Creative Life Story Work graphic

Jenga Games

Ways to use Jenga during your work with care-experienced children and young people.

Jenga is a play-based communication and assessment tool and can be used in many creative ways. Here are two games that you might find very helpful, alongside a downloadable checklist at the bottom of the page.

For further information see ‘Life Story Therapy: A model for Practice’ Rose 2012.

Game 1: Jenga

This is an effective game for introductions and relationship-building. Everyone takes part in building the tower. The idea of the game is to take turns to carefully remove one brick at a time using only one hand.

After successful removal, the removed brick is placed back on top of the tower. As bricks are taken away, it becomes less stable and will eventually fall down.

This ends the game.

It is useful to see how the child or young person and carer interact; whether they play to win, support or encourage each other, what their engagement is like, verbal and non-verbal interaction.

For example, when playing a game with a child and their carer, the child or young person might play to win, whereas the carer might be more sensitive and leave some of the easier bricks for the child to remove and win. Alternatively, they may both play to win and be very competitive.

When playing Jenga you may notice how the child or young person and carer engage and interact with one another. This is helpful as it can give you a snapshot understanding of some of the relationship traits between the child and their carer. Your observations help to inform how you facilitate the six All About Me themes.


Game 2: Jenga Questions

Take 20 bricks and write a question on each in pencil.

Some can be general questions, but others will be questions to find out further information about the child. Always write in pencil, then you can change the questions on each Jenga brick to gather relevant information for specific topics.

Here are some example questions to get you started.

  • What is your favourite colour, toy, game, subject, food, music, band, TV programme, film, book, teacher, place to visit, holiday place, sport or school lesson?
  • If you had three wishes, what would one of them be?
  • If you had £1 million what would you buy?
  • What makes you scared?
  • What do you dream about?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • I cry if…
  • My safe place is…
  • I hate it when…
  • If I am worried, I tell…
  • I miss…
  • I am sad when…
  • I wish I could…
  • What animal are you most like?
  • If you could go anywhere on holiday, where would you go?
  • Who are your friends?
  • If you could have an animal what would it be?
  • You know I am angry when…
  • If someone chooses a brick with a question on it, the person who has picked that brick would read the question out loud i.e. ‘What is my favourite colour?’.

Each person playing then answers this question and each answer is recorded on a blank sheet of paper.

The brick is then placed back on top of the tower.

This resource was developed by Blue Cabin, Professor Richard Rose and South Tyneside Council.