Youth Engagement Toolkit

Benefits of Youth Leadership

Brainstorming Activities

Flip Chart and Markers

The traditional "flip chart and markers" method works really well if you've got a group of about 10-15 participants throwing out ideas.

The key to making it a work is having a key to remember where you are in the Five Steps for Brainstorming! For example:

  • Black = Step 1 - All ideas
  • Red = Step 2 - Clarifying remarks
  • Orange = Step 3 - Ideas that go together (clumping)
  • Green = Step 4 - Vote marks
  • Blue = Step 5 - group's top ideas.

As long as you can keep all the marks and scribbles and lines and boxes straight, this method is a keeper!

If you have 20-30 participants, check out the sticky note method and the envelopes. For more than 30 participants, we highly recommend the note cards.

Sticky Notes

This method of brainstorming is ideal for 20-30 participants, especially if you are trying to address more than one topic. It can also be used to answer the questions on the activity planning sheets.

You will need:

  • One sheet of flip chart paper for every question
  • A different color sticky note for every questions - make sure you have enough for every person to write at least 5-* 10 answers for each question / color.
  • A room big enough to space out the stations and allow for participants to move around


  1. Write the question at the top of the flip chart paper and hang it on the wall.
  2. Divide participants between the questions.
  3. Tell the participants they have 2 minutes to write as many answers to the question as they can think of on the sticky note and post it on the question.
  4. After 2 minutes have the groups rotate but LEAVE THE STICKY NOTES. If each question has its own color, you can easily identify any stray answers when it comes time to process.
  5. Continue until participants have answered all the questions. Once they are back at their first question, you can begin processing.


There are a couple of ways you can process all of the answers -

  1. Have the participants group all of the similar answers and then list the top 10 or 15 most common answers
  2. After they've read through all of the answers, the team with that question gets to pick the best 5 answers.

If you have 10-15 participants, check out the Flip Chart Method. For 20-30 participants, we also highly recommend the envelopes. For more than 30 participants, you definitely want to go with the note cards.


Similar to the sticky note method, this works best with 20-30 participants and doesn't involve quite as much movement.This method is used to address multiple topics or answer multiple questions.


  • 1 envelope for each question / topic
  • 1 pen per group
  • one note card per question / topic for each group


  1. Divide the participants into teams - one for each question. Each team should have an envelope with a different question to answer or issue to address written on it.
  2. On one note card, have them write down as many responses as they can think of as a team in 3 minutes.
  3. After three minutes is up, have them put the index card inside the envelope and pass the envelope to the next team.
  4. Without looking at the responses inside the envelopes, the team now comes up with their own list of responses for the new question or issue.
  5. When the envelope is on its last group (i.e. - if you have 4 envelopes, on the third rotation) the team opens the envelopes and review the response cards.
  6. It is their job to narrow the responses down to the top 5 answers using the ideas the rest of the group listed.

If you have 10-15 participants, check out the Flip Chart Method. For 20-30 participants, we also recommend the sticky notes. For more than 30 participants, you definitely want to go with the note cards.


This method works best when you have more than 30 participants. Not only do you get to generate a large number of ideas, but your team does all the work in narrowing it down to the best of the best!

What You'll Need:

  • 3 Note cards per participant
  • 1 Pen per participant
  • Watch and whistle


  1. Each participant receives 3 note cards and writes down one idea on each note card.
  2. Have participants place their note cards on a table face down when they are through.
  3. Each participant selects three random cards from the pile.
  4. Participants form groups of 3 and from the 9 note cards their group has, they have to select the Top 3.
  5. Collect the non-selected note cards.
  6. Have each group join another group. From the six note cards in the new group, select the Top 3.
  7. Collect the non-selected note cards.
  8. Have 3 groups join together and the remaining two groups join.
  9. The larger group takes their 9 cards and selects the Top 3
  10. The smaller group takes their 6 cards and selects the Top 2
  11. Collect the non-selected note cards.
  12. You now have the Top 5 Ideas.

Here's how you just went from 90 ideas to 5 in less than 20 minutes:

  • 30 people x 3 cards = 90 note cards
  • 10 groups X Top 3 = 30 note cards
  • 5 groups x Top 3 = 15 note cards
  • 2 groups, Top 3 + Top 2 = Top 5 Ideas

If you have 10-15 participants, check out the Flip Chart Method. For 20-30 participants, we highly recommend the sticky note method or the envelopes.