My recent travels back to Texas for the holidays inspired some Word Circle Puzzle creation time - plane time goes by quickly when in the creative mode. I also thought of another way to use WCPs. (If you are new to Word Circle Puzzles find some earlier posts describing the concept in the FUNdoing Blog post's Puzzles category.)
I like communication exercises that help bring out both the positive and negative behaviors related to talking with others. This simple WCP variation (I have yet to try) might lead to some great discussion around effective communication. I'm calling this version….
Solve & Repeat
Give everyone 1 or 2 word cards from a Word Circle Puzzle set. During the solving process everyone must have at least one word card in his or her hand at all times. Ask the group to solve the puzzle - connecting all the words together to make a circle of words. Players can show each other the words on their card(s). Time how long it takes the group to initially solve this task. (Asking for help is acceptable - maybe give the group 3 or 4 questions they can ask you to help them complete their task.)
Once they solve the puzzle tell them how long it took. You might want to spend some time talking/processing the activity to highlight some learning points. When ready to continue, have everyone turn his or her word card(s) face down (hold them so they can't see the words) and shuffle the cards around throughout the group - exchanging cards with at least 5 other players. When you say "GO!" (start the time), everyone can turn his or her card(s) over and then proceed to solve the puzzle (yes, the same puzzle). When I do one of my Line Up activities using playing cards in the same manner I see behaviors related to brainstorming, sharing ideas, agreements, negotiation, compromise, confusion, success, failure, frustration, and celebration. I'm guessing that using a Word Circle Puzzle in the same way will create the same experiences. Give it a try and let me know how it goes (I will too and report back in a later post.)
Word Circle Puzzles (In the spirit of play, this time I will give the puzzles to you all mixed up so you have the opportunity to solve them if you are so inclined. If not, the answer to each puzzle will be provided at the end of this post.)
9 Words: ACID, KIT, STEP, LIFT, RAIN, UP, TEN, DANCE, ANT
11 Words: PIPE, DOWN, OUT, STORY, GRADE, BACK, SCHOOL, BAG, PASS, BUS, BOOK
FAIRY, BULB, CAR, CLUB, STORE, LET, WIND, FRONT, PET, TOOTH, DOWN, FARM, LIGHT
13-2 Words: (There is also an 8-word puzzle in this one as well.)
BIRD, GLASS, PIPE, CALL, DRAIN, NUMBER, FENCE, BRAIN, RAIL, PLATE, ORGAN, SNAKE, ON
16 Words: MAN, FACTOR, SOME, WORK, HUSBAND, LOAD, SCHOOL, BREAK, STORE, OUT, BOOK, HOUSE, GLASS, HAND, DAY, HOUR
17 Words: PANT, TOP, OVER, RING, BACK, DOWN, HILL, AWE, LET, COAT, PLACE, HER, STAND, FLIP, SOME, WATCH, KICK
19 Words: LESS, BEAM, WHEEL, QUEST, DOWN, CLUB, PAINT, LIST, ION, SCALE, SODA, MAP, BALL, HOUSE, OR, HORSE, BIT, FLY, DRAFT
Have fun out there!!
All the best,
WORD CIRCLE PUZZLE ANSWERS
9 Words: UP, LIFT, KIT, TEN, ANT, ACID, RAIN, DANCE, STEP
11 Words: BACK, STORY, BOOK, BAG, PIPE, DOWN, GRADE, SCHOOL, BUS, PASS, OUT
13-1 Words: CAR, PET, STORE, FRONT, TOOTH, FAIRY, LIGHT, BULD, LET, DOWN, WIND, FARM, CLUB
13-2 Words: CALL, NUMBER, PLATE, GLASS, SNAKE, FENCE, RAIL, BIRD, [8-word puzzle] BRAIN, DRAIN, PIPE, ORGAN, ON
16 Words: SOME, DAY, SCHOOL, BOOK, STORE, HOUSE, HUSBAND, MAN, HOUR, GLASS, WORK, LOAD, FACTOR, OUT, BREAK, HAND
17 Words: OVER, AWE, SOME, PLACE, KICK, BACK, FLIP, PANT, HER, RING, LET, DOWN, HILL, TOP, COAT, STAND, WATCH
19 Words: WHEEL, HOUSE, PAINT, BALL, CLUB, SODA, LIST, LESS, OR, BIT, MAP, QUEST, ION, BEAM, SCALE, DOWN, DRAFT, HORSE, FLY
I'm fairly certain I'm not the only one who has use playground equipment for team building activities. Recently I helped a friend come up with over a dozen activities utilizing the public playground structure near his inner-city school. Teaching in a big city often comes with limited outdoor space, but local parks can serve as a useful alternative to staying inside on those beautiful days. Here's a brief summary of some of the ideas we put together. (All these ideas come with the blanket understanding that proper safety precautions will always be covered and followed - be super sure that structures are safe before you use them. If in doubt, don't do it!!):
Sherpa (Trust) Walk: Two group members lead a small group of un-sighted players safely around/up/over different areas of the equipment. (The sherpas, in Rohnke-esk fashion, do not speak a known language. They communicate in sounds that the group must eventually figure out. The safe easy Walk is to use a language that works for everyone - or mostly everyone.)
All Aboard: There are always a wide variety of platform spaces for the group to occupy. Start out with a large platform area and ask everyone to stand on it together (be sure the structure you are using is strong enough for the entire group). The idea is to eventually find the smallest (safe) platform area that everyone in the group can stand/balance upon from at least three full seconds.
Stepping Stones: One of my favorites for the playground. I bring along my 1-foot round spot markers, each player gets a spot, and the group has to use them to step on in order to get from one side of the playground structure to the other. So, if a player is stepping down a spot must be under his or her foot. I love the three-dimensional aspect of the trip. (And, going through a tube is really interesting! Or up a slide??!!)
TP Shuffle: Using an elevated curb, beam, or even some chalk on the side walk for the path, two small groups facing each other (each group in a line) have to switch places without stepping off the curb, beam, or chalked path. (I always like to start with a sidewalk version and then progress to a more elevated challenge.)
Tunnel Pass: Divide a group in half - one half at each entrance to the playground tunnel. Players can only go through and exit the tunnel if they have passed someone inside of it. Get everyone from both sides through the tube. (Careful with this one - there are some space body contact issues in there. The right group at the right time.)
Spider Web: There are lots of openings on playground equipment. After going through a progression of spotting and lifting activities set up a plan for everyone to go through some sort of opening in the equipment. Lots of room for planning and discussion. You could also assign points for the different openings and the group does it's best to get the most points possible.
Up and Over: Like a team wall, groups can also work together to get everyone up-and-over a stable bar located on the playground. The bar should be at a height where everyone will be able to spot others safely while maneuvering over the top. Spotting! Spotting! Spotting!
Other Playground Team Building ideas out there. Share in the comments below!
All the best,
On Sale Now!
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.