The animal name game is a fun icebreaker to help with learning students’ names. It can take a little while if you have 6 or more young people, but it’s a very good way to learn their names and requires nothing but imagination.
I once did it with a group of 20 and I knew all their names by the end of the first session – (n.b. the game took about 30 minutes though!)
- Give the teenagers 2-4 minutes to come up with an animal that starts with the same letter as their first name (or the name they go by if it’s a nickname or their middle name) as well as a sound and motion/action for that animal. Leaders will need one too! (e.g. Shae the Salamander – I stick my fingers and tongue out and make a hissing/gulping sound; Timmy the Tiger – he may growl and make clawing motions; Molly the Monkey – she may scratch under her arms and make a sound like ‘ooh ooh ahh ahh,’ etc.)
- Have everyone (including leaders) sit in a circle
- Starting with the young person to your left, have them say their name, animal name, motion and sound
- The young person to their left will say their own name, animal name, motion and sound, then they will say the previous teen’s name, animal name, motion and sound (2 total)
- The young person to their left will then say their own name, animal name, motion and sound, then they will say the youth’s names, animal names, motions and sounds that were before them (3 total)
- This continues around the entire circle until it reaches you
- Say your name, animal name, motion and sound and then you must then say all their names and animal names with the sounds and motions
Make sure each of their animals are different. If you have 2 J’s (John, Jane, etc), you may want John the Jaguar and Jane the Jackrabbit. We once had to come up with 4 different ‘S’ animals in a group of 8 youth – Snake, Salamander, Snail and Snow Leopard. (If you’re stuck for an ‘N’ as I was once, Nightingale makes a great one!)
It can be a lot of fun and is a great way to learn students’ names since you get the animal name and action as a reminder, plus each youth repeats all the other youth names for you until it’s your turn.
If you found this idea helpful, we also have more name game icebreakers.
Question: Have you ever played the animal name game icebreaker? Do you add any extra features to it? Let us know in the comments below.
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