Sex Education Icebreakers

Icebreakers are discussion questions or activities used to help participants relax and ease people into a group activity or learning situation. They are great for learning group member’s names and helping students feel at ease with potentially difficult topics. Some of the benefits of icebreakers are listed below:

•    Create a positive group atmosphere

•    Help people to relax when introducing difficult topics

•    Break down social barriers 

•    Energize and motivate 

•    Help people to think outside the box 

•    Help people to get to know one another

 

Whether it is a small group or a large classroom session, most people want to feel that they share some common ground with their fellow participants. By creating a warm and friendly personal learning environment, students will be encouraged to participate and learn more. 

Be creative and design your own variations on the ice breakers you find here – adapt them wherever you can to the topic or lesson that you are introducing.

All time scales and group sizes provided are flexible and can be adjust accordingly. While most of the icebreakers provided below are aimed at high school students, they could be adapted to be suitable for different ages of students. Wherever possible, icebreakers should take place in a circle. But most importantly, they should be fun!

 

1. “NAME CHAIN” ICEBREAKER 

Time - 10 minutes                    

 Suggested Participants – 15 to 20

Equipment Required – Open space for group to sit in circle 

Activity level – Low energy, “get-to-know-you” name activity  

Explanation – Each pupil has to say their name, and something linked to the topic of sex education that alliterates with it. 

For example: “My name is Neil and my word is nipple.”

Next person says: “This is Neil and his word is nipple, I am Dee and my word is diaphragm.” 

This helps individuals learn the names of fellow group members, as well as creating an environment in which sex education related words are normalized and students feel comfortable discussing them. Further examples are listed at the end of the article.

Depending on the age of students this “name chain” can become quite outspoken, so the leader must be prepared for this. But ultimately, it will cause laughter and openness which is the purpose of the icebreaker. 

Variations & Notes – Word Doc Link - For Educator: A-Z Word Ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. “THE LEANING TOWER OF PENIS” CHALLENGE 

Time - 20 minutes

 Suggested Participants – 20+ in teams of about four to six 

Equipment Required – Newspaper, tape, string, and tape measure 

Activity level – High energy, team work, stimulating activity  

Explanation – Split the group into smaller teams. Explain that each team will have ten minutes to build the biggest “penis tower” they can. The tower must be free-standing (i.e., not hanging from the ceiling) and constructed only out of the newspaper, tape, and string provided.

Hand out the same amount of newspaper, string, and tape to each group. Ensure that the supplies are distributed equally.  

In the final ten minutes of the exercise, measure the tallest tower and name the winners. Further awards can be given for creativity, team work, and most recognisable penis!

Variations & Notes – One variation may be to ask the groups to accurately label their “penis tower” and even explain certain functions for extra points. 

Another variation could be to change the activity from “penis tower” to “paper tower” if you feel your students may be too young or boisterous. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. HUMAN BINGO 

Time – 15-20 minutes                    

 Suggested Participants – 20 to 30

Equipment Required – Pre-prepared bingo cards and possible prize.

Activity level –Medium energy (plus low energy variation below), introduce lesson related topics, find similarities with other group members

Explanation – Each person is given a pre-made photocopied bingo card with statements such as “can play an instrument,” “has brown eyes,” “is wearing blue,” plus statements tailored to your lesson i.e., “identifies as female,” “can name three STIs,” “knows where to buy condoms” etc.

The players have to find different individuals who match each statement and get them to sign their name in the corresponding box. Players cannot sign more than one box on a card.

A winner is announced when someone shouts “BINGO”. The lesson leader then reads out the statements and follows them up with the person who has signed the box i.e., John – What instrument do you play? Katie – What three STIs can you name?

Variations & Notes – Word Doc Link - For Educator: Human Bingo Cards

An easier variation of this game could be to have simple pre-prepared bingo cards that differ from each other (like real bingo) and have Sex Education related words or facts on them that the lesson leader can call out at random and pupils can race to complete. 

 

 

4. “CONDOM CATCH” ICEBREAKER 

Time - 20 minutes                    

 Suggested Participants – 15 to 20

Equipment Required – Condom, water 

Activity level – High energy, team work, energizing activity 

Explanation – Fill a condom with a little water, tie it up and use it as a “throw ball” with your group.  Pupil one starts with a sexual health word beginning with “A” then throws condom across the circle and next person has to come up with a word beginning with “B” etc. This game is similar to icebreaker number one, “Name Chain” (same A-Z document provided). 

Usually the condom is fully intact at the end and you can comment on how robust and safe condoms are if used properly. It also means that students can handle condoms in a casual and fun manner, potentially making them less intimidating when used for their intended function. 

Variations & Notes – Word Doc Link - For Educator: A-Z Word Ideas

A variation of this could be to ask questions related to your sex education course or lesson and students can raise their hand and catch the condom “throw ball” to answer. This could be done in teams where groups compete to answer the most questions right (and catch the condom the most). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. “AGREE OR DISAGREE” ICEBREAKER 

Time – 10-20 minutes                    

 Suggested Participants – 25 to 30 

Equipment Required – Flipchart, Signs labelled “agree strongly,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “disagree strongly”

Activity level – High energy, active, participants must be able to move around to corners of the room

Explanation – This is a potentially contentious and challenging icebreaker, so manage it carefully. The basic idea is for the facilitator to read out a series of statements and for the group to arrange themselves into four corners of the room based upon how they feel about the issue. The corners will be labelled “agree strongly,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “disagree strongly”.

Once into their corner, the group must come up with two reasons why they feel as they do about the particular issue. Each group then has the chance to explain their reasoning and invite others to join them. Give people the chance to change their minds if one group puts forward a particularly good argument.

The arguments should start off simple to allow students to get use to how the activity works, and then more contentious issues may be approached.  

Possible issues are listed below:

  • Contraception should be free
  • People should have to inform their sexual partners if they have and STI
  • Abortion should be legal etc. 

Clearly, there is the potential for this exercise to alienate some people. Therefore, it would be beneficial to start the activity with a small discussion about respecting one another’s points of view. 

Variations & Notes – Word Doc Link - For Educator: Agree/ Disagree Topics 

For variation, add an “unsure” category. However, some students may pick this regularly and therefore not challenge themselves to think about the topics presented or discuss with peers. 

 

 

6. “NAME IT” ICEBREAKER

Time – 15 minutes

 Suggested Participants – 20+ in teams of about four to six

Equipment Required – Poster sized paper for each group, white board pens 

Activity level – Medium Energy, team work, topic discussion 

Explanation – Split the group up into mixed teams. Give each team a sheet of poster paper and a pen. Tell the teams to write down all the official and slang names for words such as penis, vagina, breasts, condoms, sex, gay men, and lesbians. 

Allow them to discuss and write down names for around ten minutes, after this time tell them to stop and count the number of words they have written down on their sheet. The team that comes up with the most alternate names wins. 

The facilitator must be prepared for vulgar forms of such words to be presented. But, as stated before, this will ultimately cause laughter and openness, which is the purpose of the icebreaker.

Variations & Notes –  In quicker variation to warm up the class, students shout out alternate names for sex education related words while the facilitator writes them on a white board. 

 

 

7. “SNOWBALL FIGHT” ICEBREAKER

Time – 20 minutes 

 Suggested Participants – 15 to 20

Equipment Required – A small piece of paper and pen for each participant

Activity level – High Energy, stimulating, find similarities with peers 

Explanation –  While this activity is not directly related to sex education topics, it helps students become most sensitive as to how difficult it may be to talk about personal issues, as well as helping group members build an understanding of how to be a good listener and supportive peer. 

1. Start by giving everyone a piece of paper and pen. 

2. Ask them to think of a secret, something that they wouldn’t tell anyone or that most people don’t know about them. Assure them that they will not be asked to write this secret down or tell anyone. 

3. Once everyone has thought of a secret ask the group members to think about what it would take from a peer before they would be able to tell them about their secret. Ask them to write down one word, a group of words or a phrase that describes what they would need. Remind them that they should NOT write down their secret as other people may read this. 

4. After they have finished writing, have the group stand in an open circle. 

5. Tell everyone to ball up their paper and on the count of three have everyone throw their paper at each other and keep throwing them until you say stop. Like a snowball fight! 

6. When you say stop have everyone find a random snowball and return to their spots. 

7. Go around the room and ask them to read their papers aloud to the class. 

8. Write up their answers on a flipchart or whiteboard. To save time, when a common word like “trust” or “understanding” gets read out, you can ask, “how many other people have that one their sheet?” and put that number of check marks beside it. 

9. Debrief with the group. Ask students, “What are the most common responses?,” “What could this list also represent?” For example, name characteristics of a great friend or supportive person. If the reason “same experience” comes up, ask if you have to have had the same experiences in order to be helpful or supportive. 

Overall, this activity should allow the facilitator to use the student’s statements to provide an agreed upon explanation of what it takes to be a good listener and supportive peer inside and outside the classroom. 

Variations & Notes –  An alternative form of this icebreaker includes getting students to write one thing they have learned so far in the sex education course, one thing they want to know related to sex education, or a fear they have about going to college. This can be executed similarly to the “snowball fight” method explained above, with the statements on the student’s pieces of paper used as discussion starters for various topics. 

 

 

Last Updated: 30 May 2018. 

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