Energizers for Facilitation

Ever wonder how facilitators keep the energy up in a day-long workshop? Or have you been looking for ice breakers and warm up activities that aren’t a total flop? Look no further! Our team has assembled a list of excellent warm up activities to get energy flowing and participants laughing.

Energizer or Icebreaker games are activities that help team members get to know each other better, reduce anxiety, and create a positive atmosphere in a facilitated session or workshop. Below, we will introduce some ice breaker games that you can use for your next team meeting, workshop, or training session. Each game has a brief description, a list of materials needed, and step-by-step instructions on how to play. Let us know which ones you use and how they go over with your team! 

Draw a House

4-30 people
10-30 minutes
Materials: Paper and pens

Split the group into pairs. Each group of partners is tasked with drawing a house. They can each only draw one line or shape at a time, taking turns, and they cannot speak during this time. After 5 minutes, have the pairs share their drawings and reflect on how easy or difficult the activity was. What did they learn? How did they communicate? Did they understand what their partner was drawing?

Why this game works: This activity helps build collaboration, teamwork, trust, and non-verbal communication skills. It’s a great launching pad for discussions about our assumptions and how we can sometimes guess what someone means and get it wrong. This is a great warm up to use a prep for conducting interviews.

Squiggle Bird

2-100 people
5 minutes or less
Materials: Paper/sticky notes and sharpies

Give each participant a sticky note or piece of paper and a sharpie. Have them close their eyes and draw a squiggle of any kind. Then, tell them their job is to make that squiggle into a bird by adding legs, a beak, awing or two, and eyes. Have the group share their bird drawings with each other.

Why this game works: This activity is a quick energizer that eases people into the messy work of ideation and creative thinking. It gives participants permission to create something less than perfect, while also emphasizing that the right details easily communicate the essence of an idea. This game also gets people laughing, which is always a win!

Guess the Fact

4-10 people
10-30 minutes
Materials: Paper and pens

Everyone writes one fact about themselves on a card and places it in the middle of the table.
One by one, a volunteer will read out the cards. As a group, vote on who you think that fact is about! Then, the person who wrote the fact will reveal themself and share more information or context about their fact.

Why this game works: This activity allows participants to share something unique or interesting about themselves and learn about their team at the same time. Participants often begin to dive into deep and meaningful conversations based on what they’ve learned about each other.

Uncommon Commonalities

3-40 people
10-30 minutes
No materials unless providing a prize.

In groups of 3-4, work together to identify the strangest thing you all have in common. Try to think beyond basics like “we all have hair” and dive into your hobbies, background, habits, unique traits, families, etc. Perhaps you all had unusual pets as kids, or you all have your lifeguarding certification, or you all have a surprising hidden talent! After 5-10 minutes, have a representative from each group share their uncommon commonality with the rest of the participants. Decide which group has the weirdest thing in common and give them a round of applause or a prize.

Why this game works: This activity provides an opportunity for participants to get to know interesting things about each other very quickly. It creates space for being a little silly and brings participants together as they bond over unique shared interests or experiences.

Pink Toe

3-20 people
5 minutes
No materials, though space to move around is necessary.

One person stands at the front of the room and calls out a body part (e.g. “nose” or “toe”) and a colour. Participants must move around the room and touch that body part to something of that colour. Once everyone has completed the task, the leader calls out a new body part and colour and the participants move around again.

Why this game works: This silly activity energizes participants by getting them moving in unusual ways. It also activates their creative thinking by having them identify unique ways to fulfill the prompt, all while keeping the group laughing and engaged.

Silent Agenda

From Guy Choquet, Social Impact Lab Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo

4-40 people
5-10 minutes
No materials

Have participants choose a partner. In their pairs,participants must silently act out their plans for the rest of the day or theweekend to their partner. The partner must guess what the day’s agenda is andreview their guess with their teammate. Then, switch roles.

Why this game works: This activity emphasizes the use of non-verbal communication, good observation and listening skills, and encourages collaboration. Participants feel energized by getting up and moving around, and they likely will share a laugh trying to understand some of the more obscure actions from their teammate.

Speed Questions

From Shannon Rex, Executive Director at Fuse Social

6-20 people
10-15 minutes
No materials

Have participants line up in two lines, facing each other. Ideally, participant should be standing across from someone else. Give the group atopic like “Tell your partner about the worst date you’ve ever been on” or “Tell your partner about the most exciting trip you’ve ever been on” and give each pair 30-60 seconds to share with one another. Then, have one line move sideways one step to match with a new partner, like in speed dating. Provide another conversation prompt and give another 30-60 seconds. Repeat several times.

Why this game works: This activity allows participants to learn something unique about each other in a short amount of time. It provides space for players to bypass small talk and get into deeper conversation, while keeping the activity short and focused. This is a great activity for building trust and rapport or providing an opportunity for connection with a chatty group.


4-10 people
10 minutes
No materials

Have participants form a circle. Starting with one person, each participant will say a number counting up from one, i.e. person one says “one,” person two says “two,” etc. Whenever a number has a three, six, or nine in it, that person must clap instead of saying the number. If the number has two of those numbers, the participants must clap twice. If a person messes up, the group must start again.

This is the example of playing:

1, 2, "clap" (3), 4, 5, "clap" (6), 7,8, "clap" (9), 10, 11, 12, "clap" (13), 14, 15,"clap" (16), 17, 18, "clap" (19), 20, 21, 22,"clap" (23), 24, 25, "clap" (26), 27, 28, "clap"(29), "clap" (30), "clap" (31), "clap" (32),"clap clap" (33), "clap" (34), "clap" (35),"clap clap" (36), "clap" (37), "clap" (38),"clap clap" (39), 40, 41, 42, "clap" (43), …

Why this game works: This game challenges participants’ thinking skills and integrates the body and mind. It also encourages collaboration and teamwork as the group works toward a collective goal of setting a new “high score.”

Count to Ten

5+ people (the more people you play with, the harder the game is!)
5-10 minutes
No materials

As a group, try to count to ten. Have one person start with “one.”Then, any person in the group can call out the next number whenever they’d like.If two people call out the next number at the same time, the group mustrestart. The goal is to collectively count to ten without having two peoplespeak up at the same time.

Why this game works: This game requires a focusedgroup effort and places a lot of emphasis on non-verbal communication and collaboration.The group works together as a team to reach a shared goal, and players mustmake space for other participants to jump in and participate.  


10-40 people
5-30 minutes
No materials, though space to move around is necessary.

The group stands in a circle. One person stands in themiddle as the Splat Master.

The Splat Master quickly spins around and then pointsstraight at one person in the circle and says “SPLAT!” The pointed-at personcrouches as quickly as possible. The two people standing next to the pointed-atperson must quickly point at each other, shouting “SPLAT!”

The person who is last to shout splay is out of the game, unlessthe pointed-at person in the middle of those two does not crouch in time. Inthat case, that person is eliminated.

When there are only two people left, they stand with theirbacks to each other in the middle of the room. The Splat Master chooses a codeword and begins to tell a story. As they speak, the players walk away from eachother. When the code word is said, they quickly spin around and yell “SPLAT!”The quickest to respond is the winner.

Why this game works: This activity gets participantsup and moving, energizing them. It’s also a little silly and uses quick thinking skills. Competitive participants will enjoy the challenge.

Note: Because this game involves elimination, some players will be left out to watch almost immediately. Consider the size and makeup of the group to determine if this activity would be a fit.

Looking for more warm up, energizer, or icebreaker activities? Check out some from Hyper Island here or one of our favourites from Ideo, 30 circles, here.