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.
Recently, I launched my Online Store (so exciting) with my first digital download product, Are You More Like: 1001 Colorful Quandaries for Quality Conversations. In paperback form it is a handy "back-pocket" size you can take with you everywhere. And, so is this digital download - drop into your mobile devices and off you go! Great get-to-know-you group activities, still in your back pocket.
Other than simply asking and answering the thought-provoking questions (some examples from the book above) with one other person or a whole bunch of people, the book includes four interactive activities - one of which is Mix and Match. The activity requires you to create a pack of index cards (up to 40 cards, or even more, if you have a big group). First you choose 20 questions you want to work with, some fun ones and some more serious ones. Then, you write half of each question on one card - each card, in the end, will have a match.
With cards in hand, you're ready to play. GOOD NEWS, your cards are ready right here! The PDF download below is a set of 40 cards - some fun questions and some more serious. Print, cut and play on! More details about how to play are included in the document.
Have FUN out there. And, keep me posted!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
The first Riddle Me This Post went up in May of 2016. In it I shared how I like to use riddles with groups. When presented as a group challenge, riddles can help us learn about asking good questions, listening to, and for, important information and provide an opportunity for a group to solve a problem, or “challenge” together.
I have another set of ponderable problems for you here (and a downloadable PDF of the same so you can have them with you on your smart phone or tablet). Once the answers are discovered to the riddles below, they can be used to open up a conversation based on the topic of the riddle - I provided some suggestions to get you started.
Spoiler Alert: Don't scroll down to the bottom too fast if you want some time to try and figure out the answers - you'll find them below.
1. What appears once in every minute, twice in every moment, but not once in a billion years?
How do you spend your free time? What time of day is your favorite? Why? Why does time go faster when you’re having fun and slower when you’re not? If you could go back in time for one day, where would you go and why? What is your opinion about wasting time?
2. What grows down when it grows up?
What are the things you have in your life that come from animals? What are your thoughts about “animal” products? What are substitutes for animal products?
3. What can travel around the world without ever needing any gas?
Where have you traveled to, and why did you go there? Where would you like to travel to someday? Why do you want to go there? What is your favorite way to travel?
4. What gets larger the more you take from it?
What would you say a “hole” is good for? When holes are not good? What does it mean to get yourself into a “hole”? Have you ever gotten yourself into a hole? What’s the story and how does it end? If you could did holes for a good cause, what would it be?
5. What do you leave behind only after you take them?
What do you want to “leave behind” from your life? What do you think you’ve left behind already? What is something left behind by someone else that you find important in your life? If you could leave behind some advice about life right now, what would it be?
6. What has four legs, a head, and leaves?
Thinking about your daily meals, where do you tend to eat these meals? Do you like to eat alone or with others? What meals do you tend to spend with family? When’s the last time you sat down around the table for a meal with others? What are some of the important details about sharing a meal with others – why might this be a good thing?
7. What can run but can't walk?
Tell us a “water” story in your life? What sorts of water sports are you involved in? How did you get involved in water sports? (Who got you started?) What do we “know” about water? What are some of the ways you can “save” water in your life? How would your life change if you had to walk two miles a day to bring water to your family? (This happens!)
8. What never was, but always will be?
When you think about tomorrow, what do you think about? What’s happening in your life tomorrow that’s important to you? If tomorrow was the same as today, what would you change? If anything was possible, what would you do tomorrow?
9. What is the difference between here and there?
How would you describe the “here” you are in right now? What is here in your life that you appreciate? What is here in your life that you would like to change? What do you believe is out “there” for you? Describe some things that are over “there” – things outside your reach. How can you get closer to those things out of reach? What resources do you need to get “there”?
10. When does Christmas come before Thanksgiving?
What holidays do you celebrate in your life? Which holiday is your favorite? Why? What is your overall opinion about holidays? If you could add a holiday, what would you call it and what part of the year would it be celebrated?
PDF Download of Riddles and Suggested Topics for Discussions
Spoiler - Answers Below...
Answers: 1) The Letter M, 2) A Goose, 3) The Moon, 4) A Hole, 5) Footsteps, 6) A Dining Room Table, 7) Water, 8) Tomorrow, 9) The Letter T, 10) In the Dictionary
Do you have some favorite riddles? Share them in the Comments below. I love to hear from you all!!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
If you have some time next week, Nate shared some information with me about a live interview he'll be doing with Facilitating XYZ on Wednesday May 17th (2017) at 12:30 EST (and check out all the other live interviews with some amazing team builders - Solomon Masala, Mark Collard, Amy Climer, Dr. Rev. Jamie Washington, Peter Durand, Barbara MacKay, and Tanya O. Williams ).
About Nate's interview:
"Tune in for [the] conversation with Nate where [he'll] talk about how to link and layer activities, energy, and focus effectively as a facilitator, what are the essential behaviors for group facilitators to be successful, the importance of growth mindsets and much more!"
Nate Folan and I had the chance to sit down at the last AEE Conference to talk about his Top 10 activities (at that time). In all honesty, his first response was, "I use whatever is needed at the time - what's in front of me." I know that most of us feel this same way - we'll do what's best for the group at hand. So, I said, "well, if you were forced to share (like someone asking you what your Top 10 activities were), what would your Top 10 be right now?"
He was happy to share with us:
5 Handshakes in 5 Minutes - I've shared THIS VIDEO with you before, and it's worth sharing again. I like this version because it's about connecting with a number of people. In another version of "Handshakes" you do the handshake demonstrated with one other person, then you find a new partner. With this new partner you do the next demonstrated handshake, then you go find your last partner and do the first handshake with them. Then, you find a new partner. With this new partner you do the next demonstrated handshake, then go to your second partner to repeat the second handshake and finally go to your first partner again to do the first handshake before you find a new partner. And so on for five or six (or more) different handshakes. It becomes a fun high-energy scramble memory game. (40 different handshakes are found in Nate's book.)
I'm a Starfish - This is a really high energy activity requiring the group to "follow the leader" as he/she goes through a series of (again, energetic) animal specific movements. I saw Nate lead this one at an AEE Conference a couple years ago. There is no way to do this one justice through the written word. As soon as we can get some video of this I'll share it.
Here's the brief with the Starfish. Say to your group, "Okay, the idea here is to say what I say and do what I do. Got it? Great! Let's go!" Then crouch down into a squat (wait for them to squat), then jump up into the air extending your arms and legs out to the sides saying, "I'm a Starfish, I'm a Starfish, I'm a Starfish." Yes, you go back down into a squat before each, "I'm a Starfish." Then, choose another animal with a specific animal motion and pose. After four or five of these you and your group are pretty warmed up and having fun doing it! (This one is in Nate's book.)
Swat Tag - Nate likes this series of Swat Tag activities. He uses them to teach about choice, commitment, challenge and levels of risk taking.
The game "Swat" is found in the 1981 More New Games book. It was played with foam foils used for teaching fencing. I've included one of the pictures from the book (I honestly had hair like that!!).
The modern-day version still can be played in the sand, but most people play it in the grass or open floor area. You need one foam noodle (about half the size of the store-bought noodle - just cut a long noodle in half), a game spot (or hula-hoop) as the noodle spot and one game spot for every player in the group.
Swat 1: The noodle spot is placed down in the center of a large circle of players - be sure there is about a one-arm length of space between players. Each player is standing on his/her own spot. The noodle is placed down on top of the noodle spot. Since I like to play this one I go out into the center to be the first noodler. Players that are going to play must have at least one foot on a game spot (not the noodle spot). Okay. Me, the noodler picks up the noodle and I proceed to tag someone in the circle, below the waist, with the noodle. I then turn around and go back to put the noodle on the noodle spot - I want to do this quickly. The person I tagged follows me because he/she is required to get the noodle - becoming the next noodler. I MUST place the noodle ON the spot before I am released of duty. Once it's on the noodle spot the new noodler can pick up the noodle. Now, the new noodler can immediately tag me back if he/she is able, or he/she can go after someone else in the circle. After every tag the noodle must be placed back on the noodle spot. If I were to miss the spot, the person I tagged can hover over the spot until I return to place the noodle on the spot - usually resulting in an immediate tag back. So, be mindful when placing the noodle down. (I tend to use a hula-hoop as the noodle spot to make the placement a bit easier.) Play this level for several minutes to warm up the group. This one plays well for about three to five minutes. Then go another round or move to the next level.
Swat 2: This level plays like Let's Make A Deal from Chris Ortiz's Top 10 post. While the basic game of Swat 1 is in progress, players from the circle (standing on a spot), can make visual (or verbal, but you risk being heard) agreements to switch spots with each other. When switching players must move across the inside of the circle - thus opening them up as a target for the noodler. In this version Nate encourages players to take a risk, to challenge themselves even if there is a chance of getting tagged. As Chris Ortiz explains in his version, making a deal is a commitment to honor the agreement. And, what, if anything, changes that agreement. And, how does that reflect upon the agreer. There are times when I play this one and offer a point to players for each different spot they touch during the game. However, you lose all of your points if the noodler tags you. This one plays well for about three to five minutes. Then play another round or move to the next level.
Swat 3: Use all rules as detailed above. At this level anyone, at any time, can go and occupy an open spot - they don't have to make an agreement to switch with anyone. In the attempt the player must cross through the circle, not go around the circle. This adds another level of challenge (or risk). You might be heading towards a spot that becomes occupied before you get there. So, what are your choices? Again, you could allow a point for every spot touched and lose points after being tagged. Plays well for three minutes.
Swat 4: Play with all rules from the first three levels. Here's the addition. If you want the extra challenge (risk), run out to the noodle spot, put your foot on (or in) it and say, "I love this game" three times before returning to a game spot. If you make it back without getting tagged give yourself a high five for courage (or add 10 points to your score). Again, as in each level, about three minutes of action is pretty good. After four games your group is going to be pretty warmed up.
Again, Nate likes to discuss the experience with his groups asking about the risks players took. What was challenging for them? Did they try something that was uncomfortable? Were they successful? Were they unsuccessful? What was it like when all of your points were lost and you had to go back to zero? What choice did you make at zero?
When I offer points, I ask players to set a goal before each game. This allows me to talk about the goal setting process and outcomes.
Blocks (& Skyscrapers) - See the Lotsa Blocks FUNdoing blog post for a series of interactive building block activities. (More details are in Nate's book.)
Switch - Nate told me about this good cardio activity that involves choice and risk - where are you going? What if you don't make it? Find the directions at thisPlayworks Link.
Table Top Ricochet -See this FUNding blog post for all the details - and a couple videos.
Moonwalking & Moonwalking Key Punch - Here's another activity I've seen Nate present and again, tough to do it justice through the written word - but Ill give it a shot.
Moonwalking involves three people. One person is the moonwalker, the other two are the "lifters". (Karl Rohnke would call this type of activity a "stunt".) The lifters take a supporting hold of the moonwalkers underarm and elbow - one lifter on each side. The moonwalker goes down a bit into a squat and then springs upward into the air. The lifters provide a slight to moderate lift (not a tossing the person in the air lift) always staying in contact with the moonwalker. The lift gives a bit more height to the jump so there can be a "weightlessness" effect. As the moonwalker heads back down to earth the lifters provide some upward support so the moonwalker does not land too abruptly - the lifters are "spotting" the downward motion of the moonwalker.
Be sure to provide the time for everyone in each group of three to practice the jumping and lifting spot.
After some stationary practicing it's time to travel. Now, the moonwalker will be jumping a bit forward as the lifters move along side, always lifting on the jump and staying in contact with the moonwalker - bring sure to support the landing. Be mindful, the moonwalker does not want to jump too far forward out jumping the lifters spots.
Be sure to provide the time for everyone in each group of three to practice traveling and the moving lifting spot.
Moonwalking KeyPunch - (Here's what I remember about this one.) Set down some numbered spots - about one spots for every two people in your group. Then you'll need a "Moon Crater" around each numbered spot - a hula-hoop, a webbing circle or you could even tape out a square around each spot.
Once you're set up, each group of three stands around a different crater. Now, let's say we have 24 people in our group. (Perfectly divisible by three! I love it when it works out.) That means there are 12 numbered spots inside craters. My group is standing around crater number 10 (the other groups are standing around another number of their choice). The objective, for each group of three, will be to touch each numbered crater in order and return to their original crater as quickly and safely as possible - you are on the moon after all. So, my group starts with crater 10, then we go to 11, then 12. After we touch 12 we find number one, then two, then, three - working our way back to the number 10 crater. When all the groups have returned to their original crater the time stops.
How do you touch the spots?, you ask. Well, since we all know how to moonwalk now, we all moonwalk through each crater. One leap and lift in, landing on the number. Then, another leap and lift out. After a successful crater connection my group looks for the next number (maybe with a little help from our companions). Once we reach our next destination another moonwalker takes this crater - so, we switch out roles at every crater. Do be careful during the lunar movement.
When everyone has returned to their original crater, log the time and see if the moonwalkers are up for another attempt. (You will find that this one does require some physical effort - so, you might want to take a little break before the next moonwalk.) (Moonwalking, I'm guessing will be in Nate's next book.)
Sonic - In Nate's book there are three versions of Sonic inspired by the video game Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (TM) (Here's the Overview of each from the book):
Way to much to tell you about these three. You'll have to pick up the book for more details (well worth it I assure you!)
I play these games with the large sized noodle chips (foam pool noodles cut up in 1.5 inch slices) - lots of pieces for low cost. My tossables are stuffed animals - I get mine from the Dollar Store. Small buckets can also be found at a Dollar Store - be sure they are sturdy enough to withstand a stuffed animal toss.
Fine Line Cards - Okay! If you want to be an early adopter of a Nate resource, get some of these FINE LINE (very cool) cards and read Nate's eBook (below) of 10 activities he has generously share with us. According to Nate, this collection is just the tip of the iceberg - there are more to come. (On an informational note, Nate reached out to the creators of the cards and asked if he - Nate - could write an activity book for the cards. After the enthusiastic confirmation, the book is in the works and we get an early look If you want a little more information about the cards HERE'S a VIDEO from the creators.)
Here's Nate's super-fantastic eBook of activities:
Tweener - I saw Nate present this activity at a workshop on "Active Debriefing". Another name for this game is called Bridge Ball - see the Playworks video HERE for the basics. Once your group has some fun with the game you can offer debriefing questions to open up some learning. When a goal is scored: the person scored on shares a goal he/she has related to anything going on in his/her life or it could be a goal related to the group they are working with at the time. When the ball goes out of the circle between two people (called a Tweener): the person that goes out to gather up the ball and bring it back gets to say something they are really excited about or something they really like to do, or something that makes them happy - we're looking for a personal highlight. When the ball goes up and over someone: that person gets to ask a "wonder" question (while someone goes off to gather up the ball). For example, I might ask, I wonder what's next for us as a group. Then there could be a little discussion about the possibilities. So, a fun way to extend the play of a simple interactive game.
Nate, thanks so much for sharing some FUN with us!!
Readers, if you want to connect with Nate directly he said you can call or email:
Again, hi website is: NateFolan.com
Have FUN out there my friends! Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D
Triplets Too Here’s a second helping of a puzzle challenge I learned from the Thiagi Group newsletter (see the complete details HERE). If you want the first helping, see my 2016 blog post HERE.
Thiagi is well known for creating activity simulations to enhance learning experiences for corporate populations (the claim is, to stay sharp, he creates at least one new simulation a day!!). If you follow the link above you will see how he uses Triplets as a way to enhance a particular educational concept (As he states in the description of Triplets, “When you have solved all the triplets, make a word out of the first letters of the link words to discover the secret of effective training.) FUN stuff!
After learning about Triplets I came up with a more hands on version and made it a bit more challenging as well). In the PDF below you will find a set of eight Print-N-Play Triplets (24 Words) – the Triplet Words are in the fancy print. The last page of the document includes the “Link Words” (8 Words) - one Link Word will go with one set of (three) Triplet Words (I suggest you read Thiagi’s excellent description of Triplets play for a better understanding of this puzzle challenge).
Again, one of the Link Words will connect (either before of after) with three of the other words in the set (hence, Triplets). Look at the Triplet sets in the header graphic above. Can you figure out what "Link" word goes with each of the Triplet sets? (Find the answers in the Print-N-Play document.)
Here’s how I’ve used Triplets Too so far:
Moderate Challenge: Hand out the Triplet words evenly among your group of 10 to 14 players. Then hand out the link words – one each to eight different players (these players can also be holding Triplet words). Ask the group to match the link words to each set of Triplets without any player ever being without a word in his/her possession. Also, I don’t let my group set down the words – all words have to stay in hands.
Tough Challenge: Only hand out the Triplet words. Have the group determine what Triplet words go together and what link word goes with each set of Triplets. Again, all words must stay in hands and everyone must have at least one word in hand at all times.
In Program Challenge: The group earns (in some way) the link words during program challenges – maybe they earn them all, maybe not. Then, at some point the group receives the Triplet words. They have ten minutes to put the Triplet sets together with a link word. Every correct set earns the group a “Pass” or “Redo” or “Mulligan” to use in future challenges. (For example, if someone touches the Spider Web on the way through the group can use one of their passes to void the touches.)
Here's the Print-N-Play document:
Let me know how you use the Triplets. And, of course, share your Triplets Too sets with me and I’ll pass them along to the FUN Followers.
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.