A great activity for everyone

Alphabet Back

Hilarious icebreaker where partners trace letters on each other's backs for their team to guess!

Alphabet Back
By Jon Zajac

What is Alphabet Back?

The Alphabet Back icebreaker is a fun and interactive game that involves guessing letters of the alphabet. The purpose of this activity is to help individuals in a group get to know each other better while having a great time. During the game, players are divided into pairs and one partner must trace an alphabet on the back of their teammate who then has to guess the letter being traced. The first pair to correctly guess the most alphabets within a set time limit wins the game. This icebreaker is suitable for small and medium groups with any age, making it a versatile choice for various settings. All you need are some paper, pens, and a watch or phone to keep time, ensuring that preparation is minimal. Overall, The Alphabet Back icebreaker is an engaging way to build connections in a group and create lasting memories.

Back to top

Rules for Alphabet Back

  1. Separate all players into pairs, either randomly or by choice.
  2. Give each pair closed tip pens and paper.
  3. Volunteer one person from each pair and tell them the secret alphabet.
  4. Have the volunteer return to their partner and face their back, then trace the alphabet on their partner’s back without speaking, hinting, or acting it out.
  5. The partner must guess the correct alphabet being traced. The first pair to guess correctly gets a point.
  6. Switch roles between volunteers for each pair to allow both partners the opportunity to trace and guess.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until any pair reaches 10 points, making them the winners.

Back to top

Materials needed for Alphabet Back

  • Closed tip pens: Pens with a closed tip are ideal for this game as they allow for clearer writing on a person’s back.
  • Paper: Sheets of paper can be used by each pair to keep track of their points and write down the secret alphabet given to the volunteer.
  • Watch or phone to keep time: A watch or phone is needed to keep track of the one-minute time limit for tracing the alphabet on a partner’s back.

Back to top

Setting up for Alphabet Back

To set up for the Alphabet Back icebreaker activity, you need to divide all players into pairs, either randomly or by allowing them to select their partners. If you want to use this game as an icebreaker, randomly placing everyone together is recommended to encourage interaction and laughter among the group. Once the pairs are determined, ask for one volunteer from each pair to act as the tracer and give them a secret alphabet that they cannot reveal to their partner. Face the volunteers towards the back of their partners and start a timer for the game to begin. The volunteer tracers will then trace the letters on their partners’ backs, who must guess the correct alphabet letter. Switch between tracing and guessing after each successful guess or time limit, and continue until one pair reaches 10 points.

Back to top

How to play Alphabet Back

  1. Separate players into pairs: I start by separating all the players into pairs. If I want to use this game as an icebreaker, I randomly place everyone together instead of allowing them to select their partners. This helps break the ice among the group and allows for more fun and laughter in the room.
  2. Distribute pens and papers: I evenly distribute pens and papers to every pair.
  3. Select volunteers: I ask for one volunteer from each pair and tell them the secret alphabet.
  4. Position volunteers: I have the volunteer return and face the back of their team member. They are not allowed to speak, hint, or act out the alphabet at all.
  5. Set a timer: I set a timer for one minute (or more if necessary).
  6. Begin tracing: When I say “go,” the volunteer must trace the alphabet they’ve been told on the backs of their team member. Their partner must now guess the alphabet that is being traced. The first pair to get the right alphabet gets a point.
  7. Switch roles: After both partners have had a turn tracing and guessing, I repeat steps 6 and 7 until any of the pairs receives 10 points. The first pair to get 10 points wins the game.

Switch it up: Different ways to play The Alphabet Back Game

If I want to switch things up for even more fun with separate groups, here are some ideas:

  • The Word Back Game: Instead of having my pairs guess a single alphabet, I have them guess a word instead. This is ideal if I’m playing with teams aged 10 and above.
  • The Drawing Back Game: If I want to add a tougher layer to this game, I can have my pairs draw something on their partner’s back instead. I make sure to keep the word simple, and the first pair to guess the secret item being drawn wins!

Back to top

Benefits of Alphabet Back

  • Encourages Teamwork: By partnering up players and having them work together to guess the alphabet, The Alphabet Back Game promotes teamwork and collaboration in a fun and engaging way.
  • Improves Communication: With one player tracing the alphabet on their partner’s back without speaking or giving hints, this game encourages clear and effective communication as partners must rely on each other to guess the correct letter.
  • Breaks the Ice: This game is an excellent icebreaker activity for groups of all sizes and ages. By pairing players randomly and having them work together, The Alphabet Back Game helps break the ice and create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere in any setting.
  • Builds Trust: As partners must rely on each other to guess the alphabet, this game helps build trust and strengthen relationships between players.
  • Provides Lighthearted Competition: With points awarded for each correct guess, The Alphabet Back Game provides a lighthearted and friendly competition that can be enjoyed by all participants.
  • Easy to Organize: With no preparation required and minimal materials needed, The Alphabet Back Game is an easy game to organize and play in any setting, making it a convenient option for busy schedules or last-minute plans.

Back to top

Skills built with Alphabet Back

  • Communication: The Alphabet Back Game requires players to effectively communicate with their partners in order to correctly guess the traced letter or word. This helps build strong communication skills as players learn to convey information clearly and listen attentively.
  • Teamwork: As a team-based game, The Alphabet Back Game encourages collaboration between partners to achieve a common goal. By working together, players develop their ability to cooperate, strategize, and support one another.
  • Patience and Persistence: The game requires patience as players take turns tracing letters on each other’s backs and trying to guess the correct answer. Persisting through multiple rounds helps build resilience and determination, teaching players that practice and effort can lead to success.
  • Fine Motor Skills: Tracing letters on a partner’s back helps improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This is especially beneficial for younger players who are still developing these abilities.
  • Memory and Concentration: Remembering the secret alphabet or word being traced requires good memory and concentration. Enhancing these cognitive skills can help players perform better in various aspects of their lives, from academics to work-related tasks.

Back to top

Why I like Alphabet Back

As someone who enjoys bringing people together and facilitating fun, I find the Alphabet Back icebreaker to be a fantastic addition to any group gathering. There are several reasons why I appreciate this game:

  1. Inclusivity: The Alphabet Back game is suitable for players of all ages, making it a versatile choice for mixed-age groups. The simplicity of the game ensures that everyone can participate and enjoy themselves, regardless of their physical abilities or backgrounds.
  2. Icebreaking: As an icebreaker, this game excels at helping people get to know each other in a lighthearted, memorable way. By pairing participants randomly, you create opportunities for individuals to interact with others they might not have approached otherwise. The shared experience of playing the game together fosters connections and helps establish a positive group dynamic.
  3. Laughter and Fun: Tracing letters on someone’s back while they try to guess the alphabet is an inherently amusing activity, which generates laughter and merriment among players. This good-natured humor creates a lively atmosphere that helps make any gathering more enjoyable.
  4. Easy Preparation: With minimal materials required (paper, pens, and a watch or timer), the Alphabet Back game is simple to set up and requires little advance planning. Additionally, since no special knowledge or skills are needed to play, you can jump right into the fun without worrying about complicated rules or instructions.
  5. Customization: The game’s structure allows for customization based on your group’s needs and preferences. You can adjust the time limit, number of points required to win, or even introduce variations like the Word Back Game or Drawing Back Game to keep things interesting.

In summary, I find the Alphabet Back icebreaker to be an excellent choice for bringing people together, encouraging laughter, and creating a positive atmosphere in any group setting. Its simplicity, inclusivity, and customization options make it a reliable go-to game that I’m always happy to introduce to others.

Back to top

Tips for making Alphabet Back more inclusive

  • Tip: Use simple words for the secret alphabet. This will ensure that everyone, regardless of their age or language proficiency, has an equal chance to participate and guess the correct letter.
  • Tip: Mix up the pairs frequently. Shuffling pairs throughout the game can help players get to know each other better and build connections within the group.
  • Tip: Provide positive reinforcement. Encourage every player, regardless of whether they guessed correctly or not. This will create a supportive atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome and included.
  • Tip: Offer visual or kinesthetic cues. For players with different learning styles or language barriers, using visual or kinesthetic cues (such as drawing letters in the air) can help facilitate better communication and understanding during the game.
  • Tip: Adapt the game for larger groups. If you have more than 10 players, consider dividing them into smaller teams to maintain a manageable size for each pair. This will ensure that everyone remains engaged and involved throughout the activity.

Back to top

Reflection questions for Alphabet Back

  1. What was your experience playing The Alphabet Back Game? This question can help participants reflect on their overall experience playing the game and how it made them feel.
  2. How did working in pairs impact your participation in the game? By asking this question, facilitators can encourage participants to think about the benefits and challenges of collaborating with a partner and how it affected their performance.
  3. Did you find the game challenging or easy? Why? This question can help participants reflect on the level of difficulty they experienced while playing the game and why they felt that way.
  4. How did you feel when you were able to guess the correct alphabet or word? This question can help participants reflect on their feelings of accomplishment and success during the game.
  5. What strategies did you use to communicate with your partner while playing the game? By asking this question, facilitators can encourage participants to think about effective communication techniques and how they can apply them in other contexts.
  6. How did The Alphabet Back Game help you get to know other participants? This question can help participants reflect on the social aspects of the game and how it contributed to building relationships and community within the group.
  7. What did you learn about yourself while playing The Alphabet Back Game? This question can help participants reflect on their own strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth, as well as how they can use this self-awareness to improve their participation in future activities.

Back to top


Want customized activity suggestions? Try our Team Building Expert GPT!

About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

Activities you may also like

Keep the fun going with these similar activities.