Pas de marriage

Type of Activity:  Problem Solving and Diversity

Source:  Playing With A Full Deck, by Michelle Cummings

Props Needed:  playing cards, one per participant

Group Size:  10 or more

Aim of the Game:  The object of the game Marriage is find the person who has the same color and number card without saying what card you have.

Setting Up the Cards:  This activity works best with an odd number of players.  You will need one card for each participant.  You will need a pair of cards in the same color and denomination (e.g. three of hearts and the three of diamonds, five of spades and the five of clubs).  You will also need one Joker.

Playing the Game:  Each participant is given a card and asked not to show it to anyone.  The goal of the activity is to find the person in the room who has the same color and number of card as they do.  For example, if a participant has the three of hearts, they will be searching for someone in the room that has the three of diamonds.  However, participants are not allowed to say the color or number of their card.  As they mingle from person to person they must describe their card without saying the ’taboo’ words of “red” or “three.”   One might say, “I have an Apple colored card and my car doesn’t work well right now as it is missing a tire.”  When pairs think they have found one another they link arms and wait until the other participants have finished.

There is only one Joker in the room.  This person will mingle for the duration of the activity and not be able to find a partner. “Pas de marriage,” in French means, “no wedding”, hence the title of the activity.  The Joker card will not be able to find a partner.

Variation:  Do not allow participants to look at their cards.  Ask participants to place the card to their forehead and without talking pair each other up according to color and number.

Interesting story:  This activity was played one time using the rules in the Variation.  Without talking participants were pairing people up according to color and number.  The participant with the Joker was unaware that they had the Joker card or that there was a Joker card being used as there were no other Jokers visible.  Other participants were trying to be helpful trying to communicate to this participant what their card was.  They were gesturing to this participant by pointing and laughing at them.  They were trying to communicate that they had the Joker card, but what came across to the participant was mean and hurtful communication.  This participant believed that since she could not find a partner that others were pointing and laughing at her.  There was an amazing debriefing session afterwards about nonverbal communication and intention.

Debriefing Topics:

  • How did it feel to be the Joker?  How did others treat you when they realized you did not have the same card as they did?
  • What did it feel like when you found your partner?
  • Did you attempt to help others once you found your partner?  Why or why not?
  • How is this activity like modern society?

Learning styles utilized from the 7 Kinds of Smart:  body smart, people smart, self smart, logic smart, picture smart

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