Here are a few puzzles to add to your collection. Or, your "Table of Torture" as Sam Sikes likes to call his collection of puzzles. Sam puts out his puzzles on a table for his participants to tackle before his program starts (the "soft" start) and during program breaks. In a programming sense, puzzles can provide another level of challenge and they also bring people together during down times (and of course they are fun to solve!).
I've been using puzzles more and more lately with some of the (respectfully) competitive programs I've been leading for Group Dynamix (I'm one of their contract facilitators - we run Team Olympix events for groups that want a more competitive experience). Puzzles are a nice complement to the more physical challenges - reaching different learning styles or "kinds of smarts."
Scramble Cards This Puzzling post was inspired by my last post - Name Card Scramble. After saving the cards from a few programs I realized I had a great set of puzzle cards (some of my participants were even able to anagram their name - so cool!). On the back of each scrambled name card I wrote the "name-answer" using a yellow highlighter so it would not be easily seen through the front of the card. A group working together (or an individual) can self check their guess/answer by flipping the card over. Score each correct answer OR time how long it takes to guess all the scrambled names - add five seconds to the overall time for each incorrect answer. Here's a little list for you to work with if you want to make a quick set of (index) cards to try out (spoiler alert - answers are below):
(How long did it take you to recognize the pattern? What name were you on when it clicked?)
(Answers: 1. Andrew, 2. Becky, 3. Chris, 4. Debby, 5. Evan, 6. Frank, 7. Georgia, 8. Heather, 9. Ivan, 10. Jennifer, 11. Kevin, 12. Laura)
The "T" Puzzle If you are a Tangram fan (and haven't seen this one), you'll like the T. It's easy to make (paper or wood) but tricky to solve. And, like Tangrams, you can create a bunch of other shapes/images with the pieces. I like to give points (e.g., 50) to my groups for solving the "T" and then (e.g., 10) points for each of the shapes they can solve from the (self-scored) handout I provide. Here's a GREAT PDF from WoodPuzzles.com that includes a nice handout. (If you search "T Puzzle" in Google Images there are a few patterns you can download for cutting assistance.)
Word Games and Puzzles by Joan Acosta (from bestofthereader.ca). I've been getting some great milage from this PDF BOOK. Easy to print and laminate the pages. Provide some small tipped dry-erase markers so participants can write in answers on the page - self score or make a quick check before giving a score. Wipe off the answers from the pages so you can reuse the puzzles for another program.
Have fun out there!
What are you favorite puzzles? Share in the comments below.....
In my latest book Portable Teambuilding Activities I described the way I use Name Cards for a variety of things - learning names, the "card return" activity, and taking attendance during a semester-long class (to name just a few ideas). Recently, I was planning to work with a group that knew each other - everybody knew everyone else's names. When I thought about using Name Cards this is what surfaced....
Why not scramble up the letters of each person's first name and then play Card Return? I was thinking to myself, "If people know each other's names already they will have a database from which to work. When they see a scrambled name they could decode it in reference to the database." Since trying this variation of Name Cards a few times, it's worked out well and has proven to include some interesting insights. Here's how I've been playing...
Before getting started with the program I ask all the participants to use a marker (I've left a bunch on the table) to write out their first names nice and BIG on an index card, but scramble up the letters - I like to use the 4 inch by 6 inch cards. (I leave an example of my name card on the table - you see mine in the picture: Hrsic.) After writing out their name I ask them to hold on to their card and form a large circle.
Circle Up (I learned this great organizer from Mark Collard Playmeo.com - a variation, I believe, of Quick Line-Up). Once we're all in a circle I tell my group, "This is our 'Perfect Circle.' For our perfect circle you will need to remember the person standing to your left and right - say hello to them now." I go on to say, "Any time I call out, 'Perfect Circle' please get into this exact configuration - with the same two people standing next to you." I then provide an example. "If I were to do this..." I move across the room to a different spot and call, "Perfect Circle! - what do you do?" This first time it takes a little time but the group usually figures they need to rearrange into the perfect configuration from where I'm standing. I move a couple more times so they get the idea - I also try to infuse a little excitement and energy into the crowd with this one to get them going.
Blind Shuffle After the group has the Perfect Circle thing down, I teach them the blind shuffle. "Please hold your scrambled name card face down - the name facing down - towards the floor. Hold the card somewhere between your chin and your waist - basically, in a way so that the names cannot be seen. Now move around the room and exchange cards at least five times, or until I say STOP - in about 30 seconds. When I say STOP, do not look at the scrambled name on the card you end up with. Okay? Ready? Shuffle! STOP!
Card Return After I tell the group to STOP, I give them the challenge. "When I say the word that's spelled, "G" "O" the timer will start (I have been keeping time so far, but that doesn't mean someone in the group couldn't be the timer), and you can turn over the card you are holding. Your objective is to figure out the name on the card and then return it to the person to which it belongs. When you have your own card back you must get yourself into Perfect Circle order in relation to where I'm standing. When everyone is in the Perfect Circle the time will stop." After asking for and answering questions, I say "GO!"
As the group is moving around to return cards I find another place in the area to stand - changing up the perfect circle location. (I also need to find out who belongs to the card I ended up with - yes of course I'm playing!)
After the first round we talk a little bit about the challenge and if there is anything they would like to remember for the next attempt. I do challenge the group to achieve a better time over a couple more tries. Here are a few fruitful topics that have come up for me and my groups after leading this one three times so far:
So, a simple variation has turned out to be a keeper for me. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.
All the best,
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Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.