Cover Image
close this bookAnimation Skills (Peace Corps)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentPreface
View the documentGuinea worm fact sheet
Open this folder and view contentsUser’s guide
Open this folder and view contentsEnergizers
Open this folder and view contentsCase study
Open this folder and view contentsProverbs
View the documentTwo Pile Sort
Open this folder and view contentsStorytelling
Open this folder and view contentsGames
Open this folder and view contentsCritical incident
View the documentDemonstration
Open this folder and view contentsFishbowl
Open this folder and view contentsGuinea worm graphics

Two Pile Sort

"Learn by others' mistakes because you do not live long enough to make them all yourself"


"Two Pile Sort" is an effective animation technique, using visual images, for clarifying problem situations. It is an excellent technique for use with nonliterate or mixed literacy groups.

Pictorial images or drawings, chosen for their appropriateness to particular subject matter, are shown to the target audience. Participants are given an opportunity to define the content of the pictures, according to their perceptions, and how they feel about them. Then they are asked to sort the images into piles that are defined according to the trainer's objectives (good/bad, advised/ill-advised, do's/don'ts, cause/effect, corresponding/ not corresponding to other images presented, etc.) The intended result of a Two Pile Sort exercise is that many details of a problem situation are defined and discussed and an overall understanding is achieved. With these results, possible interventions or solutions can be addressed to ultimately resolve the problem.

There are many possible variations to a Two Pile Sort exercise. In fact, it has also been presented as a Three Pile Sort and even a Four Pile Sort depending on the needs and approach of the facilitator. Even within a two, three, or four pile sort exercise, there are different ways to present and display the images and to conduct discussion around them. Those variations depend mostly on the style of the facilitator and the preference of the participants.

Pictures or drawings can be very effective in engaging participants in a meaningful way. They encourage a reaction that is of the imagination and grounded in a reality from personal experiences.

Two Pile Sort


· To provide Trainees an opportunity to clarify a problem by categorizing and grouping its elements.

· To provide Trainees accurate information about guinea worm disease.


· Trainees will have learned to use Two Pile Sort to categorize elements of a situation in order to clarify a problem.

· Trainees will be able to explain cause, effect, and prevention of guinea worm disease.


1. Trainees should have read the fact sheet on guinea worm by now.


2. Explain briefly the idea of Two Pile Sort as a tool for analyzing the cause and effect of problem situations. Explain that in this exercise they will use illustrations concerning guinea worm disease, but the exercise can be easily adapted to other subject matter with appropriate illustrations.


3. Have Trainees sit in a half circle, as if in a village setting, to listen to a speaker. Display graphic 1 (The healthy family) to Trainees. Make sure everyone sees the image well. Ask them what they see in the image on the card. Allow several comments before displaying graphic 2 (the family with guinea worm). Ask again what the Trainees see in the image. Place the two images side by side on the floor (the ground) with about five feet between them. Ask Trainees if these two families could come from the same village. Explain that they are now going to decide what factors determine the conditions seen in the two cards.


4. Choose two Trainees to join you in front of the observers. Give them each a pile containing half the guinea worm picture cards provided with these training materials (about eight cards each). The cards should be mixed up and distributed randomly to the two facilitators. Instruct them to take turns showing one card at a time to the observers, asking them to explain what they see in the image. Before showing a subsequent card, the observers must choose one of the two primary images on the floor that corresponds best with the image on the card being discussed. The facilitator should place the card on the floor next to the appropriate family image. (Try to place cards in a circular fashion so that in the end the families are surrounded by the factors that explain their condition.)


5. When all cards have been placed, ask observers to look closely at the relationships between the images. Ask for an observer to summarize the message for family 1. Ask another observer to summarize the message for family 2.


Ask someone in the group to explain how these two situations could exist in the same village and to propose possible interventions that would help resolve the problem of guinea worm for the entire village.


"Education takes place in the combination of the home, the community, the school, and the receptive mind."

Harry Edwards

· Present all cards representing the healthy family first before presenting all the cards representing the guinea worm infected family-or vice versa.

· Present all cards except the two that indicate the healthy and unhealthy family. Allow discussion of the elements found in each card, then ask Trainees to imagine the overall effect those elements would have on a family. You then present the last two cards to reinforce their conclusions.

· Ask Trainees to decide themselves on two (or more) distinct sides of the situation (e.g., cause/effect) and use that as a basis for the sorting of the cards.

Variations on this exercise

"One thing is clear to me: We as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves."

Barbara Jordan