The yellow dot in the centre represents the centre of the universe. We’ve already heard earlier today from Pam that this Center is the centre of the universe.
And your objective now is to imagine that if that is the point at which everything begins is to place yourself relative to this centre.
For example, the first one is a very simple one and it’s going to be particularly skewed because I’m involved, is that I’m going to ask you to stand… if this happens to be the centre of the universe and that way is North, and I don’t know if it is but let’s say it is, to stand relative to that spot from where you live right now, not where you lived ten years ago but where you live today.
So I live in Melbourne, Australia. So I’m definitely very south of this point, and just to give it some context I’m going to be standing here. Suggesting if this is 10,000 kilometres away you work out where you would be relative to that.
So stand as best as you can relative to this spot to where you live. So if you’ve come three hours away, find that relative to that space.
(people playing Mapping game)
For those people around you if you haven’t already started, again quickly introduce yourself, it works really well if you use your own name, and identify with those people around you and find out where they live.
Maybe you discover that you’ve got something in common or there’s a pizza shop close by that you both happen to go to but didn’t know.
So look for those things in common because you have something else in common right now, you don’t live too far away from each other. Go.
(people playing Mapping game)
You have 5 to 10 seconds to be able to wrap up that conversation. No need to cut off abruptly on occasions.
Next one, think of where you were born. Now I’m going to remove myself from the equation because clearly I’m going to be a long way away.
So effectively looking at the continental or otherwise of the United States… maybe you were born out of this country, but again if that was still North and that was effectively New Hampshire or Durham, where were you born relative to this centre? Go.
(people playing Mapping game)
Roughly speaking you’re pretty close to where you need to be. There’s bound to be some new people around you. Take the next 30 seconds to share with one or more people around you. Just share something that was special about the place that you were born.
Now if you weren’t there for very long, hopefully there’s something special you can think of, but many of us have lived in that space for a while before we moved away.
So what was something special about the place that you were born? Again take about half a minute with one or more people around you. Go.
(people playing Mapping game)
How To Play Narrative
Place an object, such as a witch’s hat or cone, in the centre of your space, and ask your group to gather around it. A shoe, or the centre circle of a basketball court works just as well.
Explain that the object represents where your group is standing right now, and happens to also represent the centre of a giant map, which is framed by the boundaries of your room, playing space, etc.
In essence, you’re asking people to imagine that they are standing in the middle of a huge imaginary map of the world. It’s often useful to point out where north, south, east and west are too just so people can get their bearings.
Your next instruction is to explain that you will announce a series of statements or questions, and would like each person to move from their current position to a spot on the map that best represents their response.
Here are a series of ready-made questions I have often used to get to know my group a little more:
Where in the world were you born?
Where in the world would you love to go on holiday?
If you could live somewhere else in the world for a year, where would you go?
Move to a country that speaks one of your favourite foreign languages.
Which continent would you most like to visit?
Move to the country that is renowned for producing your favourite cuisine.
Where is the one place on earth you would not want to visit?
Move to the location of your most memorable adventure experience.
Move to the location of a recent world/news-making event.
Naturally, to encourage interaction, invite people standing close to one another to share why they are standing where they are standing.
Having already established a common point of interest, this exercise is a great way to break the ‘ice’ especially among people who do not know each other.
Practical Leadership Tips
It’s common for some people to orient themselves near, if not, right on top of other people. That’s OK. In fact, I would suggest that when this occurs, this is a great opportunity to invite some sharing.
If possible, use an area that is not too big. Otherwise, you may find that people spread out too far from one another, and this is sure to dampen the enthusiasm for sharing, not to mention, kill the energy in the room.
Use open-ended questions, which will elicit multiple responses, such as “MOVE TO A COUNTRY YOU CONSIDER SAFE” to generate opportunities for discussion.
Consider presenting Map Making as a lead-in to this mapping game, to provide a feature-filled image of the world, or other space you have created.
You could integrate Mapping as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand the perspectives of and empathise with others including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
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 to one’s wellbeing of meaningfully connecting with others.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully navigate the various maps may speak to the adaptability of your group not to mention some elements of mindfulness, but these would be considered minor attributes featured in this particular icebreaker.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Mapping could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Think Local: Imagine your playing space as being your local community or town only. Ask a series of questions that relate to local events, pastimes, histories, etc.
Metaphor: Develop a meaningful metaphor in which your map and questions relate directly to a particular subject or course of study. For example, health and wellness, international relations and culture.
DIY Map: Consider presenting Map Making in advance of this exercise to prepare the map within which your group will move.
Take a look at Spectrums for a 2D mapping version in which members of your group stand along a straight line to indicate their response.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
In advance, produce one or more maps to present to your group digitally, eg create PDFs or PowerPoint slides, etc. Load the map on your computer and share your screen so everyone can see the map. Then invite each person to annotate their mark (location) on the map (most online conferencing apps can do this.) Pose more scenarios and/or process as required. Remember to clear the annotations between rounds.
Think outside the square, so to speak. Upload any image or photograph and ask your group to annotate the image with their mark based on a question you pose. For example, display an image of n animal and ask each person to annotate that part which represents how they feel right now.
Wondering where all of your participants are located? Download the world map (see Resources tab) and share this with your next international conference group. Each person then places their marker on the map to provide a powerful visual representation of the geographic diversity (or not) of your group.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Most maps, if they are accurate, will provide a guide to indicate the scale at which the map has been produced. For example, a scale of 1 to 500 means that the real area and distances involved are 500 times the size indicated on the map. With this perspective in mind, I would like you to consider the space in which we are standing is a map of…
Developing spatial awareness, or the ability to judge the perspective of height, width and depth, is a critical skill for human survival and development. This next exercise will challenge you to understand the relationship between you and your fellow group members and the vast geography of the world…
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 get-to-know-you game:
What did you notice as the activity progressed?
What does all this movement say about the group?
How difficult was it for you to locate particular places on the map? What made it difficult?
In what areas of our lives (or occupations) do we need spatial awareness?
Fun Introductory ‘Team-Building’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 40 mins, many lengths of rope, pen & paper for each group, a cone
Map Making – creative problem-solving exercise to create a map of the world
Mapping Game – interactive spatial exercise which uses the newly created map
Commonalities – fun small group game which seeks things in common
The inspiration for Mapping, and many more interactive, get-to-know-you games, can be found in the following publication: