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Icebreakers are structured activities that are designed to relax learners, introduce them to each other, and energize them in what is normally an unduly formal atmosphere or situation. Icebreakers are not normally related to the subject matter, where as “openers” are related to the subject matter that is to be discussed. In addition, they often help to break up the cliques and invite people to form random groupings in a non-threatening and fun way.
The term “icebreaker” comes from “break the ice,” which in turn comes from special ships called “icebreakers” that are designed to break up ice in the arctic regions. And just as these ships make it easier for other ships to travel, an icebreaker helps to clear the way for learning to occur by making the learners more comfortable by helping to bring about conversation. 
Types of Ice-breakers
1. Simple games
2. Solving a puzzle or conundrum
3. Responding to questions. (Questions can be silly, fun, serious, reflective, experiential, etc)
4. Sharing experiences
5. Creating visuals and posting
6. Posting blogs
7. Personal Introductions (Getting to Know You)
Tips for Effective Ice-Breakers
1. Keep it simple
2. Make it fun
3. Be creative
4. Consider various types of Ice-breakers - don't just stick to "questions"
5. Consider your audience
6. Be aware of time constraints
7. Keep in mind technology requirements
Online Resources (Icebreaker Activities)
- Ice Breakers Activities - Target Audience: Staff, Adults, or Children
- Ice Breakers Activities and Introduction - Tools for Trainers
- Free Icebreakers -Business Training Works, Inc.
- Icebreakers Archive | Classroom Icebreaker Activities EdWorld's Back to School archive page
- Icebreakers - Definition and examples Created by Laura Tillery
- Icebreakers (K-12) TeacherVision.com
- Ice-Breaker Ideas Teaching with Technology
|Link to Complete Bibliography|
|For a complete bibliography, please visit the CTLT's shared folder on Refworks.
Having problems? Visit the RefWorks information guide.
- Fergueson, S., & Aimone, L. (2002). Making people feel valued. Communication: Journalism Education Today, 36(1), 5-11.
- Sisco, B. R. (1991). Setting the climate for effective teaching and learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (50), 41-50.
- Zigmond, R. H. (2008). Ask a provocative question to break the ice. College Teaching, 56(3), 154-156.
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