Pick up all the cards

This is a fast-paced, highly energetic and hilarious activity that will occupy everyone at the same time.

 Fun Games
 Having Fun
6 – 15 minutes
1 – 8, 9 – 16, 17 – 30, 31+
Children, Youth, Adults

Required Props

Set of ’52 Card Pick-Up’ cards per team

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Form into small teams of approximately four to eight people.
  2. Distribute one set of 52 Card Pick-Up cards, placed face-down, in front of each team.
  3. On “GO” each team member flips a card, and performs the task as described on the card to the best of their ability, and then picks up another card.
  4. An individual player may not show or tell others what their card is.
  5. If an individual pick up a card they do not want, they may place it back in the pile.
  6. The first team to successfully complete all 52 tasks wins.

How To Play Narrative

This is a fast-paced, highly energetic and hilarious activity that will occupy everyone at the same time.

Divide your group into small ‘teams’ of approximately four to eight people. Look at how to divide teams for some ideas.

As each team will need a set of the 52 Card Pick-Up cards (you can download a sample here), the number of groups you create will be dependent on the number of sets you have made (the more the better)

Ask each team to place the cards face-down on a table or the floor, within easy reach of every team member.

Explain that each team’s goal is to ‘pick-up’ all 52 cards, one card per person at a time, and perform the task as described on the card to the best of their ability.

An individual may only pick up one card at a time, and under no circumstances can they show or tell others what is written on the card as it’s a secret. Only when they have completed their task successfully, may they pick up the next card on top of the pile.

Naturally, within each team, there will be many tasks in play at any point in time. However, explain that if someone reads a task that they do not understand, or would prefer not to complete, then they are permitted to add it back into the pile (hoping that someone else on their team will complete it.)

Your group will quickly discover that this is no ordinary series of tasks. Within moments of saying “GO,” all manner of action and noise will burst from the teams. Your only task now is to supervise the energy and answer any questions that may come your way (which is rare) – not to mention, be seconded to partake in some of the tasks.

Diligently working their way through the pile of cards, the first team to perform all 52 tasks wins.

Practical Leadership Tips

While it’s not important, suggest that all completed task cards are placed face-up in a separate pile,
close to the face-down pile.

As one or more teams always seem to lag well behind the others, invite those that finish early to fill the time by flipping back through their cards and re-live some of the more memorable tasks with their fellow team members (who were too busy to notice.)

If possible, avoid teams of nine or more people, because not only will the activity conclude very quickly, but each person may only get to complete six or seven tasks.

Given the nature of some of the tasks, consider your sequence to ensure your group is both physically and mentally prepared. To this end, review every card in advance to ensure that most if not all the tasks are appropriate for your group.
This is a great activity for introducing optional participation, comfort zones, risk-taking, taking initiative, developing one’s voice and more. Be clear about why you might use it and process as appropriate.

Consider opening your program with this exercise, with a view to processing the group’s experience in regards observations about adventure, risk, having fun, self-consciousness, and challenge.

Popular Variations

  • Time Challenge: Challenge your group to complete all 52 tasks in the quickest time possible.
  • Individual Challenge: Invite each person to keep each card when they complete the task. Challenge individuals to ‘collect’ as many cards as possible.
  • Penalty Cards: If you adopt the ‘collect’ version above, consider adding a series of cards which (a) require a person to return the card to the pile when finished, and/or (b) return half of their pile, or (c) all their cards.
  • DIY: Create your own set of zany tasks to describe the cards. Better still, ask your group to come up with some ideas.
  • Whole Group Task: Develop a set of cards that involves everyone on the team at the same time in a task

Useful Framing Ideas

Do you remember your father or big sister or some other person you looked up to when you were young asking you to play a game called ’52 Card Pick-Up’ with them? In case your memory fails you, it was the activity that started with this person tossing a full deck of cards into the air, and then saying “Okay, the game has started, pick up all of the cards!” That is not what’s about to happen here…

Your choice will impact your experience and the experience of others.