Distribute ten randomly picked jelly beans or variously coloured sweets to each person.
When ready, 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.
You could integrate Jelly Bean Trade as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Understanding & Expressing Gratitude
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Making Reasoned Judgements
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
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 of engaging in a series of generous and equitable trading interactions with others.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to interact and trade successfully may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Jelly Bean Trade could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
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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Useful Framing Ideas
As one of the slowest, least coordinated kids in class, I was never much into competitive activities. But, here’s a game where everybody wins at the end…
Did you ever collect something when you were young? Maybe you still collect things today? I used to collect stamps and match-box covers. Yet, after many years, I came to realise that I could never get a complete set of anything I was collecting, so my interest kind of dwindled. Happily, I have an exercise for you now in which you can collect the whole set…
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 as the trading occurred?
Did you spot any behaviours or trades that concerned you? What’s an example?
Do you think the trading process was equitable? Why or why not?
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: