Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are an important part of the training that can help you and the participants become familiar with each other.  It can provide a first impression. In this section we provide a few suggestions that can add flare to the introductory portion of the transferable module trainings that you will be planning.  If you would like to do something more that just the usual introductions, here are some ice breakers that you may consider.

Theater of the Oppressed Ice Breaker[1]


Brazilian director and Workers’ Party activist Augusto Boal established the Theater of the Oppressed in the early 1970s.  It is considered a participatory theater that fosters democratic and cooperative forms of interaction.  For those that implement such a theater, it is viewed as a language accessible to all and designed to empower people against oppression.

Before Ice Breaker Activity

  1. Tell the training participant that this ice breaker requires them not to talk.  They will follow your instructions and can only communicate via signing. 
  2. Provide them with the background information of the theater of the oppressed so they are familiar with it.
  3. Note: It is helpful that the trainer be involved in the ice breaker activity since it will also serve as a guide of how the different activities will look like since many have never participated in or have not seen this type of ice breaker before.  

Ice Breaker Activity

  1. Direct everyone to walk around the room looking down at the floor.
  2. Next, direct everyone to walk around the room making eye contact while either smiling and nodding.
  3. Now direct, everyone to walk around the room and shake hands randomly. 
  4. After everyone shakes hands, have them form a circle.
  1. Name Game activity:

    1. Chose a person in the circle that will begin this activity.
    2. This first person will say his or her name and makes an action that shows how they are feeling at that moment. 
    3. After this person is done, direct everyone in the circle to mimic that person by repeating their name and the action they made. 
    4. The second person in the circle will do the same (say their name and provide an action that describes how they feel). 
    5. Everyone will again mimic the second person and then repeat the first person’s name and action. 
    6. This will go around the circle until everyone has said his or her name and action and repeated everyone else’s.
  2. Tableaus activity:

    1. Ask for a volunteer who will be acting as the sculptor.
    2. The sculptor cannot speak and must direct using hand signs or by physically guiding.
    3. The media that will be used to sculpt are the other training participants.  They also cannot talk.
    4. Ask the sculptor to create a frozen picture using the other participants representing:

      1. An environmental health issue/situation that they commonly encountered.
      2. A potential solution to an environmental health issue in their community. 
    5. When each tableau is finished, the sculptor can explain out loud what he or she created.   


Partner Interview Ice Breaker


This is a quick and easy way to have training participants get acquainted with their neighbors.  They get to know not just their neighbors, but also the other training members.  It can also serve to provide a positive training mood.  

Before Ice Breaker Activity

  1. Let them know that they will be participating in an ice breaker that requires them to have a partner. 
  2. Have everyone stand up and move to another chair (they do not have to bring their belongings with them).
  3. Make sure that everyone has a partner that they will be able to interview. 

Ice breaker Activity

  1. Ask participants to turn to their partner and share with them two things they do well as a promotor.
  2. After everyone is done with the interview process, have him or her report to the other training participants what their partner stated.


Nametag Ice Breaker


The purpose of this ice breaker is to get training participants acquainted with each other.  It will help them learn about each other in a group activity format.  It can also serve to help them learn each others names.

Before Ice Breaker Activity

  1. As participants come into the training room, have them fill out the attendance roster and create a nametag for them without giving it to them at this time. Once everyone is seated, give him or her a different person’s nametag.
  2. If you are able to obtain the attendance roster prior to the training, prior to the training create the nametags for the participants.  As the participants walk into the room and fill out the attendance roster, provide them with someone else’s nametag as they walk into the room.

Ice Breaker Activity

  1. Instruct them to find the person whose nametag they have.
  2. Once they found the person have them ask them the following questions:

    1. Where are they from?
    2. What is their expectation of the training?
    3. What special resources do they have to share with their fellow promotores?
  3. Let them know that it is all right to talk to multiple people at once. 
  4. Have them sit down once everyone has had an opportunity to exchange information.  

[1] Theatre Versus Oppression (2008). How to work though Theatre Vs. Oppression with Children (Training Module). Retrieved from Volens website: http : //