November 27, 2014

High 5 Paired Shares – A Sure-Fire Icebreaker

Troy Stende - Sure-Fire Icebreaker - High 5

This is another icebreaker in the “Sure-fire Icebreaker” series. Below is a full script of an amazing icebreaker. I created such an extensive description because I’ve found that it can be difficult to do a great icebreaker from a three-sentence description. Being a professional speaker and student leadership trainer, I’m on college campuses and at leadership retreats and orientations a lot. Over the past decade, working with tens of thousands of students, I’ve learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t. Most icebreakers flop because the students don’t fully understand the directions or they feel corny or awkward doing it. It ends up being a lot of work and not a lot of play. Follow my script and you can skip the learning curve I had to take and move right into awesomeness!

This is one of my favorite icebreakers. It’s gone over well with every group I’ve worked with. It’s a low gradient activity so it can be done with a group of complete strangers. That also lessens the odds anyone one will feel awkward or think the activity is “cheesy”. What’s also nice is that even though this is an icebreaker, people seem to easily create a lasting and memorable connection with four different people. More than once I’ve come back to a campus and an orientation leader thanked me for this activity because four years later they are still close friends with one of their partners! And it only takes about 15 minutes. Follow this script with a brief pause between each question and you can’t go wrong:

In a moment you’ll find a partner. Someone you don’t know. When you get with this partner, find out at least 3 things you have in common. And go beyond something like, “You’re a student here, so am I!” See how random you can get. Ready, GO!

  • Look at your partner. Know them, memorize them, you will come back to this person. They are your high five partner. Give them a high five and say, “see you later!”
  • On three, shout your partner’s name as loud as you can. If you don’t know it, find out what it is now. If you can’t pronounce it, just say “blah blah blah” One, two, three! Nice to meet you all.
  • Please pause. This partner you are with right now is officially your high five partner. Go ahead and give them a high five.
  • What were some random things you found in common with your partner? (This is optional if I feel I have enough time)

What I like about shouting the partner’s name is it helps them remember names. By the time they get to the last partner, you won’t have to give them time to find out the name because they will have already anticipated it. Then quickly, on to the next round…

  • In a moment you’re going to find your 2nd of 4 partners. Again, someone you don’t know so well. When you find this partner, find out 3 things that you have in common. Ready, GO!
  • Please pause. This partner you are with right now is officially your low five partner. Go ahead and give them a low five.
  • On three, shout your partner’s name as loud as you can. If you don’t know it, find out what it is. One, two, three! That’s a beautiful name.
  • Look at your partner. Know them, memorize them, You’ll come back to this partner. They are your low five partner. Give them a low five and say “see you later!”

As you’ll notice, each round is almost exactly the same. The beauty of this is they get accustomed to the routine and feel comfortable in knowing what to expect. That helps the focus stay on the people and not on the directions. I do make occasional changes- they are very important, SO PAY ATTENTION. Generally the changes are just to shorten things up because you don’t need as much explanation.

Move into the next round loudly and immediately after they give their partner a low five. You want to keep the energy up and the flow moving quickly.

  • Find your 3rd partner and find out 3 things that you have in common! GO!
  • Please pause. This partner you are with right now is officially your knee-to-knee partner. Give them some knee love. (Model this by pretending to touch your knee to someone else’s)
  • Shout out your partner’s name as loud as you can. One, two, three! Nice, you are getting good at this!
  • Look at your partner. Know them, memorize them, You’ll come back to this partner. They are your knee-to-knee partner. Give them some knee love and say “see you later!”

Then quickly to the fourth and final partner…

  • Find your 4th and final partner and find out 3 things that you have in common! GO!
  • Please pause. This partner you are with right now is officially your toe-to-toe partner. Give them some toe love. (Model this by pretending to touch someone’s toes with yours)
  • Shout out your partner’s name as loud as you can. One, two, three!
  • Look at your partner. Know them, memorize them, You’ll come back to this partner. They are your toe-to-toe partner. Give them some toe love and say “see you later!”

Now it’s time to pump up your energy and get people excited and cheering if they are up to it…

Are you ready for the next level?

As quickly as you can, when the music comes on and I say go, you’ll find your high five partner, give them a high five and celebrate with them. Ready, GO!

Make sure you are modeling a celebration with an imaginary partner. If you model high energy and playfulness it’s more likely they will follow suit.

Sometimes, to bring their focus back, I do a count down. I’ll say, “5…4…3…2…1.” I do this if the group is large because you’ll have many people standing with their partner waiting for what to do next. While a few others are still trying to find their partner. I usually don’t do this count down with a smaller group.

Did you find your low five partner?!

Now, when I say go, find your knee-to-knee partner, give them some knee love and celebrate! GO!

Did you find your knee-to-knee partner?!

Find your toe-to-toe partner and celebrate!

Did you find your toe-to-toe partner?!

Are you ready for the next level?!! Could it possibly get any better?

In a moment, when I say go and the music comes on, you’ll find your high five partner and give them a high five. Then immediately find your low five partner and give them a low five. But not yet! Stay focused here. Don’t look around yet.

Sometimes you have people start to look for their first partner. This helps keep their focus on you and hearing the directions)

After you find your low five partner, you’ll find your knee-to-knee partner, give them a little knee love and finally find your toe-to-toe partner and give them some toe love. After you find your last partner you will celebrate with them like you’ve never celebrated in public before. Keep it rated PG of course, but celebrate like crazy, jumping up and down, yelling and screaming.

Are you ready? GO!

Are you ready for the next level? Wait for cheering (MODEL this)

Right now go find your high five partner, give them a high five and stay connected up here [hold your hand up as if you’re holding someone’s hand above your head], do not disconnect from them. Go!

Now, without disconnecting with your high five partner, go connect with your low five partner. Go!

5…4…3…2…1 Did you connect with both your high five and low five partners?!

You know what’s coming next. But first, when the music comes on and I say go, you’ll connect with BOTH your knee-to-knee and toe-to-toe partners. Do the best you can. Stay safe. GO!

Let some time pass but not too much. Unless you have a smaller group, not everyone will be able to connect with all four partners. That’s okay. Make sure you end before people get too uncomfortable.

Okay, that’s enough. Let your hands come down. Give yourselves a big round of applause! Congratulate yourself for the biggest round of twister ever played!

Music is so important in this activity. The rule I use is when they’re moving, music’s playing. When I’m talking, music is stopped. Music is helpful on so many levels. It heightens the energy and excitement. It helps control their focus. They will know to focus back on you when they don’t hear any music so you won’t need to yell for them to be quiet and listen.

Troy Stende uses experiential learning-based leadership programs to help schools develop student leaders and increase student retention. He believes those two things are inseparable and has been helping colleges and universities create connections and strengthen campus community since 1998. Check out his website, on Facebook, or email him.

COMMENTS:

  1. Hi Troy!
    I do residencies in schools and teacher trainings. I’m going to make this one of the activities in the beginning of my sessions and see how much fun we can have – High – Low – Knee & Toe!!! Thanks

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