Activity Description

The Jelly Bean Barter is an entertaining ice-breaker activity with a dose of added sweetness.  

Benefits of Jelly Bean Barter Activity

  • Very simple
  • Fast-paced
  • Non-threatening

Required Props

  • Jelly Beans
  • Cup or paper bag

How To Play the Jelly Bean Barter Ice Breaker Activity

To prepare for the game, buy a large packet of Jelly Beans or another type of small sweet. To get this game to work properly you need to ensure that the type of sweets you purchase come in multiple colours.

Hand out around 10 Jelly Beans, or other coloured sweets, to each of the members of your group. Another way to distribute them, simply pass the packet around and each member can select their own sweets. If you have a very large group, you can always have the sweets pre-packed before the game or sorted out in paper containers.

As soon as you give the word ‘Go’, the whole group must circulate and mingle. The aim is to trade some of their coloured beans, one colour for another, with as many members as they can.         

Instruct the group that the main purpose of the game is to try and collect ten Jelly Beans all of the same colour.  Give them about three minutes to accomplish this task and whoever is the first to finish, will be declared the winner.

In actual fact, every member will be a winner, for they will all have ten Jelly Beans in their hand, irrespective of the colour. The best part of the game is when everyone can celebrate by eating their sweets.

Right, which one of you has a black Jelly Bean that you want to trade?

Contextual Framing Ideas of Jelly Bean Barter

If you are one of those people who are not very good at competitive games, then this is the game for you. You will soon discover, in the end, everyone is a winner.  

Are you one of those people who enjoy collecting things, for example, stamps or bottle caps. After many years of collecting, you soon begin to realize that it is virtually impossible to collect a complete set. As soon as this realization hits you, the eagerness you had before seems to disappear. However, in this exercise, you will be able to collect the complete set.  

Step-by-Step Instructions for Jelly Bean Barter Fun group Ice Breaker Activity

  • Distribute to each member of your group, 10 different coloured Jelly Beans or other coloured sweets.
  • On your command ‘Go’ everyone must circulate among each other. The sole purpose is to trade coloured beans one colour for another.
  • The goal, everyone must try and collect a complete set of Jelly Beans of the same colour.
  • Give them about three minutes for the task and whoever accomplishes this in the allotted time, will be declared the winner.
  • Now comes the best part of the exercise, everyone is allowed to eat their sweets.

Facilitators and Leader Tips

One way of starting the game is to distribute the Jelly Beans into the hands of the group, but it won’t take very long until their hands become very sticky. So, it is advisable to pre-pack the sweets into paper bags or cups.

It is also recommended that you explain how the game should be played before you hand out the sweets. In doing this, you will be assured that the group will actually listen to what you are telling them, and not be sidetracked.

During the course of the game, some of the jelly beans will mysteriously disappear. Some fall to the ground, but most will be eaten by members of the group. You did not seriously expect them to wait until the end of the game before they tasted their treasure.    

You could have some group members that are diabetic or gluten-intolerant. In this case, you could start the game and only hand out 5 jelly beans, or you could make use of sugar-free sweets. Another option would be to use coloured stones instead of sweets. If you are not very familiar with the group be prepared with a number of variations.

Debriefing and Reflection Strategies

Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process, their experience of the game of ‘Jelly Bean Barter’:

  • Was it very hard to make a complete set of jelly beans? Why?
  • Is there a reason why you chose the colour you selected?
  • As soon as you started trading did you become aware of anything around you?
  • Were you tempted to eat any of your sweets before the end of the game?

Popular Variations of the Jelly Bean Barter Activity

  • Trade & Share: When trading your treasure with someone else in the group, you are encouraged to share something about yourself with them.
  • Combination: As you swap your jelly beans with another member of the group, you could combine the exercise with some ice-breaker questions.
  • In Reverse: Everybody starts off with 10 jelly beans of the same colour (each person has a different colour). The aim will be to collect all the other colours.
  • Alternatives: This is not as appealing as the jelly beans, but you could also make use of pieces of colour paper or fabric etc.
  • For another sweet ice-breaker game try ‘The Mintie Game’.

Basic Details
Property Type : Ice Breakers
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Ice Breakers
Focus On : Communication, Collaboration, Having Fun
Outcome Based : Yes
Props Required : Minor
Duration : 6 - 15 minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Children, Youth, Adults