Many people feel a bit self-conscious in new social encounters; teens in particular might feel shy and awkward in large groups or when meeting new friends. The Child Development Institute recommends helping shy teens develop social skills and learn how to break the ice with games that help to introduce and bond them. These activities give teens a secure and structured environment to open up to each other, without making them feel they are the focus of attention or being embarrassed.
An alphabet game might sound too simple for teens, but it is an easy game that can help them relax by being silly. The site LoveToKnow Teens recommends this game to help shy teens get to know each other. As each teen enters the room, give them a piece of paper that has the letters A to Z printed down the left side and a line to fill in on next to each letter. Each teen must approach everyone in the room, introduce themselves and give them three or more letters that they must use to describe something about themselves. For example if someone is given the letter B, they might say "I like banana fudge sundaes." Continue the game until each person in the room has played the game with everyone and learned a lot about each other in the process.
Things in Common
This game from the site Busy Teacher is another fun and simple way to introduce teenagers and get them to chat and learn a bit about each other. Give each teen a questionnaire that has five to 10 questions about themselves on it. These can include questions such as: "What is your favorite color?" and "Who is your favorite pop star?" Once the teens have completed the questionnaire, they can then walk around the room, introduce themselves and find other teens they share something in common with. When everyone is done, have them read aloud what they share in common with the rest of the group. Give prizes for both the teen with the most in common and the one with the least in common.
Group Story Telling
Shy teens will often gravitate toward people they already know and avoid meeting others in the same room. You can help break the ice by dividing them into smaller groups randomly, advises LoveToKnow Teens. Have each teen introduce themselves to their group and work together to come with a specific story they have all collaborated on. Give the group the beginning of an intriguing story such as "She walked into the room and saw the door. She knew that what was beyond the door would change her life forever." Each group member must then add one or two sentences to write a full story. Have the group choose one person to write the story down and another to read it aloud to the room.
Playing a trivia game gives teens the competitive spirit as they work together to outsmart other teams. Form the groups by numbering off each individual so that the teens are forced to play alongside people who might not be their friends. Choose a mixture of trivia topics such as current affairs, sports, geography, history, pop culture and technology. This ensures that everyone in the group can contribute in some way as they play to win. Hand out prizes to the winning team and let all the teens mingle over food after the game.