Activity of the Month-Fun with Quotes

I am always on the lookout for innovative, adaptable and portable activities that allow me a lot of flexibility in application. The best activities can be framed and set up as either introductory, stage setting, basic problem solving or even processing activities.

Over the years I have discovered or developed several really great activities that involve the use of quotes of various kinds. Some of these activities require a stack of cards with a variety of quotes related to learning, leadership and related topics. I also know people that make their own cards. The best sources I have found for pre made quote card decks are here and here.

Figure 1 Participants at the 2018 ISACS Conference doing an activity with quote cards


Here are some of my favorite ways to use these quote cards:

  • (Introductory Activity) Put the stack of cards (quote side up) in the center of the room and have everyone choose a quote that represents how they are feeling today, or something related to their relationship to the group. Give the group time to mingle with the group sharing their name, quote and why they chose it
  • (Stage Setting Activity) Repeat the same set up as the previous activity, however in this scenario when individuals meet others in the group and share the information above, they exchange cards. When they move on to the next person with a new card they introduce themselves AND the original card owner (point them out if possible) and other information they received about that original card owner.  Cards are exchanged again and everyone moves on to a new partner with the same instructions: a) Introduce self, and b) Introduce and point out the original card owner and share their information (as it was delivered to you). Continue for several rounds. End the activity by forming a circle and having everyone introduce themselves AND original owner’s quote and information. Usually this becomes a hilarious game of telephone and is a great introduction to the challenges of listening, observing and remembering details.
  • (Stage Setting Activity/Introduction to group process and Problem Solving) Have each person take a card as before. The criteria you use for having them chose the card will be dependent on the group and group outcomes. Once everyone has a card, have each participant find a partner and have them introduce themselves, their quote and why they chose it. The next step is for the partnership to decide which of the two quotes is the most appropriate one based on the desired final outcome. Once they have done that, this partnership joins another partnership to create a group of 4 and repeats this process with the single quotes from each partnership. Depending on group size and desired outcome, you can either continue forming groups of 8 and then 16 and repeating the process. Ultimately the group (or small group depending on outcome) works towards a consensus and chooses a quote that best represents the group (Note: I often use this activity to assist established groups in defining their mission, values and focus)


Another activity that involves quotations is a basic group initiative that requires quotations to be writing out on separate cards. I take a group quotation that I choose because it frames discussions or programming outcomes well. I put the quote on cards (usually the larger 8”x 5” cards) with one, two (or more) words and punctuation per card. Make sure you arrange words, punctuation, capitalization, etc. on cards so there is just one way the cards can be put in order to form the quotation. I also include the author with first and last name on separate cards. Each group gets a set of cards (one quotation). Their task is to:

  • Put the cards in order to form the quotation
  • To come up with a definition of the quote and how it applies to the group, our outcomes or goals

The activity can be set up in a number of ways also to increase difficulty or to focus on an issue or challenge within the group such as one or two people dominating tasks and discussions. Options include:

  • Having each person in the group assigned one or two cards that they cannot hand to anyone else. They need to keep their hands on those cards for the duration of the activity
  • The entire task is silent

I spend a lot of time looking for really great quotations. The best ones are at least two sentences long and relate to important principals or perspectives. I have included quotes from friends and other famous people. Either way it is a lot of fun.


This is certainly not a final list. Cards and other props are tools that can be used in countless ways. We challenge you to invent your own activities or incorporate props like this into other activities to enhance the experience.


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