Democracy Scrabble

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Students brainstorm in a scrabble style on their associations regarding a key word like "democracy". The method is used for getting ideas into an order, to make different attitudes visible and to become clearer about different aspects of a topic.

Time 2o-45 min

Material Standard

Group Size 3-30 people

Keywords group, democracy, introduction




This method is an exercise to get into a complex topic. The exercise aims to visualize the complexity of a term.


1. Preparation: A big sheet of paper on which is written the word "democracy" in capital letters.

2. Preremark to the group: The participants are in the following asked - similar to the brainstorming - to note down keywords and terms which they connect with the term "democracy". They are not asked to note down a definition. The associating words are put to the different letters, like in the game "Scrabble". [5 minutes]

3. The participants fill in alone or in groups the paper. [10 minutes if they work on their own, 15 if they work in groups]


The trainer asks the participants or groups one after another to read aloud their words. He or she notes them down on the flipchart and gives an order to the associations. He asks if the one presenting agrees to the order. The other participants are asked not to comment the associations.

Criteria to use as an order (for the trainer):

  • rules / laws
  • institutions
  • values
  • people
  • performance criterion / goals
  • ...

Summary and conclusion

  • "Democracy" is a subjective term, which needs in most cases an explanation
  • it has different dimensions

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. He writes and works on the topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Coordinator of European projects, in example DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship, DARE network.

Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience.


This exercise is very good and effective to get started. It sorts out a problem and makes differences visible. For cognitive work it is particularly helpful as an introduction. The term "democracy" can be replaced by other terms that are also very reach and meaningful such as sustainability, mentoring, gender, government, ...