Ultimate objective is to create one large circle in which every person is physically linked with two others.
Ask one volunteer to stand with one hand on their hip, and then share one or more statements about themselves to the group.
When someone from the rest of the group hears a statement that they have in common with the first volunteer, they are invited to link elbows with them.
This second person then shares something about themselves to the larger group, to attract a new person to link elbows with them, and so on.
This process of sharing and linking continues one one by one.
To complete the circle, invite the last person to join the long chain of connections to share something about themselves to link with the very first volunteer.
Video Transcript for Making Connections Ice Breaker Game
presented by Mark Collard
One person in a moment, and we’ll ask for a volunteer in a second, is going to simply ask and state to the group… ‘Hey, they’re going to say something about themselves that’s true for them.’
For example, I could say “I’m the eldest in my family”. Anyone else in the group who could go, I connect with that, I’m also the eldest in my family, will then come and join that person and link arms with them on one of the sides. It won’t matter which side.
That person who’s now just joined, will repeat the process. They will say something about themselves that’s true. They might say, “I drive a Volkswagen”. Someone else goes ‘Yeah, I also have that in common.’
And they will join that person. And you can imagine the line just keeps on going.
Now I’m going to give you the basics to begin with and then we’re going to add some more to it. But you’ve got the basic idea. The line continues to build.
If we get to a point where maybe something is being shared and no one of the group that’s left unhinged, has actually got that thing in common, that person just simply offers something else.
And if you really absolutely need to, find the basic thing such as “I’m a boy,” and that could be the thing that actually connects you with one other person. So you can go for the really simple stuff but look for the more interesting as well.
Got the basics?
Who would like to start? Who can give us the first thing to begin with?
(I’ll do it.)
You’ve got it. And your name is?
Mary Joe. So could you call out to everybody else? What’s your thing and then you can give us that arm.
Kayak. So put your arm off to your side, and anyone who can kayak… well one of you… just one at this point. Okay, so that’s perfect. And your name is?
Oceana has now linked. So now it’s Oceana’s turn because it’s likely just as we saw there a number of you were paddlers. You just need one to join at this point. Oceana.
(I have a dog who weights over 100 pounds.)
Everyone has one of them, don’t they?
So is there another thing a little further down the list?
(I’m the youngest of my siblings.)
So anyone else who happens to be the youngest can now join, and as you join also just remind people what your name is.
(I’m Ali and I have a cat.)
(I love to travel.)
(Alright, do I need to do anything? So we need to connect on something?)
Find something that you might connect on.
(Alright. I have only brothers.)
Fantastic. Now the interesting thing about this exercise at this point everyone wants to clap but your arms are all busy.
So you can unlock just for a moment and give yourselves a little clap. Well done.
How To Play Narrative
Having gathered your group, explain that their ultimate objective is to create one large circle in which every person is physically linked with two others, left and right of them.
However, the primary focus of this connections ice breaker game will be on a very different form of connection.
Kick off by asking one person to volunteer by standing with one of his or her hands on their hip, to form the look of a tea-cup handle.
Invite this first brave soul to share one or more statements about themselves which others in the group may (or may not) know. For example, a special prize they may have once earned, a particular travel destination they have visited, or a favourite book, movie or song of theirs.
Encourage the rest of your group to listen carefully, and when someone hears a statement that they have in common, they are invited to link elbows (left elbow to right elbow, to allow people to face the same direction) with the first volunteer.
Next, this second person will share something about themselves to the larger group, and the process repeats itself with a third person linking arms with the second person because they share something in common, and so on.
Continue play until every member of the group has formed a common ‘link’ with another person.
Note, the last person to link to the very long chain of connections will be invited to share one or more statements about themselves which the very first volunteer will necessarily share in common, enabling these two people to link.
One large connected circle has now been formed, and voila, you’re done!
Practical Leadership Tips
At any time you ask people to share, make it abundantly clear that they have choices. They get to choose what and how much of anything they share about themselves. This exercise, indeed, any experience which intends to ‘break the ice’ among groups of people, must be wholly non-threatening.
Encourage people to share something about themselves that is not visually apparent such as clothes or physical features. However, you be the judge, for some groups this may be totally okay.
And in case it’s not obvious, the statements shared need to be true of that person’s experience. Therefore, statements such as “I HAVE NEVER WALKED ON THE MOON” while true, do not describe a person so much as it describes who they are not.
Sometimes, if your group is a little more reserved, you (as leader) may need to be the first volunteer, to provide an example of how the linking in common works.
You could integrate Making Connections as part of a well-designed SEL program to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships.
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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits of being acknowledged as an individual and feeling a sense of belonging to others. In a sense, you could direct your group to focus on the many ways in which they are connected to one another as a reflection of their overall well-being.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Making Connections could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Multiple Circles: In very large groups, start with several ‘first’ volunteers, and invite just as many smaller circles to be formed. Allow the groups to form organically, or instruct each group to only attract X number of people.
Take a look at Build A Story, a fun group game that is played very similarly.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Invite the first person (a volunteer?) to type their statement into the chat room facility. My tip, limit any contribution to one sentence, lest some people will get bored (waiting for the typing.) Once read, invite anyone who would like to acknowledge a connection to this statement to ‘raise their hand’ (or otherwise indicate that they would like to go next, eg talk into the microphone.) This person then adds a new statement to the chatroom, and so on. For fun, when everybody has contributed, re-read the long series of connections (from the chat room) to your group.
Note, owing to difficulties in lag time across some internet connections, it may be difficult to accurately asses who was prepared to (first) add the next statement.
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Useful Framing Ideas
The term ‘making connections’ is almost cliché these days, but its essence continues to be very powerful no matter how you describe it. It is clear that one of the best ways to strengthen relationships and build trust among people is to make a connection with them, that is, to find something in common. And in this exercise, we are literally going to connect with others…
Have you heard the term ‘six degrees of separation?’ The concept suggests that every individual is connected by no more than six relationships or links away from any other person in the world. For example, I am personally linked to (former) President Obama by only two degrees – one of Obama’s top international/Israeli advisors was once a summer camper of mine! Let’s explore how closely linked we all are…
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-breaker game:
What new things did you learn about other members of your group in this exercise?
Were you nervous for it to be your turn? Why?
How did creativity come into play in this activity? What’s an example?
The inspiration for Making Connections, and many more ice-breaker games, can be found in the following publications: