My good friend Mike Spiller paid me a visit not to long ago (on his recent world wind tour of the midwest). Mike is the ultimate gamesman (or gamesperson). He has spent most of his life collecting games from around the world and sharing them with everyone he can. Check out his Games of the World website to find out more about Mike's endeavors. And, specifically, here is the link to Mike's Free Activities page.
In honor of the "guru" of games I pulled out one (of over 30) of his activity booklets I have on my shelf to find something to share with you - from Mike. It's a small group variation of an activity I have used called Blind Shapes using a long activity rope with a large group (I've also shared my small group variation below as well). For Mike's version he suggests 30 to 40 foot sections of cotton rope tied together at the ends to make a circle or rope. If you have Raccoon Circles in your box of gear (15 foot lengths of tubular webbing), you could tie two together for the prop you need for a group of 5 to 6 players. (Multiple groups can play at the same time.) Here's Mike's description:
This activity will allow the [small] group[s] to work together in a way that increases members sensitivity to each other. Divide the class into groups of five or six and give each group a rope [or webbing]. Tell the class that from this point on there is no talking. Each child is to keep both hands on the rope and together the group is to form the items that you say. [Possible items include:]
[I see some Common Core connections that can be made creating shapes - Geometry anyone? This shape list, of course, can be expanded to include items and topics you are working on in class or on the challenge course. What about a shape that represents "community" or "trust" or "teamwork?"]
[Back to Mike's description - this is my favorite part of the activity.] You many move into "emotional ropes" [or webbings] by telling the class to make the rope look happy, nervous, smiling, frowning, friendly, angry, sad, etc... For an older group, ask them to try this activity blindfolded [or with eyes closed] and allow them to talk during the process. Note: You may use the rope to review map skills, other geometric figures, and so forth.
[I have a similar activity I use called Shapes. Using the same list above the small groups are making the shapes with the webbing circle around their ankles - everyone is inside the webbing circle essentially pushing out against the webbing to keep it off of the ground while they navigate through the shapes. I'm now going to add in the emotions to my list to explore the outcomes. LOVE IT!]
Thanks Mike!! You are the best of the best my friend.
Add your favorite shapes to the list - share in the comments below.
All the best,
Trial and error is a wonderful way to learn (but many try to avoid the error part at the risk of not learning anything!). I like to use activities that can help me emphasize the importance of such a concept, and this version of Break the Code (which I'm sure is not novel) is one of my new favorites. It's a simple group task of brainstorming for ideas, choosing an idea, implementing the idea, and then evaluating the idea (did I say simple?).
Get out your set of number cards (or numbered poly spots, ear tags, or foam numerals) and, starting with the number 1 give everyone a number in sequence. Circle up in sequential order and have your players set their numbers in front of them (see picture) so that, in the end, the highest number in the sequence is next to the number 1 (i.e., end up with a circle of numbers in numerical order).
Here's the challenge. Tell your group that you have a number of secret codes for them to break (maybe before they can access their next challenge). Each code is a pattern of numbers that has a logical formula - they are not simply a random order of numbers. For instance, (using the set of numbers in the picture, 1 to 10), touch the numbers in numerical order from 1 to 10 (I always use this as an example with my groups). When the group decides on the pattern and announces it they must carry out the action stated - each player touching his or her number in the pattern stated. You can then announce weather or not they have broken the code (maybe a sound effect?). (Note: In my experience groups have successfully broken another one of the codes during an attempt at an "easier" level. I do not reveal this fact, I simple fail the attempt. More often than not groups will then believe that what they tried is not longer valid and will not attempt the pattern again later in the activity. We then get to talk about how some solutions are about timing - when is it the right time to offer a particular solution?)
I have come up with a list of five secret codes that I believe to be sets of less to more complex numbered sequences - at least this is what I tell my groups (to get the point across this list has worked well for me so far). When a group breaks the first code they move on to the next code and so on. I also set a time limit for the challenge (e.g., 20 minutes) in order to have the option to move on to other activities (this one can get pretty intense). If we run out of time I always share the answer to the code they were working on and then move into talking about their experience.
(For this example, say we are working with 10 numbers):
Again, my (main) facilitated objective for this activity is for the group to go through a process of brainstorming, choosing, trying, and evaluating ideas. And, of course, all the wonderful dynamics there in. Using this activity with the right group brings up lots of great things to discuss.
Other logical sequences? Let me know how it goes for you. Leave a comment for us.
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.