Monthly Archives: February 2015
Welcome to The Lightbulb – where great training ideas get sparked! The Lightbulb is a blog for trainers who offer DSS training hours under the South Child Care Training System. In this blog post, you’ll meet the training coordinators at CCCCD as well as get ideas for creating and using icebreakers in your trainings.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines an icebreaker as “something done or said to help people relax and begin talking at a meeting, party, etc.” An icebreaker helps your participants feel more at ease and start interacting with each other. Those tasks are definitely important to establish a safe and warm learning environment, right? But with a bit of planning, an icebreaker can accomplish those tasks and even more!
We’ve all engaged in time tested icebreakers such as tearing off sheets of toilet paper (you have to tell one thing about yourself for each square of toilet paper) or choosing a chocolate bar that describes yourself. These are fun and interesting, but they usually take 10-15 minutes of training time and don’t relate to the training topic. What if you could help your participants relax and interact and at the same time get them engaged in the training topic? A double dip icebreaker does just that!
Trainer extraordinaire, Sharon Bowman, likes to use the term “connection activity” because these type of activities help people feel connected to one another plus feel connected to the training topic. You can learn more about connection activities in Sharon’s book, Training from the Back of the Room or by attending one of Sharon’s Train the Trainer Seminars offered by CCCCD.
Double Dip Icebreakers to Use in Trainings
There are lots of different ways to structure icebreakers so that they connect participants to the learning topic and to each other. Want some examples? We’ll provide a variety of double dip icebreakers and also connect you with the four Training Coordinators at the Center for Child Care Career Development. Below, each Training Coordinator shares a favorite double dip icebreaker. We hope you will try one of these in a future training.
This is a very interactive, energizing icebreaker that gets your participants out of their seats and talking with fellow learners from the beginning of the class. Asking each participant to name one thing that they want to learn prompts participants to transition from “where they have been” to “what they are going to do.” They begin to focus their minds on the content to be presented. So give TENS + ONE, a partner activity a try at your next training.
TENS stands for
T –Touch –give your partner a handshake (or touch elbows if concerned about germs)
E – Eyes – look your partner in the eye
N –Name- tell your name to your partner
S – Smile!
ONE – ask participants to say one thing that they want to learn in the class.
Ask participants to stand up and find someone they have not met. Ask them to follow the TENS +ONE. You can have them repeat this process with more than one person if time allows.
Four Corners shared by Ann Pfeiffer
Four Corners is an icebreaker that allows participants to connect to you as the trainer, to the other participants, and to the topic of the training. It works best with groups of ten or more. The trainer prepares three or four questions and four possible choices (the four corners) for each question. The participants move to the corner that best represents them for that question and introduces themselves to the others in their corner. They also briefly comment on the question. Then the trainer asks the next question and the process repeats.
I like to have the first question be about something everyone can comment on. In a recent training I asked, “How do you feel about winter?” I try to make the choices interesting like “UMM hot chocolate, snuggling by the fire…I love it.” The 2nd question usually has to do with their job, like “What’s your favorite time of your work day?” and the third is about the topic for the training. This makes a nice transition to the training and each person has had a chance to meet many of the people in the group. Four Corners is just one variation of Sharon Bowman’s activity, Take a Stand.
When I begin a training, it is important for me to understand what the participants need. What do they want out of this session? What is that little nugget that will be their “aha moment” or “so that’s how you do that?”
Recently Sharon Bowman introduced a training by having participants do a “dot vote.” Learning objectives were already written on paper and displayed on the wall. Participants used one sticker dot to vote on the objective that was most important to them. After everyone had voted, the dots were tallied to see which objectives were the most important. This was an effective way for Sharon and the participants to visually see where the emphasis of the training should be from the participant point of view.
This was a great ice breaker for me to add to my trainer’s tool box. By using a “dot vote” for the learning objectives, mentally, I can make adjustments in the training to be sure that enough time is spent on covering those objectives as well as the objectives that I think are important to the training. Dot voting gives a voice to the participants to communicate what they need from the trainer.
Pair Share suggested by Kelly Pfeiffer
I love pair shares because they can be done in so many different ways. A pair share is a short conversation between two participants in which the two people answer a question about the training topic. For example, a trainer may say, “Everyone, please stand and find another person in the room who isn’t sitting near you. Tell this person two things you already know about today’s training topic, plus tell them one thing you’d like to learn about this topic.” After one minute, ring a chime and ask everyone to return to their seats.
Vary the way that you ask people to pair share for ice breakers. Pair shares can be seated, standing or even done while standing on one leg. You can also vary the questions you ask people to discuss. Here are a few different examples:
– “On your hand-out are the two learning objectives for today’s training. Which one is most important to you? Turn to someone sitting next to you and tell them which one you are most interested in and why.”
– “Everyone stand and walk 10 steps away from your table in a zig-zag pattern. Now find a partner near you and discuss this question: ‘How does today’s topic help us in our daily interactions with children?’”
We hope you’ll try a double dip icebreaker in your next training to get the participants connected to each other and to the training topic!