Category Cruncher

By Paul Z Jackson

(from 58½ Ways To Improvise In Training)

A quick-fire energizer, which also introduces the idea of resources by inviting participants to consider which categories - resourceful or otherwise - they fit.  They also find out various things they have in common or difference with each other.  And in the prototype negotiations, they make fast, decisions, enjoying the improvisational activity of choosing freely within a series of shifting structures.

Trainer says

In this activity you need to find things out about each other quickly and sort yourselves into groups.

Each group is identified by what you have in common regarding the category that I call out.

Let’s try it - the category is Pets.



The participants might split into just two groups - those with pets and those without.  If there are more than ten participants, encourage them to find further or different ways of splitting; for example, dog-owners, cat-owners, used to have a pet, never had a pet.

Trainer says

A group means at least two people, so no one is to be left on their own.  For example, if the category is Weddings, and everyone has had one except for one person, that cannot be the basis of the groups.  You might need to find a group who have been to weddings this year, and a group that hasn’t. 

Other categories to call out include:

  • Siblings
  • Food
  • Transport
  • Key learning from the workshop so far

As the categories get more interesting, so the participants may take longer to identify which group is which, and to choose which group they are in (often they will qualify for more than one within any category - for example, in Transport someone may own a bike, a car and dislike going abroad). 


  • What have you found out that you didn’t know before - about the others? About yourself?
  • How did you decide what to do when you had a choice within a category?
  • How did you feel about breaking up the groups so quickly?
  • Were there some people you were inclined to stick with no matter what the category?