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Warm-up exercise: Pair

This exercise is a great icebreaker game and a fun way for students to get to know each other. Students are challenged to figure out what a famous person they are and who their classmate is, using yes or no questions.


1. As a group, brainstorm a list of famous couples, partners, and duets. You will need to come with at least as many pairs as you have students (that is, if you have twenty students in the class, you need at least ten pairs). Pairs can be characters from plays, movies, books, comics, or even certain foods that always go together. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Batman and Robin
  • Mario and Luigi
  • Peter Pan and Wendy Darling
  • Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
  • Bert and Ernie
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse
  • Anna and Elsa
  • Superman and Lois Lane
  • Sugar and spices
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Macaroni and cheese

Pay attention to possible debates about who a character’s famous partner is. Your students might think that Batman and Joker, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell or Princess Leia and Han Solo are better pairs than the ones listed above. If you wish, allow students to explain their thoughts and vote on which pair is more iconic together.

2. Write each member of the pair on different pieces of paper, post-it notes, or sticker sheets. (Note: If you don’t have time, you can prepare the list of famous pairs and papers in advance – just make sure the pairs you choose are the ones that students will be familiar with.)

3. Attach the papers to the backs of your students.

4. Ask students to walk around the room and try to figure out who or what they are, using yes or no questions. For example, if a student’s character is Batman, he might ask, “Am I a man?” “Am I a superhero?” or “Am I in a movie?”

5. Once they realize who or what they are, they need to find their partner (that is, the student who plays Batman must figure out which student Robin is) and sit next to them.

6. If your students find this exercise too easy, you can make it more challenging in a few ways:

  • Limit the number of questions students can ask each other. For example, if your limit is ten questions, ask students to raise their hands. When I ask a question, I have to bend one of my fingers until I realize who I am. Once both hands are in their fists, they can no longer ask questions and will have to wait for their partner to find them or find out through the elimination process.
  • Set a time limit for finding your partner. If you want to make it a competition, maybe students who match in time win a prize, or students who can’t find their partners have to do a task such as sweeping the classroom or performing a silly dance in front of the rest of the group.
  • Just mime. Students cannot use their voices; he has to mimic his questions and answers.
  • Once students realize their character, they need to behave and speak like that character. This could be more difficult for students whose pairs are peanut butter and jelly or cheese macaroni, but a fun challenge nonetheless!
  • Once the students have found their partner, assign the couple a stage to prepare or an improvisation scenario to complete.

Click here for a free release sheet.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

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