Deck of Card Debrief

Type of Activity:  Processing  and Debriefing

Published in:  Playing With A Full Deck, by Michelle Cummings

A Teachable Moment, Cain, Cummings, Stanchfield, pg 172.

Reflective Learning, Sugerman, Doherty, Garvey, Gass.  pg 66.

Group Size:  4-8 per group

Props needed:  A  Jumbo deck of playing cards, Playing cards, primarily non-face cards, and those between one (ace) and five, are best.

Aim of the Game: The benefits of this activity are that it is less threatening for  participants to speak to just one person at a time rather than the whole group. Sometimes participants are more open if they aren’t speaking to their facilitator. Remember good processing can happen even if the facilitator is not present to hear it! This is a useful activity not only to process a specific experience but is great as a closing activity for a session or program day.

Variation #1:  Designate a meaning to each suit within the deck of cards.  For example hearts could represent feelings, spades could represent situations individuals had a difficult time with, diamonds could represent successes and clubs could represent something they noticed about one of the other group members.

Shuffle the deck and deal each individual a hand (up to 8 cards).  For each card, the individual shares with the group an example of what the suit represents.  The numbers on the cards and face cards can be involved also.  For example, Jacks are wild cards that can be traded for another card in the deck and the numbers on the cards represent how many thoughts that individual may share with the group, etc.  You may want to "stack the deck" with specific cards or adapt the rules so that the person who draws a "10" does not have to share 10 items--this could get a bit lengthy!

Variation #2:   At the completion of the activity, the facilitator passes out a playing card to each participant.  The suit of each card describes the category of your response, and the number shown on the card identifies the number of ideas you need to share on this subject.  For  example, a four of spades, suggests mentioning four things related to new thoughts that you dug up during the activity.

  •  Hearts: generate conversations about something from the heart.
  • Clubs:  describe things that grow (new ideas, new thoughts, a new point of view)
  • Spades:  are used to dig in the garden, and describe  planting some new ideas or things that you dug up during the activity.
  • Diamonds:  are gems that last forever.  What are some of the gems of  wisdom you gathered during this activity.


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

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