Leading icebreaker and teambuilding activities for induction sessions

As Head of Student Leadership at school, one of my favourite activities is training Year 7 students in icebreaker and teambuilding activities for a session which they lead during the Year 6 Induction Day for those students joining our school who have particular needs, such as they are the only student from their primary school to come to us. The session which Year 7 students lead is based on a series of excellent icebreaker and teambuilding games provided by the wonderful University of the First Age – an institution whose resources I cannot recommend highly enough.

The activity is planned in the following way –

There is an initial session which the chosen Year 7 students [selected by the Head of Year usually by personal attributes rather than academic ability] are trained in leading a icebreaker and teambuilding session. This training is identical to how the University of the First Age trains adult facilitators in their Student Leadership programme with a clear focus that facilitators actually go through and experience the activities themselves.

Before the Induction Day itself Year 7 students are paired together and allocated no more than 4 Year 6 students to lead the icebreaker and teambuilding activities. Also, Year 7 students have been given a booklet with step by step guidance on the activities with this the Year 7 students plan which activities they are going to use and how they are going to do them. An electronic copy of the booklet is provided at the end of this blog post.

One the day, the icebreaker and teambuilding session is usually the first to take place and it is great to observe Year 7 student taking responsibility for the learning of others. The top three most popular icebreaker activities from this session are –


The task should be completed in small groups of 4 or 5.

The group stands in a line with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front. Each person is numbered 1 to 5. The line represents an engine and carriages –person 1 is the engine and the rest are the carriages. The person’s number will change according to their position in the line.

The group leader calls out one of three instructions during the activity –

CHANGE – this means person number 1 in the line moves to the back of the train.

SWITCH – this means people in positions 2 and 3 switch places.

ROTATE – this means the whole line turns round so that number 4 becomes number 1.

Once the group has practiced these moves at a slowish pace, the group leader speeds up the instructions and may link two instructions together eg. Rotate and Switch.

Once the group is happy in combining instructions the group leader can add the instruction TUNNEL, this means that the group must carry out the instructions with their eyes closed.

Pass the can

The group is sat in a circle on chairs. The aim of the task is for the group to work as a team to pass the can around the circle from one to another until it returns to its starting point. Each time the can is dropped the tin has to return to its starting position.

Instructions are given by the group leader about the rules for passing the can – such as feet only, no hands, using only elbows. Several cans can be passed at the same time.

To introduce a competitive element to the task, groups can be divided into two and complete the task against each other in a race to pass the can.

Group juggle

Work with 2 or 3 groups of between 10 and 15 students.

Step one – One ball is thrown across the circle from person to person until everyone has received it once and thrown it once. As the ball is thrown, the individual says the name of the person they are throwing it to. One the first round only, arms should be folded after throwing and receiving the ball, to ensure everyone has had a turn. Everyone is then asked to identify whom he or she has thrown the ball to and received it from.

Step two – Step one is repeated to establish a pattern/sequence that can be repeated as many times as necessary.

Step two – Once the sequence is established, more balls can be introduced into the sequence at intervals to quicken thinking and to establish a juggling effect.

Leadership faciltiators Year 7 – this booklet contains more activities which I use in this session. 


2 thoughts on “Leading icebreaker and teambuilding activities for induction sessions

  1. Whenever I read your blog I always wish I worked in your department.

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