My friend Bruno Hourst has recently written a booklet on games with flashcards. To enjoy this book, you must read French (or wait for my English translation). In the meantime, I have begun designing and play-testing some flashcard games. Here’s one of them.
Usually, flash cards have a question on one side and the answer on the other side. For example, a packet of flash cards may have the names of different countries on one side and their capitals on the other side:
Card 1: Front: France. Back: Paris
Card 2: Front: Spain. Back: Madrid
Card 3: Front: Germany. Back: Berlin
Card 4: Front: Belgium. Back: Brussels
Card 5: Front: Switzerland. Back: Berne
Recently, I prepared a special packet of flash cards with staggered answers: The answer to the question on the first card is on the back of the second card, the answer to the second question is on the back of the third card, and so on. The answer to the last card is on the back of the first card.
Card 1: Front: France. Back: Berne
Card 2: Front: Spain. Back: Paris
Card 3: Front: Germany. Back: Madrid
Card 4: Front: Belgium. Back: Berlin
Card 5: Front: Switzerland. Back: Brussels
Creating a Chain
I arrange these cards in the sequential order and take as many cards from the top of the packet as there are participants. I shuffle the cards, give one card to each participant, and ask him or her to find the person whose card has the answer to the question and find the person with the question for which the card has the answer.
For example, you have a card with Germany and Madrid. You must find the participants with Berlin (to match Germany) and Spain (to match Madrid). You do this by yelling, “Who has Berlin?” and “Who has Spain?” Your task will be simplified because the two people with the matching cards will be searching for you. Once you find them, you must help your new partners to locate other participants that match the other sides of their cards. In the end, everyone in the room would have formed a chain of countries and capitals.
A Useful Opener
At the beginning of most training workshops, I spend time answering questions such as
- When is the lunch break?
- Will there be a final test?
- Who is our instructor?
- What time does the the training session end on the last day?
- Where are the rest rooms?
Instead of the boring administrative presentation at the beginning of the workshop, I make a set of flash cards with staggered answers as explained above. I distribute the shuffled deck of cards and invite the participants to match the questions with the answers. When the chain is complete, I ask the participants to take turns reading the questions and answers.