Using pairs of individual characteristics that people have in common with their colleagues, the group members create a circle by holding hands or putting their feet together etc. Aims/objectives

  • to encourage participation and physical contact within group activities
  • to help people to get to know each other
  • to raise awareness of various characteristics which are held in common within the group

Material needed

No specific materials required


  • Clear a large free space so that all participants can form a circle.
  • Prepare a poster with a list of possible characteristics to suggest in case the students can’t think of any themselves.

Step by step description

  1. Ask one person in the group to start thinking of two personal characteristics which he or she then announces to the whole group, such as: „On my left side I am a girl, on my right side I have two brothers.“
  2. Then call for someone else who shares one of these characteristics and ask him or her to hold the first person’s right or left hand (according to the characteristic they have in common). Next this person should add a characteristic of his or her own on the free side. For example: „On my right I am a girl, on my left I have brown eyes.“
  3. Get all the members of the group to take a turn so that in the end you have a circle (chain, domino etc.) in which everybody is linked to everybody else.
  4. If a stated characteristic is not shared by anyone else in the group and the domino cannot be matched ask participants to negotiate another feature so that the chain is continued.

Questions for debriefing

  • Did you enjoy the activity? Why?
  • What did you observe while you were involved?
  • How did you feel when you found a characteristic that matched with you?
  • Were you surprised by things that you learnt about the others?
  • Was it difficult to close the circle (chain, domino etc.)? If yes, why?

Tips for the facilitator

  • The activity is very useful within team building phases, e.g. new classes, project teams etc.
  • The characteristics given above are only examples, any person can choose or start with any feature they like, whether it is visible or not.
  • It is important that the members of the group actually establish physical contact, this encourages a stronger group feeling. The way the contact is made can be to touch heads, to put arms around each other, to put feet together, etc. Players can stand up or lie down.
  • If the suggested characteristics tend to be repetitive, you may encourage the partici­pants to come up with new ones. It is also better if the characteristics are not very simple. You could encourage the group to name visible characteristics (colour of clothes or of hair), invisible or personal ones (hobbies, favourite food, favourite song to sing in the shower…), or others related to a topic (I think …I feel…. about minorities, men, women, voting at 16 etc.).
  • This game must be played quickly so people don’t get bored while they are waiting to match up.
  • Creating a circle reinforces the group feeling. One can, however, imagine other forms of playing it.
  • If the activity is used at the beginning of a session or as an icebreaker it is suggested that you join in and take the opportunity to participate fully within the group. This can help to break down barriers.

Reference / original source of the method

Luís Manuel Pinto used this method in his workshop “We don’t learn only from teachers – Peer Education for Diversity” at the aces Academy 2009 in Budapest. The activity was originally published in the Education Pack “all different – all equal” issued by the Council of Europe in 2004.

Suggestions for follow up

  • Having made personal links, the group may want to move on to looking at the links between citizens, the media, NGOs and government in a civil society. The activity  ‚Making links‘ in Compass – Manual on Human Rights Education with Young People involves negotiation about rights and responsibilities in a democracy.
  • Dominoes will illustrate that there’s a lot more to people than first meets the eye. Nonetheless, when we do first meet people we often make judgements about them based on what we can see. Use the activity ‚First impressions‘ to explore what we see and to find out if we all see the same thing.