Instruct your group to form one straight line according to a particular sequence, eg alphabetical order by middle name.
Allow up to a minute for your group to complete the task.
Embrace this line in your next activity.
How To Play Narrative
I think, like me, most group facilitators have a bunch of strategies they use to help their group arrange themselves in a straight line, eg according to your height, date of birth, etc.
That said, like me, your list of line-up ideas is probably pretty limited. Which is where the following list comes in.
Here are, quite simply, 101 novel line-up ideas you can use to arrange your group into a straight line according to a particular order. Note the categories to help you skim the list – Alphabetical, Random, Stories, Age, Deck of Cards, Numbers.
If you have an idea that does not appear on the list, don’t hold back – please add your idea in the Comments section of the activity.
Last name spelt backwards, eg Smith would be htims
Initials (of your full name)
City or State or Country born
Name of country by citizenship (passport holder)
First name of a relative, eg sibling, mother, father, grandparent, favourite uncle, etc.
High school or college attended
Favourite book, by title
Favourite book, by author
Favourite song, by title
Favourite song, by artist
Body Mass Index
Colour of hair (lightest to darkest)
Colour of shirt (lightest to darkest)
Colour of shirt or top (according to rainbow spectrum)
Shoe size (smallest to largest)
Length of time at their job, organisation, school, team, etc
Size of thumb
Eye colour (lightest – darkest)
Distance of home from this room (closest-furthest away)
Length of hair (longest – shortest)
Length of commute time, to arrive at school, office, etc.
Straightest hair to curliest hair
How high you can jump
Width of out-stretched arms, tip to tip.
Distance from thumb to pinky
Size of big toe
Size of ear (height)
Average time getting ready
Furthest distance you have travelled from home
Date of most memorable adventure experience
Alphabetical order of city/state/country in which your most memorable experience occurred
Rank of most memorable adventure experience
Date of your most embarrassing moment
Rank of embarrassing moment (least to most)
Date of a time you got really lost
Birthdate, from youngest to oldest
Day & month of birth, from 1 January to 31 December
Birth order (first, second, third, etc.)
Age differential between oldest and youngest sibling (in your family)
Age of oldest parent
Age you wished you could have stopped aging
Deck of Cards
Alphabetically using the entire deck of card, eg Ace of Clubs – 2 of Spades
Deck order, eg 2 to Ace for each suit
Alphabetical by suit, eg Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades
Number of letters represented in nominal value of each card, 2 has three letters, so it will come before 5 which has four letters, etc.
Number of letters represented in full value of each card, eg Two of Diamonds has 13 letters so it sits later in sequence than King of Hearts because it has 12 letters.
Alphabetical by number only (not including suit,) eg 8 (eight) comes before 11 (eleven) followed by 5 (five) etc.
Cell or mobile phone number (all digits)?Last three digits of cell or mobile phone number
First cousins (extended & blended families included)
Books read this year
Countries or states visited
Houses you have lived in (where mail could be delivered)
Years you have owned favourite garment of clothing
Pets you have owned or own
Pieces of jewellery being worn now
Roller coasters you have ridden
Amusement parks visited
Vehicles you have owned
Pairs of shoes you currently own (have in your wardrobe)
Siblings (halves & steps included)
Times you have visited [enter name of an entity, eg shop, business, location…) this month
Times you had eaten out last week
Trash cans in your house
Recycling containers in your house
Total number of screens owned by your family
Scars (or serious injuries)
Bones you have broken in your lifetime
Jobs you have held over your lifetime (where you got paid by someone other than a parent)
Keys on keychain
Cards in wallet/purse
Schools attended, eg preschool to college (and university if you wish)
Speeding tickets received
Number of TV shows watched consistently
Movies watched in cinema this year
Average hours of sleep per night (include minutes if necessary)
Times you have checked Facebook today
Text messages per day
Coffee mugs owned
Average steps per day
Resting heart rate
Heart rate measured right now (eg immediately after some form of exercise)
Total Twitter messages sent
Total Twitter followers
Total Facebook likes
Cash (notes & coins) on your person
Again, if you have an idea that does not appear on the list, please add your idea in the Comments section below.
Practical Leadership Tips
Line-up ideas as an activity should match the mood of your group. If you need to elevate the energy of the group, then opt for something that is fast-paced and energetic. Or, to calm a group, employ a strategy that involves more thought and discussion.
Consider challenging your group to form the line using a non-native language, or without speaking, or without any forms of verbal communication, or blindfolded.
If your group is really large, you may want to divide your group into smaller groups first, before issuing instructions to form (similar) lines. You can learn tons of great ideas at Getting into Teams.
The key to creating any line-up is having sufficient room for the line to form. Mostly, I opt for straight lines, but if my space is not wide enough or if I would like people to be able to see each other (once the line is formed,) I invite my group to form a curved, horseshoe shape instead.
Consider using a quick line-up strategy before launching into your next exercise. For example, once the line is formed, fold it in half so that each person is facing directly opposite another person, and voila! You have produced random partners, ready for your next partner exercise. Or, perhaps you need your group to start in a straight line and you can see value in ‘manipulating’ the order of where people would ordinarily stand.
What, you need more? One hundred & one ideas are not enough? Here are five more:
Smile: Ask everyone to produce a smile and line-up according to the widest, biggest, most cheery, etc.
Random Object: Before issuing any hint that your group is about to line-up, instruct them to pick up any object that can get their hands on and can carry. Then line-up according to the size, height or weight of these objects.
Sticks: If you happen to be in the outdoors, instruct your group to pick up any stick lying on the ground. Then line-up according to the size/height of the sticks, smallest to tallest.
Relationships: Ask your group to think of a significant relationship, eg best friend, marriage, partner, etc. Instruct your group to form a line according to the number of years this relationship has existed.
National ID: Form a line according to the last three or four digits of your Social Security or national identity number.
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Unless you happen to be using one of these line-up ideas as part of a group initiative, most of these random line-up strategies need not be processed. However, the following questions may be useful for you:
What did you notice as the line was forming?
What was the most challenging part of the exercise? Why?
What principles of effective communication were exhibited (or not) in this activity?
What did you discover about others?
The inspiration for 101 Line-Up Ideas was first sourced from the good people at Paradigm Shift, with thanks.