Workshop Exercises: Ice-breakers

30 Circles

Boost creativity by quickly turning circles into recognizable objects

Illustration of 30 Circles
Run a 30 Circles play

Alternative plays: Crazy Eights, Round Robin

Timing: Execution

Prep time
10 minutes

Run time
20 minutes

Group size

Why: It is easier to have a great idea when you have many to choose from

When: Ideal to stimulate creativity and prevent overthinking at the beginning of a brainstorming session

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Hand out one 30 Circles sheet of paper and a marker to draw with.
  2. Give participants a Timebox of three minutes to turn as many of the blank circles into recognizable objects.
  3. Compare results. Look for quantity or fluency of ideas.
    • How many people filled in ten, fifteen, twenty, or more circles? Look for diversity or flexibility of ideas.
    • Are ideas derivative (basketball, baseball, volleyball) or distinct (planet, cookie, happy face)?
    • Did anyone break the rules?
    • Are circles combined (snowman or traffic light)?
    • Were the rules explicit or assumed?

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.


Assign a specific theme or topic for all the circles


Have each participant start a few circles, then pass their sheet to others for completion


After the circles are drawn, consider asking participants to narrate a story linking all their drawings

Related plays

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Ice Breakers

Relieve initial group awkwardness and establish a safe space

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