Whats your Name Whats your Number is a fun, numerical approach getting to know people. It is an interactive icebreaker activity that encourages curiosity.
A minimal number of props are required, which are Pens, Sticky Tape, Pins and Index Cards.
Either provide a container filled with different coloured pens and markers for each group or hand out a pen to each person along with some index cards. Each person must then write their names onto the top section of the index card, making sure it is written large and clear. Underneath the name, each person must now write down numbers and letters. These numbers and letters are clues, which represent something about that person. You could see this clue as an ‘ID’ of sorts.
Here is an example:
As you can see, the name at the top, with the ‘ID’ at the bottom. The meaning of each ‘ID’ is cryptic and specific to each person. In this case, Mary was born in the year 1980, has been married for 8 years, has 2 kids, owns 2 cars and has been living in Cape Town for 5 years.
When choosing their ‘ID’, try to encourage them to select something interesting and comfortable to talk about. The clues remain a mystery to all other participants, but if they are revealed or discovered, will make for a strong connection between participants.
Once everybody has created their name tag and ‘ID’, have them pin it to their clothes. Each person could also simply hold their card, making sure it is visible to everyone. Encourage all members to mingle and join in conversations, each person should try and decipher the clues of their fellow participants.
You can let the exercise carry on for about 5-10 minutes, or longer if you feel the group is up to it. Also, encourage each person to meet with at least 5 other participants during the activity.
Contextual Framing Ideas
You will find that many believe you can live your life through numbers. That all things in life can be stripped down and represented by an involved mathematical process. Well, for this next activity, you don’t have to worry about any difficult mathematical equations.
All you will need is your ‘ID’, which will help to condense your life and thoughts into simple characters, numbers, and letters. Let’s see if everyone else can discover what your clues mean.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Whats your Name Whats your Number Icebreaker Activity
- Hand out some Index Cards or paper and some pens to each person.
- Everybody should write their names down on the top section of the Index Card.
- Below their names, each person must come up with their own ‘ID’. This would consist out of a number of characters, which include numbers as well as letters. These numbers and letters should represent something about their life.
- Example: the year a person was born in 1978, they have 2 kids, and have been married for 10 years – 1978-2K-10Y…
- Urge each person to come up with something that is interesting about their lives, and they find easy to talk about to others.
- Have each person pin their Index Card onto their clothing.
- Once everybody is ready, have them mingle and chat with each other about their cards. Try to get everyone to talk to more than four other members in the group.
Facilitators and Leaders Tips
Everybody has a choice in this activity, they can put anything onto the cards, as long as they are willing to share and talk about it with others. Don’t forget about the name above the ‘ID’, this is just as important. Make sure everyone writes out their names in large clear print.
Each person is more likely to approach another if their name is clearly visible, small illegible writing may cause a slight problem. You are more likely to connect with someone if you know their name, and not so willing if you don’t and can’t read a name clearly on a name tag.
This should be obvious, but to make sure everyone else understands, they should not use their actual ID numbers or any similar personal information.
Debriefing and Reflection Strategies
Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their experience of playing the game ‘ID Numbers’
- Did you find a common feature that everybody included in their ‘ID’? What was this feature?
- Was it easy to understand the meaning of the numbers and letters? Did you find that it became easier as you went along?
- What did you learn from this exercise?
Variations of this Icebreaker Activity
- Spotlight: Provide specific categories for each number, for example, food, hobbies, favourite…
- Limit ID: Have people develop an ‘ID’ that contains letters and numbers but must be exactly 10 characters long.
- Vanity Plates: For this, use only letters and come up with an acronym, which should represent a life value each person thinks is important. To make it easier, limit the letters used to about 6 – 10.
- There are similar games to play, which includes ‘Name Tag Mania’