Divide Your Group

As I facilitate experiential education or group discussions, I like to divide any group that is larger than seven people into smaller groups. This makes it easier for quieter people to be heard. If I’m with a group for more than an hour or so, I mix the groups up so everyone gets to know each other better. I’ve experimented with some different ways to divide large groups lately; here are some of the methods I use.

At customer service training I am doing for the Iowa Community Action Association, I’ve been using the Chinese Zodiac. I made up nametags with the pictures of the twelve Zodiac animals–

Brody Girls at HerStory 2007

Brody Girls at HerStory 2007

  • Rat
  • Ox
  • Tiger
  • Rabbit
  • Dragon
  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Lamb
  • Monkey
  • Rooster
  • Dog
  • Pig

Then I made pages with the corresponding pictures, descriptions and years of birth for each sign. I put these on the tables, automatically dividing the group as they arrive. I have small groups form by combining different signs. Here is a Web site that tells you which signs go together best; you could base another grouping on those recommendations.

Here are some other quick ideas for forming small groups randomly–

  • Have the girls line up by one of these methods; then divide the line into the size or number of groups you want– (Shoe size, Height, Birthday)
  • Divide by eye color, kinds of shoes or shirt color
  • Divide by month of birth or season of birth–
    (Winter = December, January, February, Spring = March, April, May, Summer = June, July, August, Fall = September, October, November)
  • Play the game Mingle Mingle, ending with the number you want in your small groups.

Michelle Cummings of Training Wheels has published a book–Playing With a Full Deck–that has lots of ideas for activities for groups that only use card games. Download Dividing a Group for a taste.

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