This strategy will help students to:

  • brainstorm and generate ideas around an event or issue

  • encourage collaboration and team problem solving

  • increase accountability and involvement in own learning.


  1. Place students in groups of two, three or four and give each group a large piece of paper.

  2. The paper is then divided into sections based on the number of students in the group, with a square or circle drawn in the centre (see templates below).

  3. Pose a question, statement or dilemma for students to consider. For example: What increases your risk of contracting an STI/BBV?

  4. Each student writes their ideas or decisions in their section of the placemat. No discussion is to occur in the groups at this stage. Make sure students have enough time to think and work alone. 

  5. Students share, discuss and clarify ideas that have been written by each member of the group. Remind students that they have the option to pass, especially if they do not know each other well or it is their first attempt at a placemat.

  6. The group shares and reviews all ideas to reach a consensus on one set of key ideas.

  7. The key ideas are written in the middle section of the placemat. 

  8. These key ideas are shared with the class and discussed further to enrich learning.


Students cut out their section of the placemat then join with two or three others from another group to continue sharing and discussing. 

Example: Physical, social and emotional changes

This activity can be done once students have learnt about the physical, social and emotional changes associated with puberty.

In small groups, students create a placemat after discussing the importance of communication during this time.

Questions can include:

How can you and others help to overcome some of the difficulties and develop more open communication?

Why is it important for young people to talk and listen to each other about growing older?

Why is it important for young people to discuss with each other the issues of puberty and other changes?

Why is it sometimes difficult to talk about growing older?