Icebreaker: The Group Map
Ask people to place themselves on an imaginary map laid out in the room representing the country according to where they grew up. Ask them to share one internal value they got from that place, and why is that important for them. Encourage people to share a short story if they want
This icebreaker can be useful for any group session where participants are coming from different geographical regions, either within a certain country or internationally.
Make sure you have a big enough room for this activity, depending on the group size and the geographical diversity of your group.
1. Explain that the area available for the exercise will serve as an imaginary map, representing a certain a certain region / country / continent / the world - depending on which is applicable to your group. Show were is North on the map.
2. Ask participants to move to the point on the map where they grew up. (You may modify it, e.g. Where were they born, or where they went to school).
3. Ask a reflective question to participants, something that helps them to open up and they are happy to talk about.
One of my favourite questions is: "Think about what is valuable for you that you got from growing up there, something that you took with yourself. Not an object, but a value or characteristic feature. Explain briefly why is this important to you."
For this question, people tend to reflect on some positive memories, and often give answers such as: love of nature (as they e.g. spent a lot of time outdoors), lively family atmosphere (e.g. if they had a big family), the value of teamwork (e.g. if they practised a team sport competitively).
Give them about a minute to arrange themselves on the map and think about their answers
4. Ask participants to share one-by-one: where did they grow up, and what they took from there.
If you have time, encourage them to share a short story why was this experience important to them (but only of the want to share)
This exercise helps to discover people some common points they have, e.g. having been born in the same region, or playing the same sports, having big families, etc..
- It can be useful if you take the first turn with speaking and show an example of what depth and length of answers they might give
- If the first one or two answers are too fun or too serious, it can easily bias the rest of the people.
Tips for running this activity online
- Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows you to use a large, zoomable canvas.
- For this exercise, create an open space for the map and add a compass point for North - you can use a background for this space if you wish, though keeping it plain is good!
- Invite each of the participants to add a post-it note or marker for where they are from on this map. Encourage them to talk and try to get together into the right spot.
- When asking your reflective question, we recommend adding it in text form to the whiteboard, for easy reference.
- When facilitating group discussion, we recommend participants use non-verbal means to indicate they’d like to speak. You can use tools like Zoom’s nonverbal feedback options, a reaction emoji, or just have people put their hands up.The facilitator can then invite that person to speak.
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