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Ways To Play

GROK Games

Group GROK The most popular exercise for groups was using the GROK cards to play ‘empathy poker’. In this example, I was working with patients in a hospital. I gave each person some feeling cards and some need cards and told them how to use them. Then one person would volunteer to tell a story. It could be a happy or sad story or the story of why they ended up in the hospital. As they told the story they would pause at intervals and the class members to place down the relevant feeling and need cards in their hands. At the end of the story, the storyteller would look at all the cards and pick out the ones that resonated the most. If they wanted to say more they could. Then the other people in the class would say how they felt when they heard the story. This was usually a very connecting exercise and helped the patients bond together. Mel Sears, Certified NVC trainer and psychiatric nurse

Meetings If your organization is having a meeting, consider laying out the feelings cards so when people walk in, they can pick 1-2 feelings cards they are currently feeling. Depending on the size, you can ask them to check-in and share in small groups, dyads, or all together in the larger group. What’s particularly helpful about this is that everyone gets an opportunity to share and be heard before the meeting starts which can lend itself to a more efficient meeting, no matter the topic. Consider also having the needs cards on another table and ask people to choose 1-2 needs that were met for them by way of check-out and ending the meeting. 

Here's one suggestion to start:

  • Taking your time, go through the individual bear cards with your child and ask what the bears are feeling.
  • Do it only as long as the child is engaged. When attention wanes, go to something else.
  • You can make guesses too.
  • Ask why the particular bear might be feeling that feeling.
  • The two of you can make up reasons why you think the bear might be feeling that feeling.
  • Ask if the child has ever felt that way and can remember the situation.

When something comes up and the child seems to be having some feelings about it, get the cards out and ask if it’s OK if you guess the feeling, or, set out the cards and ask which ones the child might be feeling.

Once you’ve discovered the feelings, start introducing the child to needs by making guesses. 

All of this will help develop emotional literacy. When things happen at school, the two of you can guess what you think someone might have been feeling/needing. If you watch TV or movies, you can process together the feelings and needs of the characters. 

Lastly, know that even though many of the games say they are for groups, you can play them with your child. For example, once there is familiarity with the cards and the emotions, you can put one of the cards on your forehead and he can say “I might feel that way if……” 

Building Emotional Literacy When I first share Kids GROK with a child, I like to go through the feelings cards and show them one-by-one to the child. I ask the child what they think the bear might be feeling. Even if their guess does not match the word on the card, I ask the child a time they might have felt that feeling. If they can’t think of a time, we talk together about a possible scenario when that feeling might arise. For example, if the feeling word is ‘curious’, we talk about a time when they may have received a wrapped gift. How might they have felt wondering what was inside the package? If the word is ‘disappointment’, we talk about how it feels if a friend has to cancel a play date. By reviewing the cards, it can help the child develop emotional fluency and make it easier to play some of the card games.


Ice Breaker or Group Check In Using clothespins and a clothes line, pin the Big GROK Needs cards around the room so they are easily visible (or tape cards in a horizontal line to the walls). Choose a smaller number than the 70, so they’ll fit in the space!

Optional ways to then use the cards:

    • As a check in, invite participants to stand by a need and share why that is up for them in their lives.
    • As an ice-breaker, ask participants to choose one need they consider to be one of their most valued or important ones They can stand under the need and just say the name of the need, or also why they picked that need.
    • While playing Big GROK games in the manual, you can invite players to make empathy guesses from the cards visible on the clothes line (or wall).


How To Play

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