In advance, prepare a matrix of six ice-breaker questions and print them onto a card.
Gather your group.
Instruct one person at a time to throw the dice and then respond to the question which corresponds to the number that appears.
After they have shared, the first person passes the dice to the next person, and the process repeats.
Continue until every person has been invited to share.
How To Play Narrative
This ice-breaking strategy is unique because it combines the random with the structured.
First, you need to create a small matrix of six get-to-know-you questions or ice-breaking activities and print them onto a card or sheet of paper for all to see. To help you get started, check out the Resources tab for 2 x sample Print+Play Dicebreaker sheets.
For online programs, I have done some of the hard work for you here and here, courtesy of padlet.
With your group gathered before you, explain that each person will be invited to roll the dice one at a time, perhaps taking turns around the circle (although this is not necessary.)
This person will then be asked to respond to the question (described on the sheet) according to the number which appears atop of the dice.
Simple, eh? It is.
The first person passes the dice to the next person and the process repeats. Continue until every person in your group has been invited to respond.
If you have a very large group, issue a copy of these questions to multiple smaller groups, together with dice and let them at it.
Practical Leadership Tips
I love the randomness of the dice-throw to determine which question or activity will be presented, as much as the structure which offers everyone the opportunity to respond.
If you plug ‘dicebreakers’ into your favourite search engine, you’ll find oodles of question sheets you could use to inspire your own creations.
Come on, you have to admit, the first person to have combined the words Dice and Icebreakers would have to have been pretty happy with themselves.
You could integrate Dicebreakers as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships in new and existing groups.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
Any time you invite groups of people to interact and share can be a time to reflect on their cultural and behavioural norms. Dicebreakers is an ideal exercise to study some of the more subtle forms of social interactions, such as sharing, waiting your turn, expressing empathy and compassion for others and being self-aware. If you have introduced the concepts of full value living to your group, there will be many more competencies that can be explored as well, such as managing emotions (anxiety to share,) being honest and valuing diversity.
Dicey Activity: Produce a set of simple, ice-breaking exercises to match each of the 6 or 12 numbers of the dice. For example, 1 = Shake the hand of every member of your group, 2 = Discover who in your group has travelled to Australia, etc.
Pair of Dice: Rolling two dice provides many more combinations of potential questions or activity.
No Dice: Download one of the many virtual dice apps onto your smartphone if you don’t have any dice on hand.
Group Context: Form small groups. You roll the dice and announce the question which accords with the number and invite everyone in the group to respond to the same question. In this case, prepare at least 12 questions in advance, or better still, produce a set of 20 questions and eliminate those which have already been asked.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Only one person (you?) needs access to a dice. Roll the dice and share the result, or share your screen to highlight any one of the many online dice websites you can use, such as here and here. You can also plug the words “online dice roller” into your favourite search engine too.
If you have a large group, allocate everyone to a small breakout room and ask one of the participants to roll the dice on behalf of others.
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Useful Framing Ideas
One of the most common game props we all grew up with was the humble dice or die. The possibilities for play are endless and here’s just another in a long line of ways in which a dice can be used to have fun…
Are you ready to chance your luck? I presented with six options, which one would you choose? What if I said, you don’t have a choice but you do have some control over the outcome…
I’m not much of a gambler and have barely set foot inside a casino. How about you? Either way, you could probably agree with me that decks of playing cards and dice are two of the most common props used. This next activity is not so much a gamble as it is an opportunity to let the universe decide how we are going to break the ice today…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun ice-breaking game:
Did it matter to you what question you would be randomly allocated? Why?
What did you notice when others discovered it was their turn to roll?
On the spectrum of degrees of control, where do you normally like to sit – zero control, full control or somewhere in between? Elaborate.
Where else does random occur in your life? How do you manage this randomness?
The inspiration for Dicebreakers was sourced from a webinar conducted by Michelle Cummings (2020) in which she presented a series of fun ice-breaker activities that were suitable for a virtual audience. Thanks, Michelle.