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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Play Scattergories

Can you think of something no one else can? Try it out with this quick alphabet icebreaker.

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You’ll need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Play the game

  1. To get started, explain how scattergories works. Each round will have a list of categories and a letter.
  2. Each player, pair or small team will need to come up with a unique answer to each category that begins with the round’s letter.
  3. For example, if the category was countries and the letter A, people could say Argentina, Afghanistan, Angola, or any other country that begins with A.
  4. Everyone should work together to come up with a list of categories to use in the game. They could include countries, sports, and foods for example.
  5. Everyone should write the list of categories on their piece of paper. They could also be put on a whiteboard or big piece of paper to help people remember them.
  6. One person should choose a random letter for all the answers to start with.
  7. Start a timer for the round. It’s up to you how long you allow. A game with 12 categories takes about two minutes.
  8. Everyone should try to come up with a unique answer for each category that begins with the chosen letter. The aim of the game is to come up with answers that no one else will think of that still match the category and letter.

Scoring points

  1. Once the timer finishes, it’s time to score the answers.
  2. In Scattergories, only unique answers score a point. 
  3. The person leading the activity should read out the first category and each team, pair or individual player should read out their answer.
  4. If people have the same answer, they score zero points.
  5. Anyone with a unique answer (an answer that no-one else has) should give themselves a point.
  6. The person leading the activity should read out the next category and people should read out their answers again. Again, anyone with the same answer as someone else scores nothing and anyone with a unique answer scores a point. 
  7. Keep scoring until all the categories have been marked.
  8. Each team should total up the scores, then go round and read out their total score. Congratulate any high scoring people, pairs or teams!
  9. Once the round has been scored, someone should choose another letter, and everyone should play again.
  10. Keep playing until you run out of time (or letters!).


This activity is designed as an icebreaker to help everyone get to know each other a little better. Making people feel welcome and comfortable is really important, whether you play a game or have a friendly, inclusive chat.

How could people make others feel welcome and comfortable, especially if they’re new? People could think about making an effort to ask them a question, giving them a turn in a game or a role in an activity, or helping introduce them to everyone else.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe. Take a look at our online safety or bullying guidance. The NSPCC offers more advice and guidance, too. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection CommandAs always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare, including their online experiences, follow the Yellow Card to make a report.

You can choose how many categories you have, what the categories are, how long people have to play, and how tricky the letters are.

You could give people one point for a non-unique answer and three points for a unique answer. It’s up to you whether you allow adjectives. For example, whether you allow ‘a green jumper’ for the category ‘an item of clothing beginning with ‘g’.

People could work in pairs or small teams, rather than on their own, to make it easier for those who may need extra support.

Remember to write down the categories and letter for anyone who may have difficulty hearing.

Consider choosing categories, letters and timings beforehand to suit your group.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Young people should be encouraged to make the game suit them. They adjust the rules to fit your group and let young people have a say. Young people may also want to choose categories that relate to things they’ve been doing or learning with their group.