Coded Cards

Thinking & Engaging
Thinking & Engaging

Dazzle and amaze your participants with this quick activity as they try to figure out how you and another staff have the ability to read one another’s minds.


  • Deck of cards


As the facilitator of this back-pocket game, you need another staff member to be “in”on the trick. Gather your participant group and explain to them how you and another staff member can read one another’s minds. They will instantly be doubtful and disbelieving. Prove it to them with a little game.


  1. On a flat surface, lay out 9 cards face down in a 3x3 grid.
  2. Send your staff partner out of the room or away from hearing range of the group.
  3. Have your participant group collectively decide upon which card out of card grid you will transmit to the other staff. The staff won’t be guessing the type of card but rather indicating the correct one out of the grid, therefore, your participants need only to point at their chosen card.
  4. Once a card has been decided upon, invite your staff partner back and have them announce to the group which card is the one they selected; your group will be astonished!
  5. The correct card will be transmitted this way: as the staff who has knowledge of the correct card, hold the deck of cards in either palm of your hand with your fingers beneath the deck and your thumb on top. Imagine the same 3x3 grid on the top of the deck. Whichever card was selected in the real grid, position your thumb in that spot on the deck. The imaginary deck grid should be exact positioning of the real grid, not a mirrored or flipped version.
  6. The staff that returns to announce the correct card should take his/her time in “deciding” in order to build suspense.
  7. Undoubtedly, your group will want to play again and again in order to figure it out! Play until your heart’s content, and, for as long as possible, and to keep the fun going, don’t tell them!


  • Switch roles with your staff partner.
  • You could make the grid larger in order to be able to transmit higher numbers, however be aware that more numbers increases the difficulty in accurately indicating with your thumb on the deck.


  • It’s possible that some participants might get extremely frustrated with not knowing how the game works. Consider only playing a couple rounds and then moving on to the next program activity, or, if you feel like behaviours might escalate, just tell them.


  • This is a quick activity and so a wrap-up isn’t necessary.

Obtained from: