Breaking the ice

Whew! It’s been a busy couple of weeks in our world. Meetings, work commitments, out-of-town family visitors and a room move-up for little man. This week, it’s the toddler room; next week, college. Or so it feels.

I hosted a first-ever student intern retreat for our team of 20-plus student employees, and in planning, I knew I wanted to start with an icebreaker. There are thousands of ideas out there for icebreakers, but I knew I needed one that: would be easy and low-key enough so the anti-mandatory fun crowd wouldn’t be too opposed; was accessible for all abilities, since we have a student who uses a wheelchair; wouldn’t take up a lot of time, since we had a mid-sized crowd; and met the primary goal, which was introducing everyone to each other by name and some sort of interesting information.

Even though I planned for several weeks, the perfect icebreaker eluded me. Until about 8 p.m. the night before, when I came across the “Penny for your Thoughts” idea. All you’ll need is a dish of pennies from different manufactured years — decide whether you want only years your group members were alive, or if you want any and all years. Then, give each participant a penny. Go around the group and have everyone say one thing that they did, that they remember, that happened to them, etc. from that year. So, for example: “My penny is from 2002, the year I received my first car. She was blue with orange flames and I called her Bertha.” (Actually, my first car was a 1990 Ford Escort hatchback that topped out at 65 mph and whose antenna bent sideways whenever you hit the left turn signal. RIP, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) Anywho.

Super easy, quick, low-key, and meets the goal. People can be as chatty or creative with their answers as they want, or be short and sweet — either way, it lets their personality shine through and you know each other better.

And, be really nice, and let them keep the penny ;).

 

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