Crowdbreakers, Mixers, and Group Games

Whole-Group Activities

Get in groups of five to ten people each. First group that gets itself into order according to the category you name, wins. For example first letter of middle name, shoe size, height, birth date, etc. Just be sure to pick subjects that people can line up easily.

Have everyone in your group pair up and face each other. Each person holds up zero to ten fingers behind their back. On the count of three, have them pull their hands from behind their backs. The first person to yell out the correct sum of all the fingers wins. Do best two of three. Then the winners play each other until you have a champion.

Competitors hold just one hand behind their back, revealing the number of fingers at the signal. Whoever yells out the sum of the fingers wins the first round. For Round 2, multiply the fingers. Round 3 is the difference between the two numbers. Rotate through as many rounds as you want, but for the championship round (between the two survivors) have them square the total of the two sets of fingers. For example, Person A shows three fingers, Person B shows four, so the winning answer is 3+4 = 7 * 7=49

This is a variation of the rock, scissors, paper game. Have people pair off. Then, when the signal is given each person strikes a pose like an ape, man, or girl. Be sure to demonstrate what each looks like ahead of time. The ape beats the girl, man beats the ape, the girl gets the man. Eliminate the losers and pair the winners until you get a champion.

Divide into two teams. Have two people hold a large, thick blanket up like a curtain. Have a person from each team stand facing each other with the blanket between, then quickly drop the blanket. First one to correctly say the other person’s name earns a point for his team. This game often produces hilarious results.

Tie a balloon on a string (at least two feet long) to each person’s ankle. The objective of the game is to be the last person with an un-popped balloon around one’s ankle. Note: this game takes some prep work. Balloons must be blown up and string cut in advance. It is a fun game, though. Don’t try this in someone’s living room if you want to be invited back!

Prep one person before the meeting. Give that person a number and have him remember the number. Then do the mingle game and have the mystery person remember which person he or she met on the number you gave them. Then announce it to the group who the mystery person was and the person they met on the number you gave them.

Everyone sits in a circle. Designate one person as the “squirter” for 1st round and put a spray bottle of water in his hand. This student names a topic, such as “States in the U.S.”, and secretly thinks of one item in that category. Squirter goes around the inside of the circle, pointing the spray bottle right in the face of each person, who must quickly name an item fitting the topic. Squirter lets them have it if they don’t name one right away, OR duplicate something already said, OR name the item chosen by the squirter. The person who got squirted becomes the new topic selecter and bottle holder. I like this game because you can make it fit many different types of international students: Olympic events, Soccer players, Continents in the world, and so on.

This game works much like musical chairs. Start with a person standing in the middle, and everyone else seated in a circle with no extra chairs. The middle person makes an “I’ve never” statement; for instance, “I’ve never been to the beach.” Everyone who also has never been to the beach needs to jump up and get to a new chair. Whoever gets stuck without a seat takes over the middle spot and makes the next “I’ve never” statement.

This activity provides a good way to have internationals meet new people. Have everyone take off one of their shoes and throw it into a big pile. Then everyone needs to go pick up a shoe from the pile and proceed to find the person who belongs to that shoe. This works well for a large group.

Write out names of famous people on name tags. As people enter the room, place one on each person’s back without them knowing who it is. They then go around and ask people to look at their name tag and then ask them yes or no questions to figure out who they are.

Give everyone a number. They have to arrange themselves in numerical order by communicating with each other without speaking or holding up fingers. They make up their own sub-language or sign-language and it often is pretty amusing. Round two. Have people arrange themselves in order of birth or in calendar months.

Pass around a bag of M&M’s and have each person take as many as they want. For each color of the M&M’s have a question that they have to answer. For instance, red can be, “Describe your first crush.” You can play this with Skittles or other colored candies.

If the audience is situated in rows, either on chairs or on the floor, every other row turns around and faces the opposite direction. Use a balloon to bat around like volleyball. A point is scored when a team gets the balloon past all of the opposing team and hits the wall (indoors) or beyond a boundary (outdoors).

Make a bingo board of things a person may have done or has in their possession. Give each person a copy and have them ask people if they qualify for any of the squares. If so then they have that person sign their name on the square. (i.e. One square can be, “Find a person with 5 brothers & sisters”, another can be, “Find someone who forgot to brush their teeth this morning”). Give them a time limit. The winner is the first person who gets 5 in a row or the most names.

Call out numbers and have the kids get into groups of that number. Variation: Find people who have a certain thing in common, such as same shoe size.

Get a spool of string or yarn. Have each person answer a question of some sort when they have the string in their possession. They then hold on to the string and throw the ball/spool to another so they can answer the question. You eventually create a web of some sort. In the end, describe how the web is analogous to the group in that we all play a part in creating the web, and that if one person was gone it would look different. Likewise, it is important that we all take part to make the group what it is, unique and special.

Have each person write 2 truths and a lie about themselves. They then share it with the group and have others guess which is the lie.

MC addresses the audience from the stage. Have audience break into 3 – 4 groups. The MC calls out different items or activities for the groups to produce. The first group to come up to the front with the item gets a point (the entire group does not have to go). Group with the most points wins.

Suggested items and activities:

  • Red (or another color) shoelace – has to be removed from the shoe
  • Pen with a chewed cap
  • Penny or any coin with a certain date
  • Paper clip
  • Stamp
  • Group of friends picture
  • 2 people with their shoelaces tied together
  • Gum in the wrapper – Emcee thanks the person and then eats the gum
  • Key chain with at least 8 keys
  • Book mark
  • Store receipt
  • etc.

List of questions (the wilder the better) beginning with the phrase, “Sit down if you (blank)”

Get into pairs and face each other. Place your palms on other’s palms between you a little above shoulder height. Both close eyes, pull palms apart (approx. 12 inches) and turn around in your spot 3 times together at the same time. The goal is to reconnect palms after spinning while keeping your eyes closed.

Get into pairs standing side by side and lock elbows. Leave one person to be “it” and one or two to be unattached. “It” chases unattached people, who can lock elbows a member of any pair. The person on the other side of the pair must then break off and run away. This can be done with longer chains if the numbers warrant it.

Seat each team on a row of chairs with a banana at one end. Pass the banana from one end to the other, then have entire team shift down a seat with end person coming to front. After entire team has rotated back to original positions, end player must eat the banana.

Get-Acquainted and Name Games:

  1. Have each person describe him/herself by using the first letter of his/her name. For example: My name is Steve and I like Spaghetti, my favorite candy is Sugarbabies and my favorite animal is a Snake.
  2. Throw a Koosh ball or pillow or another small non-threatening object to someone. That person says his name and describe why he loves his Koosh ball (let them be as creative as they want to be!). He throws it to the next person, who must introduce herself and the person who went before her, including the “why I love this Koosh” story. Do this until everyone has been introduced.
  3. Split the group up into pairs. Give them a few minutes to interview each other and then have them introduce one another to the group. This allows two people to get to know each other quickly and form a friendship. It’s often easier for international students to talk about others than themselves.
  4. Find a nice bouncy ball, like a four-square ball (this works best on an uncarpeted floor). First player says her name and quickly bounces the ball to another while saying his or her name. See how fast people can keep the ball moving. Try it with two balls if it’s not already too confusing.
  5. Sentence from a Name. Have everyone pair up with someone they don’t know. Each person writes his first name on a piece of paper and exchanges it with his partner. After a minute or two getting to know each other, each person makes up a sentence with words starting with the letter of the other person’s name. For example: KEVIN: Koalas Enjoy Vegetables In November.
  6. Who’s it? Best for smaller groups. Each student writes down on a scrap of paper a little-known fact about him or herself (the more unusual, the better). These are then read and everyone tries to guess who it is. A prize can be given to the person who guesses the most correctly.


Select up to five teams of students, 3 or 4 per team. Each team picks one person willing to have their head covered with the contents of one can of shaving cream. At the signal, team members apply the shaving cream to the person’s head and start “styling.” Give them a limited time, such as 3 or 5 minutes. Let the crowd choose the champion by applause.

Have 3 to 5 guy-girl pairs up front. Cover the guys’ faces with shaving cream (or whipped cream, which is not so gross to taste but does not work as well). Have the gals stand about 6 feet away and throw cheese puffs at their partner. Most cheese puffs stuck to the face in the allotted time wins.

Get some extra-large latex gloves. Each contestant fits one over his head, down to just below the nose, sealing it with his fingers. They breath in through their mouths and exhale through their nose to inflate the glove. First one to pop the glove wins.

Contestants each put a large rubber band on their heads, over the middle of their ears and on the point of their nose. At the signal, they race, use facial expressions and contortions, to move the band down to their neck. This activity produces great photo opportunities.