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Warm-up activities and energizers

1. Red elbow
This game involves the teacher calling out a colour and a body part. Students must find an object in
the room that is that colour and then touch the selected body part to that object. For example, if the
teacher calls out pink thumb, then students need to find an object that is pink and touch it with their
thumb. The teacher continues calling colours and body parts.
To make this into a game students that are too slow in completing the instruction can be asked to sit
down. The last student remaining is the winner.
This gets students moving around the room and using all parts of their bodies, a great energizer.
2. As and Bs
Ask everyone to choose silently someone in the room that is their A person and another person
who is their B person. There are no particular criteria on which to base their choices selections
are entirely up to individuals. Once everyone has made their choices, tell them to get as close to
their respective A person as possible, while getting as far away from their B person. People can
move quickly but should not grab or hold anyone. After a few minutes, participants stop and reverse
the process, getting close to their B persons and avoiding their A persons.
3. Who is the leader?
Participants sit in a circle. One person volunteers to leave the room. After they leave, the rest of the
group chooses a leader. The leader must perform a series of actions, such as clapping, tapping a
foot, etc, that are copied by the whole group. The volunteer comes back into the room, stands in the
middle and tries to guess who is leading the actions. The group protects the leader by not looking at
him/her. The leader must change the actions at regular intervals, without getting caught. When the
volunteer spots the leader, they join the circle, and the person who was the leader leaves the room to
allow the group to choose a new leader.
4. Beat the teacher
This is a great 2-minute game to play in the classroom. Essentially it is the class against the teacher.
The students must copy four beat patterns that the teacher claps, except for one. The teacher claps
the forbidden pattern to the students at the start so they know which one not to copy. For instance,
the pattern not to copy is: ta, ta, ti-ti, ta. The teacher then claps various four beat patterns that
students must copy. At a random time the teacher claps the forbidden pattern. If even one student
copies this, then the teacher wins 1 point. If no students copy, then the class scores 1 point. The first
to 5 is the winner.
5. Laser Beams
Have your students form pairs. One person needs to wait outside the room. If there arent enough
students to form pairs you, as the teacher may need to play.
Each pair needs to stand opposite each other. They can spread out around the space. They can also
be at varying heights. The one thing that is most important is that they must maintain eye contact
with each other and remain facing each other. This becomes the laser beam.
Place an object somewhere in the room that is surrounded by the laser beams. The student who is
outside the room enters and needs to work through the obstacle course to try to get to the beam.
They need to strategise and think about which is the best possible way to get to the object without
crossing a beam.
If the student crosses a beam the student pair, whose beam has been crossed must say Buzz!. The
student mustnt cross a beam more than three times or they are out.
What Are You Doing
An improvisation game played in a circle where one person enters the circle and begins doing on
action (eg walking the dog). The next person enters the circle and asks, What are you doing? The
first person continues their action and tells the second person another action to do (eg Im brushing
my teeth). The second person starts doing that given action and the first leaves the circle. - The next
person enters the circle and asks, What are you doing? and so an. This can be varied in a number
of ways, according to what techniques you are wanting the children to practice eg make actions
very big and exaggerated, small and precise etc.
Yes, Lets
This warm-up really starts to get students thinking about making offers and accepting them.
Have students stand in a circle. Move around the circle in a clockwise direction for the next lot of
steps. Each person needs to come up with a simple action. They demonstrate that action to the
group by saying, for example Lets brush our hair. Everyone in the circle repeats Yes, Lets! in
unison and completes the action. Continue around the circle until everyone has had an opportunity
to offer.
Look Up and Bang!
Everyone standing in a circle with heads down. Someone say up. When you look up if you are
looking at someone and they are looking at you, try to shoot them saying Bang! before they shoot
you. In a tie the one with the most energy wins.
Wink Murder
Students all sit on the floor with their eyes closed. The teacher selects a murderer by tapping him or
her on the back. The class all stands and begins walking around. The murderer tries to murder other
students by winking at them. If a student is winked at they must walk a further three paces, then die
dramatically. Other students may accuse a suspect by raising their hands. If they are correct the
game restarts. If they are wrong they must also die. The class champion is the student with the
greatest number of bodies to his/her credit.
Party Murder
Like wink murder. There is a detective (who leaves the room). The remainder of the group stands in
a circle with their eyes closed. Teacher selects a student to be the murderer. Students walk around
the room shaking hands with other students. When the murderer shakes hands they gently squeeze
it twice. Once killed students need to count to 10 before dying (so they dont give away the
murderer too easily). The detective must find out who the murderer is, before being himself killed.
Rebel Foot
This is a good exercise for self-awareness and releasing tension in a session.
Make sure that the members of the group are sitting comfortably. Now ask them to lift their right
feet off the floor and make clockwise circles and, while doing this, ask them to draw the number '6'
in the air with their right hands. Their feet will change direction and there's nothing they can do
about it! I'm told you that you can't outsmart your feet!
Sit, Stand, Lie
3 in a scene. Someone has to be sitting, standing and lying down at all times. Needs to be
incorporated into the scene as much as possible. Participants should change position after 3 seconds
or so.
Mind teasers
Im going on a picnic and Im taking a
This is a guess the rule type game. Think of a rule which governs which items can be taken on a
picnic, for example, it must be six letters long, or it must start with a vowel. In this example the rule
is that the word must be an uncountable noun.
Teacher: Im going on a picnic and Im taking milk.
Student A: Im going on a picnic and Im taking eggs.
Teacher: No, you cant take eggs.
Student B: Can I take orange juice?
Teacher: Yes, you can take orange juice.
Continue until students guess the rule. If theyre not making any progress, continue to add further
items you would take e.g. love, information, air (the choices dont have to make sense within the
picnic scenario). Invite the students alone or in pairs to come up with their own rules and let them
run the game.
Mind Reader
Ask everyone in the group to: Pick a number between 1 and 10 and keep it secret. Multiply this
number by 9. If this number has 2 digits, add them together. Subtract 5 from this number. Equate
this result to a letter of the alphabet (1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C etc). Think of a country beginning with
that letter. Think of an animal beginning with the second letter of that country.
Finally ask 'How many people were thinking of a grey elephant in Denmark?'
Describe it!
This is an exercise which demonstrates the importance of feedback in
Ask a volunteer to sit with back to class and to describe a drawing that has a number of
touching rectangles.

The class attempts to draw the arrangement of rectangles without giving any feedback or asking any
Repeat the exercise, with the same person or volunteer and using another drawing:

This time the class is allowed to ask questions and to give feedback.
Discuss feelings, emotions, results and effects.

When it comes to communication it's surprising to learn that as little as 7 per cent of a
communication's effectiveness can be attributed to words alone with voice quality contributing
38 per cent and 'non verbals' providing the remaining 55 percent.
Most people won't believe you when you give them these figures which kind of proves the point
so rather than trying to argue the point, try this exercise which is also a great deal of fun.
Divide the group into pairs and give one person in each pair a card with a simple task that they
should communicate to their partner. Examples of the type of task would be: 'Close the door', 'Open
the window', 'Scratch my back' etc.
They can communicate with each other any way they like gestures, sounds, tone of voice
with the exception that they can't use recognisable words. The exercise finishes when the task has
been completed.
Crime Scene
This is a great exercise for developing creative thinking, logic and questioning techniques. Pose this
question to the group: Pip has been found dead. How did Pip die? Encourage them to ask
questions, but only give Yes or No answers using the following information and your
A man, Pip, was found hanging by the neck from a single beam. Otherwise, the room was
completely empty. The only door was locked and bolted with the key still in the lock on the inside of
the door. The only window was closed with the security bolts in place. There were no signs of a
forced entry. Time of death was estimated to have been 8 hours ago. There was a damp patch on the
floor which later proved to be water, not blood.
Solution: Pip committed suicide. He dragged a block of ice into the
room, stood on it, tied the rope around his neck and waited for the ice
to melt...
Sixth Vegetable
Have a picture of a carrot ready to reveal at the end of this exercise.
Repeatedly ask the group some simple addition problems that all add
up to six (such as two plus four, one plus five) for a number of minutes, and then ask them to write
down the name of the first vegetable that comes into their head. Now reveal the picture of the

Knowing each other activities

Fear in a Hat
Set an appropriate tone, e.g., settled, attentive, caring and serious.
The tone could be set by introducing the topic of fear and explaining
how it is normal and natural at this stage of program that people are
experiencing all sorts of anxieties, worries and fears about what
might happen. A good way of starting to deal with these fears is
have them openly acknowledged - lay them on the table, without
being subject to ridicule. Having one's fears expressed and heard almost immediately cuts them
in half.
Ask everyone, including the group leaders, to complete this sentence on a piece of paper
(anonymously): "In this trip/group/program, I am [most] afraid that..." or "In this
trip/group/program, the worst thing that could happen to me would be..."
Collect the pieces of paper, mix them around, then invite each person to a piece of paper and
read about someone's fear. One by one, each group member reads out the fear of another group
member and elaborates and what he/she feels that person is most afraid of in this
group/situation. No one is to comment on what the person says, just listen and move on to the
next person.
If the reader doesn't elaborate much on the fear, then ask them one or two questions. Avoid
implying or showing your opinion as to the fear being expressed, unless the person is
disrespecting or completely misunderstanding someone's fear. If the person doesn't elaborate
after one or two questions, leave it and move on.
When all the fears have been read out and elaborated on, then discuss what people felt and
noticed. Can lead into other activities, such as developing a Full Group Contract, personal or
team goal settings, course briefings which specifically tackle some of the issues raised, or into
other activities in which participants explore their feelings and fears (e.g., see the Fear in a Hat
description at
Variations: Likes and dislikes - in two separate hats, Worries, Complaints/gripes, Wishes,
Favourite moments

Have You Ever?

Have you ever
This an active, fun way to explore and celebrate the rich diversity of experiences that different
people bring to any group. Works best with larger groups.
The instructor explains that he/she will call out different things that may or may not apply to
each person. If the item does apply to you, then run into the middle, jump in the air, and do a
high 5 with anyone else who runs in.
Items should be carefully considered in order to prevent embarrassment, ridicule, etc.
Possible "Have Your Ever?" Items:
Have you ever climbed to the highest Have you ever flown an aeroplane?
point in your country of birth? Have you broken 3 or more bones in
Have you ever lived overseas for more your body?
than 1 year? Have you done volunteer work
Have you ever sung karaoke? sometime in the last month?
Have you ever been without a shower Have you ever free-climbed a tree or
for more than 2 weeks? rock face more than 10 meters
Do you have both a brother and a sister? vertically?
Have you ever ridden a horse? Have you ever had a close relative who
Have you ever eaten frogs' legs? lived to over 100?
Can you speak 3 or more languages? Have you ever cooked a meal by
Have you ever been in love with yourself for more than 20 people?
someone who was vegetarian? Have you ever kept a budgerigar as a
Have you swum in 3 or more different pet?
oceans? Have you ever been parachuting or done
Have you ever seen a polar bear? a bungee jump?
Can you not click your fingers on your
non-dominant hand?

(adapted from Dave Hall (n.d.),
Participants can generate their own questions. Here's one way. People are sitting in a circle.
Everyone has a chair (or rope ring or hula hoop) except the person who is IT, standing in the
The person in the middle asks a "Have You Ever" question that is true for him/her self e.g.,
"have you ever climbed a mountain over 10,000 feet?"
Anyone whose answer is "yes" gets up and moves to an empty seat. So, if four people get up
they try to exchange seats as quickly as possible. The person who asked the question tries to
quickly gain a seat, leaving one other person without a seat and they become the new IT.

Zoom & Re-Zoom

This engaging group activity helps develop communication skills, perspective
taking, and problem solving skills.
This game is based on the intriguing, wordless, picture books "Zoom" and "Re-
Zoom" by Istvan Banyai which consist of 30 sequential "pictures within
pictures". The Zoom narrative moves from a rooster to a ship to a city street to
a desert island and outer space. Zoom has been published in 18 countries. The
Re-Zoom narrative moves from an Egyptian hieroglyphic to a film set to an elephant ride to a
billboard to a train.
Hand out one picture per person (make sure a continuous sequence is used). Explain that
participants may only look at their own pictures and must keep their pictures hidden from others.
Encourage participants to study their picture, since it contains important information to help
solve a problem. The challenge is for the group to sequence the pictures in the correct order
without looking at one another's pictures.
Participants will generally mill around talking to others to see whether their pictures have
anything in common. Sometimes leadership efforts will emerge to try to understand the overall
story. When the group believes they have all the pictures in order (usually after ~15 minutes), the
pictures can be turned over for everyone to see.
Once the challenge is finished, allow everyone to see the pictures and encourage participants to
sort out any mistakes in the order (can be done on a table or the floor), then let everyone walk
around view the pictures in sequence so they understand the full story.
Variations: Use as a novel icebreaker by handing each participant a picture on arrival. When
everyone has arrived, explain that each person is holding part of a story and that the group task is
to find out what the story is by putting their pictures in sequence. Use a time limit to increase
difficulty and enhance focus on teamwork.
Grouping techniques
Find someone who:
had the same breakfast as you
has the same shoe size (or has the same size hand)
has a different religious belief
you haven't met yet, but would really like to
has the same favourite season
has the same favourite sense
Walk to / arrange yourselves according to:
the place where you were born
the place where you live
a place you would like to visit
a place where a memorable event took place for you
Lineup according to:
number of siblings
thumb size
number of glasses of water (or cups of caffeine) you drink per day
introversion / extraversion
how tired / alert you feel
number of different countries you've visited
Some useful websites

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