Group Blackjack and Group Jackblack

Type of Initiative:  Problem Solving

Source:  Playing With A Full Deck, by Michelle Cummings

Props Needed:  playing cards, one per participant

Group Size:  Best played with 12 or more players.

Playing the game:  Invite your participants to get into a large circle.  Give each participant a card and ask them not to look at it.  (In case someone peeks at their card, have them trade cards with their neighbor.)  Inform the group that this is a silent activity and they may not use their voices for the duration of the activity.  Ask them to place their card to their forehead so it is visible to the rest of their team.  Instruct them to play 'Blackjack' as a large group.  Using addition only, each participant must be included in a ’hand’ that equals a combined value of 19, 20, or 21.

Here are some simple blackjack rules in case you are unfamiliar with them:  Aces equal a value of 1 or 11.  Royalty cards equal a value of 10.  All other number cards are face value.  When given a range of 19, 20, and 21 group members should be able to include EVERYONE in the group no matter how many participants you have.  Even groups of 15 should be able to complete the task as long as you deal a few aces.

Suggestion:  Throw a Joker card in and make it a 'wild' card, so it can be whatever value they want it to be.

Variation:  Group Jackblack!  (No, not the actor)  The object of Jackblack is to subtract points, rather than adding them.   Instead of trying to get into groups totaling 19, 20, or 21 as in Group Blackjack,  participants start with 21 and subtract card totals to get into groups that total 0, 1, or 2.

Debriefing topics:

  • How did you get into your groups?
  • Did anyone feel left out?
  • How did it feel when someone helped you find a partner?

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

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