Your teens might be social butterflies that talk a mile a minute with their friends, but get a group of teens who don't know each other together and it's nothing but nervous glances and awkward silence. All they need is a little push to introduce themselves and get to know each other. If you are bringing a teen youth or leadership group together, or even just a group of your teen's friends, plan getting-to-know-you activities that break the ice and get the teens to laugh and loosen up.
Interview icebreakers are an ideal way for teens to get to know someone else in the group on a more personal level. One activity to try is "Famous Pairs." Give each teen a name tag with a famous person on it. They must find someone with a name tag of a person that is somehow related to the person they are representing. You might have Prince William and Kate Middleton as a pair. When the kids find their match, they must interview, then introduce each other to the larger group. To make it funnier, encourage the kids to talk in the voice of the famous person they are representing. You could also have the kids do silent interviews. Pair the kids up randomly and give them five interview questions, but the interviewee cannot speak or write anything down. Teens must get creative with nonverbal communication. The results are typically a mix of surprisingly accurate introductions, with a few hilarious and incorrect statements.
Searching for People
Have the teens play people bingo. Give them bingo cards with random facts about people in the squares, such as "loves video games," "has more than one dog" and "plays three sports." The teens must go around and ask each other questions, and have the kids sign their bingo card on the square that fits their description. Set rules to keep it fair and social. The teens can only have two signatures from the same person, and they can only ask two questions at a time to a person before having to move on. The first person to get a row of his bingo card filled out wins.
You could also have a scavenger hunt, with a list of things that the teens might have done in their lives, such as "traveled to Europe" or "completed a mile in under eight minutes." Like with bingo, the teens may only ask two questions at a time and can only have two signatures from the same person. The person who gets the most signatures at the end of a designated time wins.
Gather the teens in a circle for a series of memory challenge activities. Give one teen a basketball. That teens must state an adjective that describes them, followed by their name, such as "cool Nick." That teen then throws the basketball across the circle to another teen. The next teen must say "cool Nick," and then his own description and name, then throw the ball to the next person, and so forth. The game gets more challenging for the teens towards the end. However, all the kids must pay attention because they must then repeat the exercise in the exact order.
For another circle activity, have the kids sit on chairs in a circle. Take one chair out and have that teen stand in the middle. That teen introduces herself, then must call out the teens based on what they are wearing or characteristics. She might shout, "anyone with blue on their shirt!" Those teens must get up and find another seat, but it cannot be right next to the one they are already sitting in. The teen in the middle races to grab a seat. The person left standing becomes the caller in the middle next.
Group Challenge Activities
The teens can really get to know each other better when they have to try to complete a challenge together. For one activity, tell the teens that the Earth is dying and the government is choosing to send a small amount of people to another planet to keep humanity going. Give them a list of 30 people with different ages and occupations. They can only send 10 of them. Have the kids debate and come to a consensus on the 10 people to send and present their reasons why. For another activity, tell the teens they are stranded on a desert island, but there is a tiny boat (a piece of cardboard) that can take them to safety across the water. However, only one person can stand in the boat at a time, and that person can only stand in the boat once. The teens must strategize and work together to get everyone to safety.