Grab a pack of playing cards (or two packs if your group is larger than 52 people.)
Randomly distribute one card to each person in your group.
Invite them to gather with all others who are holding:
– Card of the same suit, eg hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades;
– Card of the same value, eg all the 4’s get together, all the Kings get together, etc;
– An odd (or even) card; or
– The same colour card.
How To Play Narrative
You can never have enough fun and engaging ways to invite your group to randomly connect with other people. Take a peek at the Leadership Tips tab to understand why this is so important.
Grab yourself a pack of playing cards (two if your group is larger than 52 people,) and distribute the cards randomly among your group, one per person.
Depending on the size of the groups you are seeking to form, you may then ask each person to gather with others who meet the following criteria:
Card of the same suit, eg hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades;
Card of the same value, eg all the 4’s get together, all the Kings get together, etc;
Everyone holding an odd (or even) card; or
Everyone holding the same colour card.
After a while, I might invite everyone to swap their card with someone in their current grouping, and then return to an earlier split, such as suit. This tends to mix people up again.
You now have a prescribed number and randomly produced groups or pairs to move on in your program.
Practical Leadership Tips
The premise behind this strategy is that most people, all things being equal, prefer to be with others that they know or are familiar with – as I describe it, with those they like or are like. Nothing wrong with this. It’s a reflection of our natural instinct as humans to seek safety and comfort. However, this preference will never build and strengthen relationships in a group. Hence the need to given people a reason to seek out others whom they would not ordinarily be or associate with.
Another wonderful benefit of using playing cards (or any prop for that matter) is that the focus of the exercise initially is on the cards, and not on the person. For some, focusing on another person such as looking them straight in the eye, can be very confronting.
Take a look at Facilitator Tips: Episode 1 to learn a little more about the value of giving people a reason to be with others, rather than simply ask everyone to ‘Pick a partner…’
You could integrate Playing Card Mixers 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:
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 engaging in a series of fun social interactions.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to successfully mix with others may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy full value behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of comfort each person had to mix with others with whom they did not know or had much in common.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Playing Card Mixers could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Straight: Gather with two, three or four other people so that the value of your cards forms a straight, eg 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or Jack, Queen, King, Ace.
Poker: Invite people to form into groups of five, to form the best poker hand (click here to view the rules of Poker to identify what beats what.)