Using a pen I’m going to ask you to write down six things. The first five things I’m going to ask you to write down relate to you. It’s information about you. So already today in our program you’ve had opportunities to share a little bit about yourself. I’m going to ask you to think of facts or statements or otherwise that would describe you or somehow say something about you.
For example it could be that I live in Croydon Hills. I have one son. The carpet in my home is beige. I drive a Volkswagen. I love coffee. It could be anything, but if you can when you consider what those five things are make the first one a difficult one, and then each progressive clue right down to the fifth one is very, very simple.
It might be ‘I am male’. Don’t say ‘I am Mark’ because that gives it away because that’s in fact the sixth piece of information. So you have five clues about who you are, an d you get to write it down, and then the sixth one is ‘My name is Mark’.
Let me give you a guess about what’s about to happen. Once you’ve all got this I’m going to collect them. I will form you into little groups and then it becomes ultra-competitive. Your objective is to identify when I read out the clues one at a time, can you identify who that person is.
Naturally, if I’m reading out your clues you cannot put your hand up, nor can you contribute to your group that ‘Hey, that’s me’. You basically need to be silent when it’s your card. Not that you’re going to tell anyone that because then it’s obvious.
For now your task is writing down five clues. If you’re able to, it’s not critical, but if you’re able to make them progressively easier, so it starts hard. The idea is that a group that can pick the hard clue and go “Oh I know it, I know that’s Thomas’ for example gets the most number of points and each clue we get further down a lesser and lesser number of points are awarded to you.
So to repeat, five clues, the sixth one is just you simply writing your name, and then I’ll then collect them then I’ll tell you what happens after that in terms of the groups. Got the basics?
Alright. Go ahead and grab yourself a sheet of the index cards and then come on in and grab yourself a pen. Go find yourself… You’ve got about a minute to write that stuff down folks.
(people writing down their Five Clues)
Gathering yourself together here’s how it’s going to work. I’m going to call out starting with the card that I have shuffled one clue at a time. Your group has the opportunity to raise their hand, first to offer who they believe that person to be, remembering if I’m actually reading your clue you cannot participate nor nudge somebody else saying that it’s actually you that we’re reading out the clue for. Okay?
If you get it on the first clue, you get five points, second clue, four points all the way down to one point if I get to the very last clue. If no one has got it by that point, the person to whom that card applies actually earns that point because they know who that is.
Alright. And importantly if your group actually offers a suggestion and they are wrong that’s it. You only get one go. So you want to be absolutely certain, otherwise what we’re doing there is eliminating the guessing. If you guess enough you’re going to eliminate all those people. So check in with your group before perhaps you have a go.
Here we go for the first one. And we may not get through all of these just because we have a large group but let’s see what happens. Are you ready?
First clue, I have an eight-month old son.
(people discussing the first of Five Clues)
(I have no idea.)
Okay, if there’s no idea so next point worth four points, I have led student groups in India, Africa, Cambodia, and Thailand.
(Sounds like you, Mark.)
I have not participated in this. Alright, no one with that one?
(Could you say that again?)
I have led student groups in India, Africa, Cambodia, and Thailand.
(I have a feeling it’s that group)
Next clue, I just bought new glasses.
(I think I might know.)
Alright, your hand was up first, Con.
(I haven’t even consulted with my group. I could get this wrong if I miss. Can I touch this person on the shoulder?)
You could just give their name.
(He doesn’t know their name?)
Well, if you know who it is.
(The lady with the lovely smile.)
And it is, Vanessa.
(Because she looks like she’s been to Tibet and….)
It is correct. It is correct. Alright.
Good first round and I think we’ve learned the value of a poker face, doing as best as you can. But let’s just ask a quick question, is it about getting all of that right?
Or is there some other import to the activity?
(Learning their name.)
It could be learning their name. Generating interaction and energy are more important and… oh, did you really nudge that person, that’s wrong. That’s really not going to go very far with that. Let’s do a few more but congratulations, three points to this group over here.
Out of interest what birthdays were you? Which ones?
(We’re September to December.)
The end of the year. That’s my kind of group. I love that. Okay. Alright. Here we go.
Alright, first clue is I want world peace at all costs.
(people discussing the first of Five Clues
Okay, so remembering if you get it wrong your group is then out of it.
(I’m pretty sure I spoke with this person earlier. Is it Jillian?)
Is it correct?
Oh, I should know that. It’s not Jillian but she does want world peace at all costs, it’s just not Jillian on this occasion. Alright, so sadly this group is no longer able to participate.
How To Play Narrative
This activity works as a name-game for newly-formed groups as well as a great ‘get-to-know-you-better’ activity for groups who have known each other for a while.
Use a random group-splitting method (take a look at Getting Into Teams for lots of ideas) to divide your group into even teams of at least 10 to 15 people.
Give each person a blank index card (or piece of paper) and then instruct them to secretly write five little-known facts or clues about themselves. Allow a couple of minutes to provide an opportunity for the more-inventive of your group to think.
Each person finishes off by writing their name at the bottom of the card.
A card may read, for example:
I HAVE A PET SNAKE
MY MIDDLE NAME IS TYRONE
I WAS BORN IN CINCINNATI
I HATE PIZZA
THE CARPET IN MY BEDROOM IS GREEN
MY NAME IS JAMAL HARRIS
OK, collect all the cards, shuffle those belonging to each team, and you are ready to play.
The object is to challenge a particular group to identify and name the person on the card that you have drawn from the pile (from the other team’s stack of cards) in as few clues as possible. That’s the key – the group has to guess the person in as few clues as possible.
It’s fun just watching a group struggle to identify the mystery person as you progress through the clues.
Or, you can build the excitement by awarding a diminishing number of points to the guessing team as each clue is read out, for example, five points if they guess on the first clue, four points on the second clue, and so on.
Got a really large group? Split them into teams of six to eight people, read all five clues of say ten to fifteen cards, and challenge each team to identify and name as many of the mystery people as possible – the most points wins.
Practical Leadership Tips
Encourage people to ‘think outside the square’ as they develop their clues, you know, the sort of clues that most people would never associate with them. To prompt creativity, ask people to consider topics such as places they have visited, skills that they have, details about their family, past part- and full-time jobs, etc.
Also, it is best for you as the leader to read the cards (rather than invite the guessing team to read the card themselves,) to avoid the possibility that a person’s hand-writing could ‘give them away.’
Scan all five clues before you start to read them out. Rarely do people write the most difficult clue first, and yet this is where you want to start. Work from hardest /most obscure clue to the most obvious.
To avoid a process of elimination, choose to not read out all of your cards to keep people guessing.
As more people in the group are identified, you may find it useful to limit each team to one guess per card, otherwise, the game simply becomes a matter of elimination (and not so much fun.)
You could integrate Five Clues 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 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
In advance, frame this experience as an opportunity to observe and read certain social cues, especially those of the person to whom the clues belong. People often behave and react differently when they are trying not to give anything away, ie to make it look to others that the clues do not belong to them. In addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you could invite your group to reflect on the following questions to build their emotional intelligence:
What did you notice was different about the person to whom the clues belonged?
Why do you think we behave in this manner?
Were some people better at concealing their identity than others? What did they do differently?
In what other areas do you observe and navigate certain social cues?
How might the skill of reading social cues help you build positive and healthy relationships?
Individual Champion: Frame the game as an individual event, whereby each person earns and accumulates points for themselves.
Truths & A Lie: Instruct each person to add a ‘lie’ to their set of clues, ie each person writes four truths and one lie (something that they have made-up.) Now, all five clues are read out as a set, and the guessing team is challenged to identify who the mystery person is in the other team, and to nominate which clue is the lie.
Advanced Clues: If you have developed a high level of trust and safety within your group, make it just one or two clues. Each person writes only one or two statements, perhaps describing an experience that was particularly embarrassing for them.
Take a look at Categories Twist to enjoy another fun get-to-know-you-better exercise.
Nominate yourself (or another member of your group) to act as the facilitator. Invite each person to write or type their five clues and share them with you digitally, eg via closed chatroom or email. Then, proceed as above.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Even groups that think that they know each other pretty well will often learn something about others in this next exercise…
Some people I know can identify a song from just hearing the first few notes of the music. Could you do this same exercise with people? That is, if I gave you just a couple of clues about the identity of someone in this room, could you guess who it is? Let’s find out…
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 fun, get-to-know-you, ice-breaking game:
How difficult was it to think of unique clues to write down?
What does this activity say about the fact that you can’t judge a book by its cover?
Did you learn something about another person today, perhaps a friend, that you didn’t know?