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Crumpled yellow paper made to look like a lightbulb

Crumpled paper light bulb (xefstock, iStockphoto)

Crumpled yellow paper made to look like a lightbulb

Crumpled paper light bulb (xefstock, iStockphoto)


This learning strategy helps students activate prior knowledge or share ideas in an anonymous, safe way.

Why use it?

  • To allow students to consider different perspectives on a topic
  • To share ideas in a way that is safe for students
  • To support movement within learning

Tips for success

  • Have your prompts prepped on individual pieces of paper for your students.
  • Indicate a safe, open space for students to throw their “snowballs.”
Student crumpling a piece of paper
Student crumpling up a piece of paper into a “snowball” (Source: nunawwoofy via iStockphoto).

How do I use it?

  • Provide each student with a blank paper with a prompt at the top.
  • Provide time for students to respond to the prompt.Tell them not to write their name on their response.
  • Then instruct students to crumple up their papers – their “snowballs” – and wait for a signal to throw them.

Safety First

It is recommended that students stand in a circle and throw their “snowballs” into the center of the room and not at each other.

  • Have students collect a “snowball” that is not theirs, open it up, and add to or respond to what is written.
  • Students continue to crumple and throw, retrieve and add/respond until the educator feels that they have captured enough thinking onto each page.
  • On the last crumple and throw, students do not write. Instead, as a whole group, students share and discuss what is on their page in an anonymous and safe way. 


  • In a virtual setting, students could respond to a prompt using a Padlet. Students could respond to what others have written.
  • To reduce prep time and paper consumption, consider writing the prompt on the board and providing students with papers that have already been used on one side.


Adapted from: Lipton, L. & Wellman, B. (2011). Groups at work: Strategies and structures for professional learning (p. 72). MiraVia.