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.
Fast Ball (detailed below) is an activity found in my Portable Teambuilding Activities book. It's one of those "mental model" activities where (more often than not) groups initially define (via Groupthink) a word (or a direction) in one way and to be successful they need to redefine the word (or direction) - one way to innovate is to redefine something your believe to be true.
After using this activity a few times, Jeremy, a fellow FUN Follower (and good friend) wrote me, asking:
I have a question for you about the game Fastball. I have facilitated this activity mostly with college and adult groups and it does tend to take a while 30 min – 1 hr for groups to complete. When the group finally gets it and is able to complete the challenge, there has been a common reaction of great let down and almost the look from participants like “You tricked us”. How have you led this activity so that it does not take so long that group members check out or become so frustrated by the end. It doesn’t bother me to frustrate a group or to raise the tension but I’ve found it hard to bring the processing back around and be productive because the group is just done with it.
Early on in my team building career, I struggled with this same issue when learning about and working with activities like Fast Ball. (Group Juggle to Warp Speed comes to mind - you create a tossing "order" standing in a circle, but you didn't say they couldn't move from where they created the tossing order?)
With activities like this, I tend to lead them with my adult groups (college age or older) in one of three ways:
1) When I have time, like Jeremy, I will let the activity play out until the shift is made. And, as Jeremy has found out, it can take up to an hour. I have experienced group reactions of success and powerful learnings, and frustration and projected blame on me, their facilitator. (Lots to talk about in both situations.)
There have been times during the later reaction where the group felt tricked and it was difficult to get them to focus back on any learnings that could be brought forward. These groups were not ready to see the learning(s) underneath the challenge. I'm sure I did my best, at the time, to move forward, but these (or any) reactions cannot be predicted. We do the best we can to program activities that will meet the objectives of our groups.
(Here is another interesting topic to explore at another time: What are some strategies to bring a groups "back" from a "negative" experience?)
2) Here is the way I lead Fast Ball most of the time (mostly because I don't have the time to let this play out). I frontload the activity with some information that might move the group to the shift in thinking quicker. I tell them:
"On the surface, this activity might seem relatively easy to accomplish. And, it might be - you might "get it" right away. However, I've seen a lot of groups struggle with this one for one reason or another - the activity is designed to make you think. Remember, when approaching a challenge or task, be mindful of the "problems" you encounter. Solve one problem at a time and keep moving. If you reach an impasse, see this as an opportunity be creative and innovative. I will hold you accountable to the rules and you are free to clarify my expectations about them at any time."
After this frontload I let them play. I usually will remind them of some of the points in the frontload when they seem to be "stuck" - but, for the most part, groups will make the shift and produce a fast time in under 30 minutes.
3) When I program experiences involving objectives around "mental models", "paradigms", "phantom rules" or simply "making assumptions", I will use Fast Ball as one experience, of many, to touch on the learning points. I will move into the "Teacher as Educator" role from time-to-time. I will ask more pointed questions like:
Now, depending on your experiential philosophy, asking these types of questions will not be your preference. As I've learned, there are lots of tools we can use, as educators, to reach our objectives (i.e., the objectives you have for the group or the objectives a group brings with them). Other than giving my group the "answer" (there is little learning here, but it could serve a purpose from time-to-time), I don't want to limit the tools at my disposal.
Again, if I choose to "point" the group in a direction with Fast Ball, I've planned to use more of these "shifty" activities with the hope that my groups will move to different ways of defining and thinking on their own - a skill or behavior I want them to pick up.
Jeremy, thanks for sending me the inquiry. I hope I've provided some insight.
Let me know what your'e thinking about this. Leave a Comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Activity Objective: Players are challenged to move a safe tossable object to each person in the group as quickly as possible.
Facilitated Objective: Cooperation, Communication, Brainstorming, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Innovation, Goal Setting, Failing Forward (trial & error), Mental Models and Phantom Rules (false beliefs)
Needs & Numbers: One timing device and one safe tossable object is needed for a group of 8 to 24 players. If game spots (like rope rings or poly spots) are available, have one for each player. However, spots are not required.
Time: 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the level of paradigm shift thinking)
Circle up your group of players for directions (Note: A circle formation is not required for the activity, but don’t reveal this fact). Explain that everyone will stand on his or her spot. If physical game spots are not being used, simply tell everyone that “where you are standing when you catch the tossable object is your spot”—and say no more. (Note: This “spot” concept is an important factor for this activity.)
Once participants are standing on/in their spots, toss the object to someone in the group. Inform the group that this will be a timed activity. The time starts when the first toss is made and stops when everyone is standing in the spot of the player each participant tossed the object to (e.g., if you toss to Peter, you need to end up standing in the spot Peter was standing on when he caught the object).
This activity has turned out to be an interesting discovery. At first the solution seems to be quite straightforward. However, its simplicity “is an outward semblance that misrepresents” (disguises) the true nature of the activity.
The Rules (these should be simply stated):
Safety: I have not observed any physical safety issues during this activity as the solution does not require fast movements. However, I have seen some groups get rather frustrated. Be sure to monitor the communication so that you can step in if emotional safety is being compromised.
Facilitation: Some groups may have a few questions before they get started. Most can be answered by referring back to the directions. The answer to questions like, “Do we have to stay in a circle formation?” depend on the situation. I answer based on the amount of time I have for the activity—less restrictions to an activity tend to extend its time to completion.
When I throw the object in to start the game, it is sometimes a random choice; other times, I choose someone who might benefit from a leadership experience. However, this does not guarantee this person assumes the leadership role.
Spoiler Alert! (If you want to try this one first, do not read on.) You might be asking, “What’s the big deal? Seems like a pretty easy task.” Here’s the rub—if players choose to move to the spot of the players to which they have tossed immediately, the activity will not end; it becomes a perpetual loop. Think about it. No spot can be occupied by more than one player, so movement would have to be continuous. Now, look at rule three. It says, “After tossing…” but it does not specify precisely when. So, to complete the activity, following the rules (as far as I have determined to this point), all tosses should be made first AND THEN everyone moves to his or her designated spot and time stops! Hmm, interesting. Have a go. See what you think.
Variation: Hand everyone a spot. After the directions are given, have the group decide what configuration they want to make. A circle is still a possibility but not a requirement. I have seen two lines facing each other, which avoids possible complications of rule two as tosses are made across to the other line. A scattered formation is also interesting—no one is directly to the right or left if set up with this in mind.
Fastball can also be a good group goal-setting activity. There have been instances where I impose a goal of a very low time as a way to (hopefully) get the participants to make a shift in thinking.
One of Alfie Kohn's* latest blog posts (Transformation by Degrees) inspired me to put together a few thoughts I've been having about "participant-centered" team building. Now, as experiential educators, most of us know how important it is to build a trusting community of learners by first getting to know our learners (as the teacher discovered in Mr. Kohn's first story). After we get started how do we, as team builders, shift more (or all?) "control" of our learners' experience to them?
*Alfie Kohn is an educational thought leader advocating for less homework, less testing, and more "student-centered" educational practice. He is one of my heroes.
At this time I have more questions than answers about how to make team building more "participant-centered". In this post my intention is to light the fire. Let's see what we can come up with together. To get the wheels turning, let me share a couple of recent stories and then share some thoughts from Kohn's Transformation by Degrees.
One of the things I tried this Spring was to let go of the "harness demo" and have my groups figure out how to get them on - they were in charge of getting it done (and done correctly, meeting safety standards). Now, I did give them some information for safety reasons: The waist belt must be above the waist and, There should not be any twists in the webbing of the harness. It became a nice addition to the group's "team" building experience. It also helped, I'm sure, that there was at least one person in every group that had climbed before (having worn a harness). My groups ranged from 5th graders to adults. Yes, there did need to be fixes from time-to-time (that I pointed out), but they were in charge of getting it right.
On another note, here is a recent story from a fellow facilitator that highlights a factor of "control" (or management) with a group - time. Working with a new group (for a half-day program) my friend wanted to go around the room for (what she requested) "quick" introductions. The first few people shared their name, their role at the company and a little bit about themselves (one minute tops for each) - all was going "as planned." Then, the trend changed. The stories from each participant got longer. The planned (on paper) 10-minute intro activity turned into over 20 minutes of sharing.
So, how do we adjust "control" and still get in everything we've planned? Do we impose a time limit on things so we can get to other things on the list? Are our programs about quantity or quality? Can there be both? How much planning with participants can take place before a program? Do we (and they) have time to do this? Again, more questions than answers right now, for me.
Here are thoughts from Mr. Kohn (from Transformation by Degrees) about moving/ sharing control:
"...those of us who are trying to serve as change agents in education had better not count on teachers’ [facilitators] waking up one morning prepared to adopt radically different practices. In fact, we would do well to have some examples ready for how they can get from here to there step by step."
"It is possible to edge slowly away from traditionalism with respect to just about any specific practice."
"To learn something about the students was to transcend (or at least create the conditions for transcending) traditional pedagogy [team builders are pretty good at this part]. To invite the students to talk with, and then introduce, one another was to transcend an ideology of individualism — learning as an activity for a roomful of separate selves. To ask (rather than dictate) what the interview questions should be was to transcend the default model of top-down teacher control. In each case, what was challenged had simply been taken for granted."
"At each stage, one can move ahead only after confronting the unsettling truth that what looked like a destination turned out to be just a rest stop. There’s farther to go on this journey."
“My job,” a teacher in Ohio once commented, “is to be as democratic as I can stand.” Had she invited me to append a friendly amendment to her declaration, it might have been, “… and my other job is to push myself to be able to stand more democracy next year than I could this year.”
"Perhaps our motto should be: Change by degrees — but don’t underdo it."
What are the changes you are making (or have made) out there to be more participant-centered in your programs? We could put a "best practices" document together and share it with the world. What do you say? Add your ideas in the Comments below.
Keep me posted!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
After receiving my new Blocked Perspective activity from High 5 the other day (I'm so excited to try it out), blocks have been on my mind. Nate Folan, a friend and fellow team builder, inspired the Lotsa Blocks post back in April of 2015 - a series of six different activities using blocks. Block It Out is my latest development.
So far, in the beta testing phase, Block It Out is a table-top activity for six to twelve participants (but as you know, feel free to adjust this one to meet your needs).
Numbers: Six to twelve participants in a group - multiple groups can play.
Equipment: Masking tape, 12 wooden building blocks for each group (with pictures, numbers, and letters on the sides of the blocks), and a timing device for each group.
Set Up: You'll need a solid surface (e.g., end of a table) for each group. Stick down a 12-inch piece of masking tape on the surface you are using. Build two block towers (for each group), six blocks each, like in the first picture above.
The Challenge: The group is/groups are tasked to move the "Two Towers" into the "Pyramids" (picture 2) then into "The Wall" (picture 3) as quickly as possible. You will be giving them three attempts to get their best (lowest) time.
Let me know how this one goes for you! What needs to change to make it better? What can we add to make it better?
Keep me posted.
All the best!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
In The Chiji Guidebook: A Collection of Experiential Activities and Ideas for Using Chiji Cards (I co-authored with Steve Simpson), there is an object lesson activity called Relationships. In this activity you spread the deck of image cards out on the floor or table and ask your participants to scan the cards and look for "relationships" between two or three cards. When they find cards that relate they call out "RELATIONSHIP" and then pull out the two or three cards and share what relationship they see. After the share, the cards are placed back into the mix and more relationships are called.
For example, looking at the cards above, I see an eagle and an ostrich. They are both birds. (I cannot say they both fly since the ostrich is a flightless bird.) Or, I could pick out the lamp and the fire - the lamp can hold a flame, or they both provide light.
The facilitated objective behind the Relationships activity is to open up a conversation with participants about relationships. After you "play the game" for a while you can present questions like: What is important to you in a relationship? What do you bring to a relationship? What strains a relationship? What sorts of relationships are there? How can we fix relationships when they seem broken? An so on.
Recently I came up with Relationships Too. I wanted the interaction with the cards to be more random, a bit more challenging. I wanted to force more creative thinking sooner in the activity process (since, when I used this activity for the first time with a small group of corporate adults, I had little time to reach the "innovative thinking" objective I was asked to cover).
Here's the idea. Shuffle the deck of Chiji Cards and set the deck on the table. Then, place two cards (drawn from the top of the deck) to one side of the deck (see pictures above). Ask the group, "What relationships can you make between the two cards showing?" After an answer I ask, "Is there another relationship?" And again, "Is there another relationship?" I go on with this question until someone (or more than someone) tells me there are no more relationships they can see (Note: There is often some frustration that surfaces in the first round or two over my "incessant" question - good stuff to talk about!). After determining there are no more relationships between the two cars, someone in the group can flip over another card and place it on top of either of the two cards showing. Then, play continues. "What relationships can you make between the two cards showing?" "Is there another relationship?"
In both versions of Relationships (for me), the "easy" connections are identified right away. Then, over time, more complex relationships emerge. How many relationships can you make between the Farm card and the Rainbow card? How about the Farm and the Rabbit cards? (Is it only a Rabbit?) Again, both versions allow me to explore the complexities of relationships AND they help me emphasize that after we get past the "easy" answers, more complex and innovative ideas can emerge.
Find your copy of The Chiji Guidebook and Cards HERE.
Change up Relationships with Climer Cards. Find them HERE.
Go to Wood 'N' Barnes Publishing for a FREE Chiji Card Processing Activity HERE.
Have FUN out there my friends. Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I do like the Bull Ring activity, popularized by my friend Dr. Jim Cain. There are lots of fun adaptations of the Bull Ring contraption (including the 3-D version SHOWN HERE). And, there are lots of challenges that can be presented with any of the Bull Rings. One of my favorites is, "Hole in the Wall".
Here are my rules and the three-part progression to this challenge. (The participants in the video below are college students in a management-related masters degree program.):
PART 1: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other.
PART 2: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other. Before placing the Ball on the second pedestal, all the participants and the Bull Ring contraption must pass through a hula-hoop being held up vertically by the facilitator.
PART 3: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other. Before placing the Ball on the second pedestal, all the participants and the Bull Ring contraption must pass through a hula-hoop. This time the group must figure out how to manage the hula-hoop without the facilitators help. (This Part is shown in the video below.)
I describe the hula-hoop to the group as a hole in a wall. A hole in a wall is in a vertical orientation and our hole in the wall has special powers - it can move around within the imaginary wall but it must stay in the vertical position.
When I am holding the hoop for the group (in Part 2), each participant can tell me how high they would like me to hold it and if they want it moved at any point during their passage through it. The hoop works the same way in Part 3, but the group members have to figure out how to manipulate the hoop following the Rules of play.
In the video below the group is (obviously) attempting Part 3. Noticed they have figured out a way, following the rules, to get through the hoop together after loosening the strings - remember, when the Ball is in motion the strings must be tight. (Now, does the Ball "move" during the loosening of the strings? We did talk about this during the processing session.)
NOTE: I've titled the "Part 3" video below, Bull Ring Hooped since it's also on my YouTube channel by itself without a description. I didn't add any music to this video so you could listen to the participants work their plan.
What's your favorite Bull Ring challenge? Leave us a Comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Back in 2012 I shared Pipeline: Variation. In the post I included all the different materials and transportable objects I've seen being used for this classic activity. The basic idea is to move objects (most often round ones) from one point to another.
I also noted, it was the first (adventure-based) team building activity I learned (after the ice breakers of course) when I took my first Project Adventure training. Pipeline is still one of the most universal activities I know - it works with almost any age group (I've done it with Kindergartners using foam noodles) and any sized group (I've done it with over 100 participants all moving objects to the same destination). And the story continues....
Since moving to Colorado I've been doing some engaging contract work for Deb & David of Experiential Learning Associates. They showed me their version of Pipeline. They call it Bridges. Watching Deb present the activity to four classes of 5th graders, she told them the tools they would be using for the activity were bridges. She asked the students, "What do bridges do?" Some responses included, "They take us over dangerous things." "They save us time so we don't have to go around gorges and rivers." "They connect one place to another." I really liked hearing how the students were "connecting" to the activity right away. (I like the potential of this frontload for a metaphorical conversation about what "bridges" participants have in their lives - we didn't take this direction the day I saw Deb present this.)
Then Deb set up the idea of working together to move one marble from one point of the field to a bucket out in the field. First they worked together as independent classes and then, eventually, created one (super) long line of four classes to move one marble into the bucket. (The theme of the day included accomplishing things together.)
During this extravaganza, I saw a lot of participation within the individual classes. They split up into two or three groups in order to practice moving marbles. Then, when they all came together I was a little skeptical. I wasn't sure how engaged the students would be. As it turned out every one of the students did roll the one marble along their bridge at least once then I watched them head to the end of the line to see the end result. Since the marble movement didn't last too long it seemed they were engaged enough to all join in on the celebration after the marble finally made it into the bucket.
The (brief) processing session after the activity came back around to working together and what this looked like. Everyone had a small part in accomplishing a "big" task. It was mentioned that, "You might not always have the most exciting part of a task - like dropping the marble into the bucket - but your part is important to keep everything moving forward." A nice wrap up for 120 5th graders.
And then there were those words! As we were cleaning up our gear I asked Deb about the words written on the bridges. (Notice some examples in the picture above.) She said they are used as a processing (debriefing) tool. Participants can speak to the word/phrase they have on their bridge after the activity (or any activity really), or use another word/phrase they see being held up by someone else in the group. They are nice prompts to get people thinking and talking. I instantly fell in love with the added versatility of the bridges (Pipeline sections).
Within a few days I pulled out 12 of my wooden (corner molding) Pipeline pieces and added some character trait words (pics below). A quick search lead me to the Vocabulary.com site with a list of 74 character traits. Here are the 12 more positive traits I'm going to try out, predicting I'll add more in the near future: Brave, Serious, Resourceful, Respectful, Honest, Helpful, Leader, Cooperative, Determined, Energetic, Calm, Tolerant. I'll let you know how it goes and where I go with it.
Thanks Deb & David for sharing the cool idea.
Let me (and Deb & David) know how this works for you and what word/phrases you choose to use on your bridges! Leave us a Comment below.
Have FUN out there!
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.