Creative Ways to Divide into Groups

In our small group at church last Sunday, the leader wanted us to break up into small groups.  In an effort to mix us up, he had us number off.  There we were, ranging in age from 30 to 70, simply counting off by 1, 2, 3.  Needless to say, it proved quite difficult for some of the group.  I’ve experienced this countless times with children and youth, but this was a new one for me with middle aged adults struggling to count off by threes!

Meeting Of Support GroupThere was a very intentional purpose in not having us choose our own groups.  We flock to people we know.  We separate into groups where we are most comfortable.  That was not the goal of this exercise.  The goal was to meet new people, get out of our “familiar” and hear the ideas and opinions of others.

Breaking up into smaller groups is often an important element in retreat settings.  If you’re looking for ways to separate your group into smaller units, here are some ideas you can implement.  (Note:  these are intended for groups of approximately 25-50 people.)

  • Candy in a Bag – Put different types of wrapped candy in a bag (if you want to have four groups, use four types of candy).  Have each person choose a piece of candy.  Separate into groups based on the types they choose.
  • Birthdays – Ask participants to find group members who share the same birthday month as they do.
  • Animal Sounds – Before you begin, write the names of different animals on slips of paper (based on the number of groups you want to have).  These can include cows, pigs, dogs, horses, etc.  Have everyone draw a slip of paper out of a basket.  In order to find their group, each person must make the sound of the animal on their paper.  (As an alternative, you could also use vehicle sounds, motions pertaining to different sports, etc.)
  • Seat Colors – Prior to the group arriving, tape a strip of colored paper under each chair in the room.  When the participants take a seat, have them look under their chairs for the slips of paper.  Break them into groups based on the different colors.
  • Arm/Finger Cross – If you need two separate groups, here are two possible ideas:  Have everyone cross their arms across their chests.  Divide into groups based on which arm is crossed over the top.  One group will include those who crossed the right arm over the left, and the other group will have those who crossed the left arm over the right.  In addition, you can also use this same principle with thumbs.  Have guests close their eyes and interlock their hands.  Groups are formed by which thumb is on the top – right thumbs on top form one team, while left thumbs on top form the other.

Do you have other creative ways to separate into small groups?  Share in the comments section below!