Category Archives: Energizer

Ideas for Using Icebreakers, Energizers and Games Effectively in Learning

PHOTO - Icebreaker

The following tips might be helpful to you as you use icebreakers, energizers and games in your facilitation.

Connect to Your Content

Whenever possible, connect your icebreakers and games to the content.  Don’t just use them to increase energy; this is not the best use of your time.   You should be able to debrief the activity and make connections to one of your learning objectives.  (P.S. You can apply this principle to devotions, worship and even breaks sometimes.)

Provide Clear Instructions

Give instructions a little at a time and more than one time.  If you give all the instructions at the beginning, participants are likely to get confused or forget them.  Make sure you repeat the instructions, because there are always some who are not paying attention or don’t understand the first time.

Practice Before You Facilitate

Icebreakers and games rarely go as you planned them in your mind, and practice can help you see the flaws.  As you practice, think about how the activity will sound and feel to the participants.  Putting yourself in their place will help you see where you need to make adjustments.

Design Your Debrief

Design really good debrief questions to make sure they get the main ideas.  Icebreakers and games are fun, and participants often forget they are learning while doing them.  This is great, except that if you don’t do the work to connect what just happened back to the content, they may leave without learning what they needed to learn.

Set Clear Boundaries for Competition

When people compete in games, they get pretty upset if you change the rules in the middle or at the end.  They will be very creative in coming up with new ways to reach the goal, so you have to decide whether or not you want to allow creative solutions that may feel like “cheating” to other groups or individuals.  Make sure your rules are clear and comprehensive, and then stick with them.

Schedule for Downtimes

Icebreakers, energizers and games can be a very effective way of increasing engagement levels, especially when everyone is feeling tired or distracted.  The best times to schedule them are: at the beginning of the day, after breaks and after lunch.  It’s also a good idea to have a few extra energizers ready in case you can tell you are loosing your participants’ attention.  Try to keep icebreakers and energizers under five minutes so that they don’t eat up your facilitation time.


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Filed under Energizer, Facilitation, Games that Teach, Icebreaker, Teaching, Uncategorized

Clockwise-Counterclockwise (DEMO)


5 minutes

This demonstration helps participants see that a different perspective can change the way that they see things.



  • None



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Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Everyone stand up.”
  • “Take your right hand, and point your index finger at the ceiling.”  (Hold up your right hand and point at the ceiling to demonstrate.)
  • “Now, turn your finger in the same direction that the hands on a clock move.”  (Demonstrate what you’ve asked them to do.  Your finger should turn in a circular motion to the right, i.e. clockwise.)
  • “Good, now keep your finger turning, and slowly lower your hand until your finger is below the level of your nose.” (Demonstrate the action.)
  • “What happened?”  (When their hands are below the level of their noses, their fingers should now appear to be moving in a counter-clockwise motion.)
  • “Now, raise your hand up above your head again while you continue to move your finger in the same direction.” (Demonstrate.)
  • “What happened?” (Their fingers should now appear to be turning clockwise again.)
  • “Can anyone explain what is happening?”  (Allow them to try to explain what happened if they can.  If not, point out that their finger is always turning in the same direction.  However, their perspective has changed.  When they are below their fingers and looking up, their fingers look one way, and when they are looking down on their fingers, they look another way.)
  • “So what can we learn from this activity?”  (Responses should include that what people can see the same thing from two different perspectives and have very different experiences of the same event.  They might also note that it’s a good idea to look at things from multiple perspectives before making decisions or judgments.)


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Filed under Belief, Demonstration, Energizer, Icebreaker, Perspective

Samlo! Tuk Tuk! Songthaew! (ICEBREAKER)


10 minutes

This fun icebreaker is based on three types of public transportation in Thailand:

  • Samlo (“three wheels”) is a rickshaw. Pronounced: “sawm-low” (long “o”)
  • Tuk Tuk (the sound the vehicle makes) is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi.  Pronounced: “took took”
  • Songthaew (“two rows”) is a pickup truck with two rows of covered benches in the back.  Pronounced: “song-tow” (“tow” as in the first part of “towel”)

This icebreaker energizes and adds some silliness to a workshop.  Because the words are unfamiliar and a little challenging to remember, it requires focus and concentration.


·      Print out the pictures of the vehicles in the file called, “Samlo, Tuk Tuk, Songthaew – Photos.pptx”  You can download it on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at


·      None


Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Let’s do an icebreaker!”
  • “I need everyone to come stand in a circle.”
  • “Now, place your hands together like this (demonstrate) as if you were about to say a prayer.”
  • “This is your ‘Zinger!’”
  • “You use it to point to someone and say a word.”
  • “There are three words that you must say in the right order, and they describe three types of public transportation in Thailand.”
  • “The three types of transportation are ‘Samlo,’ which is a rickshaw; ‘Tuk Tuk,’ which is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi; and ‘Songthaew,’ which is a pickup truck with two rows of covered benches in the back.”
  • “So, the three transportations again are: ‘Samlo,’ ‘Tuk Tuk,’ and ‘Songthaew.’”
  • “Everyone say them with me….‘Samlo!’….‘Tuk Tuk!’….‘Songthaew!’” (You may want to practice this several times so that they are familiar with the words.)
  • “Excellent!”
  • “Here’s how this icebreaker is done…I’ll start and point to someone with my Zinger.”
  • “I’ll say, ‘Samlo!’”
  • “Then that person has to quickly point to someone and say, ‘Tuk Tuk!’”
  • “Then that third person has to quickly point to someone and say, ‘Songthaew!’”
  • “The fourth person now starts over, quickly points to someone and says, ‘Samlo!’”
  • “It’s okay to point right back at the person who pointed to you if you want to try to catch them by surprise.”
  • “This keeps going until one of two things happens:
    • Someone gets confused and says the wrong word (or a correct word in the wrong order).
    • Someone takes too long to respond.”
    • “If either of these two things happens, that person is out, and whoever used their Zinger on them starts off the new round.”
    • “What questions do you have?”  (Answer questions.  Then, begin a round, or have someone else begin it.  Play continues until you are down to two or three people.  Announce them as the winners!)

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Filed under Energizer, Game, Icebreaker

Random Responses (ICEBREAKER)


10-15 minutes

This icebreaker uses a single die as a randomizer to get people talking about different topics.  If they role a one, they respond to one question.  If they roll a two, they respond to another one, and so on for each number on the die.  You can use it for a variety of topics.  It’s fun, and it gets people talking.



o  Dice (one per group of people)

o  Flipchart and marker (one each)



o  Pick a topic that you would like the participants to talk about.

o  Create a flipchart that lists a different aspect of that topic for each number on the die.

o  Here are some examples:


For “Culture”

“Describe the following about another culture:

1.     Something you like

2.     Something you don’t understand

3.     A funny thing that they do

4.     Something their culture taught you

5.     A mistake you made related to their culture

6.     Your choice”


For “Confession”

“Describe the following about yourself:

1.     A time you broke the law

2.     A personally embarrassing moment

3.     A bad decision you made

4.     A cultural mistake you made

5.     A story your family members still tell about you

6.     Your choice”


For “Introductions”

“Describe the following about yourself:

1.     Something you are known for

2.     What you enjoy doing most

3.     Where you go to relax

4.     Who you admire most

5.     Different jobs you have had

6.     Your choice”


Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Let’s do an icebreaker to get to know each other better.”
  • “It’s called ‘Random Responses,’ and it gets you to share about yourself by having you tell about a particular topic.”
  • “To determine which topic you will talk about, you will take turns rolling a die at your table.”  (Show the flipchart you prepared.)
  • “If you roll a one, you should talk about the topic listed next to the one on this chart.”
  • “If you roll a two, you should talk about the topic listed next to the two.”  (Continue sharing each topic to make sure they understand the process.)
  • “If you roll a six, you get to choose which of the other five topics you will talk about.”
  • “What questions do you have about how this will work?”  (Answer any questions.  Then, let them begin.  Anyone at the table can start, and they can go in any order as long as everyone has a chance to share. Debrief by asking a few volunteers to share anything interesting that they heard or learned.)

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Walks of Life (ICEBREAKER)


10-15 minutes

This icebreaker uses flip-flops, slippers or shoes to pair people up and have them describe a place they have been, want to go or where something significant happened.



o  Pairs of flip-flops, slippers or shoes (enough for each person in the group to get one shoe)  NOTE: You want shoes on which you can write or stick tape on the soles.  I’ve used the free slippers they give you in hotels and on airplanes, and they work well.

o  Permanent marker

o  Masking tape (optional – you only need it if you don’t want to or can’t write on the soles)



o  Write a different location on the bottom of each pair of shoes.  (You will write each location twice, once on the left shoe sole and once on the right shoe sole.  This allows participants to find their match after selecting a shoe.)  Here are some examples:

o   Where your family lives

o   Where you spend most of your time

o   Your favorite place to eat

o   A place you miss

o   A place where you were truly blessed

o   Where you had your first kiss

o   Countries you’ve visited

o   Where you go to get away from it all

o   Where you have the most joy

o   Where you might retire

o   Where you were born

o   Cities in which you have lived

o   Where you were last Saturday

o   Where you fell in love

o   A place you prefer not to return to

o   A special spiritual place

o   Where you went to college

o   Where you hope to go

o   Where you grew up

o   Best vacation spot

o   Where you go to have fun

o   Where you’ve worked

o   Where you got your first job

Either mix the shoes up in a big pile somewhere in the room, or scatter them around making sure to keep the pairs separated.



Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Let’s do an icebreaker to get to know each other better.”
  • “It’s called ‘Walks of Life,’ and it’s about the many places you’ve been or want to go.”
  • “I’ve created a pile of shoes (or scattered them around the room).”
  • “On the bottom of each shoe is the description of a particular place.”
  • “When I say, ‘Go!’ I want each person to pick up one shoe and read what it says on the sole.”
  • “Then, find your mate – the person who has the matching shoe for yours.  They will both say the same thing on the sole.”
  • “When you pair up, tell a little about yourself and then describe the place from your life that matches what is written on the bottom of the shoe.”
  • “After you have both finished sharing, you can return the shoes to this place and return to your seats.” (You should designate a place.  You may also want to let them do more than one round of this so that they can meet different people.  If you do, have them pick up a different shoe from the one they originally chose.)


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Potiphar Says (CHALLENGE)


10-15 minutes

This Challenge teaches that we don’t always get to choose our circumstances, but we always get to choose our attitude about those circumstances.  It highlights Joseph’s way of handling his enslavement to Potiphar in Genesis 39:1-20.  The activity is based on the game of Simon Says.



  • Genesis 39:1-20



  • Egyptian headdress for participants to wear as they play the role of Potiphar (1 per group) – OPTIONAL
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Potiphar Says – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.  There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group



  • Create the headdress (OPTIONAL)
  • Print out the Challenge Card document.
  • Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
  • Put the headdress in the Ziplock if it will fit or tape it to the bag if needed.
  • Practice the script.



Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Potiphar Says” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
  • “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.”  (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
  • “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, and an Egyptian headdress.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.” (Allow them to read the Challenge Card.)
  • “This challenge is about Joseph from the Bible.”
  • “He was his father’s favorite son but his brothers’ least favorite sibling.”
  • “In fact, they hated him so much that they sold him into slavery!”
  • “A passing band of Ishmaelites bought Joseph and took him to Egypt, where they sold him to a man named Potiphar, one of Pharoah’s officials.”
  • “How many of you think being a slave would be really unfair and not much fun?”  (Take responses.)
  • “Let’s play a game like ‘Simon Says’ that will help us understand a little bit what it’s like to be a slave.  It’s called ‘Potiphar Says.’”
  • “Everyone stand up.”
  • “I’m going to be Potiphar for the first round.”  (Or pick one of the participants to be Potiphar. Have “Potiphar” put on the Egyptian Headdress.)
  • “Potiphar is going to ask you to do several things.  If he says ‘Potiphar says’ before the thing you are asked to do, then you should do it.”
  • “However, if he doesn’t say ‘Potiphar says’ before the thing he asks you to do, you shouldn’t do it.”
  • “If you do something when he doesn’t say ‘Potiphar says,’ you have to sit down.”
  • “The last person standing gets to be ‘Potiphar.’”
  • “Is everyone clear on the rules?”  (Check to make sure everyone is clear.)
  • “Okay, let’s play:”  (Play a round of ‘Potiphar Says.’ If you are leading, you can ask the participants to touch their noses, raise their hands above their heads, hop on one foot, etc…  Mix up the times you say, ‘Potiphar says,’ to try to catch them off guard.  The rounds will go quickly, so let several participants be “Potiphar” before you finish.)
  • “That was fun!  Probably a lot more fun than Joseph had following Potiphar’s orders, don’t you think?”
  • “But you know what really impresses me about Joseph?”
  • “Even though the whole thing was unfair…even though he had lost his family and his home and his country and his freedom, Joseph still had a great attitude about the whole thing.”
  • “He could have kicked the dirt and complained about how unfair it all was, but he didn’t.”
  • “He did his job the best he could.  In fact, he did it so well that Potiphar put him in charge of everything!”
  • “Joseph kept trusting in God and doing the best he could.  He made the best of a bad situation, and God blessed him.”
  • “And because Joseph was blessed, Potiphar’s entire household was blessed.”
  • “And you know what?  The same thing can happen with you!”
  • “In your life, you will be in bad situations sometimes.  You will be in unfair situations sometimes.”
  • “You may not be able to do much about the bad situation, but you can choose your attitude.”
  • “If you choose to keep trusting in God when things are bad, He will bless you and everything and everyone around you!”
  • “When someone has a great attitude in a bad situation, it really gets peoples’ attention.”
  • “They wonder why you have such a great attitude, and they will probably even ask you about it.”
  • “When they do, that is your opportunity to tell them about how wonderful God is and how you can trust in him to use ALL things in your life for your benefit.”
  • “So, everyone try to be like Joseph in Potiphar’s house – keep doing your best and trusting in God, and then watch and see how He will bless you and those around you!”  (When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards).  The Rhyme Time is to help them recognize that even when life isn’t fair, God is watching over them.  He won’t allow more struggles that they are able to handle with His help, and if they do their best, they will have His blessing.)

Debriefing Questions

  1. What would be the most difficult thing about being a slave?
  2. Do you ever have to do things you don’t want to do, because someone makes you do them?
  3. How can you be more like Joseph in those situations?


Rhyme Time

Even when life is so unfair,

God won’t allow more than I can bear.


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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Choices, Coping skills, Energizer, Game, Hardship, Joseph, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Waiting on the Lord

Taco Sauce Pickup Lines (ICEBREAKER)


10-15 minutes

Teens and adults



This icebreaker can be a fun way to start group activities.  It uses Taco Bell ® hot sauce packets, which have quirky quotes on each packet (supposedly things that the hot sauce might say if it could talk).  Participants will take turns drawing out a packet and pretending that the quote is a pick-up line they would use when meeting someone of the opposite sex.  (Word of caution: some of the packets can be a bit racy (unintentionally)….you might want to hand-pick the packets you want to use.)


  • A handful of Taco Bell hot sauce packets for each small group (of about 4-8 people)
  • Alternately, you could print out the photos of the packets that are available on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at  The file name is “Taco Sauce Pickup Lines – Packet Photos (ICEBREAKER).”
  • Bowls (optional)


·      Get the taco sauce packets or print the file, and cut out the different packets so that each one is on a separate slip of paper.

·      Put the packets or the slips of paper into bowls (one per group).


Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Does everyone here know what a pickup line is?”  (If someone doesn’t, explain that pickup lines are things that a guy or a girl might say to someone of the opposite sex that they are interested in when they first meet them.)
  • “Has anyone here ever heard a really bad pickup line?”  (Let several people share their bad pickup lines with the rest of the group.)
  • “Let’s do an icebreaker where we can practice some really bad pickup lines with each other.”
  • “I’m going to divide you into small groups first.”  (Divide participants into groups of 4-8 each, and give each group a bowl of sauce packets or paper slips.  Try to get an even mix of guys and girls in each group.)
  • “Okay, pick someone in your group to go first.”  (Allow them to pick the person who goes first.)
  • “That person should reach into the bowl and draw out a packet.”
  • “Then, he or she has to turn to someone in the group of the opposite sex and pretend to meet them for the first time using the pickup line on the packet.”
  • “Ham it up, and have fun with it!”
  • “Then, the turn rotates clockwise to the next person.”
  • “Keep going until you are out of packets.”  (Let them begin.  When they are done, you can ask them what their favorite pickup lines were from the icebreaker.  If you would like to use this as a teachable moment, you can ask the following Debrief Questions.)


Debrief Questions

  1. How did you feel whenever you were given one of the pickup lines?  …whenever you were the ones delivering them?
  2. Why don’t you think pickup lines usually work?
  3. What do you think is a better way to get to know someone new?

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Filed under Energizer, Fun, Funny, Humor, Icebreaker, Relationships, Youth