A great activity for everyone


Experience the hilarity as players act out reactions to unexpected events in this engaging icebreaker game!

By Jon Zajac

What is Reaction?

The Reaction icebreaker is a fun and engaging game that involves acting out reactions to unexpected events. The purpose of this activity is to encourage creativity, humor, and team building in groups of six to twelve people. Players write down events on small sheets of paper, which are then placed in a container. Three or four players from each group are selected to act out their reactions to the randomly drawn events, without revealing what they are. The other team members try to guess the events based on the actors’ reactions. This game can be varied by having a narrator explain the events beforehand or restricting communication to non-verbal noises. The Reaction icebreaker is an excellent way to promote laughter and social interaction in any setting, with no need for scoring or competition.

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Rules for Reaction

  1. Form groups of six to twelve people.
  2. Give each player small sheets of paper and pens, ask them to write some events.
  3. Encourage creativity and some examples of events include: Being attacked by a shark while fishing, hitting a home run to win the World Series, watching the lottery and realizing that you have the winning number, being presented a large engagement ring and proposed for marriage, going on a first date with an attractive person.
  4. Collect the sheets and place them in a container.
  5. Within groups, choose three or four people to act for each round.
  6. Ask the players to randomly draw an event from the container.
  7. Give each player 30 seconds to 1 minute to act out a reaction to the event they received using charades rules and staying true to their character.
  8. The other team members attempt to guess what event each person had.
  9. (Optional) Award a point for each correct guess.
  10. Winning or losing tends to be less important for this icebreaker as there is a lot of humor and entertainment value in watching people react to silly things.

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Materials needed for Reaction

  • Sheets of paper: These will be used for players to write down events.
  • Pens: Players will use these to write their events on the paper.
  • A container (e.g. hat or small bag): This will be used to hold all the event sheets after they have been written.

Note: The game can also be played with a group of four or five volunteers at the front of the room, in which case you would not need as many sheets of paper and pens.

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Setting up for Reaction

To set up for the Reaction icebreaker activity, you will need to divide the group into smaller teams of 6-12 people. If you are using this game as an icebreaker for a very large group, you can select a few volunteers to act in front of the entire group.

Next, provide each player with small sheets of paper and pens. Ask the players to write down various events on the slips of paper. Encourage creativity and originality in the events that they come up with.

Once everyone has finished writing their events, collect the slips of paper and place them in a container. This will be used later for drawing events at random.

Within each group, choose three or four players to act out the reactions to the events. These players will be the focus of each round of the game. Make sure that the other team members are ready to guess what event each actor is reacting to.

Finally, review the rules and variations of the Reaction icebreaker activity with the group. This will help ensure that everyone understands how to play and is prepared for the fun ahead!

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How to play Reaction

  1. Divide the group into teams: Assemble a group of six to twelve people and divide them into teams. If you’re playing with a larger group, select four or five volunteers to act in front of the room.
  2. Prepare slips of paper and pens: Provide small sheets of paper and pens for each player.
  3. Instruct players to write events: Ask each participant to create a list of unexpected events. Encourage creativity with examples like “being attacked by a shark while fishing” or “winning the lottery.”
  4. Collect the slips and place them in a container: Gather the written events and put them in a hat, bag, or other container.
  5. Choose actors for each round: Within teams, select three or four players to act out the events during each round.
  6. Draw an event from the container: Have each actor randomly pick an event without revealing it to the others.
  7. Act out reactions: Give each player 30 seconds to 1 minute to silently perform their reaction using charades rules, allowing noises and talking in character.
  8. Guess the events: After time expires, have teammates attempt to guess what event each person had. Award a point for each correct guess (optional).
  9. Repeat as desired: Continue playing rounds with different actors and events until everyone has had an opportunity to act or more time has passed than desired.

For variations, consider having the narrator explain each event before the actors perform, or allow noises but not actual words during the acting portion of the game. These modifications can alter the level of competition and humor in the icebreaker.

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Benefits of Reaction

  • Encourages Creativity: By having players write their own events, the Reaction icebreaker encourages creativity and allows participants to use their imagination.
  • Develops Communication Skills: Acting out reactions without speaking forces players to non-verbally communicate with each other, improving their ability to convey messages through body language and expressions.
  • Builds Empathy: By acting out different events, players can gain a better understanding of how others might react in various situations, fostering empathy and emotional intelligence.
  • Fosters Teamwork: The guessing aspect of the game encourages team members to work together, communicate effectively, and build relationships with one another.
  • Provides Entertainment Value: Watching people act out silly reactions can lead to laughter and enjoyment, making the Reaction icebreaker an entertaining way to break the ice or end a gathering on a high note.
  • Enhances Active Listening Skills: Paying close attention to fellow players’ actions is essential for guessing the correct event, which helps improve active listening skills.
  • Encourages Adaptability: The unpredictable nature of the events and reactions forces players to think on their feet and adapt to new situations quickly.
  • Reduces Stress: Laughter and play have been shown to reduce stress levels, making the Reaction icebreaker an enjoyable way to help participants relax and recharge.

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Skills built with Reaction

  • Communication skills: Players must effectively convey their reactions to the events they draw, allowing team members to guess the correct event. This requires clear and expressive body language, facial expressions, and vocal cations.
  • Creativity: Writing down unique and imaginative events encourages players to think creatively. Additionally, acting out reactions can lead to humorous and entertaining results, showcasing the creativity of both the actors and the event writers.
  • Active Listening: Carefully observing fellow teammates’ reactions and paying attention to their non-verbal cues is essential for correctly guessing the events. This promotes active listening skills and improves overall group communication.
  • Teamwork: Collaborating with team members to guess the correct event strengthens bonds between players and fosters a sense of camaraderie. Working together towards a common goal, even if it’s just for fun, can lead to improved team dynamics.
  • Self-confidence: Stepping out of one’s comfort zone to act in front of others can help build self-confidence. This icebreaker encourages participants to embrace their silliness and showcase their personalities, which can lead to increased self-assurance.
  • Empathy: By acting out various events, players may gain insight into how they might react in similar situations. Additionally, guessing the correct event requires understanding the emotions and reactions of others, promoting empathy within the group.

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Why I like Reaction

As someone who enjoys bringing people together and fostering a positive atmosphere, I find the Reaction icebreaker to be a fantastic tool. Its simplicity and versatility make it suitable for various settings and ages, ensuring that everyone can participate and have fun.

One aspect I appreciate about the Reaction game is its emphasis on creativity and imagination. By having participants come up with their own events, you encourage them to think outside the box and engage their creative minds. This process not only helps people loosen up but also gives insight into their thoughts and interests.

The acting component of the game brings an element of entertainment that can turn any gathering into a lively event. Watching team members act out their reactions, often with humorous results, creates a bonding experience as everyone shares a laugh. This shared enjoyment helps break down barriers and establishes connections between participants.

Additionally, the Reaction icebreaker offers flexibility through its variations. Adjusting rules such as allowing or prohibiting words can cater to different group dynamics and preferences, ensuring that the game remains engaging and enjoyable for all involved.

Overall, I find the Reaction icebreaker to be an invaluable resource in my toolkit due to its ability to foster creativity, promote laughter, and create connections between people. Its versatility and customization options make it a perfect fit for various settings and groups, ensuring that everyone can have fun and build relationships.

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Tips for making Reaction more inclusive

  • Tip: Use a variety of events that reflect different cultures and experiences. This will help ensure that everyone can relate to at least some of the events being acted out. For example, you could include events related to traditional celebrations or customs from different parts of the world.
  • Tip: Encourage players to use non-verbal communication. This can make the game more inclusive for people who are not comfortable speaking in front of a group or who have difficulty with language barriers. You can remind players that they can use gestures, facial expressions, and body language to convey their reactions.
  • Tip: Consider providing visual aids or props. These can help clarify the events being acted out and make them more accessible for people with different learning styles. For example, you could draw pictures of the events on the slips of paper or provide simple props like a toy shark or a ring.
  • Tip: Be mindful of sensitive topics. Some events may be triggering or uncomfortable for some players, so it’s important to use discretion when choosing which events to include. You can avoid potential issues by steering clear of events that involve violence, trauma, or discrimination.
  • Tip: Foster a positive and supportive environment. Encourage players to cheer each other on and celebrate their successes, rather than focusing on competition or scoring points. This can help create a more inclusive and welcoming atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable participating.

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Reflection questions for Reaction

  1. What was your favorite event to act out or guess during the Reaction icebreaker? Understanding which events were most enjoyable can provide insight into what types of scenarios and activities participants find most engaging.
  2. How did you feel when it was your turn to act out an event without speaking? How did this compare to acting out an event with words? This question explores the challenges and differences in non-verbal communication and self-expression, offering a chance for participants to reflect on their comfort levels and abilities in various forms of expression.
  3. Did you find it more challenging to guess events when narration was not provided beforehand? Why or why not? This question allows participants to consider the importance of context in communication, as well as the impact of different rules on their ability to make accurate guesses.
  4. How did your group’s attempts at guessing the events vary throughout the game? Were there any shifts in strategy or success as the game progressed? By examining changes in performance and team dynamics over time, facilitators can help participants understand the value of adaptability and collaboration in group activities.
  5. How might the Reaction icebreaker be adapted for use in other settings or contexts, such as a professional meeting or a classroom exercise? Encouraging creativity and critical thinking around the application of this icebreaker to different scenarios can help participants recognize the versatility of the game and its potential value in various aspects of their lives.

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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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