Below are some icebreaker ideas to use with ESYLs. These can be used to help them get to know each other, or to reenergise a session.
Ask each ESYL to write their name in the middle of a circle on a piece of paper. They should then draw four smaller circles around it, so it looks like an atom. In each circle they should write or draw something that identifies who they are. They could include their interests, personality quirks, or something that means something to them. Once they have done this they should go around the other ESYLs and try and find someone who matches one of their circles. Once they have found a match they should link arms and go round as a pair. Play the game until everyone is linked up in a large connected circle.
Give each ESYL a strip of paper. They should then discuss with people either side of them their hobbies, interests, and values. They should write down something they have in common with the person to their left. They should then join up their chains with the next person to create a giant paper chain of all the things that connect the ESYLs together.
Ask ESYLs to get into two lines, standing opposite each other. Ask them to introduce themselves to each other by shaking left hands. Then, give them 30 seconds to talk about their favourite place in the world. When their time is up, they should move one place to the left. They will then have a new partner. They should shake left hands and stand on their left leg, whilst talking about the best thing they have done in Scouting for another 30 seconds. Again, when the time is up, they should move one place to the left, shake left hands, stand on their left leg and stick their tongue out to the left.
Give ESYLs a 9x9 grid with a statement in each box. Examples of statements could be: ‘has volunteered with Beaver Scouts’, ‘has been on a Cub camp’, ‘has been on an international camp’, or ‘has completed their Platinum Chief Scout’s Award’. The ESYLs should then circulate the room to try and find someone for each statement. The first person to fill the grid, shouts ‘bingo!’
Ask the ESYLs to get into an order, such as in order of the month they were born in the calendar. They should do this without speaking.
Ask the ESYLs to walk around the room, they should have space around them. When you say stop, everyone in the room should freeze and when you say go, everyone should carry on walking around again. Once the group understand this, you can then switch the meaning of ‘go’ and ‘stop’, so that ‘go’ actually means ‘stop’ and ‘stop’ actually means ‘go’. Next, shout out a number. The ESYLs should get themselves into groups of this size. Once in these groups give them 15 seconds to create an image based around a theme or object or a word. For example you might say tent and they would have to create a frozen image of a tent. This game can be expanded to include other commands such as jump and clap.
Label one end of the room with a piece of paper that says ‘strongly agree’, and the other with a piece of paper that says ‘strongly disagree’. Explain that this is a scale and that after you have read out loud a statement, the ESYLs must place themselves on it depending on how much they agree or disagree with what's being said. Always start with an easy question such as, "pizza is the best takeaway" and give up to 10 seconds to decide where to place themselves. You can then ask why people have placed themselves where they have and allow them to move if someone says something that persuades them to change position. You can use this effectively when exploring topics or subjects which require discussion.