Skip to content

Functional mismatch warm-up

This warm-up activity encourages individuals to engage in a playful and collaborative ideation process.

The functional mismatch warm-up activity is designed to be completed in groups to encourage participants to work together and come up with creative ideas that don’t necessarily represent something useful, practical, or feasible. The aim of this warm-up activity is to help participants get to know each other and think more creatively. This activity also primes participants for the activities that follow, showing them that there is no right or wrong answer to a scenario and that they are encouraged to take risks, think beyond what is possible, and be more imaginative. Facilitators should remind groups to have fun with this activity and not to worry about developing polished ideas.


  • Come up with an imaginary scenario that is relevant to the topic of your workshop. For instance, the topic of one of our workshops was about understanding the moment an individual crosses a threshold, thus, we chose this scenario: “Imagine all doors disappeared from the world”.
  • Prepare a list of random materials (you need 2 items per person), having each item presented on a slip of paper.
  • These items should be purposely chosen to have varying levels of practicality to provoke imagination. For example, in our case, to replace the lost doors, we included items, such as marshmallows, bubbles, hedgehogs, foam blocks and bricks.
  • If possible provide these items in alternative format, such as braille. If that is not possible, ensure to provide assistance for participants who can’t read the items.
  • Ask participants to pick two random items.
  • Break participants into smaller groups (3 to 5 people per group is usually best).
  • Reveal the scenario and ask groups to use their items to respond to the scenario. They don’t need to use all of their items.
  • Groups will have 5 minutes to brainstorm different ideas.
  • At the end, groups will have a chance to share their ideas with the larger group and possibly share a fun moment together!

Related Resources