(Be sure to scroll down to watch the in-action video.)
I've been wanting to start posting some BIG activities for those of you who work with challenge course programs (and those looking to start one), so here we go. I learned Double Whale Watch years ago from my Dallas/Fort Worth friends at Group Dynamix. I like the versatility of the small (somewhat) portable construction and the wonderful opportunity to provide a collaborative experience for a small or larger group.
If you've ever used a Whale Watch you know the basic challenge is to get everyone from your group onto the element and balance it for a certain amount of time. Then of course there are a number of additional challenges that can be presented. (More on the way, I'm sure, at this FUNdoing blog.)
Whale Watch Set Up You want to place the Whale Watch platforms about 12 to 24 inches apart from each other in a linier formation. (For additional challenge, you can work with offset and angles as well, but they will require a bit more physical effort and/or coordination to solve - a nice upper-level challenge. It's also important to know that the fulcrums "tip" a lot easier when used inside on a solid floor, as opposed to when they are set up outside on the ground - there is a little more friction on the fulcrums outside, making it a bit easier to balance on the Whale Watches.
The Double Whale Watch Challenge Ask your group to divide themselves in half (or close to it). Each half will be asked to carefully step onto their assigned Whale Watch platform (I always have everyone enter at the center area of the Watch). Then, when everyone is aboard, the challenge is to balance both Whale Watches, at the same time, for 10 seconds.
Whale Watch Safety Points As you may know, or can see from the picture and video action below, there is some fair potential for participants to lose their balance and fall of off the structure. I like to have as many facilitators spotting as I can get - two minimum, one at each of the far ends of the platforms. I also tell my participants that as soon as there are two people on a platform everyone must be connected to someone on their platform. This most often looks like hand-holding, but hands on shoulders can work for them as well. As with any challenge course element, inform your group of the potential risk and ask them to keep each other safe during the action. AND, always stop the action if needed.
Two other safety notes. Ask your participants to never walk through the gap between the two platforms. And, I always require everyone to exit their platform the way they entered, off the sides at the center of the platforms. SUPER PRETTY PLEASE, "do not jump off the ends of the platforms - you know this will cause problems for people at the other ends."
I will assume you will add additional safety instructions related to your program operating procedures. For this post I wanted to make sure I covered the basics.
Why I like the Double Whale Watch As mentioned above, I like the (somewhat) portable aspect of this construction (however, it does take a bit of effort, from at least two people, to move one). I like the smaller surface area of the platforms because the micro-movements of each person have more impact on the balance. It also takes less time for everyone to access two separate platforms and get to the action part.
But mostly, I love to watch attempt after attempt as each group of Whale Watchers tries to balance out their platform on their own - it's not impossible for one of the two groups to balance for 10 seconds, but I've yet to see both balance at the same time for 10 seconds without "crossing the gap" for support from the other group. I've seen a few groups bridge the gap quickly, but more often than not it takes some time for that "shift" in thinking to realize they can help each other. Good stuff.
Again, thanks to my incredibly creative friends at Group Dynamix for sharing this activity with us. If you venture to build yourself a set, let us know how it goes - leave a comment below.
Have fun out there.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I met up with Chris Ortiz during the last AEE Conference. At that particular time here's his Top 10 teambuilding activities list. THANKS CHRIS! (Hey, great name by the way!)
Breaking the Code I recently saw Chris lead this small group "code-breaking" activity. It plays like the Hasbor and Pressman Toys board game Mastermind. Here's an interestingly detailed history of Mastermind on Wikipedia (which, the post notes, "resembles an earlier pencil and paper game called Bulls and Cows" - another Wikipedia installment.)
I couldn't find anything on the web about how Chris specifically runs this one. Hopefully it will be in his new activity book coming out this next year (vicious rumor inspirational!). The closest we can get to understanding this on is to read the Bulls and Cows description (link above) and replace the four numbers used with four people. So far I've played Break the Code with groups of eight participants. I wrote down the names - horizontally on a piece of paper - of four people from the group. The players then had to figure out the four people in the order they were listed on my paper. When they lined up four people for an attempt at the answer I would say something like, "there are two people in the answer but only one is in the correct spot." This begins the rearranging and the feedback until they had the right four people in the right order. When multiple groups are playing, give each one a new puzzle after solving one in order to fill the time you have for the activity.
After Chris previewed this post, he sent over the write-up for Breaking the Code calling it a "sneak peek" to his next book! Thanks Chris !
Handshake Mingle The best example of this one (posted before here at the FUNdoing blog) is the YouTube video of Nate Folan leading Five Handshakes in Five Minutes. Search around on the web for other ideas using "Handshake Icebreaker" as a locater. And, of course, make up your own handshake greetings to fit your program themes and groups.
Ubuntu Cards Like Amy Climer a few weeks ago, Chris is another humble soul. He waited until his third choice to tell me he loves using his Ubuntu Cards - a product he helped develop. Here's the idea around the cards directly from the High 5 Adventure Learning Center website (where you can pick up the cards):
The Ubuntu Philosophy
Ubuntu Cards embody the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Pronounced oo-boon-too, it means "I am because we are." and celebrates the common human bond that exists within each and every one of us. Ubuntu captures the essence of our programming at High 5: we are better people because of knowing those around us.
Here's a link, again, to the High 5 site, to 10 activities you can lead with the Ubuntu Cards.
Let's Make a Deal The closest description I could find is Kitty Wants a Corner from Ultimate Camp Resources. When you go to this description, be sure to read the "Requirements" part. It states, "people in the circle must make eye contact with someone else before switching places..." Chris metaphors this "eye contact" with "making a deal" (other facilitators I've seen connect this to a "contract" between the two people. The talking points around this activity (metaphorically speaking) involve talking about what a "deal" or "contract" is all about. And, when you make this deal, what are the possible outcomes? Because in the game it is easy to break your "eye contact deal" when you see the "kitty" has spotted your plan. I'm guessing Chris has mastered this object lesson - I hope to see him run this one at some point.
You, Me, Me, You This is one of my favorite name games because you are actually "practicing" saying other people's names. I couldn't find anything on the web that details this one. If you are a Playmeo subscriber you can find it there (if you are not a Playmeo subscriber, give yourself this gift for 2017 - it's an incredible activity resource). Here's a brief: There are a number of ways to organize this one, but basically when I pair up with someone (we can be shaking hands, or not), I say my name, my partner says her/his name, I then say my partners name, then my partner says my name. After this exchange we (can high five and then) both go off to find someone else to pair up with and repeat the process.
Mimeograph Along with all the great activities Chris (and Ryan McCormick) shared in the Ubuntu Activity Guide, Mimeograph is another (communication-based) team builder that can be done with Ubuntu Cards - Chris' favorite prop for this one. (You can use other sets of cards as well. If you only have one set of cards, photo copy an arrangement of the cards that can be "out in the hall" for groups to copy). Here's the FULL DESCRIPTION of Mimeograph found at the High 5 Learning Center website.
Bull Ring Both Jim Cain and I have this one on our Top 10. Here's a quick video from our friend Tom Heck. You'll be able to see the basic construction of a bull ring (a solid metal ring and string), as well as a simple versions of a PVC "stand" (where the tennis ball is placed). Be sure to listen to the type of communication that presents itself during the action. Check out the picture from Jim Cain's Top 10 post to see one of the latest models - called the 3-D Bull Ring. (If you want more on Bull Ring, there's lots to watch on YouTube.)
Blind/Color Maze Here's a VIDEO of the basic version of the Maze (you can construct with Duct Tape - a Tom Heck idea. I used duct tape to outline a grid on a plastic tarp so I can fold it up and take it with me anywhere). Here's another VIDEO of the Maze with an interesting twist.
Walk-N-Talk Processing To round things off Chris shared one of his favorite processing experiences. First he'll get participants in groups of two or three (I'm sure in some creative way). Then he offers everyone a "processing-type" question (like, "What is the most powerful memory you have about the program and what makes it important to you?) to talk about as they walk around the activity area. The idea of walking and talking provides some privacy for participants and (as research tells us) gives the body something physical to do while the brain works on cognitive functions - some tell us the brain works better this way. After a preset time you can call everyone back in (maybe even switch up groups) to provide them with another question to talk and walk about.
Chris, thanks SO MUCH for sharing with us. You're the BEST!
Have FUN out there friends.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I've been reconnected to the ZOOM activity since I've been working for an outings company here in Texas (Group Dynamix - Carrollton Texas). ZOOM is a "straight up" verbal communication challenge - the only way to succeed is to share information through talking. (A while back I posted What's Missing? using the Qwirkle Game pieces - same behaviors needed for this one.) I want to share the basics here at my blog for easy access to those who want to get started. There are at least a half-dozen ways I know of to lead ZOOM. (Michelle Cummings and I co-wrote the ZOOM activity for my most recent book, Portable Teambuilding Activities - there are several presentation variations included.)
The Basic ZOOM Lead Once you know how many participants you will have for the activity - let's say 18. Choose 18 sequential pages from the set (choosing 18 random pages from the set can make it a bit more challenging). Hand out a page to every person in your group and ask them not to show their picture to anyone else. In other words, when I get my picture/page I am the only one that can see it. Then, I say something like this:
The pictures you are all holding connect together in a linear order - there is a beginning and an end to the sequence. Your challenge is to arrange the pictures into the correct order by only verbally describing the picture you have in your hand. You must keep your picture in hand and you are not allowed to trade your picture with anyone. In the end, you all need to position yourselfs in a circle formation. One person will ultimately be holding the first picture of the set and someone will be holding the last picture in the set. The rest of you will be in sequential order in between the two. When you all believe you are in the correct sequential order we will reveal (turn around) all the pictures to see how you did.
There you have it. The basics. Players can move around and they can use any words to describe the picure they have. I don't let my groups use outside resources (e.g., smart phones "I didn't show them MY picture"). When you play with up to 24 (or more people) it can take a good 45 minutes - so, be ready. This one's very challenging.
Note: There is also a second helping - Re-Zoom. This (book) sequence of pictures is MUCH tougher to solve with only verbal communication. When I want to give a group some "help" before presenting ZOOM in the traditional way, I start with Re-Zoom. However, the players are able to show their pictures to each other and then get into sequential order. This "practice" gives the group an idea of how pictues fit together and the complexity involved. This step takes about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the number of pictures. But, what I've found is that it cuts the solution time to ZOOM in half.
A ZOOM Variation My Friend Scott Goldsmith recently shared a presentation to ZOOM (that he told me he learned from Steve Ockerbloom) that I have yet to try - but looking forward to.
Each person can look at his/her picture/page then put it face down somewhere in the area. Then, players go out and discuss what they remember about their picture with other people in the group for a predetermined period of time (say 5 minutes - could be more if you think it's needed). After the 5 minutes, everyone can go look at his/her picture/page again for 1 minutes. Then, they all go back out to talk again (for another 5 minutes).
Finally, everyone can look at their picture a 3rd time (for 1 mimute). After this third look players keep hold of their page but cannot look at it again. Participants come back together to openly discuss one more time then put the pictures/pages face down in the order they believe is correct - there will be a first and last picture/page and all the rest in between. The reveal is one card (starting with the first card) at at a time. "It's awesome!!! Best variation I have seen," says Scott.
I'm sure more versions of ZOOM will find there way to FUNdoing. So, go get your ZOOM, give it a try, and be ready for more. Let us know how it goes. Leave a comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
At the most recent AEE conference someone asked if I've ever created a Word Circle Puzzle set using only pictures. I had to say no, but acepted the challenge! (I can't remember who asked the quesiton, but I do want to say THANK YOU for the idea).
So, here it is friends. As far as I know, this (PDF Print-N-Play below) is the first Picture Word Circle Puzzle Set. Now, you will notice some pictures are pretty straight forward (like the ones in the header picture above), others will lend themselves to more subjectivitiy. I'm assuming the picture versions of WC Puzzles will have a bit more challenge to them. With this in mind you will find eight Help Cards included with the set your group can use for assistance if needed.
Full disclosure. I have yet to try out the set with a group (I intended to the other day but my group wasn't ready for the challenge). Let's test them out together.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about (new to Wird Circle Puzzels?) you'll need to do a little homework. Here are two blog posts - one HERE and another HERE - that should give you the idea. The puzzles in these posts are traditionally made up of words that connect together to form a circle.
Here it is. The first Picture Word Circle Puzzle Set:
Let us know how it goes. Leave a comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed. D.
Way back in June of 2012 I posted a teambuilding icebreaker activity using Spot It Cards. Since then Spot It Cards and Ubuntu Cards (they work like Spot It Cards, but the activities are more related to teambuilding) have been showing up more and more in teambuilding programs. Lately I pulled out some Spot It cards and revisited some old activities and created a new one (Spot It Team Challenge) for some recent groups. (If you are new to Spot It or Ubuntu Cards, the unique feature is in the fact that any two cards from a deck will have one matching image - Can you see the one in the picture below?
What's On the PDF?
Do you have a Spot It Cards activity you love? Please share it with us in the comments below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
On Sale Now!
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.
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.