Have You Ever...eaten strawberries and whipped cream on a buttery toasted (nooks & crannies) english muffins? (Oh yes, it's yummy.)
I'm guessing most of you know this classic, "Have You Ever...?" ice breaker activity - I'm sure it's been played by millions! Let's review.^ (If you know, Have You Ever..., you can skip past this review.)
Your group, of 12 to 50 players, forms a circle. Each player is standing on a game spot. You are in the middle of the circle explaining the game. You are going to say something true for you - something you have done/experienced. You preface this information with, "Have you ever..." For example, you might say, "Have you ever been to Canada?" (Again, the statement must be true for you.) If anyone in the group (players forming the circle) has been to Canada, he/she is invited to leave his/her spot and move to another spot that is not directly to his/her right or left.
While this movement is happening, you, or any other player in the middle, want to go stand on one of the spots left vacant by one of the players from the circle (the idea is, you don't want to stay in the middle). There will then be a player left without a spot to stand on (because, in this game, there is no sharing spots). The player, without a spot to stand on, is the next person to share a, Have you ever... question from the center of the circle of players. The moving, getting a spot process ensues after every, Have you ever... question from a player standing in the middle of the circle. .
If the player in the middle shares a, Have you ever... question, and no one moves, he/she takes a bow and asks another question. Remembering, the idea is to get players to move - so you want to ask questions that are likely to produce movement.
What? & Why?
Back in January of this year, I posted the first What? & Why? Discussion about how I use Name Card Return - an engaging ice breaker for learning names and experiencing a simple problem solving activity to introduce the group to the kinds of activities they will be experiencing. (Thought - Can an icebreaker be a problem solving activity?)
The purpose for this type of discussion for me is to tell you "What" I do with a particular process (e.g., an activity) and then, in "Part 2" (and 3, if I needed), tell you "Why" I do what I did.
I'm using this format, on the one hand, to document my thoughts about some of the things I do during team building programs. On the other hand, I'm thinking, maybe those of you who train team building facilitators could use this format of thinking as a training exercise.
First, you can share the What?, like how you lead a particular activity. Don't reveal the Why? right away. Have a discussion on the What? with the trainees about "Why?" they think the activity is set up the way it is, and "What?" purposeful reasons they might have for leading this activity (or process) in this way. Then, share your Why? behind your What? - what reasons/purpose do you have for leading an activity the way you do. (You can design your own What? & Why? discussions or use one of these FUNdoing blog posts to explore.)
NOTE: Believe it or not, the step-by-step process detailed below takes me about 15 minutes to lead. It's a lot of writing for 15 minutes, and an interesting process (for me) to go through.
Okay, let's get this one started:
This was the description of one way I introduce choice to my groups. In Part 2, I'll tell you Why? I do each What?
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
^ Have You Ever...? questions first appeared in Karl Rohnke's Bag of Tricks periodical - he started writing Bag of Tricks in 1978. In 1988 he compiled "...the best writing and most useable copy" from his first 38 issues, into the book, "The Bottomless Bag." Have You Ever...? Questions in this book are introduced as a 'raise your hand if you have' activity - as an ice breaker, the questions were a way to start conversations and share stories. In, The Bottomless Bag, Again (1991), Karl expands, Have You Ever...? by adding a circle of chairs - now, if you 'have' you move from your chair to an open chair. And, the game continues....
Before I explain The Cotton Ball Machine, I have to give a shout out to Kathy, Mia and some savvy kids for sharing with me. I love to share and I love it when others share so I can share that!! One share can lead to so much FUN! Thanks friends!
What's interesting about this sharing is the initial link - from Advanced Dental Care, Activities to Make Kids Smile. (I really like Game 2 on this first page). How many of you would go to a Dental site to find team building ideas? Right!
Okay. now I'm digging into the links on the initial page. I go to ZOOM Games (a PBS Kids show). I dig around here a bit (at this point I'm having too much fun!!) I get down to the Physical Challenges section and click on One-Handed, Blind-Folded Cotton Ball Transfer (the title catches my eye because I like easy-to-find resources). I think, "So how can we turn this into a team building activity?" We can find cotton balls most anywhere and plastic spoons, no problem. You don't even need blindfolds, you can ask players to close their eyes. Okay, what can we do? Here's what I'm thinking at this point:
The Cotton Ball Machine
(Many of you will see this one as an alternative to Pipeline.)
Here's what you need:
Here's how to play:
Objective: Given five minutes, move as many cotton balls as possible to the Finishing point.
After working The Cotton Ball Machine for the first time you can lead a processing session to find out what worked well and what didn't. Then, if you have time, you could offer the group another attempt to see if they can improve their score. How will their planning session go with the knowledge they shared during the processing session?
Okay! Have at it my friends. Let me know how it goes. And do let me know if you adapt the rules in order to meet the needs of your group. Especially the Transportation Rule. I really want to find out how groups work within this parameter.
Have FUN out there. Keep me posted!
One final SHOUT! Thanks for the share my friends. You are awesome!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
The Obstacle Field is my name for Mine Field - Mine Field is the traditional name for the unsighted-guide-someone-through-an-area-with-stuff-in-the-way activity. I like using "obstacle" (instead of mine) so I can ask my participants what obstacles they face in their lives and then talk about the skills, abilities, and behaviors they will need to overcome those obstacles. (Getting "help" from others is one of those behaviors, and verbal help is essential for Obstacle/Mine Field.)
For CUP IT UP fans and those interested in a great versatile prop - Check Out This Video of Obstacle Field using red cups - an unsighted player is guided through a field of cups. The overall objective is to avoid touching the cups. (Want more team building activities using cups - without alcohol? Pick up your copy of CUP IT UP - over a dozen team building activities using cups - and a few other things. Click on the link in the left sidebar of this blog for more details and purchase options. Or, just go to the FUNdoing Store and buy your copy right now!)
After presenting Obstacle Field to my adventure education students, one of them came up with this "Got It" version. (NOTE: I found many of my college-aged students to be very competitive - especially being physical education majors. So, they liked making and playing versions of team building activities that were competitive. This is not a bad thing. There is a lot to learn through competitive experiences, especially how we treat our opponents.)
How We Play, Got It (Competitive & Cooperative)
Competitive: The first boundary area that I saw for Got It was the back rectangular portion of a volleyball court - from the 10-foot line to the baseline. We had a lot of cones available so the boundary area was filled with them (of course you can use any type of obstacle but you will need something to elevate the small ball). One tall cone was placed in the center of the boundary area with a small ball atop this cone (see picture).
Teams of 5 or 6 players were grouped at each corner of the boundary area. Each team had one blindfold (optional of course - closing eyes is another option). One player from each team was blindfolded (eyes closed). On "GO!" each team, staying outside the boundary area, verbally guided their unsighted player into the cone area and towards the small ball. The first player to hold the ball up and say, "Got It" earned a point for his/her team.
After a "Got It!" was called, all blindfolded players could be sighted (take off blindfolds or open their eyes) and walk back to their teams to prepare for the next round. If an unsigned player touched a cone along the way s/he had to clap before moving on - 10 claps for the first touch, 20 claps for the second touch, and if a player touched a third time, s/he was "out" of the round - s/he had to stand quietly in the boundary area until "Got It!" was called.
In this competitive version, the first team to 5 points won the game. After each round of play (a round ends with someone saying, "Got It!", my student gave the teams 90 seconds to talk strategy before the next round began.
Overall, the students really liked this version - again, they were all relatively competitive and liked the challenge. After playing Got It, we talked about how it could be adjusted to be more collaborative. (I always presented this question after a competitive team building activity.) Here was the adjustment that was most popular...
Cooperative: The entire group, all four teams, had 8 minutes to collect as many points as possible - so, play is continuous. When time starts, an unsighted player from each team is guided into and through the boundary area in order to "touch" the small ball atop the center cone. After a touch, the player can remove his/her blindfold (or open eyes) and walk back to his/her team so another unsighted player can go for a touch.
If an unsighted player touches a cone s/he must return (sighted) to his/her team and either start again or the team can send in another unsighted player. If the ball falls off the cone it must be placed back atop the center cone, by an unsighted player, before it can be touched again for points. Play at least two games, with some good processing in-between, to see if the "group" can improve upon their first score.
Have FUN out there my friends. Keep me posted!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I shared this challenging communication activity with my FUNdoing Fridays followers in May of 2016 (Join the FUN by filling out any one of my "Sign Me Up" forms at any page here at FUNdoing and receive a handful of team building activities and ideas every Friday - FREE to you.)
My hope with this new activity (at the time) was to gather feedback about how it "works" to bring out useful communication skills and problem solving behaviors. I didn't hear from anyone. So I ended up sharing my set of Number Squares (and the directions) with a few friends to let them try it out. They told me the preparation information for the activity was not very clear. Let me fix that. I'm using some space here to share more about the set up of the number cards in the hopes of eliminating one of the main barriers to using this activity.
Below (in PDF form) you will find the full detailed write up I have for Number Squares and the print-n-play number cards. There are three different challenge levels for this one. There is a 16-card version that I consider to be the easiest. There is a 25-card version with a "hollow" numbered center card - a moderate difficulty level. Then, there is a 25-card version with a "solid" numbered center card which I consider to be the most difficult version. (All three puzzle layouts are below.) BONUS VARIATION: A friend of mine suggested that you can also play any of the three variations where players can show - but not give away - their card(s) to others. As a nice progression, I intend to try the 16-card puzzle first giving my group the option to show others their card(s) and then play the 25-card puzzle where they can only describe what they are holding. This might make the 25-card puzzle a bit easier to solve once the group learns about the number cards for their first attempt.
Playing the Game: In a nutshell, each player has one or two number cards and can only verbally share what is on his/her card(s) to other players (this is a ZOOM-style activity, if you know that one). In the end the group places the cards down on a table (or floor) in the correct 4by4 or 5by5 pattern. (Again, there is a fully-detailed PDF of the activity below.)
Included in the set of number cards are the answer cards for each of the two puzzles - the 16-card puzzle and the 25-card puzzles.
Each number card in this activity has a letter designation (see the cards below). The letters are used to identify each card in relation to the answer of each puzzle. This letter designation also helps when pulling out the number cards you want to use with a group. Again, there is one 16-card puzzle (easiest), and two 25-card puzzles - one with a hollow numbered center card (card C) being the moderate challenge, and a solid numbered center card (the other card C) being the most challenging variation of the three.
Here is the part that can be confusing:
There are two of the following cards: X, H, W, A, G, E, I - one set for the 16-card puzzle and one set for the 25-card puzzle. Look at the puzzle solutions below. Notice that the numbers on the outside edges of each puzzle are comprised with "hollow" numbers - this designation is a fact that groups will (hopefully) come to realize after communicating with clear details. This fact can help groups piece the puzzles together. When you use the 25-card puzzle you need to replace the right and bottom edge cards of the 16-card puzzle with the other set of numbered X, H, W, A, G, E, I cards. Then add the D, Q, Y, N, V, F, K, R & O cards for the right and bottom edges.
16-Card Puzzle Solution
25-Card Solution (with hollow numbered center card)
25-Card Solution (with solid numbered center card)
I hope this information is helpful. First and foremost, you need to decide which puzzle set of cards you're going to use. Then, pick them out of your set - put any extras out of sight. Be sure you have the appropriate answer card for the puzzle you are using and have some, or all, of the Help Cards available as resources for your group. (Help Cards are described in the full write up of directions below.)
Okay, please let me know how Number Squares plays for you. Any feedback is welcome!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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.