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for teachers, adults, classroom, workshops,
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NEW! 2009-2010 Book Releases about Icebreakers
Books containing Icebreakers
Products to use as Icebreakers
Online links about Icebreakers
SOS - Searching Out Stories/Info - Icebreakers
Advice, Comments and References from
Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians


300+ Sizzling Icebreakers by Michael Puffett. (2009)
This is a splendid collection of daft and entertaining things to do to help an evening meeting or a day out start with a swing or even a bang. This book includes 15 more serious 'themed evenings' and six quizzes. Michael Puffett is rapidly getting a reputation among British churches for his vision as a church planter and Christian businessman. These icebreakers speak clearly of his infectious enthusiasm for life and faith.


Book titles are in dark blue and underlined. Click on them to learn more about the books and how to buy them.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Art of Conversation, The: The Perfect Ice-breaker! (Taoc Taoc)
by Taoc. (2006)
This game seemed at first like a no-brainer. However!! when you actually play it, the conversations that develop are amazing! We have played with people we have known for years, and also with people we have just met and each time it gets so interesting, without being contrived or set up. There are a variety of ways to play and we have varied them a little. Great fun, the only game you need in your cupboard for dinner parties, ice breaking, holidays and also those times when you are socialising with people who perhaps you wouldn't neccessarily choose to socialise with. It also gave us the best conversations we have had with our children EVER!

Big Book of Business Games, The: Icebreakers, Creativity Exercises and Meeting Energizers
by John W. Newstrom and Edward E. Scannell. (1995)
Break the ice at your next meeting with The Big Book of Business Games!
In this exciting resource book, two of today's acknowledged games masters serve up a cookbook of activities that you can learn to use, guaranteed to generate a lively discussion, or simply give a group a "breather" from the monotony of a boring staff meeting or presentation. Each of the 75 group games and activities here is adapted from the best-selling Games Trainers Play series and shortened to suit the needs of managers and team leaders to use with their departments, staff, or committees.

Big Book of Icebreakers, The: Quick, Fun Activities for Energizing Meetings and Workshops
by Edie West. (1999)
Leading a meeting? giving a presentation? Heading a workshop? Icebreakers are great for lightening up the atmosphere at the beginning of a meeting or event, and encouraging everyone to participate fully. This collection of 50 icebreakers is organized around common business situations and is designed to help leaders start every session, meeting, presentation, or workshop with a burst of energy and fun. Includes icebreakers for sales meetings, team building, complete strangers, introducing a topic, staff meetings, groups over 20, outdoor settings, and more. this latest book in the popular Big Book of Business Games series is the most fun yet!

Big Book of Presentation Games, The: Wake-Em-Up Tricks, Icebreakers, and Other Fun Stuff
by John W. Newstrom and Edward E. Scannell. (1997)
Don't let the audience snooze through any of your presentations! How do you keep an audience from becoming bored or restless during a presentation? Find out with The Big Book of Presentation Games.

Each game in The Big Book of Presentation Games is fast, fun, creative, and easy-to-read, and easy-to-lead, and costs little or nothing. Categories also include: great session-openers; icebreakers; climate-setting games; practical jokes and tricks; audience brainteasers; motivation activities; memorable closing activities; and much more!

Complete Games Trainers Play, The: 287 Ready-to-Use Training Games Plus The Trainer's Resource Kit
by Edward E. Scannell and John W. Newstrom. (1994)
The Games Trainers Play Series--now in a durable binder! Scannell and Newstrom's bestselling Games Trainers Play series is now more rewarding than ever! We've taken the same collection of 300+ field-tested training games and activities, organized them in a single pop-open binder, and added an exclusive ``Master Trainer's Kit'' that shows you how to plan, produce, and evaluate high-impact training sessions from start to finish. Result: The Complete Games Trainers Play packs virtually everything you need to conduct productive seminars and workshops--including games that help you build teams, teach creative problem-solving skills, change perceptions, and much more.

Energizers and Icebreakers for All Ages and Stages
by Elizabeth S. Foster. (1989)

We are using the activities from this book at our 4-H Club meetings. The age range is from 9 - 18 and I have had not problems finding activites that work for everyone.

Games Trainers Play (McGraw-Hill Training Series) by Edward E. Scannell and John W. Newstrom. (1980)
Get any training session off the ground fast or jumpstart one whenever it lags with the more than 400 proven activities in the bestselling Games Trainers Play series. Their names may range from ``Tombstone Planning'' to ``The `Nobel' Prize Winner,'' but these brilliant offbeat, unexpected, disarming, fully reproducible games have one serious mission: to coax even the most reluctant groups to talk, laugh, think, and work together. Page after page of fun, easy-to-plant tearout exercises help you: break the ice and get particpants acquainted; shake up outworn habits and perceptions; challenge with thought-provoking brainteasers; test learning and retention; develop communication and listening skills; bring out and involve particpant-leaders; win back lethargic, distracted, low-energy groups; encourage creative problem-solving; boost or reinforce a group's self-image; forge cohesive work teams that value group effort; facilitate transfer of training to the job.

Getting to Know You by Rob Wiens. (2006) (Kindle Edition)
A book containing 500 questions designed to spark conversations and help keep them going.

Ice-Breakers and Heart-Warmers: 101 Ways to Kick Off and End Meetings
by Steve Sheely. (1998)
Lots of great ideas. Very church-oriented with many religious references.

Ice Breakers & Openers
by LearningChange.
This volume of the Inspire! Youth Series presents activities, games, events, and adventures designed to help youth learn. Inspire! Ice Breakers & Openers explodes with high-spirited energizers, ice-breakers and get-to-know-you activities. Use these quick and exciting games at the beginning of your class or program to set a comfortable tone, and return to the activities anytime energy runs low. Youll find numerous easy-to-learn, boundary-breaking games that help people learn about each other. - Engage your group in meaningful play with this collection of five to ten minute activities.
- Use these quick, low-prop activities anytime you want to bring your group to life and get your group excited.
- Following the same learner-centered format as other volumes, this CD-ROM adds more fun activities to the series.

Icebreakers Galore!: The Ultimate Game Guide for Girlfriends
by Jill Wueliner (editor). (2007)
Love this! What great and easy games, with hardly no prep time to set up. My favorite is the "Positively Promising" game....negative comment that has a positive answer counter part from the Bible. A must have for women's ministry...youth get togethers, or any function when you need some ice breakers or games!
This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for! Finally, a book that has ideas and activities for every get together you are planning. Whether you have a group of people who have never met, or you're looking for a way to start a meeting fresh and with fun, this guide will have your group smiling and comfortable with each other in no time!

Instant Icebreakers: 50 Powerful Catalysts for Group Interaction and High-Impact Learning
by Sandy Stewart Christian (editor), Nancy Loving Tubesing (author). (1997)
Introduce the subject at hand and introduce participants to each other with these proven strategies that appeal to any audience and many learning styles. Fifty instant icebreakers (5- to 15-minute group processes) set the stage, reduce resistance, open communication lines, promote positive group interaction, and prepare a path for change. Each of these lively openers includes step-by-step instructions, activity extenders, engaging worksheets, and ideas for specific applications.

Moving Beyond Icebreakers: An Innovative Approach to Group Facilitation, Learning, and Action
by Stanley Pollack. (2005)
“Moving Beyond Icebreakers is the encyclopedia of interactive group activities. It raises expectations for what meetings should do...” --Charles Deutsch, Senior Research Scientist, Harvard School of Public Health

“Stanley Pollack is a true expert... Moving Beyond Icebreakers captures his experience and makes it available to all of us.” --Alan Khazei, CEO and Co-Founder, City Year

"For practitioners in teaching, social work, administrative, and community settings, this book will be a terrific addition to your … library.” --Susan Rice, DSW, Department of Social Work, California State University at Long Beach

New Encyclopedia of Icebreakers (The)
by Miriam McLaughlin and Sandra Peyser. (2004)
The sequel to the best-selling Encyclopedia of Icebreakers -- gives you 150 innovative activities to energize your training sessions. The book is filled with a variety of activities that will move participants through the stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Use this new collection to help people get acquainted, build teams, address team or group issues, develop effective working relationships, and improve learning and retention of new information. The final chapter presents specific adjourning activities to help you bring closure to your training or group work, increase skills and knowledge transfer, and transition the participants back to the workplace.

103 Group Activities and Tips by Judith A. Belmont. (2006)
Fill your therapeutic toolbox with innovative, experiential exercises to enhance any group! Judith Belmont, M.S., has gathered this collection of The Therapeutic Toolbox: 103 Group Activities and T.I.P.S. (Treatment Ideas and Practical Strategies) from more than 30 years of clinical experience coupled with her passion for hands-on mental wellness education. These straightforward and universally relevant how to exercises are smartly spiral bound so you can easily make copies for your clients. All the TIPS are geared to helping participants take a proactive approach and experience change, not just talk about it. Within the T.I.P.S. approach, each of the 103 activities, handouts or strategies is broken down even further into T.I.P.s (Theory, Implementation and Processing). This unique approach makes every TIP easy to understand and put to practice. You will find blueprints for group success in icebreakers, role plays, mindfulness, stress resiliency, communication skills, imagery, personal growth, group cohesiveness and skill building.

147 Practical Tips For Using Icebreakers With College Students
by Robert Magnan. (2005)
Building a sense of community in the classroom is key to fostering a safe and supportive environment for learning. Icebreakers are designed specifically for this purpose – to create that sense of a community of learners, working together.
If you are considering using icebreakers for the first time, these tips offer convincing reasons for using them and suggest specific icebreakers for specific situations.

If you already use icebreakers, these tips will expand your repertoire and provide thought-provoking insights into other situations in which you could include community-building activities.

You’ll find tips and icebreakers that will:
Help your students feel more comfortable
Introduce you
Get a sense of your students in general
Make it easier for your students to know each other
Encourage your students to share and explore differences
Generate interest in your course
Encourage your students to be interested in each other
Bring out students' feelings about the subject and the course
Foster confidence and comfort in a virtual community

180 Icebeakers to Strengthen Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills (IP) by Imogene Forte and Sandra Schurr. (1995)
Pique your students' interest with these 180 icebreakers. Each one includes an intriguing fact, a point to ponder, and a project to pursue. Incorporating Williams' and Bloom's taxonomies, the icebreakers address each of the intelligence's and the six levels of thinking. These activities will promote independent thinking and will help students succeed in school and life. 96 pages.

Party Games for Adults: Icebreakers, Parlor Games, and Party Tips
That Will Make Your Guests Flip

by Lillian Frankel, Godfrey Frankel with Doug Anderson (illus). (2007)

Adults like to play too—and these sophisticated games are for after the kids go to bed. Perfect for parties, clubs, and other gatherings, they’re great for breaking the ice, getting guests acquainted, and keeping everyone happy. Choose from more than 100 types, including puzzlers, mental games, active amusements, games for bachelors, and even some sedate ones. In “Vicious Circle” the host uses a rope to tie the wrists of both a man and a woman together: the goal is for the two to free themselves. Soon they’re flailing—and enjoying the start of a beautiful friendship. “Avoid that Letter” keeps conversations from getting into a rut. Or have an energetic “Book Relay,” with volumes balanced on your head. They’re all fun!

Quick Meeting Openers for Busy Managers: More Than 50 Icebreakers, Energizers, and Other Creative Activities That Get Results by Brian Cole Miller. (2008)
How effective a meeting will be depends on the tone set in the first few minutes...and it’s up to the person running it to set that tone. Quick Meeting Openers for Busy Managers gives readers the tools, activities, and advice they need to create the kind of open, energetic, and relaxed atmosphere that lead to effective meetings and serious results. Designed to take the anxiety out of meetings and encourage creative and practical discussion, the book contains meeting starters that will help managers, team leaders, and facilitators:
ease introductions for people who don’t know each other • warm up the group before moving them into more difficult territory • generate lively dialogue and sharing of ideas • effectively split attendees up into work groups • expedite brainstorming and promote problem-solving • and more.
For anyone charged with the task of running meetings, this book is the answer.

Still More Games Trainers Play
by Edward E. Scannell and John W. Newstrom. (1991)
Get any training session off the ground fast-- or jumpstart one whenever it lags--with the more than 400 proven activities in the bestselling Games Trainers Play series. Their names may range from ``Tombstone Planning'' to ``The `Nobel' Prize Winner,'' but these brilliantly offbeat, unexpected, disarming, fully reproducible games have one serious mission: to coax even the most reluctant groups to talk, laugh, think, and work together. Page after page of fun, easy-to-plan tear-out exercises help you: break the ice and get participants acquainted; shake up outworn habits and perceptions; challenge with thought-provoking brainteasers; test learning and retention; develop communication and listening skills; bring out and involve participant-leaders; win back lethargic, distracted, low-energy groups; encourage creative problem-solving; boost or reinforce a group's self-image; forge cohesive work teams that value group effort; facilitate transfer of training to the job.

Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity
by Kris Bordessa. (2005)
Team Challenges promotes effective communication skills and teamwork. Designed to offer teachers, facilitators, and parents a wide variety of activities to cultivate children's problem-solving skills while fostering cooperation between group members, the activities in the book utilize common household items and recycled materials, and require no more than 10 minutes, start to finish. Presented with a challenge from this book, kids work cooperatively to solve open ended problems which can incorporate structure building, improvisation skills and physical tasks. The challenges will teach children to experiment with building methods, discover new uses for everyday items, try on new personas, and express themselves as they work together toward a successful solution. Team members are required to think outside the box, communicate clearly, and cooperate with each other in order to complete each task.

Activities include building structures from materials such as index cards, drinking straws, paper clips and sticky dots; moving items from one location to another without directly touching them; or presenting a skit portraying their solution to a hypothetical dilemma. Children will learn not only from each other, but also from observing how other teams navigate each task.

Pass some creative problem solving skills on to the kids (and adults!) in your life with the fun activities you'll find in Team Challenges. Adults who work with children will find this to be a great addition to their repertoire.

Ever found yourself with five extra minutes to spare, but nothing to discuss in that short amount of time? Turn to Chapter Five, and you'll find questions such as these:

*Name things that you carry on your back (a backpack, a baby, a monkey)
*Name things that you take out (garbage, Chinese food, an opponent)
*List things that are printed (newspapers, the alphabet, T-shirts)

Need a simple activity to occupy the kids and encourage them to work cooperatively? Challenge them to one of the Tiny Tasks, found in Chapter Four:

*Build a structure as tall as possible using 5 marshmallows and 10 drinking straws
*Create a bridge that will span 18" using 3 sticky notes and 10 cotton balls
*Create a continuous line as long as possible using 1 envelope and 5 recycled bottle caps

More detailed challenges are found in subsequent chapters.

201 Icebreakers Pb
by Edie West. (1996)
Designed specifically for trainers, speakers, and group facilitators, this 400-page cookbook of playful group mixers helps to "break the ice" among participants at the beginning of any meeting, or to recharge participants on the brink of boredom. Complete with guidelines, these simple activities-like games, energizers, brain-teasers, and quizzes-require little or no preparation time, and most can be completed in less than 5 minutes. Also included are props and hand-outs that can be photocopied for the entire group to enjoy.

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Product names are in dark blue and underlined.
Click on them to learn about the products and how to buy them.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience and to save you research time.

Advanced Ice Breaker Clever Catch Ball
Sample advanced questions: What is your worst personality characteristic? What is your earliest memory? What unusual talent do you have?

Fascinating France Trivia Card Game boxed set
Fun Trivia Style Game, test your history and knowledge
We offer many different ones all with European themes
A great party ice-breaker
Great for schools, too
Great for travel too, to occupy long idle hours

Intermediate Ice Breaker Clever Cat
Sample intermediate questions: What is your biggest worry? Do you prefer to use a pen or a pencil? If you could pick a new first name, what would it be?

Loaded Questions - Junior Edition
Parents wanted a younger version of our hit game for their kids...So Here It Is! Our Loaded Questions Junior Edition gets kids talking and laughing about school, likes/dislikes, fears, aspirations...and even their parents! For kids ages 8 to Teen. Hope you're ready to have fun! The Loaded Questions Junior Edition is the game that gets kids together with more than 300 questions in four categories. Remember there are no right or wrong answers, so be funny, be honest, be whatever you want to be...just as long as you have fun! For 3 - 6 Players.

Party Topics - Coasters
Get the party started with our Party Topics - Coasters. You know great parties begin with great conversations. Ask questions like "What was your most memorable meal ever?" and "Do you possess any of the qualities of your astrological sign?" Comes with coasters, each with 12 conversation starting questions. Guaranteed to entertain your guests and keep them talking!

PartyTopics Placecards
Get the party started with our Party Topics Placecards. You know great parties begin with great conversations. Ask questions like "When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?" and "What's the most beautiful place you've ever seen?" Comes with placecards, each with 12 conversation starting questions. Guaranteed to entertain your guests and keep them talking!

Primary Ice Breaker Clever Catch Ball
Sample primary questions: On Saturdays, I like to? What's your favorite subject in school? why? What chore do you hate the most?

Table Topics Conversation Cards - Family Edition
Created especially for families with school-age children.
At the dinner table, bedtime, or in the car, kids love to talk about what they think. And if you tal
There is no better way for kids to learn social skills and a sense of belonging than to engage in co
And if you talk to your kids now, chances are they'll talk to you later.

Table Topics Conversation Cards - Spirit Edition (Purple)
Deep spiritual questioning is a part of what it means to be human. Use these questions to bring the eternal into the everyday, to get you thinking, and to enjoy the conversation that will develop. Created and inspired by spiritual thinkers and leaders from many of the world's spiritual traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, New Age, Hinduism, and more... 4" Cube - 135 Cards

Table Topics - Conversation Topics Game - Teen Edition (Orange)
Is there anything teenagers like to do more than talk with their closest friends? The Teen edition sparks fun, interesting, and meaningful discussions at parties, on dates, on roadtrips wherever. And for parents and their teens, theres no more fun way to spark a conversation! What is your favorite song lyric? Which personality trait has gotten you into the most trouble? Do you possess any of the qualities of your astrological sign? Learn things you never knew about your closest friends... and even about yourself! Ponder these fun questions at slumber parties, on roadtrips, or take a few on your next date to liven up the conversation!Size: 4" Cube. 138 cards

What Happened Here? England Trivia Card Game boxed set
Fun Trivia Style Game, test your history and knowledge
We offer many different ones all with European themes
A great party ice-breaker
Great for schools, too
Great for travel too, to occupy long idle hours

What Happened Here? London Trivia Card Game boxed set
Fun Trivia Style Game, test your history and knowledge
We offer many different ones all with European themes
A great party ice-breaker
Great for schools, too
Great for travel too, to occupy long idle hours

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Links are in light blue and underlined. Click on them to go directly to the Internet for more information.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.

• These sites are for educators specifically:,1703,A%253D158461%2526M%253D50024,00.html

• More (some for teachers)
(thousands of party games)

• Great quotes on education:
Famous Quotations - Education, Teaching and Learning

• Good site for icebreakers to use in an educational setting. I am looking at a few of these to use already but would still like to hear about your experiences with others as well.
Educational Icebreakers
Karen C.

• Here are two Icebreakers from our site. The first one might not fit your small group, but you can try:

The second one might be good for reluctant tellers. We use it in the Storytelling 101 TeleCourse and face to face training:

Sean B. 10/4/05

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

Posts are listed in chronological order as they are received by Story Lovers World.

• Some icebreakers:
a) Place short stories on each table then ask each group to read the story and come up with a quick curriculum path in Math, English, History, Art, Music, etc., using the tale. Nothing fancy, more of a brainstorming session to illustrate how easily it can be done when dovetailed with a story. However, after a long day of work for these folks, that exercise, while I believe it will be valuable, will be viewed as more work. I would like to find some fun and energetic participatory exercises as well to get their creative juices flowing.

b) Give them a pop quiz. They give them to the students all the time so why not? :) It won't be a written quiz but a sort of one the spot game. The answers to the quiz questions will have already been answered in my speech. For instance, if I mention/tell a story about Anansi the Trickster from Africa, the question might be, what country is the character Anansi from? I will have small prizes, all geared towards storytelling, to give out to the first one who answers each question correctly. There is really a method to my madness here, I want them to have FUN with this and therefore subliminally connect fun with story. 

c) At the beginning of the evening or after dinner (so they don't fall asleep from the food and libations, I will use a form of Bingo so they can get up, move around, and learn a bit about their fellow colleagues.

So if you have any more ideas that are have worked for you as adult participation exercises (adult as in past adolescence not THAT kind of adult :) I would greatly appreciate it. I promise to share the results of the evening, the stories I told, how the exercises turned out, etc., after all is said and done.
Karen C.

• One idea: Have the teachers artistically recall a story you tell. They have 10-15 minutes. You can have them draw a picture, sculpt with plasticine, pantomine while others try to guess from what part of the story they are acting, writing down words describing the tale and then putting them into a poem, collaging, making pictures out of scraps of paper, or create mini skits. While it can be relaxing for them they can also apply these techniques that one will likely find in most Waldorf schools something they can do for their classes. Of course many of these you will need the materials.
Janaka S.

Response: I remember being part of similar exercise during a workshop at the Northland's Storytelling conference a few years ago. We were given a fairytale to either fracture, make a rap song, or some other way to share the tale. I had forgotten all about it until I read your post. Thank you for the memory job, and for offering your insight and ideas.
Karen C.

• Here are a few of the activities I use in my teaher workshops:
1. *To begin THINKING about stories: Create questions abut fairy tales, folk tales, Mother Goose rhymes. These are questions which have NO CORRECT ANSWERS. For example, What is Rapunzel's favorite shampoo? What size shoe does Cinderella wear? There is one more dwarf, what is HIS name? What is the Big Bad Wolf's brother's name? How high was Jack's beanstalk? and so forth.
Print these questions on the larger peel-off sticker paper. Put a question on the back of each participant. On your signal, they solicit answers to their questions (which they can't see) from other participants, so it's all sorta higgly piggly for a while. They write down 10 (or 6 or 7) answers. Then, looking at their answers, they try and imagine what their question is. (THIS is higher order deductive thinking, applicable to all curriculums!!)
There's a bit of instruction ahead of time (try and give answers that are clues; don't tell the person what their question is, it's okay to get the same answer more than once, time limit).
What happens is this: Several will guess their question or be really close. Good for them!!! Those who "Don't have a clue" will read their answers out, and you and others will give them MORE clues until the answer becomes clear. Those unfamiliar with certain stories or rhymes will find others willing to share (and tell!).
I've done this exercise with teachers from kindergarten through high school. One science teacher immediately saw a way to use this method in her class when introducing a new area of study.
2. The story of your name: Why your parents named you what they named you, do you like it, if not, to what would you change it, etc. This is quite interesting and gets folks SHARING information, which is one of those things that builds community. (You need to model this first by telling your own name story. Then, only get volunteers. Don't put anyone on the spot. It's often quite funny and everyone joins in.)
3. Ask about family traditions or superstitions or home remedies (just choose one). Again, the idea is for people to realize that they do have (a) things in common and, (b) stories of their own to share.
I realize this may not go along with everything you're focusing on, but you give teachers something they can take back and use in their own classroom, which they cannot do with a Pop Quiz.
Pat in PC

• The first thing I use in my beginners workshop are some of the cards from the Life Stories game. They partner up and share, proof that we all tell stories. Good ice breaker and gets strangers to know each other.
Karen C. 10/5/05

• The secret is getting them to tell their own stories! I usually start classes off with telling a driving experience that they had while learning to drive. Everyone has one and most have been pushed off to the corners of the subconscious. I also NEVER have "newbies" tell in front of the whole group. I break them up one on one and have one tell their story for a maximum of two minutes and then the other tells his/her story. When they are just "talking" to each other, the stories begin to flow without the panic of standing up in front of the group. I tell them they need to have a beginning, storyline and ending even in their two minute story, and that gets them into the flow of making it a story instead of a vignette.

I also use and old theatre trick of having 4-5 folks stand up in front of the group, and with their body only act out a situation. I use things like "become something in a haunted castle" or "become something in your dentist's treatment room" and then I have the rest of the group guess what they are becoming. It is a fun exercise that can be used with any age group and gets folks to using their minds to create images which they can express through their body. It also gets everyone involved, not just the ones on stage.
Steve O. 10/5/05

• We do a workshop called "Becoming a Storyteller" and use a lot of the "light and livelies" from the Alternatives to Violence Project workshops. We adapt.

Name games first: Give your name with an affirming adjectives--alliterative if possible--such as Blissful Barbara, Taletellling Tom, Stunning Sandy etc. In the AVP workshops you go by the dual name for the whole 22 hours of workshop!

"Here I Sit"
Chairs are in a circle. There is one extra. Whoever is next to that chair [either left or right] moves into the seat claiming it by saying "Hear I sit." The next person moves into the newly vacated chair and says "in this chair." The next person moves into the newly vacated chair and says "with my friend___________" filling in the name of someone else in the circle who comes to that seat leaving an empty chair so the process can start again.

Stop the game while everyone still wants to play. Your group will be in different seats than they started and they'll have called each other friend and used names.

Now for beginning storytelling, we, like others, find that twos and threes work best at first.

Here's one more AVP game which gets people telling stories in twos: Concentric Circles.
Stand [or sit ] with inner circle facing an outer circle [as if you were going to do some couples folk dance.] The leader acts as timer. Partners introduce themselves. Give 2 minutes for the outer circle to talk and the inner circle to listen intently, but without verbal comment. Then reverse roles for another 2 minutes. Partners say goodbye and the outer circle moves one or two people to the right. Finding a new partner. Share again for two minutes on a different topic. Repeat.[You can vary which circle goes first and the circle which moves--just keep changing partners.]

After three or four rounds, you stop. People will have listened to stories from different people and been listened to. Debrief on what it feels like to listen without interrupting and to be listened to. Stories of a deeply personal nature should be kept confidential by group agreement. Remind them that if they met someone whose story they want to hear more of, there are the breaks and the future sessions for developing friendships.

Some good story starter topics:
Where my name came from
A memory associated with a bicycle [water, a pet, a plant]
Something I learned from a child
A time I was afraid
How my family celebrated holidays when I was young
A disaster I survived.
My favorite story as a child was...

Everyone is a storyteller, they just don't know it till someone listens.
Even the most professional and experienced tellers keep looking for ways to do it better. So we can all learn.
Sandy F. 10/5/05

• Something very simple that I have found to be effective with beginning tellers who are hesitant to take that step:
I ask them to tell me "about" the story rather than to tell the story. In a workshop I was asked to give for teenage girls, all but one participant declined to tell her story.... but when I asked, "Can you remind me of what that story is about?" or "Can you tell me about it?" every one of them was willing to share.

And I bet you know what happened next - their explanations began to settle into the stories themselves, and some great tales were told.

I later heard that one of the teens returned to her home in a somewhat remote area, and taught her own version of the workshop to others!

Many people deal with some level of performance anxiety. Without a paper to hide behind, they might feel vulnerable. By shifting the focus away from "telling," that first step is sometimes easier.

Also - a fun way to get a group telling is to choose a tale that is familiar to all, and to tell it around the circle. Each person adds one sentence, and then the story moves on. Participants are free to say "pass" if they want to. This exercise usually gets people laughing, and a variety of telling styles are heard. If the story gets off track, the group will usually manage to get it back again - and I always point out how it didn't hurt the enjoyment of telling/hearing the story.

A recent participant wrote on her evaluation form that she liked "knowing that I can tell a story and not feel guilty about making a mistake."
Peg H. 10/5/05

• Exercises I have used to get people over the fear of telling:
2, 4, 8
I assign them to talk in groups (usually I assign a choice of topics: tell your group about someone you admire/ tell your group about a favorite vacation spot, or as fast as you can tell the outline of Cinderella) for one or two minutes. (Any topic will do).
First, in pairs, then, immediate afterwards, with a new topic, in fours. Then groups of 8. Then I will do it for the whole group (usually between 16 and 20 people).

I will also debrief that exercise to talk about comfort level and ask them to notice for themselves:When did they feel most listened to? When did they feel most "on the spot?" What was the easiest size group for them to speak in?
Liar's Club.
I break the class into groups of four. They have two minutes to share just the outline of a story with each other that they can think of. Any personal story will do. Prompts I use are: your first kiss, a memorable run in with the law, a broken bone, a brush with fame. I tell the group that they will need to select just one person's outline, and then they will each tell the class that personal story as if it was their own. In essence, one person will be telling the truth and three people will be lying.

I use this mainly to discuss what makes a compelling story and what are the characteristics of a believable speaker, but it does take the pressure off of "getting it right," since I am encouraging them to lie.
I know a lot more icebreakers just to loosen people up, to get a group to know each other, to get a group to work cooperatively, to give a group permission to be silly, but the ones I mentioned here directly involve storytelling.
Tim E. 10/6/05

Created 2003; last update 12/28/10

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