All Mixed Up

 Source:  Setting the Conflict Compass, by Cummings, Anderson 

This activity is a lot like the popular game of Scrabble™ and is a great way to get people working together.

Type of Initiative:  Icebreaker/Problem Solving

Source: Modified from 4-H Teambuilding Facilitation Manual, 2002 Penn State University

Group Size:   6–20

Props Needed:  You will need to at least 30 index cards, the 3 x 5 size works well, but we prefer the larger 5 x 7 size, as it is much easier to see them from across the room. Cards that are brightly colored add to the fun. You can also use plain computer paper if you so desire.  Multiple writing utensils, such as colored pencils, markers, or crayons, are also required. Lastly, you will need an open area to lay down the cards.

Purpose: All Mixed Up is a great icebreaker.  This activity creates opportunities for conversations with a focus on solving a task.


  • Begin by giving each player a 3 x 5 card (or other chosen paper material) and a marker.  Ask everyone to write one vowel and one consonant on the card they have. These letters should be kept in confidence until instructed to reveal one side or another.
  • In the first round, instruct the group to create as many two- or three-letter words as they can.  Once you have joined a word, you must stay with that group until we move into the next round.
  • For round two, increase the length of the word to four or five letters.  Consider having a pile of extra letters in the middle of the room and let the group know that prior to any round they may exchange their sheet or card for a new one.
  • Continue to play until you have words that are at least six letters in length.  These groupings must form a word.  The word must have one letter per participant.  When forming a word, it is important for the participants to know they can use either side of their card but not both sides at the same time.
  • After a minute or so, allow participants to exchange cards with those that have not yet joined a word, or allow them to exchange cards from the pile of extra words.

Variation: Using the same set of cards and letters, ask the large group to again break into smaller groups and then arrange their cards into real words.  The word needs to be at least three letters in length.   Every word must be attached in some way to another word—like a big crossword puzzle. You can give out some wildcards, but everyone in the group must agree on the wildcard letter.

Debriefing Topics:

  • What value did we put on certain letters? 
  • Did some letters get ignored while others we prized no matter what?
  • How is that relevant to conflict resolution of bully awareness? 
  • At what point in your life have you been the popular letter “e” and when were you the letter “x”?

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