when you need to stir things up.

Need more reasons? 5 Reasons to Use Ice Breakers in the Classroom

These are the top 10 most-popular individual ice breakers and ice breaker collections of 2011 on the About Continuing Education site. Collections are new on the list. We decided to include them, even though they duplicate some of the winners, because they give a more accurate picture of the top performers.

1. Top Ice Breaker Games for Adults

Student Laughing by Stockbyte - Getty Image
Stockbyte - Getty Image

This has been the most popular collection of adult ice breakers on our site for the last several years. On this list you'll find greats like People Bingo, Marooned, and Table Topics, plus seven more.

Be sure to check out the reader contributions at the end, and add your own! We'd love to know which ice breakers have worked best for you.

2. People Bingo

People Bingo Card
Deb Peterson

People Bingo is always at the top of the list of adult ice breakers because it's so easily customized for your group. The bingo cards are easy to make, easy to buy if you don't want to make yours, and almost everybody knows how to play.

Another great thing about People Bingo is that you can play it as an introduction exercise, lesson warm up, or party game.

3. 10 Party Games as Energizers

George Doyle - Getty Images
George Doyle - Getty Images

The No. 3 spot is a little surprising for this collection, partly because we hate to admit that our classrooms need energizing. But the truth is, we can't all be the world's most stimulating teacher every single day.

When your students are nodding off, choose one of these party games to energize them and get them back in the mood for learning.

4. Top 10 Ice Breakers of 2010

If You Had a Magic Wand by Mats Bergen - Getty Images
Mats Bergen - Getty Images

We all like "Top 10" collections because we know the winners are tested and approved. Some of the ice breakers in this collection are also in some of the others, but not all. It's worth a look to see which ones were most popular in 2010.

5. 10 Warm Ups for Lesson Plans

Jack Hollingsworth - Getty Images
Jack Hollingsworth - Getty Images

We don't always think of using ice breakers and party games as warm ups for lessons, but they're perfect for the job, and you can keep the activity to just five minutes if that's all the time you have.

Choose one of these 10 warm ups for lesson plans and watch your students get hooked into the topic while having fun. Some of these games work to get your students' brains thinking in creative ways, primed to be receptive to new learnings.

6. Marooned

Marooned by Matthew Winterburn - Flickr
Matthew Winterburn - Flickr

It always surprises me that Marooned stays in the top lists. I think it's because it's easy, requires no special supplies, and can be accomplished quickly. Depending on your group, it can be a lot of fun, too, and provide insights into the people in the classroom. That's always helpful.

7. 10 Fun Introductions for Day One

Fun Introductions by Stockbyte - Getty Images
Stockbyte - Getty Images

Some ice breakers are better than others for facilitating introductions on the first day of class. Your subject matter might be a factor. The number of students you have is a definite factor, as is the amount of time you have.

Choose one of these ice breakers for introductions, and you'll be off to a good start.

8. 2-Minute Mixer

People Mixing
Stockbyte - Getty Images
The 2-Minute Mixer is another game that appears on almost every list. It's like 8-Minute Dating, if you've heard of that, but shorter. People have a natural tendency to be drawn to some people more than others. This game gives your students a chance to get up, move around, and have short conversations with the people who intrigue them most.

9. Would You Rather...

Bald Head by rubyyot - Flickr
rubyyot - Flickr

Would You Rather... is fast becoming one of the most popular ice breakers on our site. It's wide open in the creativity department, can be both lots of fun and deeply meaningful if challenging questions are asked.

This game comes with benefits, including lists of ideas to get you started, and a commercial game you can buy if you have the resources. There's also a thread in the Continuing Education forum that is full of ideas, and it's entertaining!

10. The Power of Story

Cocopop by Deb Peterson
Deb Peterson

I'm always happy to see this game in the top 10 because it can be funny, poignant, and however personal your students choose to make it. Story is one of our oldest forms of communication. Harness its power in your classroom, and you'll be glad you did. This one is a winner in my book.

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