Zig-Zag has become one of my favorite activities over the past few years. I honestly don't remember if I learned this from someone or the idea came to me from watching one of my groups play Moonball. Zig-Zag for me has become more of a variation of Group Juggle with some added challenges. I've also found that I can use Zig-Zag with any age group - I simply change the tossable object and the distance between the lines (and maybe even a simple roll of the object as opposed to a toss). And, it plays well indoors (in just about any space) and outdoors with 10 to 40 players.
Set Up: Have your participants form into two lines of 5 to 10 people (I'll share about larger groups below) and have the two lines face each other (like in the picture). With younger students (e.g., kindergarden) the lines will be about five feet apart. With older groups (e.g., age 13 and above), set the lines eight to ten feet away. Have a variety of safe tossable objects ready for the challenge. Examples: Tennis Ball, Playground Ball, Beach Ball, Dodge Ball, Rubber Animal, Foam Pool Noodle, Water Balloon. A friend of mine, since he has one, uses a bowling ball, rolling it between lines (carefully).
Process: The basic challenge is to toss/catch (NOT hit like Moonball) the object of choice from one line to the other (zig-zagging) down the lines and back again for time. Simply changing the object of choice will vary the challenge level. Here are some other rules to add in order to vary the challenge even more:
Larger Groups: With groups of up to 40 (I've only tried Zig-Zag so for with 40 - could do more?), form more than two lines (no more than 10 players in a line). The lines will still be set up across from each other. Start a tossable object at the end of each line (e.g., three lines, three tossables). In this variation some players will have double duty working objects between two lines - the players in the lines at the ends of your formation will have to call out the names of the players standing with the inside lines - these players will need to turn around to receive tossables from the outside and inside lines - some tossers will need to wait on some catchers until they finish tossing to another line, then turn around. (You could, of course, simply have multiple zig-zag activities going on at the same time with two-line sets of players, but integrating the lines is much more interesting.)
Let me know if you come up with other zig-zagging variations. Add to the Comments below.
All the best,
A couple of yeas ago now I went to a workshop presentation by Nate Folan, the author of the activity book The Hundredth Monkey. A great time was had by all to say the least. My favorite discovery from Nate's workshop was his use of wooden building blocks. Needless to say I went out right away to get my own set and I've been using them a lot over the past couple of years.
Throughout the book the block activities are presented separately, but Nate showed us a sequence of activities that I tend to stick with and have added to. I want to share my additions here and, with respect, mention Nate's gems in hopes to entice you enough to pick up his book (BTW - My new activity book is now available. Find it on Amazon.)
Needs: A set of 2 inch wooden building blocks (I picked up a set of 48 at Walmart in the baby toys section). You will want at least one block per participant and more if you want to build sculptures. (Note: There are smaller block sets available, I think they are an inch and a half. Smaller blocks make most of the activities a bit more challenging.)
Mix-and-Mingle (my addition): Every player picks up a block then walks around to find out the commonalities s/he has with other player's blocks. Be sure to learn player's names in the process.
Connection (my addition): Players exchange blocks for a while until you say "STOP" then find something they connect with on the block they have in hand (e.g., favorite color, special toy, a word that reminds them of a good memory). Then, players go around sharing their connect with others. If you want, have players exchange blocks after a share. Players then have to find a connection to the new block, then share.
Ice-Cube Dance (Nate's): Players press one or two blocks together, each using one index finger. Pairs then explore how to move around each other and the playing space without dropping the block(s).
Ice-Cube Tag (Nate's): Pressing two blocks between an index finger, pairs move around the area trying to dislodge other players' blocks using only the free index finger available. After a drop players re-set, or find a new partner to play with, and then re-enter the game.
Block Sculpture (Nate's): Groups of 6 to 8 players get together and build a three-dimensional sculpture with the blocks they are given (2 to 3 blocks per person). Once the sculpture is built the group attempts to raise it up, only using index fingers, as high as they can and then lower it back down without dropping any blocks (see first picture above).
Skyscraper (my addition): Using one block per player a group of 5 to 8 people make a single stack of blocks then try to turn it over 180 degrees and set it back down without dropping any blocks. Using the picture to the left as an example, the "Z" block would be at the bottom of the stack and the "3" block would be at the top after the group turns the stack over.
What else can you do with wooden building blocks? Share your ideas below in the comments.
Have fun out there!
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.