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Perception and Communication: How Many Squares

Brief Description/Purpose

Brain  teaser,  icebreaker or energizer with a purpose. Can be used to explain how there can be differences in perception and interpretation of what seems simple, how we assume things that aren't said, and a number of other things.


Brain teacher

Age Appropriate

Children, Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size

Any size

Time For Exercise

5-15 minutes depending on how you debrief.


Perception, communication, differences

Detailed Instructions If Needed

You'll need a copy of the diagram below -- the checkerboard, that you'll probably want to display via an overhead or powerpoint slide.

1. Project illustration on the wall.

2. Ask participants to look at the squares and decide how many squares they can find in the illustration. They should not discuss their conclusions with other group members.

3. After one or two minutes, ask them to write their answers on flip-chart paper. 

4. Ask participants to explain their answers to the group. Continue (he discussion until the correct answer (30) has been given.

5.   Discuss how and why people perceive things differently. 

Additional Information if Available

The advantage of doing this in groups is the discussion, which, in and of itself can be examined, and how group members attempted to resolve the conflicts or how they communicated.

On the other hand you can have each person count on his or her own, and come up with a number and work from there.

Or you can use this as a straight brain teaser and energizer.