Recently I was preparing for a conference presentation on processing. I needed to collect a handful of activities that didn't take too long and involved enough interaction so we could practice processing the experiences. I was traveling, so my props needed to be small and light weight - easy to carry around. One of my favorite props is a set of 25 numbered tags. As I was considering some of my old favorites with the tags, I came up with something new for me. I call it, Your Numbers Up. I brought the idea with me to the conference - I didn't try it out before my presentation.
I had 18 participants in my workshop. We were all seated in chairs in a big circle after a fun game of Have You Ever...?. As the energy from the game's processing practice was winding down, I scattered around 12 numbered spots on the floor inside our circle of chairs for all to see. (Numbers were about two feet away from each other so there was room for people to walk through and around them.) After sitting back down in my spot in the circle I presented the challenge like this:
The following task involves touching all 12 numbers once, and only once. If you choose to complete the task you are required to touch the numbers in some sort of logical way - you must be able to prove you touched all 12 numbers once, and only once. After you've touched all the numbers, once, and only once, please sit back down in your chair. The task will start when I say, 'GO', and end when I say, 'The task is over.' I will call the task over when I see that everyone is sitting in their seats. Are there any questions?
Here are the two questions I remember my group asking: 1) "So, do we touch the numbers one through 12 in order?" My response was, "That is one way. As long as you can state some sort of logical way you have touched all the numbers, once and only once, you are good." 2) "Must we touch the numbers with our hand?" My response was, "That is one way to touch the numbers. I'll leave that choice up to you - as long as you make contact with each number, once and only once, you are good."
After I said, "GO", most of the participants stood up and moved through the numbers. Some people chose not to stand up and touch the numbers. The group completed the task in under three minutes. The following are some of the discussion questions I remember from our practice processing session:
This last question was one of mine. And it turned out to be an interesting conversation (processing discussion) about how much goes into even simple tasks - there is always something we can reflect upon in order to consider how and why we make the choices we do.
I'm thinking Your Numbers Up might be a nice activity during the beginning of a program in order to model some of the dynamics of team building activities. Especially the expectation of, activity followed be some discussion about possible learnings.
Help me out with this one. Try it. Let me know how it goes.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Recently I attended the ACCT Conference (Association for Challenge Course Technology) in Fort Worth Texas. I stepped into an activity workshop lead by Matthew Broda and Trevor Dunlop - their theme was, Doing A Lot with a little. (As many of you know, I like versatile props and equipment.) Matt and Trevor shared a wide variety of activities using a pack of 184 letter cards they call CrowdWords.
Another thing you might know about me is that I love word building activities, especially ones you can play with Jumbo Banangrams. Here's Word Building and 3 Down, two of my posts with the jumbo plastic letter set. Needless to say, I was excited about learning more to do with letters.
Mini Reflective Puzzle is just that, an activity we can use to reflect upon (or even frontload) an activity. This one, and several other activities Matt and Trevor presented, were new and FUN for me, so of course I have to share a little.
Note: Your whole group just participated in a team building problem solving activity and you're ready to move into some processing over what just happened. You have the Mini Reflective Puzzle activity ready to go.
Set Up: Place all 184 CrowdWords letters, face up, on the floor or on top of a couple tables (like below) in an open area within your playing space - in the center of the room is a really good spot, but anywhere can do. Divide your larger group into smaller groups of 3 to 5 participants.
If you have the space to do so, set each small group around the playing area in a circle pattern (with the letter pool in the middle) - like numbers on a clock, each small group positions themselves at a different number. If you don't have the space, find a nice spot for every small group and then number off each group.
Part 1: Two Words (Caveat: This is my rendition. Matt and Trevor have other nuances in their description found in their book, CROWDWORDS: Doing A Lot with a little.)
I will ask each small group to brainstorm (eventually two) words they would use to describe the activity they just completed as a whole group. You might even want to get more specific in order to focus your discussion (and being more specific might make word selection a little easier too). You might say, "Think of words related to leadership and what we just did," or "Choose words related to what was needed for you to complete the challenge you just did."
Here's part of the challenge for each small group. The two words they choose must fit together into a small crossword puzzle (or Scrabble-type if you prefer) formation (see pictures above with three words connected) - all words must be connected together, reading top to bottom or left to right.
As I would play it, when a small group decides together on a word, someone from the group can go to the "letter pool" and pick the letters needed for that word and bring them back to his/her group. I will ask my groups not to form the word on the floor. Simply keep the letters together in a pile after spell checking.
Then, knowing the letters the group has, they will choose another word that will share one letter with the first word they picked so the two words will connect together in a puzzle formation. When the second word is chosen, someone can go up to the letter pool for the letters needed.
Now, as Matt and Trevor note: "Depending on group size, it will almost be a guarantee that there will not be enough of the "right" letters to spell the words they selected. Prompt the individuals to start thinking creatively to find a way to represent their thoughts as closely as possible."
Once each small team has the letters they need (after spell checking) to make two words connected together, sharing one letter, they can shuffle up all the letters and place them in one pile on the floor. Be sure to give a little reminder to each group - remember the two words you chose in case other groups need an answer.
Note: Each small group has just spent some time "processing" their experience.
Part 2: Solve the Two Puzzle
Each group is now asked to move one spot to the right, gathering around a new pile of letter cards. (If you've numbered groups, each group moves up one number and the highest numbered group goes to the number one group pile of letters.)
The Challenge With this new set of letters, each group is challenged to figure out the two words that go together in the puzzle formation - two words sharing one letter - within five minutes. Remind the groups that the words are related to...(whatever the prompt was for picking the words). This reminder can reestablish the focus of the processing and thinking.
If a group can figure out the puzzle words before the five minutes is up, they can have a discussion about the meaning of the words in relation to the previous activity. If some groups are not able to come up with the solution to the puzzle, the group that created the puzzle can share the answer. Then, as Matt and Trevor suggest, "...take a moment to conduct a gallery walk so that all groups can see the work of their peers."
After a few minutes of roaming the gallery, you could take some time to discuss some of the words that came up for the small groups as a way to explore some of the key learnings they recognized.
Part 3: Three Words If there is time, and it seems appropriate, go through the same process asking each small group to now choose three words that can be connected into a crossword puzzle formation. (Or, conduct another team building activity and go through this Mini Reflective Puzzle in this way.)
First, have someone from each group return the letters from one of the two-word puzzles to the letter pool - face up - then return to his/her small group. Then, ask a prompt that will relate to something about the activity you (also) want to explore. Groups brainstorm and bring back their words, shuffle their small deck and place the pile on the floor.
Part 4: Solve the Three Puzzle As before, groups rotate, maybe to the left this time, and then attempt to solve the puzzle in five minutes. After five minutes solutions can be shared, if needed, and the gallery walk opens up. Follow up with some discussion about some of the key words that were noticed.
Here's what I like about this processing activity (or Reflect, as named in the book):
The one downside I see is that, as the facilitator, you will most likely not hear all the discussions going on when words are being considered and talked about. you'll have to "trust the process."
Playable Note: If you have a set of Jumbo Bananagrams (and you're not ready to invest in CrowdWords just yet), you can lead Mini Reflective Puzzle with a smaller group - maybe three or four groups of 3 to 5 players. There might be a bit more rethinking over word selection, because of less letters to choose from, but certainly doable.
Review in a nutshell:
Thanks Trevor and Matt! I'm looking forward to my new activities.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Liner Quotes are a processing tool for team building activities. My first set of Liner Quotes: Challenge Cards (Blue Set 1) was developed a couple years ago to be used as a general after-activity set of prompts to discuss possible learning from recently completed activities (Liner Quotes is also one of the activities described in my book, Portable Teambuilding Activities).
The quotes are harvested from the lyrics of songs – the selected Challenge Cards lyrics, in my opinion, are related to group development topics. For example, No one else can speak the words on your lips, from Natasha Bedingfield, or Catch me if I try, from David Wilcox. (You can get your FREE copy of the first set of Liner Quotes: Challenge Cards by signing up with me at FUNdoing.com [Join the FUN form to the right] NOTE: If you’ve signed up with me and didn’t get your free Challenge Cards, let me know and I’ll get it to you right away.)
Liner Quotes: Growth Cards (Green Set, 1) are the second set of Liner Quotes. I collected these lyrics specifically for facilitators (and participants) involved in counseling and other “growth” and “intervention” settings. However, I’m sure this growth set can be used in general settings as well. Here are some examples from this second set:
There are 32 cards ready for you to download (below) and use right away. The download includes more specific directions and presentation ideas.
Let me know how they work out for you. If you have some “Liner Quotes” from some of your favorite songs, send them my way so I can add them to a future set of Challenge Cards or Growth Cards.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
As many of you know I'm a fan of Chiji Cards. I love their versatility. They started out as a "picture processing" tool. Now, they can be used in a variety of activities. (See The Chiji Guidebook HERE.)
One of my favorite activities is using the cards to prompt "Personal Stories" that participants share with each other at different times throughout a program. I will use "happy moment" stories at the beginning of a program. I will use "challenging moment" stories after the group has some time to get to know each other. And, I will use "learning stories" at the end of a program to discuss important moments. In each case participants pick a Chiji image card that prompts a story for them related to the theme.
In an earlier post I shared about how I've been using Dixit cards to tell stories and create story lines (find it HERE). You can also create story lines using Chiji Cards (or your favorite image cards). Recently I found that the Dixit cards are a bit too complex for some of my younger groups (decoding the Dixit images takes more cognitive time) so I've gone back to using the simpler image Chiji Cards with them.
Story Line Processing
At the end of a program scatter all the Chiji Cards out on the floor/ground/table. Then ask your group to choose images that highlight different moment in times from their program. The timeline story can begin from before they even arrived at the program site to the point they are now, or even beyond - what will it be like once they leave the program site? As the facilitator, use probing questions related to their overall program objectives to remind them of certain experiences within the sequence of the day. For example:
As the group chooses specific images, place them down in sequence to represent their timeline of work together. As they move down the timeline there will be fewer images to choose from. I like this consequence because it forces a little more creative thinking and image interpretation. After the timeline has been created, provide a brief summary of events for the group so they can hear "their program story" one more time before they go.
Be sure to get a picture of the timeline you can send them (e.g., multiple shots that can be cobbled together or a panorama) so they can print and post it as a reminder of their experience and learning.
Do you have a fun way to use Chiji Cards (or other image cards)? Leave us a comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Back in 2012 I shared a nice little app called Make Dice. Recently I noticed there has been a nice little upgrade to the app - you can now add pictures to the sides of the dice. As I jumped in to play around with this new feature it dawned on me that there were also some other options to make dice through the smart phone keyboard. Using the wide variety of emojis the range of dice options explodes. Here are a few dice ideas I'm trying out:
Get to Know You
Number Die: 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4
Word Die: Likes, Dislikes, Wishes, Goals, Fears, Thanks
Roll the dice - The number is how many things to say in relation to the word die.
Body Parts Debriefing: Create a set of dice (2 or 3) with a variety of Emoji body parts: Ear - What did you hear today that was important to you; Eyes - What did you see today that was important to you; Mouth - What did you say today that was helpful; Hand - How did you lend a hand today; Clapping Hands - What was worth celebrating today; Making a Bicep Muscle - When did you feel strong today; Heart - Share a feeling you had today.
Roll the dice - Out of the three body parts, choose the body part you want to share with the group.
Feeling Debriefing: Create a set of dice (2 or 3) with a variety of Emoji emotion faces: Happy, Sad, Frustrated, Confused, Angry, Sleepy, Surprised, Nervous, Crying, Bored.
Roll the dice - Choose a feeling from the dice and share the situation with the group.
Traffic Sign Connections: Create a set of dice (2 or 3) with Emoji traffic sign diagrams that can be used for pre-viewing, mid-viewing or reviewing and activity: Stop, Yield, Crosswalk, Two-Way Street, One Way, No Parking, Speed Limit, Handicapped Parking - come up with some relevant concepts for the signs your group can discuss.
Take Pictures: Take pictures of the elements on your course that the group will be attempting during their program. Add them to a set of dice (2 or 3).
Roll the dice - As a closing review participants choose one of the elements to talk about that made a significant impact on her/him or the group.
Training Game (Game): When training a group of facilitators/group leaders give small groups of 3 or 4 an opportunity to show a little creativity.
Equipment Die: Long Rope, Game Spots, Beach Ball(s), Tossables, Webbing, None
Action Die: Running, Circle, Line, Scattered, Connected, Silent
Theme: Hot Lava, Dark Space, Sharks, Rescue, Speed, Quicksand
Roll the dice - What they see is what they get. Each group uses the equipment, action and theme to come up with an activity to present to the rest of the group.
If you have other great dice combo ideas share them in the comments below.
Have fun out there.
I have been a big-time fan of using picture cards as hooks, or connectors to experiential moments. As many of you know I use Chiji Cards a lot for processing. I've also created my own set of picture cards from images in magazines and graphics on greeting cards. I've purchased a large (3-inch diameter) circle punch at one of those big-box craft stores. When I see a picture or graphic that suits a processing situation I might find myself in, I "punch out" the visual and eventually laminate it for my set - I've collected over 50 cards so far.
A recent favorite for me has been the Climer Cards - I wrote about these cards a while back (blog post here). Amy Climer hand painted some wonderful images and then got them made into cards. Get your set here.
Another great idea for picture cards comes from Jen Stanchfield of Experiential Tools. She sells the "Pick-a-Postcard" set of picture postcards that are great for picture processing. Of course you can start a collection of postcards yourself, but Jen provides a nice set to get you started.
With all this said, I just posted to the Resources page of FUNdoing two pages of questions developed by students from two of my Adventure Education Curriculum Design courses. Once at the Resources Page scroll down to the "Activity Tools" and look for the "Picture Processing Questions." They can be a reference for any type of picture cards. Here are a few examples:
Get To Know You Questions:
Processing Questions with Follow-Ups:
Processing Questions with Variations:
Wrap-Up Processing Questions:
My students hope these questions are useful to you and they encourage you to change them up in any way that works for your groups. And, they invite you to share your favorite picture processing questions in the comments below.
All the best,
My good friend Brian designed a wonderful pre-breif and debriefing tool some years back called the Stop-N-Go. This handy portable processing tools is available at the Training Wheels website. A Green, Yellow, and Red marble travel safely in a perforated PVC key chain style tube always at the ready to use with groups. I have one and use it all the time. Which brings me to a slight variation on Brian's idea.
The other day I was walking around one of my favorite activity idea spaces - Lowe's. I've always been attracted to the paint sample cards but have never been inspired to use them due to their size (a bit too small). However, now available are 4 inch by 6 inch paint sample cards for allen + roth's valsper paints. I immediately thought of how to use them.
With Brian's idea of the traffic light colors I can now write down the goals participants have for each color when I'm in an environment to do so. "What do we want to GO for during the program?" I write this on the green card. "What do we want to be CAUTIOUS of?" on the yellow card. And, "What do we want to make sure we STOP doing while we are together? on the red card. I'm sure you see the idea here and the many instances you could interject this line of thinking throughout your programs.
When I'm using the colored marbles I start out asking for one thing related to each color - making it easy to remember and evaluate. Then, as the program progresses we can check in with the marbles from time-to-time to see how we are doing. If it's appropriate we add a consideration to each color. We could even determine that what was decided earlier is no longer relevant so we replace the initial consideration with another one that seems more relevant to what's going on. I see this process happening with the colorful cards as well. Starting with one item and then adding to (writing on) the cards as we progress. We can even cross out things that no longer apply. I like the visual aspect of the cards and seeing the considerations in print. There is still a limit to the amount that will fit on a card, but often times less is more.
Also, just getting my hands on these colorful cards made me realize I could also pick up some green, yellow, and red card stock paper and cut out my own cards. Then there is a front and back side to write on. And, I cold give these cards away to the group at the end of their program to remind them of what they worked on. (I find it interesting what opens a door to an obvious resource.)
What else can we use paint sample cards for? Share your ideas in the comment area below.
All the best,
I finally picked up the Pictionary Card Game from Barnes & Nobel. When I first saw it a while ago I thought these cards would make a nice processing tool.
When I opened up the carton I found the game comes with two identical sets of 44 cards - a red and blue set - all for $6.95 (share a set with a friend or split your group in half so there is more talk time between participants). I was also surprised to find out the cards (printed on sturdy card stock) measure 2 inches by 2.5 inches. I actually like the idea of a tiny-tool to carry with me everywhere. And, another nice little feature is that the pictures on each card are printed on both sides so you never have to spend valuable time turning all the cards face up!! (You know what I'm talking about!!)
The cards have a variety of recognizable images (a plane, a male stick figure, a female stick figure, a house, a star, a clock, and more) and some interpretable images (three wavy lines - see carton picture, three straight lines, and some different geometric shapes). I see lots of connections through the images for meaningful processing conversations.
These little cards can also be used for most of the activities found in the Chiji Guidebook. For example, deal everyone a pictionary card and when you say go participants are challenged to line up in order, as quickly as possible, based on the "realistic" size of the object depicted on the card. Or, line up alphabetically, as quickly as possible, by the name of the object on the card. There will be some interesting interpretations to talk about in both versions of these line ups.
And of course, you can always play the pictionary game during down time, lunch breaks, and evening recreation gatherings.
If you try this tiny-tool, let us know how it goes. Share through the comments below.
All the best,
Here's a fun App "icardsort" I've been using on my iPad for small group activities and processing sessions. (I'm not sure if this App is available on other operating systems.) You make your own word or number cards - one-word cards have been working out well for me - creating decks for all sorts of applications.
To the right is a screen shot of a Word Circle Puzzle from WCP 18s Decks. (Don't know about Word Circle Puzzles? Check out this previous post.) Here's the "sort" part. Once you make your decks you can then touch on a card and move it around the screen. Notice up in the left hand corner of the screen. Cards can be different colors and you can also change the font. Using pinch gestures you can even make the cards bigger of smaller. Great for Word Circle Puzzles!!
I've also started making decks of Debrief Cards. Shown here are some of the cards in my Feelings Deck (notice these cards are much bigger on the screen - again, pinch gestures to resize cards). I originally created this deck for a group specifically working on feelings literacy - navigating their way through understanding the feelings and emotions they've been experiencing in their lives.
With one of my recent groups I creating one-word cards as I progressed through activities. Words came from one-word Whip Arounds we did, words I heard them say during activities, and words they shared during processing sessions. (I did let the group know at the start of the program what I was doing with the iPad.) Then, for a closing we reviewed the words and were able to reflect on specific experiences. The group also had time to pick out their three most "powerful" words - words they wanted to remember about their program.
As with anything, the right prop at the right time. So far pulling out the iPad with the right group has been a positive experience for me. I certainly hooked the "Apples" in the crowd and brought in a piece of tech to engage the tech-savey youth.
Give this one a try - lots of fun! Let me know about your Decks!! Share in the comments below.
All the best,
Recently I was working with some leftover webbing and this came to mind.....why not make Why (K)Nots?
I cut up and prepared a bunch of these to try out with an upcoming high school soccer team program. It turned out to be a nice connection to what they were trying to achieve together - and, a nice giveaway to give them some connection to their experience on the high ropes course.
During the closing circle I brought these out and simply said, "I want to give you something to take with you." (I didn't mention what they were.) The first few faces were priceless - confusion sums it up. Then one of the participants said, "I get it - Why Not!! Get it?," showing others the find. Once the cat was out of the bag, I posed the question: What are some "why (k)nots" you have as a team and for yourself in this upcoming season?
Here are some of the comments I recorded (initially I felt answers were a bit superficial - so I kept asking "what else?" in order to get to some of the latter comments on the list):
It was an interesting and powerful beginning to a simple tool!
P.S. I received a nice email from the coach after their season telling me their "experience together was better than it has been for a while." Players "opened up" more during the season and they really "supported" each other. A "number of the players" had tied their Why (K)Nots to their bag handles to remind themselves of the time they learned together on the course.
Make It: I use a "hot knife" specifically made for cutting nylon rope, webbing, or cord. You can also use a nice sharp scissors and then burn the edges down with a lighter. My webbing lengths are about 9 inches (before putting in the overhand knot). I tried a few different colors - yellow and pink were the best. I used a black Sharpie. (I have not tried other colors yet.)
Extending the Idea: "Why not....write a word or two on the webbing where the knot will be and then "tie in" the commitment?
I'd love to hear about other experiences with this idea. Share in the comments.
All the best,
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.