My favorite ice breaker question for students is, “How would you change the world in one single act if you could do anything you could possibly dream of?” Ice breaker questions are great ways to build an active conversation. An active conversation is one that’s engaging. It’s that ephemeral feeling that we have as humans when we feel like we’re naturally “connecting.” Students should choose ice breaker questions that best suit their age, geography, and desired outcome with the person they’re trying to build a relationship with.
- Games like “would you rather,” “this or that,” and “never have I ever” are very fun activities to play with either one person (or a few people) when you want to get to know each other.
- Choosing really obscure and specific questions to ask someone can make sure that you are asking something that’s truly engaging. Avoid generic questions like, “What’s your favorite food to eat?”
- Pick questions that are specific to your age group—teen-level, high-school level, and college (or university) level are key to experiencing success (in the conversation).
Psychologist James Pennebaker (1997) has found that writing about our emotional experiences improves our mental and physical health. The same applies for conversations. Think about this for a moment, help lines are often random people who have deep and meaningful conversations with each other. And they do help.
The same principal applies to college students, high school students, and teens who are looking to create friendships. In fact a study by Inmyung Song found that the younger that someone is, the more important relationships (like friendships) are to their overall mental health.
Ice breaker games for students
Ice breaker games are great ways to make conversation fun. Each player takes a turn, getting asked the same question, only to have the end result being new learning about each other. In more common cases, these games lead to further discussion and storytelling.
Would you rather
Would you rather is a simple game of “pick A or B.” The player had to pick one of the two terrible things that they would rather have to deal with. What makes “would you rather” fun is that both answers are usually quite bad.
- Would you rather get paid a small amount of money and be happy or get paid a large amount of money and hate your job?
- Would you rather have all of your eyebrows plucked out very slowly or have your toe nails clipped by a blind person?
- Would you rather be stuck in a room with someone who has body odor or have to be very close to someone who has bad breath?
- Would you rather have really ugly feet or really ugly hands?
- Would you rather have to sit at the very front row of a movie or have to sit at the very far back of the movie (to where you can barely see)?
This or that
“This or that” is a game of picking “A or B.” Although, what makes the game fun is that both items are usually of high importance. So having to choose between one of the two can be really difficult. For example, “Food or water.” Both food and water are important! So that player has to explain their thinking.
- Ketchup or ranch?
- Pizza or tacos?
- Beer or booze?
- Passenger or driver?
- Car or bike?
- Mayo or mustard?
- Farts or burps?
Never have I ever
“Never have I ever” is a great night time game. The game asks someone to answer the “Never have I ever” prompt with their own yes or no reply. In some cases, a dare might be added to the question to make it more fun.
- Never have I ever skipped class to go bowling.
- Never have I ever kissed someone in the school library.
- Never have I ever pretended I was sick because I was hungover.
- Never have I ever had a bad thought about one of our teachers.
- Never have I ever almost signed up for an embarrassing extra curricular activity.
What is your favorite
“What is your favorite” is a great game for younger students and teens. Usually, these questions are very age appropriate. And are easy to respond to. Making it the ideal ice breaker to use in the halls or over text message.
- What is your favorite class that we have?
- What’s your favorite thing to do after school?
- What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
- What is your favorite way to study for a test?
- What is your favorite music to listen to when you’re studying?
- What is your favorite movie to put on when you’re studying for a test?
- What is your favorite band?
- What is your favorite sport that you watch?
Ideal ice breakers for middle school students
When the time or mood strikes—and you want to connect with someone—sometimes having these conversation starters in your “back pocket” (figuratively speaking) might be useful. Here are a few to consider:
- If you had to be any famous author, who would it be and why?
- Suppose you could sit down and have dinner with any person who isn’t alive anymore, who would it be and why?
- What questions do you ask a mentor that you want to learn from?
- How do you tell someone that you’re afraid to ask questions?
- Why is it that we can’t tell when yogurt has done bad in the fridge?
- Which class do you think could improve at school and what should we improve about it?
- How do you spend your time on the weekends?
- What are some values that your parents have taught you that you really care about?
- What type of family traditions does your family have?
- How do you spend Christmas or the holidays?
Unique ice breakers for college students
Making friends in college is one of the best ways to fully integrate into a university. Without it, you could be left feeling isolated, alone, and wanting to head back home. Try some of these unique questions to get the conversation going:
- Where did you grow up?
- What are you studying here?
- What type of job do you want to get when you graduate?
- If you had to pick another thing to study, what would it be?
- Did your parents go to this school or are you the first?
- Are you part of any fraternities or sororities? If so, how do you like it?
- Have you made a lot of friends at college already? If so, who are they?
- What clubs or activities are you part of here at school?
- What’s been the most fun thing that you’ve done while you’ve been here?
- What’s the worst class that you’ve taken so far?
Get to know your teacher or lecturer
Sometimes, getting to know your teacher or lecturer can be a great way to integrate yourself further into the school or your studies. Try some of these questions:
- I really enjoyed that discussion. Is there any other reading that you would suggest I look into?
- If I’m struggling on a particular subject, what are some extra reading or education courses that you think could help me?
- Did you have any strong inspiration for your lecture that you just gave?
- What inspired you to want to teach others?
- What has been your most rewarding aspect of being an educator and a teacher?
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.