Icebreakers: Data Processing

Data processing | Photo public domain

Data processing | Photo public domain

The best icebreakers get more people into the mix. Take a little computer science, add some common characteristics of people in the group and shake it all up.

The idea is that you are going to turn the group into a big computer and sort everyone by a particular data set. For instance, “everyone get in line chronologically by birthday” or “get in line by height.”

Keep it fast, keep it snappy, keep it fun. For instance, as soon as the group gets sorted, change to a different sorting criteria.

Other ideas:

  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Shoe size
  • Alphabetical by first letter of middle name
  • Length of hair


If you have a big group you can divide into two or more teams and compete, with prizes for the first team to sort their data.

With Eyes Closed

Line up by:

  • Height
  • Right or left handedness
  • Boy or girl (caution! Stranger danger!)
  • Month born
  • Grade in school

Without Talking

Have the group pantomime:

  • Favorite food
  • Favorite animal
  • First period class

Become a Computer Programmer for Fun and Profit

Two teams, each team gets in a line. From each team select one “programmer.” The programmer sorts the group according to the criteria you set, by asking a single yes or no question, processing the group again and again until everyone is sorted.

Example: Chronological by birth month.

Programmer asks each person in their entire team “Is your birthday before February?” This puts all the January people in one group and everyone else in a second group. Next question might be “is your birthday before March?” And so forth.

Sources: Kim’s Korner for Teacher Talk, More New Games

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