This easy, 15-20 minute ice breaker will work well for any size of group, even if your group know each other relatively well already. You just need enough coins for each delegate to have one, ensuring there is a good distribution of dates minted amongst them. You could also give a prize to the winner if you like.
1. Delegates should each take a coin.
2. Delegates should look at the year on the coin and take a few minutes to think about what they were doing when that coin was minted. Were they in school? Were they a child? Where did they work? Were they married? Where did they live? What was going on in their life at that time? What was the music of the day?
3. When they’re ready, they need to find someone with a coin that was minted at least two years before or after theirs. Ultimately, their goal is to have the oldest coin in the room.
4. Once they have found a partner, they should take three minutes each to tell each other about their moments in time. When they’ve finished, they should each flip their coin and reveal the results of their toss to their partner. If they are alike (both heads or tails) delegates should exchange coins. If they differ, delegates should keep their original coin.
Delegates should repeat the process up to three times.
5. At the end of the final round, the delegate with the oldest coin is the winner.
If the subject of your training lends itself to understanding or learning about the past, you could research a fact or figure about each year and include it with the corresponding coins. When the participants exchange their own information, they can also share your extra fact or figure. If delegates have missed some of those facts and figures during the exercise, you could call each year in order at the end and ask the delegate with the year called to read his or her fact.
Thanks go the University of Manchester’s Students as Partners for this idea.