Distribute ten randomly-picked jelly beans or variously coloured sweets to each person.
On “GO,” ask your group to mix and mingle with one another with a view to trading different coloured jelly beans, one for one.
Everyone aims to collect a set of ten jelly beans of the same colour.
The first person to achieve this goal within, say, three minutes, wins.
Upon identifying the winner(s) invite everyone to eat their treats.
How To Play Narrative
In advance, requisition a large bag of sweet lollies or candy such as jelly beans. For this trading game to work, your choice of confectionary must come in multiple colours.
Start by distributing ten or more randomly-picked jelly beans to every person in your group. You can either pass the bag around or, if you have a large group, perhaps dispense the beans into pre-packaged bags or cups in advance.
On an appropriate signal such as “GO,” ask your group to vigorously mix and mingle with one another with a view to trading different coloured jelly beans, one for one.
Announce that the aim of the exercise is for everyone to collect a set of ten jelly beans all of the same colour. The first person to achieve this lofty goal within, say, three minutes, wins.
Well, actually everyone wins, because whether you are first or last, you should still have ten treats in your hand – no matter what colour. And what better way to celebrate than to eat them!
OK, so who has a black jelly bean to trade?
Practical Leadership Tips
You could distribute the sweets directly into the hands of each person, but this approach is prone to get sticky very quickly. Therefore, take my advice, and use cups or paper bags.
Based on my experience with some groups, I may prefer to explain the game before I distribute the sweets. This way, the group is less likely to be distracted and may not actually hear my instructions.
Expect one or more jelly beans to be ‘lost’ along the way, ie eaten. What, you expected everyone to wait until the end to eat them?
If you are concerned about levels of sugar intake with this exercise, start with four or five beans instead. Or, variously coloured stones.
If your group includes a number of people who are diabetic or gluten-intolerant, consider your choices. Perhaps everyone starts with the dietary-alternative sweet, or you choose to adopt a suitable variation.
Trade & Share: As part of the Jelly Bean trade game process, invite each person to share something about themselves to their partner before swapping beans and moving on.
In Reverse: Everyone starts with a set of treats the same colour. The goal is to collect at least one of every different colour.
Alternatives: Not as tasty, but use different coloured pieces of paper, or stones, fabric, etc.
Sweet Ice-breaker: Take a look at The Mintie Game for another sweet-infused ice-breaker activity.
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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 ice-breaker activity:
How difficult was it for you to collect a whole set of jelly beans of the same colour? Why?
Why did you choose a particular colour?
What did you notice when the trading occurred?
Did you resist the temptation to eat any of the sweets before the game ended?
The inspiration for Jelly Bean Trade, and many more fun, interactive ice-breakers, can be found in the following publication: