By Jon Zajac

What is Bowl?

The Bowl icebreaker is a fun and engaging game that I would recommend for parties or gatherings of 10-20 people. Its purpose is to encourage players to think creatively and work together as a team, making it an excellent way to break the ice and get to know one another. The game involves writing down objects, famous people, movies, places, or any other ideas that come to mind on small pieces of paper. These papers are then placed in a bowl and divided among two teams. Each team takes turns describing the clues without using specific words, aiming to describe as many papers as possible within a one-minute timeframe. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Variations of the game include playing charades or being allowed to say only one word during the third round. Overall, the Bowl icebreaker is an exciting and low-mess activity that requires minimal materials and can be played indoors, making it a convenient choice for any event.

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Rules for Bowl

  1. Prepare for the game by cutting paper into small pieces and having players write down objects, famous people, movies, places, or any other guessable topics.
  2. Fold the papers and place them in a bowl.
  3. Divide into two teams.
  4. Each team has one minute to describe as many papers from the bowl as possible without saying the word on the paper.
  5. Teams receive one pass per turn, but after that, they will lose one point for every additional pass.
  6. The team with the most points when the terms in the bowl run out wins.
  7. Optional variations include doing charades with the same set of clues for the second round and being allowed to say only one word for the third round.

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Materials needed for Bowl

  • Bowl: A container to hold all the clues written by the players.
  • Paper: Small pieces of paper for writing down guessing game clues.
  • Pens: Writing instruments for players to use when creating their clues.
  • Optional: Timer or stopwatch to keep track of each team’s one-minute turn.

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Setting up for Bowl

To set up for the Bowl icebreaker activity, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Indoors is recommended as the setting for this game. Make sure there is enough space for all players to gather around a central bowl and sit comfortably.
  2. Prepare the paper pieces: Cut paper into small but writeable sizes. Have enough paper available so that each player can jot down multiple clues.
  3. Distribute writing materials: Provide pens or pencils for every participant, ensuring everyone has a writing instrument to create their guessing clues.
  4. Write clues: Encourage players to think creatively and write down various objects, famous people, movies, places, and any other relevant terms that can serve as guessing cues.
  5. Fold the paper pieces: Instruct participants to fold their written clues into small enough sizes so they fit comfortably in the bowl when placed inside.
  6. Create teams: Divide players into two groups of equal size. Ideally, aim for 10-20 players per team. This ensures a lively and engaging game experience.
  7. Set up the timer: Designate someone to keep time during the game or use a reliable timer to ensure each team has only one minute to guess as many clues as possible in each round.
  8. Position the bowl: Place the bowl containing all folded paper pieces on a table or other central location where both teams can easily access and reach into it to pick up clues during gameplay.

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How to play Bowl

  1. Prepare the game materials: Gather a bowl, plenty of paper scraps, pens, and a method for timing one minute intervals.
  2. Create the clues: Instruct players to write down objects, famous people, movies, places, or any other guessable topic on individual slips of paper. Encourage creativity!
  3. Combine the clues: Collect all the written clues and place them in the bowl.
  4. Divide into teams: Split players into two evenly sized groups.
  5. Begin the game: Start with one team. They will have one minute to describe as many clues from the bowl as possible without saying the word on the paper.
  6. Allow for passes: Give each team one pass per turn, which means they can skip a clue if they cannot guess it. After using their pass, teams lose one point for every subsequent pass in that round.
  7. Score keeping: Keep track of correct guesses and points deducted for passes. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
  8. Continue play: After each team has completed a turn, switch to the next team, and repeat the process until all clues have been used or time runs out.
  9. Add variations (optional): Consider incorporating additional rounds with charades or limiting descriptions to one word only. These variations add complexity and keep the game interesting for players.

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Benefits of Bowl

  • Encourages Creativity: By having players write down anything that comes to mind, the game promotes creativity and imagination. This can help individuals think outside the box and come up with unique ideas.
  • Improves Communication Skills: The game requires teams to describe clues without saying certain words, which can improve their ability to convey messages clearly and effectively. This skill is useful in many real-life situations.
  • Boosts Confidence: By participating in a group activity, individuals can gain confidence in their ability to contribute to a team. This can help them feel more comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas in other settings.
  • Fosters Connection: The game encourages interaction between players, helping them get to know each other better and form connections. This is especially beneficial in a work setting, where building relationships can lead to increased collaboration and productivity.
  • Provides Entertainment: Above all, the Bowl icebreaker is a fun and engaging game that can provide entertainment for parties and gatherings. It’s a great way to break the ice and get people interacting with each other.

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Skills built with Bowl

  • Communication skills: Players need to effectively convey the meaning of the clues they draw from the bowl without directly saying the word on the paper. This requires clear and concise communication, as well as the ability to think on one’s feet.
  • Active listening: In order to successfully describe the clues, players must actively listen to their teammates’ descriptions and use that information to build on their ideas.
  • Creativity: The bowl game encourages players to think creatively and come up with unique ways to describe their clues. This can help foster a sense of playfulness and fun at the party or gathering.
  • Teamwork: The game is designed for teams, so players must work together to come up with descriptions that will help their teammates guess as many clues as possible within the allotted time.
  • Vocabulary development: As players are encouraged to think of different ways to describe their clues, they may expand their vocabularies and learn new words or phrases.
  • Hand-eye coordination: The act of writing down clues on small pieces of paper can help improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Critical thinking: Players must use critical thinking skills to come up with descriptions that will be both clear and difficult for the opposing team to guess. This requires them to consider multiple angles and perspectives, which can be a valuable skill in many areas of life.

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Why I like Bowl

I appreciate the simplicity and versatility of the Bowl icebreaker. Its rules are easy to understand, making it accessible for people of all ages, from children to seniors. The game encourages creativity, as players think of various objects, famous people, or movies to write down on the slips of paper. This process helps participants engage their imagination and pay attention to the world around them, which can be both educational and entertaining.

One aspect I particularly enjoy is that the Bowl icebreaker can be customized based on the group’s preferences or interests. For instance, you could focus on a particular topic, such as books, music, sports, or travel destinations. This flexibility allows for the game to be tailored to specific events, gatherings, or audiences, increasing its relevance and overall enjoyment.

The Bowl icebreaker also promotes active listening and communication skills. Since teams have a limited amount of time to describe as many clues as possible, players must pay close attention to their teammates’ hints and respond promptly. This dynamic fosters collaboration and strengthens interpersonal bonds within the group. The charades variation further enhances these aspects by adding a physical dimension to the game, appealing to both extroverted and introverted participants.

In summary, I find the Bowl icebreaker to be an engaging and adaptable activity that encourages creativity, communication, and collaboration among players. Its simplicity and flexibility make it suitable for various settings and audiences, ensuring a fun experience for all involved.

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Tips for making Bowl more inclusive

  • Tip: Consider using a variety of clues that appeal to different interests and backgrounds. This can help ensure that all players feel included and engaged.
  • Tip: Encourage players to write clues that are open-ended and can be interpreted in multiple ways. This can help level the playing field for players who may not be familiar with more obscure references.
  • Tip: Consider setting aside some time at the beginning of the game for players to introduce themselves and share a bit about their interests. This can help create a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.
  • Tip: If some players are struggling to come up with clues, offer to help them brainstorm ideas or suggest topics they might use. This can help ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the game.
  • Tip: Be mindful of the language you use when describing clues, and avoid using jargon or insider terms that may be unfamiliar to some players. This can help make the game more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

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Reflection questions for Bowl

  1. What did you enjoy most about playing the Bowl game? This question can help participants reflect on what they found enjoyable or fun about the game, which can be useful for facilitators to understand what worked well and should be repeated in future icebreakers.
  2. Did you find any of the clues particularly challenging to describe or guess? Why? This question can help participants think more critically about the game and reflect on their own communication skills. It can also help facilitators identify areas where participants may need additional support or guidance.
  3. How did your teamwork and collaboration skills come into play during the game? This question can help participants reflect on how they worked together as a team to describe and guess clues, which can be useful for facilitators to understand the group dynamics and identify areas where teamwork could be improved.
  4. What strategies did you use to describe or guess clues successfully? This question can help participants think more critically about their own problem-solving skills and share effective strategies with each other. It can also help facilitators identify successful techniques that could be used in future icebreakers.
  5. Did you feel comfortable and included during the game? Why or why not? This question can help facilitators understand how inclusive and welcoming the game was for all participants, and identify areas where they can improve to make sure everyone feels valued and involved.

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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.

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