Penny for Your Thoughts

During these final days of summer many families gather for vacations and reunions. Educators and Counselors often are looking for some new activities for that final session of their summer program, or are starting to think about the first week back at school. Here is a activity from Jackie Gerstein’s Book A Place of Connection, that could be adapted to fit any of these situations.

Purpose (goal)
• To have fun and break the ice.
• To begin the process of self-disclosure.
• To gather personal/assessment data through a quick, fun and non-threatening activity.

Age Level and Type of Group

Penny for Your Thoughts is a fairly non-threatening assessment tool that can be used with all age groups and with any number of family participants or families at any point during a program.

Description of the Activity

1. The family/group members are asked to sit in a circle with a large pile of pennies in the middle. The facilitator asks a series of “personal” questions (see Penny for Your Thoughts Question Sheet on the next page).

2. Each family member is asked to answer the question in a round-the-group, circle fashion. They must answer as quickly as possible when it is their turn. If they answer the question, they are allowed to grab one penny from the middle of the circle. If they do not answer, or if they do not answer the question quickly (within a few seconds of their turn), or if they speak out of turn, they do not receive a penny. The person with the most pennies at the end of the game wins.

Note:To make the game fair, each consecutive question should begin with a different group member (the next in-line).

Penny for Your Thoughts
• How old are you?
• When were you born?
• Where do you live?
• Where do you work or go to school?
• How many brothers do you have? sisters?
• Do you still live with both your parents?
• What is your favorite food?
• What is your favorite sport?
• What is your favorite hobby?
• What do you want to do when you grow up?
• What other languages do you speak?
• What’s your favorite movie?
• What was the last book you read?
• What’s your favorite social activity?
• What’s your favorite arts activity?
• What is your favorite kind of music?
• What was your favorite vacation?
• Who do you most admire in the world?
• What do you like best about yourself?
• What is one thing you would change about yourself?
• What is one thing you would change about your family?
• What do you like best about your family?
• What is the best gift you ever received from your family?
• What is the best gift you ever gave to your family?
• If your dad was a cartoon character, who would he be?
• If your mom was a cartoon character, who would she be?
• What feelings are easy for you to express?
• What feelings are hard for you to express?
• Where is a safe place you typically go?
• What one thing would you like to be remembered for?

Gerstein, J. (1998). A Place of Connection: Expressive Counseling Techniques for Families and Individuals. Bethany, OK: Wood ‘N’ Barnes Publishing.

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