Beginnings and Endings
Any group, but especially those in a longer course (i.e.,
three or more days), in an ongoing course, or in a course
involving personal development activities
To share information about one another
To be aware of the “baggage” each person brings to a
course (this can be useful information for the trainer
To provide continuity with an “ending” exercise (Snap-
shot, page 137)
Business-sized envelopes for each person
Selection of colored felt-tip pens—at least one for each
2-sided tape and/or plastic adhesive
20 minutes to draw
About 3 minutes each for introductions
1. Give participants an envelope and a pen(s).
2. Ask them to imagine that someone is taking a snapshot of them at this
moment that will show how they feel, what the concerns and preoccu-
pations are in their lives, etc.
3. Ask each person to write their name and draw this snapshot on the
front of their envelope, using the envelope lengthwise with the flap at
the top (this is important if you are to use this envelope again in an
ending activity).
4. Explain that they can use diagrams, pictures, symbols, and a few
words, but the emphasis is on some form of pictorial representation of
how they feel now.
Compendium of Icebreakers Volume 3
5. Reassure participants that good drawing skills are not required for this
and that everyone will be asked to explain their “photographs” to the
rest of the group at the end (see Suggested Explanation).
6. Tell them they have about 20 minutes to draw and allow them to carry
out the exercise. It sometimes takes participants a while to start. If
after about 5 minutes someone seems to be having difficulty, subtly
find out what the problem is and encourage them to try.
7. As participants finish, ask them all to display their snapshots on the
8. As a group, cluster around the display and ask for a volunteer to intro-
duce themselves to the group by explaining their snapshot. After the
explanation, other participants can ask questions about the snapshot
for clarification.
9. Someone else elects to go next and so on until everyone has had an
opportunity to explain their snapshots.
10. Leave these envelopes on the wall until the end of the day, or ideally,
until the end of the course if you are using them as an ending activity.
Suggested Explanation
“As an introductory exercise, to give us a chance to get to know one
another, I’d like you to imagine that you are able to take a photograph of
yourself right now that shows how you are feeling and what your preoc-
cupations and concerns are at the moment—these might be at work or
they might be in your home or social life. It’s up to you what you choose,
but what I’d like you to do is actually draw that snapshot on the envelope
you’ve got.
“Now you might want to use diagrams or symbols as well as actual pic-
tures and add a word or two if you need to, but I’d like it to be as pictorial
as possible. Don’t worry if you feel you are not good at drawing because I
know you’ll be able to put something down on paper that will be mean-
“Don’t forget to write your name somewhere on the envelope and please
use the front of the envelope, holding it lengthwise and keeping the flap at
the top. This is so that we can use these envelopes again at the end of
the course.”
Beginnings and Endings
1. You could join in if you feel this is appropriate and do your own snap-
shot. This is necessary if you are using this as an ending activity as
well and you want to receive positive messages from the group your-
self (see Snapshot, page 137).
2. This activity could be used purely as a “beginning” in which case a
sheet of 8½" x 11" paper can be used for each participant instead of
an envelope.
Possible Pitfalls
You can never predict what “baggage” people bring with them to courses,
and this exercise could arouse all sorts of feelings in participants as they
remember their concerns and preoccupations. You therefore need to
remain sensitive to this.

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