Last week I posted an activity (Consensus Line Ups) that works well with smaller groups. Here's another one that works with smaller groups of six to eight participants. Now, with that said, you could divide a larger group (say 50 people) into smaller groups of six to eight to play this one. Then, challenge all the groups in play to "merge" their small group puzzles together into one massive puzzle without changing any of the small group puzzle words.
The overall idea of Name Letter Opener, for me, is to emphasize that individuals bring different "resources" (metaphorically the letters in their name) to a group. These resources can be used in a variety of different ways to help each other move through challenges together. Before you read through the activity description below, jump down to the Discussion Questions to see what directs for which you can be aiming.
Needs: 3 x 5 Index Cards and some fun colorful markers. (Every participant in the group will be writing his/her first name on index cards – each letter of a name will be written on a separate index card. So, plan to have enough for all the letters in everyone’s first name.)
Numbers: Plays well with six to eight in a group. (Multiple groups can play at the same time.)
Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Process: You’ll want to play this one at a table or a comfortable place on the floor. Give everyone enough index cards so they can spell out their first name – one index card for each letter of their name. For example, if someone is spelling out Linda, she needs five index cards. Peter needs five index cards as well. Michael will need seven. (You get the idea!) Ask everyone to print out their letters with the index cards in “portrait” mode (see graphic above) so they will be able to work with the puzzle challenge a bit easier. NOTE: If someone has a given name like Christopher, he can use 10 index cards or go with five for Chris.
When all the cards are ready, challenge the group to create a “scrabble-like” puzzle using the index cards they have created. Scrabble rules apply: No proper nouns (things that are capitalized), no abbreviations and no acronyms. Words are spelled left to right or top to bottom and all words formed, after the first word, must be connected to at least one other word in the puzzle.
After the group has successfully created their puzzle you can stop at that point and move into some of the discussion questions below. If you have more time continue the challenge. Write down the words that were used in the first puzzle. Now, challenge the group to create a different puzzle without using any of the words they used in the first puzzle. If the group can create a second, can they create a third puzzle without using any words from the first or second puzzle? How far can their resources take them?
As noted above, if you have a larger group of people, divide them into smaller groups of six to eight players. Have each group work through the process above on their own. Then, bring everyone back together, when appropriate, and challenge them to merge all the small group puzzles into one big puzzle without changing any of the words in any of the puzzles.
Have FUN out there my friends. Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Needs: One suit of standard playing cards, one set of Chiji cards (13 to 18) that are easier to identify (we’ll call these the “general” cards), and one set of Chiji cards (13 to 18) that are a bit more abstract (we’ll call these the “abstract” cards). The pictures provided are examples of the three sets - feel free to choose the cards you want to use with your groups.
NOTE 1: If you only choose 13 Chiji cards for the general and abstract sets this might lead the group to a solution where each of the Chiji cards represents one of the cards from a standard playing card suit – since the first line up is with the standard playing cards.
NOTE 2: The more Chiji cards you use in each of these two sets the more challenging the process becomes.
NOTE 3: If you don't have Chiji cards (yet), use another set of image cards that you can divide into general and abstract sets.
Numbers: This one plays a little better with smaller groups of four to six participants. However, you could have multiple groups playing at the same time if you have more than one deck of Chiji cards.
Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Process: Have all your card sets ready – again, the Chiji sets pictures provided in this write up are examples. You can pick your own cards for each set.
Consensus Line Ups is played in three rounds. Each round is played with a different set of cards. First the playing cards, then the general set of Chiji cards and finally the abstract set of Chiji cards.
Gather your group around a table or a comfortable place on the floor. Set down the suit of playing cards face up so all the cards can be seen. Give your group the following directions:
You might spend some time talking about what consensus is all about and how groups might come to consensus. This activity (for me) is all about the process a group will go through to reach a decision.
After the group has successfully lined up the playing cards, spend some time on the relevant discussion questions below. Then, move into the next round of card line ups. If the group has already created some helpful norms around their decision-making process, the Chiji card rounds should move along smoothly. If the group is still working on their decision-making process this activity can help.
This activity idea came to me while thinking about working with a small group of leaders (small group programming is much different for me than programming for the typical 12 to 24 participant groups). After using Consensus Line Ups for the first time I really liked it - maybe it was just the right group at the right time or maybe it's just (going to be) a good one for small group interactions. As noted above, these line ups provided a journey - the outcome itself was only the end of one journey (as noted by one of the leaders in the group), so that another journey could begin.
Other Chiji Cards Resources:
Living Cards (blog post)
Story Line Processing (blog post)
That Person Over There: Stories (blog post)
The Chiji Guidebook: A Collection of Experiential Activities and Ideas for Using Chiji Cards
Have FUN out there my friends! Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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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.