DETAIL NOTE: Jumbo Bananagrams are 3.5 inch vinyl squares (tiles) with letters on them - about 140 tiles. Keep an eye on Amazon, they often have them on sale. (If it's not in your budget to get the Bananagrams, make a set of 140 index card letters - be creative with colors and the numbers of each letter. Think, more vowels)
PROGRAMMING NOTE: I don't often include competitive games in my team building programs (so many other things to do), but I like the design of this one (e.g., lots of teams) and the learnings I can speak to (e.g., roles and responsibilities - this comes up in the video). And, once the basic (competitive) version of the game is understood, I can move into a couple other versions to spark some other learnings - stay tuned for more posts on these!!
Set-Up Place all the letter tiles, face down, on the floor. Then, divide your larger group into smaller teams of 2 to 4 players. Using one set of Jumbo Bananagrams, you don't want more than eight teams and, I would say, no less than four - just to keep things interesting.
The first team to find a way to use all their letters (in one or more words, following the Scrabble-like puzzle format), shouts out, "Take Two!" (this is shouted by the "caller" - more on this below). When this is called, someone (the "runner" - more on this below) from each team must go to the letter pool and pick up two more tiles (without looking at them), and then bring them back to his/her team. Once back to the team, they can look at the letters on the tiles.
NOTE: There have been games I've facilitated where three or four minutes have gone by in the first or second rounds (teams are working with only seven or nine letters) and no one can use all their letters. When this has happens, I call, "Take Two!" so teams can get more resources to work with. So, if a round is going on too long, go ahead and call it.
Now, each team must incorporate these two new letters into their Scrabble-like puzzle. Maybe they can be added to the words already in their puzzle (e.g., adding an "S" to the end of a word). Maybe they will have to rearrange their full collection of letters to form all new words. In the end, the objective is the same. Each team must use all their letters to form words into a Scrabble-like puzzle formation.
As the game goes on, any team that uses all their letters calls out, "Take Two!" until all the tiles in the letter pool are gone. At this point, when a team uses all the letters in their possession, they call, "Done!" Done means that all word building must stop - it does not mean "game over!" Players may not touch any letter tiles when done is called, but they can still focus on their puzzle. The team that called "done" must have their words checked by the facilitator. If all words are acceptable (in most cases I play by Scrabble rules, in some cases I'm more flexible), then the call is, "Game Over - the winner is...." If there is a mistake in the puzzle, the facilitator calls, "Game On" and word building can continue until someone calls, "Done!" again. When a team can present their puzzle with acceptable words, they are declared the winners of said game. Of course, when there is time, a new game can be set up to play.
So, those are the basics!
Take Two Team Building
In the video (below) you'll be able to pick up a team building (learning) aspect of the game that I've recently incorporated. I learned this from my CrowdWords friends (see post HERE) Matthew and Trevor (noted above). When they are playing their version of Take Two (using CrowdWords cards), they assign roles and responsibilities to players. There are "builders" - players that focus on building the words in the puzzle. There are "callers" - a player who is responsible for calling out "Take Two!" with gusto. And, there is a "runner" - a player who is responsible for going to the letter pool and picking up two letter tiles and bringing them back to his/her team after "take two" is called.
As in any team task, roles and responsibilities can be shared or they can be exclusive - if you are assigned a role, that is your only responsibility. Depending on the number of players on a team, there might be enough people for each role and there might be players who take on more than one role (e.g., anyone can be a builder).
Processing When you use roles and responsibilities, you can talk about how this played out and where else this plays out for team members. What role did you take in the game and how did it influence your level of participation? Did you chose your role or did someone else choose it for you? Did players stay within the boundaries of their roles? Why? Why not? Was your role clear to you? If it wasn't clear, what did you do about it?
I also like to talk about the concepts of winning and losing - What do we learn from each concept? How do we treat our opponents? Can we have a game if we don't have competitors? What is the role of competition in our lives? Is it useful? Is it damaging? What if all competition went away, what would our lives be like? Who likes this type of (spelling) game? Why? Who does not like this kind of game? Why? What choices do we have when we're playing in a "game" we don't want to be in?
Stay Tuned for More!
In my next Blog post, I'll share a little wrinkle I tried out with Take Two right after the Crew in the video learned the basics.
Big Thanks Again to Kim the Crew for letting me film this adventure!! You're the BEST!
Keep me posted my friends.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Here's an exciting belayed "high course" climbing activity done by my friends at Group Dynamix (www.GroupDynamix.com). Check out the video below for the action.
I've done something like this in the past, but what I really like about this version is the "Manhole Ladder" (sorry, it's not quite PC, but it's what they're called. (You can find yours at Granger.) The ladder we use at GDX is 14 feet high and about 12 inches wide. It's a super solid one-piece design with sturdy rounded feet and nice smooth rounded "hand holds" at the top (see pictures below).
The ladder is geared up with four (white) multiline ropes safely attached to some webbing around the side of the ladder and top step. Above the climb is a belay-rated anchor with a static belay rope.
FEET TOP for HANDS
Set Up: We clip the climber in the front of a seat harness. A full body harness can also be used with a dorsal clip in. We like the team belay - four or five belayers with both hands on the belay rope. The end person of the team is clipped into the rope as well. There are 1 or 2 participants at the end of the (white) support ropes depending on the weight of the climber - if the climber is heavier than one support person, another person is added.
In the video the climber was challenged to walk up the slanted ladder - no hands. She then climbed (was lowered) down with the ladder straight up (her choice). I've seen the ladder held straight up the entire time, and with the ladder leaning towards the climber to start. He did hand-over-hand pull ups and then climbed his way over the top of the "overhang" (the support ropes were a bit tricky to get around). With this overhang method we had three support participants on each of the two ropes on the back side (away from the climber) and two on the front side ropes. He then walked down the ladder, still slanted, with no hands.
Overall, I really like the amount of participation you can get from the team. Eight to 12 (or more) people can be in support roles while one person climbs. Pretty cool.
(I know you will also follow all of your protocols (LOPs) when it comes to facilitating a high course element!)
Let me know how it goes if you try it out!!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I've been reconnected to the ZOOM activity since I've been working for an outings company here in Texas (Group Dynamix - Carrollton Texas). ZOOM is a "straight up" verbal communication challenge - the only way to succeed is to share information through talking. (A while back I posted What's Missing? using the Qwirkle Game pieces - same behaviors needed for this one.) I want to share the basics here at my blog for easy access to those who want to get started. There are at least a half-dozen ways I know of to lead ZOOM. (Michelle Cummings and I co-wrote the ZOOM activity for my most recent book, Portable Teambuilding Activities - there are several presentation variations included.)
The Basic ZOOM Lead Once you know how many participants you will have for the activity - let's say 18. Choose 18 sequential pages from the set (choosing 18 random pages from the set can make it a bit more challenging). Hand out a page to every person in your group and ask them not to show their picture to anyone else. In other words, when I get my picture/page I am the only one that can see it. Then, I say something like this:
The pictures you are all holding connect together in a linear order - there is a beginning and an end to the sequence. Your challenge is to arrange the pictures into the correct order by only verbally describing the picture you have in your hand. You must keep your picture in hand and you are not allowed to trade your picture with anyone. In the end, you all need to position yourselfs in a circle formation. One person will ultimately be holding the first picture of the set and someone will be holding the last picture in the set. The rest of you will be in sequential order in between the two. When you all believe you are in the correct sequential order we will reveal (turn around) all the pictures to see how you did.
There you have it. The basics. Players can move around and they can use any words to describe the picure they have. I don't let my groups use outside resources (e.g., smart phones "I didn't show them MY picture"). When you play with up to 24 (or more people) it can take a good 45 minutes - so, be ready. This one's very challenging.
Note: There is also a second helping - Re-Zoom. This (book) sequence of pictures is MUCH tougher to solve with only verbal communication. When I want to give a group some "help" before presenting ZOOM in the traditional way, I start with Re-Zoom. However, the players are able to show their pictures to each other and then get into sequential order. This "practice" gives the group an idea of how pictues fit together and the complexity involved. This step takes about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the number of pictures. But, what I've found is that it cuts the solution time to ZOOM in half.
A ZOOM Variation My Friend Scott Goldsmith recently shared a presentation to ZOOM (that he told me he learned from Steve Ockerbloom) that I have yet to try - but looking forward to.
Each person can look at his/her picture/page then put it face down somewhere in the area. Then, players go out and discuss what they remember about their picture with other people in the group for a predetermined period of time (say 5 minutes - could be more if you think it's needed). After the 5 minutes, everyone can go look at his/her picture/page again for 1 minutes. Then, they all go back out to talk again (for another 5 minutes).
Finally, everyone can look at their picture a 3rd time (for 1 mimute). After this third look players keep hold of their page but cannot look at it again. Participants come back together to openly discuss one more time then put the pictures/pages face down in the order they believe is correct - there will be a first and last picture/page and all the rest in between. The reveal is one card (starting with the first card) at at a time. "It's awesome!!! Best variation I have seen," says Scott.
I'm sure more versions of ZOOM will find there way to FUNdoing. So, go get your ZOOM, give it a try, and be ready for more. Let us know how it goes. Leave a comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Way back in June of 2012 I posted a teambuilding icebreaker activity using Spot It Cards. Since then Spot It Cards and Ubuntu Cards (they work like Spot It Cards, but the activities are more related to teambuilding) have been showing up more and more in teambuilding programs. Lately I pulled out some Spot It cards and revisited some old activities and created a new one (Spot It Team Challenge) for some recent groups. (If you are new to Spot It or Ubuntu Cards, the unique feature is in the fact that any two cards from a deck will have one matching image - Can you see the one in the picture below?
What's On the PDF?
Do you have a Spot It Cards activity you love? Please share it with us in the comments below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Those of you who know a little about me, understand I really like the Chiji Cards - if you don't know, I wrote The Chiji Guidebook with Steve Simpson several years back that includes a couple dozen activities you can lead using the cards. (If you want to know a bit more about the cards, HERES a recent post.) But, I do love "cards" of all sorts.
There are 84 cards in the game measuring about 3.5 by 6 inches. The pictures are very interesting combinations of colors and images that make you look twice in order to determine what it is you are actually looking at. Let me share a few ways I've used the cards recently:
The Story of Your Experience I pulled the cards out to share with some friends at the post-conference at the most recent AEE gathering. We came up with the idea to use the cards to tell the story of our collective conference journey, starting from when we left our homes up to how we got to be sitting were you were at that moment.. We scattered the cards out on the floor (a very appropriate carpet for the experience I would add) and started placing them in a "layered" sequential story line. It was a really nice way (in my opinion) to reflect on a sequence of events. We talked about our journeys over the previous four days, but I'm sure it would work just was well to talk about a two or three hour program.
Describe Your Group Recently I used the cards to find out more about the group I was working with. I scattered all of the cards across two different tables. I asked my group (of 15 people) to work together to choose 6 to 10 cards that would tell me something about them. In they end they chose 6 cards that told me they liked challenges, they were strategic problem solvers, they trusted each other to help out, and they were embarking on a new project and, most likely, it was going to take a rainbow and a horse to get them there (you'll know the card when you see it). It was really fun to hear them tell me about themselves through the pictures.
Tell Me a Story One of the most obvious activities for these cards is to create stories. This was one of the first things I tried with a group of individuals involved in a treatment program. After the cards were shuffled around, each person ended up with a card they did not choose to pick up - I considered this a random selection. Then, the participants got into groups of 4 and created a story together using the cards as prompts and visual aids. Then, every group decided to share their story with everyone else (something I did not think they would want to do - I just wanted everyone to create something with his/her small group). The results were simply wonderful. Some of the stories were about their collective treatment journeys (like The Story of Your Experience above) and some were mystical fantasies. My point of the activity was to get them to "think on their feet - be creative" - wonderful results.
If you pick up a set of these cards, let me know how they work for you. Leave me a comment below!
All the best to you out there! Have FUN!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
P.S. If you search around for Dixit, you will also find out there are a number of expansion packs available as well. You could end up with 100s of choices - maybe there would be themes to put together as a set or maybe emotions that are apparent in the cards that could be explored. Keep me posted!!
Explain the objective of the activity before each participant picks up three (or four) letters from the pool.
Each participant is required to place all of his or her letters down into a word puzzle by or before the fifth round of play. The word puzzle will be a "scrabble-like" configuration. Letters are spelled left to right or top to bottom (see the second and third pictures). All words must be connected to at least one other word when the puzzle is complete.
Pair up your participants (either in some sort of creative way or purposeful pairing).
NOTE: I designed this activity before working with a "couples" groups - couples that have been married for less than a year. They were lead by a mentor couple that had been married for 11 years. Lots of great talking points about "marriage" bubbled to the surface.
All participants will be standing (or sitting) together in a circle formation. Each participant is required to be standing next to his/her designated partner. When the circle pairing is set, have everyone go over to the pool of letters to pick up what they want (without discussion their choices with anyone) and then return to the circle formation (each player standing next to his/her partner). You might consider setting a time limit for picking up letters?
The game is played in a series of Rounds - five or six depending on the number of letters you allow everyone to pick up (the more letters the more rounds). In each Round each participant/player gets one turn to make one of the Possible Moves (even if he/she is not holding a letter).
Overall Round Rules:
Words will "grow" as players take turns adding letters. You'll need to decide how you will evaluate valid words. If you are a "Scrabbler" you can play by Scrabble rules - you may need to explain these to your group. You could also make up your own guidelines for valid words. I use a the smartphone app WordBook. I tell my group, "If I can find the words you create on my app they will count as valid words." (NOTE: One of the two groups so far did ask me during play if certain words would be valid - they used me, and the app, as a resource during their process. Good stuff!)
Round 1 (5 minutes)
Round 2 (10 minutes)
Round 3 (10 minutes)
Round 4 (10 minutes)
Round 5 (5 minutes)
Here are a few observation points and related questions I've used after the two times I presented 3 Down:
Okay team builders, give this one a try. Ask me questions if you need clarification. Call me up if you want to talk about 3 Down. Let's get some more Beta Testing going on this one to see if any changes are needed. THANKS!!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
P.S. TONS more fun sent to your email every Friday if you sign up below for the FUN E-List. Be an official FUN Follower! (For example, FUN Followers received more activity ideas for Bananagrams along with the link to this post - a nice heads up that a new FUNding blog post is available!! Don't miss out. Sign up today. I'll never, ever, spam you. And, it's easy to unsubscribe if the info doesn't work for you - no questions asked!
Here are a few puzzles to add to your collection. Or, your "Table of Torture" as Sam Sikes likes to call his collection of puzzles. Sam puts out his puzzles on a table for his participants to tackle before his program starts (the "soft" start) and during program breaks. In a programming sense, puzzles can provide another level of challenge and they also bring people together during down times (and of course they are fun to solve!).
I've been using puzzles more and more lately with some of the (respectfully) competitive programs I've been leading for Group Dynamix (I'm one of their contract facilitators - we run Team Olympix events for groups that want a more competitive experience). Puzzles are a nice complement to the more physical challenges - reaching different learning styles or "kinds of smarts."
Scramble Cards This Puzzling post was inspired by my last post - Name Card Scramble. After saving the cards from a few programs I realized I had a great set of puzzle cards (some of my participants were even able to anagram their name - so cool!). On the back of each scrambled name card I wrote the "name-answer" using a yellow highlighter so it would not be easily seen through the front of the card. A group working together (or an individual) can self check their guess/answer by flipping the card over. Score each correct answer OR time how long it takes to guess all the scrambled names - add five seconds to the overall time for each incorrect answer. Here's a little list for you to work with if you want to make a quick set of (index) cards to try out (spoiler alert - answers are below):
(How long did it take you to recognize the pattern? What name were you on when it clicked?)
(Answers: 1. Andrew, 2. Becky, 3. Chris, 4. Debby, 5. Evan, 6. Frank, 7. Georgia, 8. Heather, 9. Ivan, 10. Jennifer, 11. Kevin, 12. Laura)
The "T" Puzzle If you are a Tangram fan (and haven't seen this one), you'll like the T. It's easy to make (paper or wood) but tricky to solve. And, like Tangrams, you can create a bunch of other shapes/images with the pieces. I like to give points (e.g., 50) to my groups for solving the "T" and then (e.g., 10) points for each of the shapes they can solve from the (self-scored) handout I provide. Here's a GREAT PDF from WoodPuzzles.com that includes a nice handout. (If you search "T Puzzle" in Google Images there are a few patterns you can download for cutting assistance.)
Word Games and Puzzles by Joan Acosta (from bestofthereader.ca). I've been getting some great milage from this PDF BOOK. Easy to print and laminate the pages. Provide some small tipped dry-erase markers so participants can write in answers on the page - self score or make a quick check before giving a score. Wipe off the answers from the pages so you can reuse the puzzles for another program.
Have fun out there!
What are you favorite puzzles? Share in the comments below.....
RULES of PLAY
This is a timed activity. When you say "GO" the following rules are in play until every small team has a five-letter word. The "group" is after completing the objective in the lowest possible time.
Remember, the objective is for EVERY small team to spell out a five-letter word. This means the activity is not over - the time does not stop - until all small teams have a word.
This is one of my favorites (could be my favorite) because of the "helping" and planning behaviors that can show up. What do the plays of a small team do when they have spelled their word? Usually, at first, they end up sitting around until everyone else gets done. When you play several rounds for time someone usually figures out they are able to help other teams still playing within the rules. For example, a player can get a letter, bring it back to their spot, look at it, then the next player from the team can call out what the letter is as she puts it back (face) down in the circle. Or, players could go around to other teams to see what they need and then go into the circle and work to find it. In most cases I've seen the entire group eventually work together from the start (after two or three rounds) and plan where they will discard the letters so others know where to look. Lots of possibilities! (There are a few more details about this process written in Four-of-a-Kind - follow My Top 10 link above.)
AND, there is so much more team building to be done with letter pieces! DOUBLE AND, the game Bananagrams itself is great fun. Play by the official rules with small teams of 2 or 3 - when "Take" is called, someone from each team runs to the center pile for a letter (or two, depending how you play). For those in the know: Can we say COMMON CORE team building?!
Let me know how it's going out there. Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.
What came first, the Comet Ball or the Foxtail? I'm not quite sure about the answer, but in the 1984 edition of Silver Bullets from Karl Rohnke he showed us how to make a Comet Ball out of an old nylon and a tennis ball - oh the fun! Then, as evolution would have it, in one of the Volumes of FUNN Stuff Karl made the "Rasta/Comet Ball Comparison" (now in FUNN 'N GAMES, 2004) and taught us how to make the Rasta Ball (RB). I'd like to share a step-by-step build of the RB with you here to keep the fun alive. So, break out the old tennis balls and grab a few things from the hardware store. Here we go...
Do let me know what fun you have with your Rastas - long live the RASTA!!
Have Fun Out There!
A couple of yeas ago now I went to a workshop presentation by Nate Folan, the author of the activity book The Hundredth Monkey. A great time was had by all to say the least. My favorite discovery from Nate's workshop was his use of wooden building blocks. Needless to say I went out right away to get my own set and I've been using them a lot over the past couple of years.
Throughout the book the block activities are presented separately, but Nate showed us a sequence of activities that I tend to stick with and have added to. I want to share my additions here and, with respect, mention Nate's gems in hopes to entice you enough to pick up his book (BTW - My new activity book is now available. Find it on Amazon.)
Needs: A set of 2 inch wooden building blocks (I picked up a set of 48 at Walmart in the baby toys section). You will want at least one block per participant and more if you want to build sculptures. (Note: There are smaller block sets available, I think they are an inch and a half. Smaller blocks make most of the activities a bit more challenging.)
Mix-and-Mingle (my addition): Every player picks up a block then walks around to find out the commonalities s/he has with other player's blocks. Be sure to learn player's names in the process.
Connection (my addition): Players exchange blocks for a while until you say "STOP" then find something they connect with on the block they have in hand (e.g., favorite color, special toy, a word that reminds them of a good memory). Then, players go around sharing their connect with others. If you want, have players exchange blocks after a share. Players then have to find a connection to the new block, then share.
Ice-Cube Dance (Nate's): Players press one or two blocks together, each using one index finger. Pairs then explore how to move around each other and the playing space without dropping the block(s).
Ice-Cube Tag (Nate's): Pressing two blocks between an index finger, pairs move around the area trying to dislodge other players' blocks using only the free index finger available. After a drop players re-set, or find a new partner to play with, and then re-enter the game.
Block Sculpture (Nate's): Groups of 6 to 8 players get together and build a three-dimensional sculpture with the blocks they are given (2 to 3 blocks per person). Once the sculpture is built the group attempts to raise it up, only using index fingers, as high as they can and then lower it back down without dropping any blocks (see first picture above).
Skyscraper (my addition): Using one block per player a group of 5 to 8 people make a single stack of blocks then try to turn it over 180 degrees and set it back down without dropping any blocks. Using the picture to the left as an example, the "Z" block would be at the bottom of the stack and the "3" block would be at the top after the group turns the stack over.
What else can you do with wooden building blocks? Share your ideas below in the comments.
Have fun out there!
On Sale Now!
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.