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Pairing Exercises – Free Icebreaker

Duration: 5 - 10 minutes

Intended for:

Use these free icebreakers to help form teams during training sessions.

Selecting teams can often become boring and confusing. These little icebreaker gems will help you select teams in a fair and simple way that add a little bit of fun.

Training course contents:

A two page icebreaker document with ideas on how to pair up participants or put them into teams can be downloaded in Word format from the link at the bottom of this page, or you can follow the instructions below.

The following is a collection of methods and ideas for putting participants into groups and pairs. Hand out pre-prepared cards to each of the participants and ask them to match up their cards.

The topics can be as follows: 

  • Problem & Solution –Some have problems written on them, others have the solutions. The participants must find their partner by solving the problem.
  • Animals – Cat finds kitten, dog finds puppy etc.
  • Colours – Reds find reds or blacks find whites etc.
  • Famous pairs – Fred and Ginger, Laurel and Hardy etc.
  • Completed sentences – Match up two sentences to make sense (this could be made humorous with certain matches)
  • Mission Statements – Match the mission statement to the company
  • Business Leader – Match the business to it’s leader
  • Authors – Match the book to the author
  • Songs – Match the song to the band/singer (you could be naughty and make them sing!)

Pairing in relation to the people in the room. This could include: 

  • Hobbies – Pair with someone that has a hobby similar to yours (this is useful for helping participants find out about each other too)
  • Opposites – Short people find tall people. Young and ‘not so young’ etc.
  • Place of Birth – Participants arrange themselves according to their place of birth (closest together or farthest apart)
  • Home – As above, but with their current home
  • Car Colour – Pair with someone with a similar colour car
  • Length of Service – How long have they been at the company?
  • Topic Knowledge – Arrange people through knowledge; novice, expert etc.

Various alternatives: 

  • Provide each participant with a playing card at the start of the session. Then, throughout the session use the cards to organise teams e.g. odds and evens, reds and blacks, suits, pictures and numbers etc.
  • Ask participants to pick their own teams and then swap half of the teams around.
  • Place a mark of some description on the participant’s workbooks, then organise them using these marks.
  • Use ‘Happy Families’ cards and ask participants to pair up with their ‘family’ or their match.
  • Play catch with coloured balls and when asked to stop, participants must pair up with someone who has the same coloured ball.
  • Pair them up by what they are wearing (e.g. all striped shirts together, all wearing a tie, all wearing something dark, shoes with laces, etc.)
  • Ask participants to pair up with a person they do not know.


Use these icebreakers to place participants into teams without seeming to be selective or autocratic. It also adds a little interest to a monotonous task.

Pairing Exercises – Free Icebreaker


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