Many teenagers are shy when faced with new people or situations, some more than others. There are several ways to ease them into social and educational interactions that will help them feel an integral part of the group they find themselves in. Ice-breaker games can help a shy teen feel more comfortable in social situations, whether a large family reunion with cousins he's never met, a camping trip you've arranged with other families and their teens or a club event. Ice-breaker games help create humor and movement, which in turn gets everyone involved and interacting.
Tossing Names Around
Hand out blank pieces of paper, one per teen. Each teen writes his name and an interesting piece of information about himself on it. Have the teens crumple the sheets of paper into balls and toss them back and forth around the room. After giving the kids a chance to release nervous energy and get silly tossing the paper balls, ask them to let them fall to the floor. Each teen then picks up a crumpled ball paper, opens it and reads it to himself. Have one of the teens read aloud the name of the person on his paper. As that person comes forward, the teen reads aloud the information about him. Then it is his turn to introduce the person on the paper he holds. This continues until all in the room or area have been introduced.
An Action Activity
Ask teens to think of well-known individuals and tape the names of the ones they choose on the back of the person next to them. Teens must walk around the room and ask questions of others to determine the identity of the unknown person. This gets teens talking to new people, moving around and getting to know each other. Famous individual names to use may include athletes, humanitarians, musicians, people in history, Bible characters, actors, authors or other famous people, depending on the type of gathering. The fact that the focus is never on an individual teen helps increase comfort levels.
A Sweet Time
If your group of teens is large, a very effective ice breaker is done in teams. A bowl of some type of wrapped chocolates such as chocolate kisses or squares is placed at the end of the room. A member of each team pulls on a pair of thick gloves or mittens. The first individual then runs to the bowl, unwraps a piece of the chocolate, quickly eats it and runs back so the next person in line can do the same. The game continues until each team has finished. Prizes can be awarded for first, second and third place teams, depending on the number of participants.
Ask each teen to list his name and four things about himself on an index card. Of the four listings, one should be untrue. The index cards are exchanged and as the lists are read, the audience is asked which of the four traits or descriptions is a lie. This is a wonderful manner of learning unique and intriguing information about each other in clubs, church groups, camping trips and other activities where teens will be spending some time together.