IAF Methods

Arrival Marbles

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
30 + 1 - 25

Sharing thoughts at the opening of a workshop or training session.

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To enable a group to safely talk about their feelings and concerns in arriving at a meeting.


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Setting: Marbles. The objects need not be marbles, choose anything that the group would be comfortable with like miniature cars or trucks, carved wooden animals, pieces of fruit or vegetables, flowers, stones, etc.

Number of participants: 1-25

Time needed: 30 Minutes

Select a number of glass marbles or beads where each one is different. Try to have 3 to 5 more than the number of people in the group.


1. Display all of the objects in a dish so that everyone can see them all.
2. "Today we're starting the meeting with a round of sharing what you are bringing to the meeting. This may be concerns, questions, feelings, whatever. Choose a marble that says something about what you are bringing to the meeting." Give people the time they need to choose a marble and think about what they want to say.
3. First choose an item yourself and model a response with it. "Who would like to go next? You need not answer questions, respond to feelings, etc. Simply allow each person to explain what they are bringing.
4. When everyone has finished, ask, "What are some things you have heard here?"

5. Close by affirming what has been said, such as: "You can keep your marble. Let's be aware of what we have said here as we proceed today.
6. The marbles can also be used at the end of the meeting to evaluate with a question such as, "Have a look at your marble. What has changed for you since that first conversation?"


Follow-Up Required: none


Source: Maureen Jenkins

History of Development: Ned Ruete used a small object in a closing in a similar way.

Comments (2) ( 4.5  avg / 2 ratings)

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  • Provides a safe way to talk about personal perspectives.

    over 2 years ago
  • I liked being reminded of the simplicity and depth of this activity which can be easily adjusted to the Group. I often use Pictures/postcards with motives open for interpretation. But the marble was new to me...

    about 2 years ago