If You’re On Thin Ice….Break It: 3 Icebreakers You Need to Avoid

Ice breaking activityThere’s no more denying it: summer, a warm, free, and joyous season, is over.  It is now officially winter (I think.  I don’t know who officiates winter, and dates don’t mean as much anymore because of “Climate Change” which is really Global Warming even though it is also Part-of-the-Globe Cooling – see the intro of this post if you’re confused. )

Yes, I did just skip fall.  Fall is a season useful only to the top 1% of retirees who have the time to go on ‘nature’ walks and watch the leaves change, a luxury most of us can’t afford (are you thinking what I’m thinking? “Occupy Deciduous Trees”).  I spend all of fall pretending that summer isn’t over yet.  However, once it is winter, I start looking forward to the end of it when summer begins (no, I don’t count spring either).

One of the things that happens in winter is that ponds freeze, and while I’ve got many amusing stories about ice-skating/sledding/skiing/rock-guitar-playing that all end with a frozen splash and hypothermia, I’m not here to talk about literal ice.  I’m here to talk about the metaphorical ice, as in “icebreaker.”

Icebreakers are generally activities meant to acquaint groups of people with one another and are run by the person who had organized the group in the first place.  Essentially, they were invented to make meeting new people less awkward, but have instead had the reverse effect (hi, I’m George…can you twist your arm this way-no, the other way…).  I’m mentioning them now so you are prepared for possible 2nd semester class icebreakers.

The Human Knot

This icebreaker really gets you close to those around you (and was mentioned above-poor George).  You form a circle, except for the one person who is always somehow left out, and then grab hands with two different people across from you in the circle.  Then, the idea is to untangle the group so you are once again in a circle.

This icebreaker is quite physically demanding, and usually results in a sprained ankle or hyper-extended earlobe.  By the end of it, you’ll be wishing you stayed home, unless this takes place at school, in which case you’ll fantasize about tying the teacher up in knots with his in-laws and leaving them in a dark closet.

The Name Game

Winner of the “Stupidest Idea EVAR!” icebreaker award (3 consecutive years), the point of this icebreaker is to learn others’ names. Again, you form a circle, and the first person says their name, along with something that starts with the same letter as their name (usually and adjective).  Then the next person goes, and also repeats what the person before them said.

While this might have worked in medieval times, when everyone was named Henry, Louis, Mary, or Elizabeth, people today have names starting with every letter of the alphabet.  And so, while words in that letter may exist, they make the person sound like they are going bonkers (“…adventurous Adam.  I’m…Baloney Bob”).

I mean, what if your name starts with a ‘U’? Only bad adjectives start with ‘u:’ under-, un-, etc. (“etc.” in this case meaning I could really only come up with two ‘bad u’ prefixes but I wanted it to seem like I was more intelligent than that, and so I put an “etc.” so you would naturally assume I knew more and didn’t want to write them.  By the way, don’t take this idea too far: “My Fellow Americans…We Have Gathered Here Today…Etc.”).

Do you become “Unstable Ursula,” ready to melt down at a moment’s notice (“This human knot game is so..*sob*..hard *bawl*”)? How about “Unintelligent Ursula,” which is degrading? Even the good words don’t work: “Understanding Ursula” makes you sound like some sort of psychologist who expects you to spill your guts at a moment’s notice, even though you just met an-look, it’s not my fault, I swear.  I just feel so…guilty and there was nothing I could do…I mean, who would know it was incredibly flammable…(cue tears).

Maybe “Unctuous Ursula” (I believe the definition of unctuous is, literally: does anybody have a dictionary or dictionary app?).  Before you get to thinking that I am genuinely concerned about the ‘U’ demographic, though, let me tell you this: I would be, except I just realized nobody’s* name starts with U.

*Except Ursula, which is only the name of crystal-ball physics who could predict whether or not the event they attended would have icebreakers and thus never appear to the ones that did.

If You Could Have One Superpower

The first step to this is: you form a circle (would you have guessed?).  Then, you survey everyone to see what superpower they would have if they could only have one superpower.

This is probably the least embarrassing, because those of us with ‘awkard-ness sensing’ skills will just say something like flying.  However, there will always be that one person who feels that this is an appropriate time to share one of their insane ideas that will mark them forever in the eyes of those also in the circle.

From personal experience, I can tell you I have heard: “To be able to sneeze ink,” “To have the ability to never get a papercut,” and “To be able to clap and sound like a snare drum.” I mean, you can have ANY superpower, and you choose to sound like a drum? Well, that broke the ice as well as a falling piano would.

With all this in mind, I beg, dear reader, that if you are ever in a position of power enough to command others to do icebreakers, you turn that opportunity down.  Otherwise, you might recognize me-I’ll be running to the kitchen to get a sheet of ice that I can break over your head.

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  1. So funny.

  2. burstoutinsong!!! says:

    haha we play the human knot thing sometimes in my youth group…seriously i really never felt the need to get to know someone by twisting my arms around them in strange contortions while gripping their clammy hands…i mean i dont even want to do that with the people i know let alone strangers with b.o.! excuse me while i go nurse my hyper-extended earlobe its been throbing a lot quite lately (we must be expecting some bad weather)


    • I can definitely relate. Personally, I would recommend you see a dentist about that ear. They’ll make your mouth hurt so much that you forget about your ear. Thanks for taking the time to comment, as always.
      – Phil

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