Place a regular deck of playing cards (face-down) in front of you.
Over the course of the next five minutes, flip one playing card over at a time, until the whole pack has been flipped.
Taking turns, each group member will nominate in advance what face value (not suit) the next flipped card will NOT be.
The group’s ultimate goal is to flip the full deck of cards without having predicted any of them in advance.
Once a nominated card has been flipped, the round ends.
Note the number of cards remaining at the end of each round.
Allow a few minutes of planning time between rounds.
Plan to conduct two or more five-minute rounds, encouraging your group to refine their process and improve their performance.
How To Play Narrative
On the face of it, you would think this is a very simple task, but you’d be wrong.
Gather your group around you, and place a regular deck of playing cards face-down in front of you.
Explain that over the course of the next five minutes, you are going to flip a playing card over one at a time, until (hopefully) the whole pack has been flipped.
Then, announce that your group’s goal is to nominate in advance what face value (not suit) the flipped card will NOT be. That’s right, your group must predict what face-value of the card will not be.
To be clear, the face value of a card includes an Ace, the numbers 2 through 10, and the picture cards Jack, Queen, King. In effect, there are thirteen possible values because we are not concerned with suits (hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds.)
The ultimate goal is to flip over all of the cards without having predicted any of them in advance.
Note the number of cards remaining at the end of each round. Plan to conduct two or more five-minute rounds so that your group can refine their process and improve their ‘prediction’ performance.
On average, you need to be flipping a card every 5-6 seconds, which is pretty darn quick in terms of decision-making processes. To this end, I often ask the person sitting to my left to start, and then proceed around the circle clockwise.
As your group becomes more familiar with this task, allow a few minutes of planning time between rounds.
Observe the methods your group will adopt to account for the ever-growing list of flipped card values and those which must be left to be flipped. Your debrief may focus on their planning and problem-solving skills, not to mention their communication and leadership.
Practical Leadership Tips
Intuitively, some groups think they have to predict what the card WILL be, but that ain’t it. It often takes a few moments to get their head around that fact.
By all means, you can permit the group to flip over their own cards, but they must still attempt to get through the whole pack within five minutes.
The ultimate challenge is to complete this task without other props, such as pen and paper. However, feel free to invite the use of these or other resources if you think they would be useful for your particular group.
This challenge is based on an initiative shared by Michelle Cummings in her book Playing With A Full Deck. According to Michelle, it is extremely rare to see a group get through an entire deck without predicting a card.
You could integrate Prediction as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Controlling One’s Emotions
Identifying & Managing Stress
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Understanding & Expressing Gratitude
Recognising Strengths In Others
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
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
Resilience & Emotional Intelligence
The randomness of this exercise makes it ideal for exploring issues of what one can and cannot control. No group or individual can control (nor predict) the order of the cards, and as such can be easily connected to the competencies of building resilience not to mention emotional intelligence. For example, you could integrate Prediction into a conversation about mindsets in regards to managing emotions of frustration and coping strategies.
Inviting each person to predict a card makes it very easy to focus on accountability – if they happen to predict the next card, this person’s actions are the very reason the round ends. In the context of a game, this may be relatively insignificant, but presenting this game may provide you with an opportunity to discuss those times when accountability is more significant. For example, you could invite your group to consider when it is important to be held accountable for one’s actions, or whose responsibility is it when something does not go to plan.
Consensus Building: Ask the group to come to a consensus on the number they are predicting before turning the card over. This takes a lot longer to play (therefore, there is no time limit,) but can help build the suspense of what card is being turned over if the entire group is responsible for the number.
Circle Challenge: Form small groups of 4 to 6 people. Hand a full deck of cards to one person, and invite them to flip the cards. The person who manages to flip through the most number of cards wins.
Jokers In: Include the two Jokers to add a further predictive challenge.
UBUNTU Card Prediction: Taking turns, each person aims to not predict a certain category the next flipped UBUNTU card will be. You can establish a set of categories in advance, or invite each person to make up their own category. For example, an individual may predict that the next card will not be “found in nature” and if the card features the key, then the game continues, but if it’s the pine cone, the game will end. With thanks to High 5 for sharing this variation!
Alternate Cards: Same exercise, but using a different deck of playing cards, such as Uno, eg the next card will not be a “black Wild card.”
Build The Suspense: Take a look at Count Off and Negotiation, two wonderful problem-solving activities which feature intriguing elements of suspense.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
With your group glued to their video monitors, produce your deck of cards and reveal the face-value of the cards as you flip them in front of your camera. Invite one person at a time, following an established order, to (not) predict the next card, etc.
As above, but ask participants to type their prediction into the chat room facility. To save time, suggest to your group that they abbreviate the names of the picture cards to J, Q, K and A.
For large groups, divide into a number of smaller breakout rooms (involving 2 to 6 people) after you have described the instructions.
If you do not have an actual deck of cards, you can access a number of free online software programs that simulate a shuffled deck of cards, eg click this link for one option. To this end, share your screen as you click through each randomised card, or direct each breakout room to do the same.
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Useful Framing Ideas
A deck of playing cards are incredibly versatile because they can be used to play dozens of games, not to mention, feature as one of the most common objects used by magicians to ply their craft. In this next game, I’m going to issue you with a challenge of prediction. It’s not a trick, but it will fascinate you, and more than likely frustrate you too…
Do you know any card tricks? I know a couple of simple tricks, most of which involve me correctly guessing or finding a particular card. Card tricks are endless fascinating, but have you ever tried to predict what card will not come up next?…
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 challenging problem-solving exercise:
How did you or the group make decisions about what card to nominate as your prediction?
How did you feel as each card was flipped? Why?
What processes did your group identify to help you flip more cards? How did they benefit you?
How might these success strategies be applied to your ‘real-world.’
The inspiration for Prediction, and many other fun group games which use a deck of playing cards, was sourced from the following publication: