It’s in the Cards – Team Building Activity


In this activity, participants will use oversized playing cards for a variety of get-to-know-you activities.

-A deck/decks of over-sized playing cards.  There should be enough so each participant has one card. Regular playing cards can be used but are more difficult to see.

Space Required: Small to large. Can be indoors or outdoors.

Group Size: Unlimited. Participants play as individuals.

Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 5 minutes for the introduction and card dispersal
  • 10 minutes for the activity
  • 5 minutes to review and debrief


Prerequisite: None

Set Up
-Participants need to have space to stand in groups in a room.


Running the Activity

  • Explain the activity: Each participant should receive one playing card.
  • Explain that the participants will be asked to group themselves by a few different categories.
  • Introduce the categories one at a time.  Once the whole group has completed that grouping, introduce a new category.  They are progressively harder.
  • Category #1:  Have all participants group themselves by the color of their card.  You should have two groups – red and black.
  • Category #2: Ask the participants to group themselves by suit.
  • Category #3: Ask the participants to group themselves by the number on their face card.
  • Category #4: Attempt this sort if you feel like you have the time (at least 10 minutes for this category).  Ask the participants to group themselves so that their cards together add to 21.  An ace can either be a 1 or 11.

-All participants should have one card and cannot trade it.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  • Energizer
  • Networking
  • Problem-Solving
  • Collaboration


Activity Guidance and Notes
This activity presents a great opportunity to have participants get to know each other.  It works in many different size rooms indoors and outdoors as well.  It is scalable to small and large groups and requires only a single playing card for each participant.  In a very large room, card sort #4 will be difficult.  Make sure you have the space and time for each of the categories.


Suggested questions to ask:

  • How did you feel when the activity started?
  • How did you feel about switching groups with each category?
  • Did you meet and interact with people you might not have?
  • What was difficult about finding a group totaling 21?
  • What did you notice about other participants that were moved into, or out of, groups?
  • What opportunity do you have to see yourself are part of more than on group in your workplace?


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