experiments, instruments & measurement book

Summer in February: Beach Ball Ice Breaker Game


By Susie Tessel

Most people do not like walking into a room without a familiar face with which they can sit. Seventh grade girls know this and have a solution- they travel in packs, and never go to the bathroom alone.

But, that’s often what we ask our families to do as they come to a new model experience. What do we do? How do we transform our faceless group into a community? How do we quickly get people to connect and engage, so they want to come back?

One recent evening I was tasked with helping organize a family activity. The group was comprised of 15 families who were unacquainted with each other. I had ordered from Oriental Trading a dozen small blow-up beach balls. On each color section I wrote a different question participants would answer. I selected my questions in hopes that they would be conversation starters to allow connections to be made and friendships to form.

The questions I wrote were:

  • If you could meet any person in the Bible, which one would you choose?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is your favorite movie line?
  • What is your favorite song or book?
  • If you could be a member of a TV family, which would it be?
  • If you could be either a famous actor, writer, athlete, artist or musician, which would you choose and why?

We threw the ball randomly to all the participants. Each person wore a name tag. As each person answered the question to which a right thumb landed, people leaned forward to hear the response. At times, people called out, “I have a great answer for that too. Can I share my answer?” After everyone had an opportunity to answer one question, people responded to any ONE other question. (Yes, if left to their own devices, they would have continued to share their answers to more of the questions.) It was so popular, we had to promise to bring back this exercise at a later date. The most gratifying part, throughout the evening, people quoted favorite movie lines, sang refrains from favorite songs, and promised to watch movies they had never seen. One group even planned a movie party to watch a movie mentioned. We relied on this ice breaker to jump-start a feeling a of community and belonging. So far so good.

Instructions: Take an inflatable beach ball and use a permanent fine or medium point marker to write questions on it. You can use it in a group of any size. Just throw it around. The person who catches it has to answer the question on which the left thumb landed. Each person then states his or her name, answers the question and throws it to someone else.

beach ball


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