Randomly distribute one or two alphabet cards to each person in your group.
Announce the first of a series of categories to invite each person to find a partner or small group that share something in common.
For example, find one person or a small group (no more than three people) who are holding the same type of letter as you are (vowel or consonant.)
Once paired, pose a question and invite each person to share their response with their partner(s.)
Announce a new category or apply the same category a second time to invite your group to interact and swap partners.
Continue these opportunities to interact and share with one or more variations.
How To Play Narrative
Letter Connection is an ideal stand-alone activity or can be used as part of a series of activities which involve a set of alphabet cards.
That’s your first task – either procure a large bunch of alphabet cards (download from the Resources tab) or make your own. Either way, have many more than you think you’ll need.
If you have a small group (up to 15 or 20 people,) randomly distribute two letters to each person in your group. Otherwise, one letter will normally suffice.
The essence of this activity is to invite each person in your group to use one or both of their letters to locate a series of partners for the purposes of sharing.
There are no limits to the number of categories you can announce to invite people to find a partner or small group. Here are three options to get you started:
Vowels/Consonants – like meets like, eg A pairs with E, or L with an X.
Starts With – share something about yourself that starts with the letter(s) you are holding, a person holding an H could share that they have a Happy disposition.
Colour – like meets like (if your set of letters come in different colours or backgrounds.)
Phonic Sound – like meets like, eg D may pair with a P, or an A with a J.
In each case, once people find their partner(s) invite them to respond to one or more questions to stimulate some useful sharing.
If your group is engaged, take a look at the Variations tab for more group-splitting and sharing options.
Practical Leadership Tips
Recently, I have been blessed with a set of Crosswords cards which feature multiples of all of the 26 letters. They are plastic-coated for durability, large enough to see at a distance and come in four different colours to enable another useful group-splitting strategy. I love them.
Inevitably, some people will get stuck with J, Q, X and Z which can sometimes be difficult to use depending on the group-splitting or sharing category. If necessary, invite them to swap out these letters from the pile.
Ordinarily, not everyone will find their perfect partner. That’s fine, simply invite those who are still seeking a partner to pair up.
As with most sharing, don’t be too-concerned that every single person/pair/small group is responding to the task at hand. Your primary goal should be to generate sharing, of any type. Even if only half of your group is actually focused on the topic you announced, if everyone else is at least engaged in a conversation, this collective energy will ably generate the energy and enthusiasm you need to propel the group forward.
You could integrate Letter Connection as part of a well-designed SEL program to establish 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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying lots of positive social interaction with a sense of belonging.
In a small way, you could argue that the ability to interact in a pro-social manner, not to mention, the ability to take initiative and assume leadership, may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance, but these could be considered minor attributes belonging to this particular activity. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on what helped or hindered people’s willingness to engage with others, especially those that they didn’t know.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Letter Connection could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Letter in Name: Find a partner/small group who is holding a letter which appears in one’s name, eg Leo may choose to partner with Colin because he’s holding the letter O.
Bordering Letter: Fina a partner who is holding a letter which sits either side of the letter they are holding, eg Z with A, E with F and S with R.
Common Feature: Find a partner who is holding a letter which has a common feature such as a straight line or curve, eg B with D and T with L.
Symmetric or Not: The letter connection for two people is based in terms of symmetry, eg A may pair with T (because they are both symmetrical) and R may pair with J (because neither of them is symmetrical.)
Letter Blends: Also known as diagraphs, invite everyone to find a partner who is holding a letter which combines with their own that can form part of a word, eg C and H, Q and U, S and M. To this end, letters such as F and Z would not form a pair.
Highly interactive get-to-know-you game for all groups.
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Trust exercise that focuses on inclusion & diversity.
Useful Framing Ideas
We are told that there are no accidents in life, so it must be true that there is a reason for why you will be given the letters you are about to receive in this next exercise…
Some people don’t have much to say until you give them a prompt, and then they often have a lot to say. This next activity is a bit like that…
Sharing lays the foundation for so many good things, especially in the context of building and strengthening relationships. There are a wonderful array of fun ways to invite sharing, and here’s another…
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 ice-breaker game:
Was it difficult to get your conversation started?
What helped your conversation progress?
Why do you think we sometimes struggle to find something to share? What are we afraid of?
What helps you feel comfortable to share with others? With strangers?
In the context of building relationships, is sharing important? Why?
The inspiration for Letter Connection, and many more interactive get-to-know-you games, was generated as a unique variation of the activity Four-Letter Word many years ago.