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How Many Squares Do You See?

This activity can be used to introduce or reinforce learning on consequential thinking, effective decision-making, conflict and recognizing patterns.


10 – 20 minutes


Show a 4x4 squares diagram (PPT slides are attached but you can also draw it on a flipchart). Give everyone one minute to count the number of squares they see and write their answer on a piece of paper. (To increase the potential for an amygdala hijacking, make a big deal about the time running out.) Cover or hide the image. Ask everyone how they think they did/if that was enough time. Ask them if they would like to see it again.

Show the image again, this time giving everyone up to five minutes to look at it. Don’t stop people from helping each other but don’t suggest it as an option. Ask them to write down their “final” answer. Leave the image up during the debrief.


How many squares did you see immediately?

How many squares did you see after you had studied the diagram for a while?

The correct number of squares is 30. (solution is in the PPT notes)
Take a moment to show everyone where the squares are either using the PPT slides provided or by drawing on your diagram.
Most people saw an increase in their squares when I gave you more time. What do you think contributed to your ability to find more squares?

Be sure to ask about the benefit of getting help from others (if this happened)
What are some examples from our lives where we might have a similar experience?

Conflict, First impressions, stereotypes, amygdala hijackings, decisions
What are some of the consequences of making quick decisions and judgments?

In these situations, what are some alternatives we have to reduce these consequences?

If the focus is on consequential thinking or decision-making

Many of us have blinders on when it comes to making a decision. We look at one, maybe two alternatives and make a choice from those. Many times the consequences of our choices are not even considered when making a decision. We need to take the time to consider all of the alternatives and the consequences before making a decision. By looking at all of the possible consequences, hopefully we can consider the impact of certain choices before engaging in behavior that may bring negative outcomes.

Move into discussion/activity on making more emotionally intelligent decisions.
How Many Squares Do You See?
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