Download the Print+Play ‘Signature Bingo’ sheet from the Resources tab, or prepare your own from this guide.
Copy and distribute one sheet and a pen to each person in your group.
Ask each person to seek the signature of someone in the group who matches the criteria prescribed in each of the 25 squares.
If desired, announce that the first person to obtain five signatures in a row (up, down or diagonal,) or the first to fill the entire sheet, wins a prize.
Video Transcript for Signature Bingo
presented by Mark Collard
For this next exercise it’s going to be possibly something you’re familiar with, but like most adventure experiences there is an unanticipated outcome, and if for no other reason it’s because this group is new to you.
I’m going to hand out a sheet which has 25 squares on it. For each of the squares there is a little task that you’re invited to actually accomplish. And it’s relatively simple in that’s it’s a one-on-one interaction that you have with someone and asking them a question, you’re seeking out certain information.
And when you find that information that is the person that you’re talking with, let’s say it was with Jane… I say hey Jane, do you happen to have a sister, because that was one of the squares on my sheet of paper.
She’s going to say Yes or No. Okay? If it’s a yes, she has the opportunity to sign that box that has that instruction or task inside it.
You may know this as ‘Signature Bingo’, because it is in effect actually creating a whole series of signatures. The object as you could imagine on the five-by-five sheet is to actually get five down, five across, or five diagonally in a row.
I’m going to encourage you to fill in as many of the squares as possible, but we will stop and acknowledge the person who gets the first five the first time right through, but keep on going anyway as you work your way through.
There’s a couple of things. One, it is a small group and there are 25 squares. So you can do no more than two squares on someone’s sheet. So if you already see your signature on it, you can only do one more.
And it’s always a one-on-one conversation. So I can’t stand here and go okay, who’s got a sister? It needs to be a particular one-on-one interaction.
Have you got the idea?
Alright, each of you had been invited to bring a pen along. If you don’t you can go grab that in a second. Come forward and grab yourself a sheet and start when ready.
(people playing Signature Bingo)
How To Play Narrative
Instructions for making your own bingo sheet will follow, but the ready-made Print+Play ‘Signature Bingo’ sheet can be downloaded from the Resources tab as a guide.
If you prefer to make your own, then your first task is to mark a sheet of paper to look a bit like a BINGO sheet, you know, 5 rows by 5 columns = 25 squares. Make it 6 x 6 or 7 x 7 if you have a really large group. If in doubt, always go large.
Fill each square with a short instruction, such as “Ask someone who was born in February to sign here,” or “Ask someone who has visited a foreign country to sign here.”
Variety is the key, and don’t make the criteria too obvious so that a simple observation will suffice, eg “Find someone who has red hair.” Mixing and signing are good, but encouraging people to talk with one another is better.
Here’s a short list of possible signature criteria. Search for someone who:
Rode the bus to school/work/play
Was born overseas
Has seven letters in their first name
Is taller than you
Has the same number of siblings as you
Owns a dog at home
Has travelled interstate for their holidays
Likes cereal for breakfast
Knows how to waltz
Is the same age as you.
Having filled all of the squares of your sheet, your final step is to make a copy for each person in your group.
You can probably guess the next bit.
Distribute one Signature Bingo sheet (and a pen) to each person, and invite them to seek the signature of someone in the group who matches the criteria prescribed in each of the 25 squares.
The aim? To be the first person to obtain five signatures in a row (up, down or diagonal,) or the first to fill the entire sheet, or as many squares as possible in the allotted time.
Maybe they get a prize at the end, or maybe they don’t – primary aim of course is to invite people to mix and share.
Practical Leadership Tips
Unlike regular bingo, it’s not necessary to make each sheet unique. However, there should be many more people than there are bingo squares to provide ample opportunities for mixing.
If necessary, suggest that one person is not permitted to sign more than one or two squares of any bingo sheet. This prevents those who simply view the questions as a check-list for one or more people.
If you regularly have people arrive in dribs and drabs, this is a perfect, fun exercise to occupy people as you wait to make an official start.
Sometimes, people complain that a flimsy sheet of paper is difficult to sign without something firm to press on. If necessary, provide clipboards or books as suitable signing platforms.
If you (or the group) know each other very well, create questions that feature at least one really unique attribute about each individual. Such as “Find the person who has been hit by lightning twice,” or “Ask someone to recite the alphabet using sign language.”
You could integrate Signature BINGO as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of interacting with others in a non-threatening, social manner.
In a small way, you could argue that the effort required to successfully gain a bunch of signatures from a group of people you don’t know may speak to the benefits of taking initiative, ie to approach and interact with strangers.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Signature BINGO could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Numerical Bingo: Create a BINGO sheet full of numbers, where the numbers represent anything related to another person. For example, a ’13’ could represent one person’s age, ‘4’ could be the number of siblings in someone’s family or ’23’ could be the street address of another. Add the relevant criteria to the signature in the box.
Birthdays: Add a series of 25 random numbers from 1 to 31 to represent birth dates. Each person is challenged to find a person born on that day in any month.
Skilled Bingo: Add criteria in each square that is focused on a particular skill/interest. For example, here’s a shortlist of active ideas featured on a ‘Heath & Fitness Bingo’ sheet, which you can download from the Resources tab:
– I can do five push-ups.
– I can leapfrog over someone three times.
– I can teach you a dance step.
– I eat five serves of fruit & vegetables every day.
– I exercise at least five times a week.
– I can swim at least 100 metres without stopping.
– I participate in a competitive sport.
Action Bingo: Add criteria that invite others to perform a zany act, such as:
– Using your non-dominant hand, shake another person’s hand.
– Can recite a nursery rhyme in full.
– Whisper your name into the ear of someone taller than you.
– Can say “Unique New York” five times quickly.
– Can name three current-release movies.
Pen & Paper Fun: Take a look at ID Numbers to enjoy another fun ice-breaker game which involves pen and paper.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Welcome folks. We are still waiting for a few stragglers to arrive, so to keep you busy, take one of these sheets and a pen. Your object is to find as many different people to sign one, but no more than two squares on this sheet…
It’s quite amazing what we can learn when we go beyond the typical initial pleasantries, and take the time to have a real conversation with someone. This next exercise will invite you to do just that, and I’m willing to bet that you’ll discover a lot more or new information about others in your group as a result…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this highly interactive get-to-know-you game:
Name two or three new things you learned about other people today?
What did the group learn about you, that until now, was not widely known?
What might this activity say about other people and your group?
Inventive ‘Ice-Breaker & Name-Game’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 40 mins, ‘Signature Bingo’ sheet (Print+Play) & pen for each person, toy ABC blocks