Suzanne Whitby

Sink or... sail, swim, surf and scuba!

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This fun activity allows participants to follow instructions on a MURAL whiteboard to perform a variety of activities and eventually share their name and location. You can use this as a short ice-breaker or energiser (remove some of the activities) or as either pre-work or an opening activity to make sure that everyone knows how to use MURAL before an online session begins.

A MURAL template is included for you to use and modify as you wish (at the bottom of this method).



This activity can have different goals depending on how you use it, including:

  • to make sure that everyone knows how to use MURAL as an end-user
  • to check people's tech and ability so that you are aware of any challenges at the outset and can correct as needed (for example, by pairing people with tech problems with "experts" in breakouts)
  • to give participants a break from the "serious" stuff
  • to set expectations if you expect participants to follow instructions closely
  • if you pair participants up in breakout rooms to work together through the activities, this can also have a teamwork aspect to it - helping each other, working together etc.




    I use this energiser at the start of an online workshop when I want to familiarise people with how MURAL works and test their tech (skills and whether their tech is working). There are several ways that you can use this: 

    • as pre-work, to be completed individually
    • as an opening exercise for people to work through individually, guided by the facilitator
    • as an opening exercise for people to work through together in small groups - 2-3 participants. This allows them to help each other, get to know each other, and so on.
    • use part of the board as a quick energiser - for example, for the Sailing Start, you can time people to get their sailing boats to the pier and assign their boat a name

    Customise questions as needed to have quick check-ins - how people feel about the progress of the workshop, how they feel about using the board and so on.

    Invitation to the group (optional):
    For today's session, we will be using a tool called MURAL, which is an online whiteboard that will allow us to share ideas, brainstorm together, and identify patterns, problems, solutions and actions. It's similar to using many flipcharts, but it's all online.

    I  know that some of you may be familiar with this tool, but to refresh our memories, I'd like to invite you to have a play with something that I've created just for you. You'll be heading for warm weather and blue seas. I'm going to pop you into breakout rooms in pairs, and I'd like to complete each activity individually, working together if you get stuck or need help.

    Here is the link: 

    [Offer to answer questions; perhaps say that you will pop into each room to see how they are doing. You might also ask them to learn one thing about their partner that they didn't know before, as part of the exercise]

    You will have 15/30 minutes for this. Have fun!

    Overview of the activities:
    Full details appear both on the MURAL board, and in the MURAL outline.

    • Sailing Start
      • Participants choose a sailing boat, change its colour, and move it to The Pier.
    • The Pier
      • Participants come up with a creative name for their boat, and "label" it with a round sticky note.
    • A Refreshing Swim
      • Participants leave their boats behind and head for the swimming beach where they choose a swimmer, and move their swimmer to Decadent Deckchair Beach.
    • Decadent Deckchair Beach
      • Participants move their swimmer to a sticky note, along with a deck chair, and add some text to the sticky note (name, how they are feeling about MURAL). They then head to the Surf Shack.
    • The Surf Shack
      • Participants practice using icons, shapes, and text to decorate their surfboard. They learn about grouping elements. Then they "catch a wave".
    • Catch a Wave
      • Participants place their surfboard on the wave. They may have to rotate it to make it look "right". Then they move on to the Underwater Explorers Scuba Shop.
    • Underwater Explorers Scuba Shop
      • Participants choose and re-colour a scuba driver. Then they take their diver scuba diving...
    • Go Diving...
      • Down, down participants go with their scuba diver until they discover the TREASURE and the final instructions.
    • Treasure!
      • The treasure is a map, and participants are asked to use the location pin to show where in the world they are, and add a sticky note with their name and location so that the facilitator knows that the participant is finished. Tip: this is helpful if you are using this as a competition.

    A note on the design:

    The MURAL template is a work in progress. I would like to make it slicker (and hope to do so over time), but it has been tried and tested and works well as it is.

    The template can be accessed free of charge here: 


    This is a variation on the Icebreaker Villa MURAL template created by MAKETEAMWORK.

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