A great activity for everyone

Time Hop

A captivating game of exploring personal milestones and memories across the years!

Time Hop
By Jon Zajac

What is Time Hop?

Time Hop is a fun and engaging icebreaker game that involves sharing personal memories and experiences based on the year marked on a coin or other dated item. The purpose of this activity is to foster connections and promote meaningful conversations among a small group of people, helping them learn more about each other’s lives in different time periods. By drawing a coin and recalling an event from that year, players can create a welcoming and open environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their stories. Time Hop doesn’t have a winner or loser, as its primary focus is on building relationships and discovering commonalities among the participants. The game encourages active listening and respectful communication while sharing positive memories, creating an enjoyable atmosphere for all involved.

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Rules for Time Hop

  1. Fill a hat or bag with pennies that have years on them, making sure all dates are within a relevant range.
  2. Gather in a quiet room where everyone can hear each other clearly.
  3. Verify that all participants are comfortable sharing personal details.
  4. Collect birth years and sort the pennies accordingly.
  5. Each player draws a penny, announces the year, and shares a related memory.
  6. Listen respectfully to each player’s memory without interrupting or rushing them.
  7. Set limits on the type of memories shared and the length of time for each share.
  8. Establish a positive and supportive environment for sharing experiences.
  9. The game does not have a winner; the objective is to learn more about each other through storytelling.

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Materials needed for Time Hop

  • Hat or bag: This will be used to hold the items with year markers on them.
  • Items with a year marker (e.g. pennies, stamps): These items will be drawn from the hat and used to prompt discussions about what life was like at that point in time for the other players.
  • List of birth years: This will be used to ensure that the dates on the items are not too far in the past or future for any of the players.
  • Timer (optional): This can be used to set a time limit for each player’s turn, to prevent the game from becoming one-sided or dominated by a single player.

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Setting up for Time Hop

To set up for the Time Hop icebreaker activity, you will need to choose a quiet room where everyone can hear each other speak clearly. Collect the birth years of all the participants and use this information to sort through the pennies or other dated items, ensuring that the dates are appropriate and relevant for all players. Place the selected pennies or items in a hat or bag and mix them thoroughly. Make sure that everyone involved feels comfortable sharing personal details and establish any necessary guidelines for the types of memories and length of sharing during the game.

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How to play Time Hop

  1. Prepare the materials: I gather a hat or bag, pennies with visible dates, a list of everyone’s birth years, and a timer to play Time Hop.
  2. Set up the game area: I choose a quiet room where all players can hear each other clearly and make sure everyone is comfortable sharing personal details. I also sort out the pennies so that no one draws a year too far in the past.
  3. Distribute the pennies: Each player, going counterclockwise, takes a penny from the bag, announces the year, and shares a memory associated with that time of their life. I ensure everyone gets a turn by passing the hat around only once.
  4. Listen actively: As each person shares their memory, I pay attention and make sure all players are being respectful. I avoid interrupting or rushing the speaker, fostering a positive environment for sharing stories.
  5. Set boundaries and time limits: Before starting, I communicate any necessary constraints on memory content and set a time limit per player to keep the game engaging and inclusive.
  6. Encourage meaningful connections: I listen carefully and take note of what I have in common with other players during the game, deepening my understanding of their life experiences.
  7. Use alternatives if needed: If there aren’t enough pennies for everyone, I write down years on scraps of paper or use another dated item as a substitute. To expand the game, I consider adding a hat with both years and seasons for extended playtime.

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Benefits of Time Hop

  • Encourages personal storytelling: By having players draw dates and share related memories, Time Hop encourages individuals to open up about their lives and experiences. This can help participants get to know each other better and deepen their connections.
  • Improves listening skills: Since the game relies on players sharing memories based on drawn dates, active listening is crucial. Players need to pay attention to others’ stories, which can enhance their overall listening abilities and empathy towards others.
  • Fosters positive group dynamics: By setting ground rules for sharing only positive memories or allowing any memory type, Time Hop can create a supportive and uplifting atmosphere that promotes positive interactions among participants.
  • Promotes reminiscing and reflection: Reflecting on past experiences can have therapeutic benefits, such as reducing stress and increasing happiness. Time Hop encourages players to think about their lives and share happy moments, which can lead to a more positive outlook on life.
  • Encourages intergenerational bonding: By using date markers from various years, Time Hop can facilitate conversations between people of different ages, helping bridge generational gaps and fostering mutual understanding.
  • Customizable for group preferences: Time Hop offers flexibility in gameplay, such as allowing the use of alternative items with year markings or expanding the game with seasons. This adaptability enables the game to cater to various group sizes and preferences.

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Skills built with Time Hop

  • Active Listening: Playing Time Hop requires players to pay close attention to the person sharing their memory and ensure that everyone is being respectful during their turn. This helps build active listening skills as it encourages players to focus on understanding and responding to what is being said, rather than just waiting for their turn to speak.
  • Empathy: By sharing personal experiences from different points in their lives, players can develop a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and emotions, which can help build empathy. This skill is important for building positive relationships and promoting social harmony.
  • Respectful Communication: Time Hop involves setting boundaries around the type of memories shared and encouraging positive interactions. By doing so, players learn to communicate respectfully with each other, which is a crucial skill for building strong and healthy relationships.
  • Patience: The game requires players to take turns sharing their memories, which can help build patience as they wait for their turn. This skill is important for managing stress and maintaining positive social interactions.
  • Memory Recall: Time Hop involves recalling personal experiences from different points in one’s life, which can help improve memory recall skills. This is a valuable cognitive ability that can have numerous benefits in various aspects of life.
  • Critical Thinking: By setting limits on the type of memories shared and encouraging positive interactions, players are required to think critically about what they want to share and how it may impact others. This skill is important for making informed decisions, solving problems, and navigating complex social situations.

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Why I like Time Hop

I like the Time Hop icebreaker because it encourages players to share personal stories and memories from different periods in their lives. This makes for a great opportunity to learn more about each other and find common ground. The game’s setup is simple, requiring only a hat, pennies with years on them, and a list of birth years. I also appreciate the emphasis placed on creating a comfortable and respectful environment for sharing personal stories.

One aspect of Time Hop that I particularly enjoy is the lack of competition or winners. This helps to keep the focus on getting to know each other rather than trying to come out on top. The game’s flexibility is another plus, as it can be easily adapted by using a hat of years and seasons or writing down years on slips of paper if pennies are not available.

Overall, Time Hop is an engaging and inclusive icebreaker that encourages meaningful conversations and connections between players.

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Tips for making Time Hop more inclusive

  • Use objects with diverse year markers: To ensure that everyone in the group can participate, use items with year markers from various time periods. This will allow players to draw dates that are relevant to their own life experiences.
  • Create a safe and welcoming environment: As the host, make it clear that all stories and memories are welcome, and that everyone should feel comfortable sharing. Encourage active listening and respectful communication throughout the game.
  • Consider cultural differences: Be mindful of cultural differences among players and how they might affect comfort levels when discussing personal experiences. Make adjustments to the game as needed to accommodate different backgrounds and perspectives.
  • Include a variety of memory types: Encourage players to share various types of memories, not just major life events. This can help create a more inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels they have something valuable to contribute.
  • Set boundaries and expectations: Clearly establish guidelines for sharing memories and set time limits to prevent any one player from dominating the conversation. Make sure everyone understands the importance of respecting each other’s stories and experiences.
  • Provide alternatives to verbal storytelling: Offer alternative ways for individuals to share their stories, such as writing them down or creating a visual representation. This can help accommodate players who may feel more comfortable expressing themselves in non-verbal ways.
  • Adapt the game as needed: Stay flexible and be prepared to make adjustments to the game based on the needs and comfort levels of the participants. Remember that the goal is to create a positive, inclusive experience for everyone involved.

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Reflection questions for Time Hop

  1. What year did you draw and what memory did you share? This question helps participants reflect on their own contribution to the game and can help others in the group get to know them better.
  2. Which memory shared by another player stood out to you and why? This question encourages active listening and engagement with others’ stories, promoting empathy and connection within the group.
  3. How did you feel during the game? Were there any moments that surprised or resonated with you? This question allows participants to reflect on their emotional experience during the game and can help create a sense of shared understanding and community.
  4. Did you notice any common themes or experiences among the memories shared? This question encourages participants to make connections between their own stories and those of others, fostering a sense of belonging and group identity.
  5. How did practicing active listening and respecting others’ stories affect your experience of the game? This question prompts reflection on the importance of empathetic communication and can help create a positive and supportive group dynamic.
  6. What did you learn about yourself or others through playing Time Hop? This question invites participants to reflect on the insights gained from hearing others’ stories and sharing their own, promoting personal growth and social connection.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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