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Warm-Up Exercise: Pair Up

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 famous character they are and who their partner in the classroom is, using yes or no questions. 


1. As a group, brainstorm a list of famous pairs, partners, and duos. You’ll need to come up with at least as many pairs as you have students (i.e., if you have twenty students in your class, you need a minimum of ten pairs). The pairs can be characters from plays, movies, books, comics, or even certain food items 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 spice
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Macaroni and cheese

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

2. Write each member of the pairs on different pieces of paper, Post-it Notes, or sticker sheets. (Note: if you’re short on time, you can prepare the list of famous pairs and papers in advance — just make sure the pairs you choose are ones that students will be familiar with.)

3. Attach the papers to your students’ backs.

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

5. Once they’ve figured out who or what they are, they need to find their partner (i.e., the student playing Batman must figure out which student is Robin) and stand 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, have students hold up their hands. When they ask a question, they have to fold down one of their fingers until they’ve figured out who they are. Once both hands are in fists, they can’t ask any more questions and they’ll have to wait for their partner to find them or figure it out by process of elimination.
  • Set a time limit for finding their partner. If you want to make it a competition, perhaps the students who pair up in time win a prize, or the students who can’t find their partners have to complete a task such as sweeping the classroom or performing a silly dance in front of the rest of the group.
  • Miming only. Students cannot use their voices; they have to mime their questions and responses.
  • Once students figure out their character, they have to act and speak like that character. This might be more difficult for students whose pairs are peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese, but a fun acting challenge nonetheless!
  • Once students have found their partner, assign the pair a scene to prepare or an improv scenario to complete.

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