Tom Heck, a long-time friend and fellow experiential educator passed through Dallas recently to hang out with me before a training he was delivering on the Makey Makey - check out Tom's TEDx talk on this innovative tech tool HERE. Tom is a creative powerhouse. If you want a little peek into Tom's world browse through his YouTube Channel videos - you'll see what I mean.
During our conversations (when we get together we have lots of different conversations, many of which weave in and out of each other) I was able to get Tom to tell me what some of his favorite activities were. Most of what he shared are found on his YouTube Channel and a few he described to me how he puts them into practice. (If you have time, don't stop after watching Tom's picks, there's lots more - use the link above to get to his channel.
Bonus Activity: Full Contact Piñata This is what happens when Tom has too much time on his hands!!
Have FUN out there my friends!
Al l the best,
Chris Cavert Ed.D.
This last week two different people asked me about the adventure education (related) books I would recommend reading (or having on ones shelf). I thought my answer would make a useful post as well. Choosing a Top 10 book list is no easy task since there are so many amazing books out there.
Here's how I approached this (current) list. I asked myself, "If I was approached by anyone interested in learning about team building but knew nothing about getting started much less the adventure education field (specifically facilities-based adventure education, also known as adventure-based education), what books would I recommend?" I decided to list the more contemporary choices, ones that can easily be found and purchased. If someone asked me about the "seminal" works to pick up related to adventure education the list would certainly be different (and worthy of another post).
The list below includes three categories: Theory (cognitive information related to facilities-based adventure education), Theory & Practice (cognitive information and experiential activities), and Practice (only experiential activities). I also included a link that will take you right to a source where you can purchase and find out more information about each book.
(NOTE: I used two purchase sources, Training Wheels - the store site owned and operated by Michelle Cummings, one of us, and Amazon. I just thought you might want the heads up if you plan to purchase multiple titles.)
Theory & Practice:
Practice (Just Activities):
Let me know what you think? I'd love to hear about your top book choices. Leave a comment below.
Have FUN out there!
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
Michelle Cummings is the "Big Wheel" behind Training Wheels - the best and most comprehensive (in my opinion) team building equipment resource site on the planet! Michelle is a well-know author (see Playing With a Full Deck - one of my favorites on how to use a standard deck of playing cards for team building activities), trainer, and adventure education entrepreneur.
I met up with Michelle at the last AEE Conference where she shared with me (over a cup of coffee) her Top 10 Activities (at that time). THANKS MICHELLE!! Here we go....
Simon Says - Michelle (and Scott Gurst) take this age old favorite elimination game and turn it into a "teaching tool". Check a video of the process HERE.
Handshakes with Questions - When introducing the different "action" handshakes, add some questions with each one in order to connect the players in a more meaningful way. For example (if you know these handshakes) when do the "Lumberjack" handshake partners share things they look forward to (in the program of in the future) as they saw the log. When doing the "Salmon" handshake partners share at least one thing that challenges them (like the challenging swim up stream the Salmon make every year). When doing the "Cow" handshake, partners share something that would be out of their comfort zone. (Here's a VIDEO of Nate Folan doing "Five Handshakes in Five Minutes" as an example of some action handshakes.) Any handshakes can be incorporated with questions.
Switch, Change & Rotate - I fun interactive challenge for small teams of three or four (any large group can be divided into small teams. (I learned this one from Mike Spiller years ago. I use it all the time. Here's a write-up I found in my files:
Needs & Numbers: No props are needed of the basic variation. Any number can play (maybe no more than 100 people)
Set Up: Divide your large group into smaller groups of 3 or 4 people.
Directions: Here’s the summary – have each of the small groups form a single file line in front of you with enough space between each other to move around. You will be teaching everyone to do a certain action based on a word that you give them. When you say "Switch" the player in the front of the line (in each small group), moves to the back of the line – have the group practice this a couple times - after saying "Switch" a couple times. When you say "Change" each line turns 180 degrees to face the opposite direction. In turn the person who started in the back of the line is now the new head of the line – have the groups practice this a few times until they are facing you again - say 'Switch" a few times. When you say "Rotate" the person in the front of the line goes to the back and the person in the back moves up to the front. Practice this a few times along with the other two words they know. All of this practice is done with all the lines staying in the same place.
To up the challenge add the word "Go" - This means each line is tasked to move forward together around the area. Then, be sure to teach them that when you say "Stop" all lines stop moving.
After some stationary practice, start the small groups moving forward on 'Go" – meaning, the person in the front of the line is leader who walks around the playing area while the rest of the group follows him or her. Now, use your signal words get the group to change people around – keep reminding them to keep moving if you haven’t said "Stop".
About 5 or 6 minutes of play works well. If the group is willing, have all the players put their bumpers up while in their line and then have everyone close their eyes for some moving and changing around. Be mindful to call "Stop" if you anticipate any danger.
Ubuntu Cards - HERE's a link to information and activities for the cards. One of Michelle's favorites with the cards is having the pairs of players find something they have in common with each other after they discover the common image on their two cards.
Body Parts Debrief - HERE's a link to this popular prop-based debriefing tool. A really fun and engaging way to lead a learning discussion.
Shuffle Left, Shuffle Right - This is an interactive group processing activity found in the book, A Teachable Moment by Cain, Cummings (Michelle) and Stanchfield.
The 'process' involves the group circling up and connecting together (or not if it's not a good idea) - like arms over shoulders or linking elbows. Everyone begins to, slowly, shuffle to the right (the circle turns) until someone says "STOP". This person then shares something they learned (or whatever you set up) during the day. When this person is done they call out the direct the circle will move next - "Shuffle left!" This process continues with "Stop" and "Shuffle" until it appears everyone is done sharing. You can then call "Stop" to share a final closing thought and thank you. (Of course, more detail are provided in the book.)
Seven Up - This is an activity Michelle and I both learned from Karl Rohnke (now, I think it can be found in his book, FUN 'N' GAMES - I can't put my hands on the book right now. I'll update this post when I can). Here's my version called:
Needs: A number of tossable objects and one “final” tossable – a Star, a Roll of Tape, a Rubber Chicken. Numbers: Works well with 8 to 14 players. Process: Circle up your group with players starting out about one arms length (both arms stretched out) from each other. To begin with, using a star (or Roll of Tape or….) as the final object, say something like:
This activity will be played in a number of steps – this number will be determined by you. The objective of the activity is to ultimately catch this star [I hold up the star for them to see]. Now, the entire group, by consensus, must agree to when the star will be tossed and ultimately caught. Before each step I will ask you, ‘Do you want to go for the star or another object?’ [At this point I hold up one of the other objects in my other hand.] The challenge level of this activity increases as more of these objects are added to the process.
Once you’ve introduced the activity (with still a bit of mystery to it) you can deliver the remaining stipulations as needed. I often just get started and add the rules to the process when the group needs to know them.
After asking which object the group would like you to use, you will always toss the object chosen with a nice high arch on it and an aim of landing in the center of the circle. Before you toss the first object, tell the group what it will look like (i.e., a high toss into the center of the circle) and let them know that someone from the group must catch it if you want to move ahead. Ask them, “Are you ready for the toss?” If the group tells you they are not ready, give them some time before asking again. If the group does not stop you, say, “1, 2, 3, toss” – then send the object out into the circle. If the object is not caught, have someone pick it up and toss it back to you and start the process again. Ask which object they want you to use, then ask if they are ready, and then toss.
If someone catches the first object you can now add more rules. The group must always start each step of the process (before a toss) in the large circle formation. Every object held by a player in the circle must be tossed at the same time when you call “1, 2, 3, toss” (all objects tossed on the word “toss”). Each object, including the one tossed by the facilitator, must be arched up at least three feet above the tallest player in the group and must be caught by someone in the group other than the person who tossed it. (Will you, the facilitator, be allowed to catch an object? This would be something interesting to consider.) If, at any time, any object touches the ground after the toss, all the objects are given back to the facilitator and the game starts over with one object. Also, if there are any unsafe situations (close calls) that occur during the activity (deemed by the facilitator) all the objects are returned to the facilitator and the game starts over. You might have to explain what a close call is if you think your group needs this information.
So, now that there are two objects out there, “Which object would you like me to toss? Okay. Are you ready? [if you don’t hear anything to the contrary…] 1, 2, 3, toss!”
Poker Face - This one is found in the book Playing with a Full Deck - noted above. If you SIGN UP for Michelle's weekly (Wednesday) newsletter you will receive an ebook with some of the activities from the Full Deck book - one of them is Poker Face.
"As If..." Greeting - This is an energizing ice breaker that Michelle uses to role play some of the group outcomes that are possible during a program. The activity can be found in Michelle's book, Setting the Conflict Compass. The book includes "hands-on activities that held address the issues of conflict resolution, prevention and diversity."
Key Pad 2 - One of my Top 10 favorites as well - I call it Corner-to-Corner (named by Frank Fry and his students). You can find the full description of this one in my newest activity book, Portable Teambuilding Activities. It's a great one for learning about sharing resources and considering the needs of others beyond yourself. The Key Pad 2 is written up in one of Sam Sikes' books (I'll come back here and put the reference in when I can get my hands on my books.)
Thanks for sharing with us Michelle!!
Have FUN out there my friends! Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I met up with Chris Ortiz during the last AEE Conference. At that particular time here's his Top 10 teambuilding activities list. THANKS CHRIS! (Hey, great name by the way!)
Breaking the Code I recently saw Chris lead this small group "code-breaking" activity. It plays like the Hasbor and Pressman Toys board game Mastermind. Here's an interestingly detailed history of Mastermind on Wikipedia (which, the post notes, "resembles an earlier pencil and paper game called Bulls and Cows" - another Wikipedia installment.)
I couldn't find anything on the web about how Chris specifically runs this one. Hopefully it will be in his new activity book coming out this next year (vicious rumor inspirational!). The closest we can get to understanding this on is to read the Bulls and Cows description (link above) and replace the four numbers used with four people. So far I've played Break the Code with groups of eight participants. I wrote down the names - horizontally on a piece of paper - of four people from the group. The players then had to figure out the four people in the order they were listed on my paper. When they lined up four people for an attempt at the answer I would say something like, "there are two people in the answer but only one is in the correct spot." This begins the rearranging and the feedback until they had the right four people in the right order. When multiple groups are playing, give each one a new puzzle after solving one in order to fill the time you have for the activity.
After Chris previewed this post, he sent over the write-up for Breaking the Code calling it a "sneak peek" to his next book! Thanks Chris !
Handshake Mingle The best example of this one (posted before here at the FUNdoing blog) is the YouTube video of Nate Folan leading Five Handshakes in Five Minutes. Search around on the web for other ideas using "Handshake Icebreaker" as a locater. And, of course, make up your own handshake greetings to fit your program themes and groups.
Ubuntu Cards Like Amy Climer a few weeks ago, Chris is another humble soul. He waited until his third choice to tell me he loves using his Ubuntu Cards - a product he helped develop. Here's the idea around the cards directly from the High 5 Adventure Learning Center website (where you can pick up the cards):
The Ubuntu Philosophy
Ubuntu Cards embody the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Pronounced oo-boon-too, it means "I am because we are." and celebrates the common human bond that exists within each and every one of us. Ubuntu captures the essence of our programming at High 5: we are better people because of knowing those around us.
Here's a link, again, to the High 5 site, to 10 activities you can lead with the Ubuntu Cards.
Let's Make a Deal The closest description I could find is Kitty Wants a Corner from Ultimate Camp Resources. When you go to this description, be sure to read the "Requirements" part. It states, "people in the circle must make eye contact with someone else before switching places..." Chris metaphors this "eye contact" with "making a deal" (other facilitators I've seen connect this to a "contract" between the two people. The talking points around this activity (metaphorically speaking) involve talking about what a "deal" or "contract" is all about. And, when you make this deal, what are the possible outcomes? Because in the game it is easy to break your "eye contact deal" when you see the "kitty" has spotted your plan. I'm guessing Chris has mastered this object lesson - I hope to see him run this one at some point.
You, Me, Me, You This is one of my favorite name games because you are actually "practicing" saying other people's names. I couldn't find anything on the web that details this one. If you are a Playmeo subscriber you can find it there (if you are not a Playmeo subscriber, give yourself this gift for 2017 - it's an incredible activity resource). Here's a brief: There are a number of ways to organize this one, but basically when I pair up with someone (we can be shaking hands, or not), I say my name, my partner says her/his name, I then say my partners name, then my partner says my name. After this exchange we (can high five and then) both go off to find someone else to pair up with and repeat the process.
Mimeograph Along with all the great activities Chris (and Ryan McCormick) shared in the Ubuntu Activity Guide, Mimeograph is another (communication-based) team builder that can be done with Ubuntu Cards - Chris' favorite prop for this one. (You can use other sets of cards as well. If you only have one set of cards, photo copy an arrangement of the cards that can be "out in the hall" for groups to copy). Here's the FULL DESCRIPTION of Mimeograph found at the High 5 Learning Center website.
Bull Ring Both Jim Cain and I have this one on our Top 10. Here's a quick video from our friend Tom Heck. You'll be able to see the basic construction of a bull ring (a solid metal ring and string), as well as a simple versions of a PVC "stand" (where the tennis ball is placed). Be sure to listen to the type of communication that presents itself during the action. Check out the picture from Jim Cain's Top 10 post to see one of the latest models - called the 3-D Bull Ring. (If you want more on Bull Ring, there's lots to watch on YouTube.)
Blind/Color Maze Here's a VIDEO of the basic version of the Maze (you can construct with Duct Tape - a Tom Heck idea. I used duct tape to outline a grid on a plastic tarp so I can fold it up and take it with me anywhere). Here's another VIDEO of the Maze with an interesting twist.
Walk-N-Talk Processing To round things off Chris shared one of his favorite processing experiences. First he'll get participants in groups of two or three (I'm sure in some creative way). Then he offers everyone a "processing-type" question (like, "What is the most powerful memory you have about the program and what makes it important to you?) to talk about as they walk around the activity area. The idea of walking and talking provides some privacy for participants and (as research tells us) gives the body something physical to do while the brain works on cognitive functions - some tell us the brain works better this way. After a preset time you can call everyone back in (maybe even switch up groups) to provide them with another question to talk and walk about.
Chris, thanks SO MUCH for sharing with us. You're the BEST!
Have FUN out there friends.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I had the opportunity to chat with Amy Climer at the AEE Conference in Minneapolis and she was willing to share her Top 10 teambuilding activities with me (even though it was difficult for her to choose only 10!)
Let me start with a little background. Dr. Amy Climer owns Climer Consulting. She specializes in "building cultures of creativity and success." Amy is the creator (artist behind) the Climer Cards (My FUNdoing Blog Post about the Climer Cards is HERE). She is also the host of "The Deliberate Creative" podcast.
Here's Amy's Top 10 (for now) - not in any particular order (I like how humble Amy is - she didn't mention her Climer Cards until the fourth share!)
THANKS TONS Dr. Climer - You're the best!
Folks, be sure to sign up for Amy's newsletter on all things Climer. Find the form at her website.
Have fun out there!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Here's a great (short) video of the traditional Bull Ring in action (called the Focus Ring by Tom Heck). You'll see a nifty, east-to-create PVC pedestal (NOTE: take the top coupling off for the 3-D Bull Ring version so the 3-inch pipe fits over it), and the original ring-and-string version of this wonderful portable activity. ANOTHER NOTE: Listen to the dialogue of the participants during the action - this is very typical of the activity. The language tends to outweigh the relationships in the group - the TASK overpowers the RELATIONSHIPS!
1) Hit 21 in a Row, 2)Hit 21 in a Row with the Dominant Hand, 3) Hit 21 in a Row with the Non-Dominant Hand, 4) 21 in a Row using both hands but standing on One Foot, 5) 21 in a Row but after hit Clap Three Times before Hitting Again, 6) 21 in a Row but after hit High Five Someone before Hitting Again, 7) After Hitting Say a Letter of the Alphabet - without a drop Get from A to Z, 8) After hit Say an Animal Name through the Alphabet (skipping Q and X?), 9) Create your Own way to Hit up to 21, 10) Eliminate a Hand after a Hit and when All Hands are gone All Hands can be Put back in Play up to 21.
Jim makes the Petecas himself and sells them through Training Wheels HERE - they are called Funderbirds at the TW store. (NOTE: I've done most of the challenges using a small inflatable rubber ball about the size of a softball - I didn't have enough Petecas for my large group so I improvised. They worked just fine but did lack the visual flare!)
With a group of 12 participants ask them to close their eyes. Then, hand each person one of the objects. The challenge for the group is to identify the two objects that are identical without opening their eyes - using only verbal communication. Each participant is allowed to ask the facilitator one (the same) question. For Jim's pieces the question is: What color is this? Jim then responds out loud for all to hear. You can make up a question that is related to the objects in play in order to help your group with the challenge.
Jim told me that My Life Line (or what he now calls The Walk of Life) has been his most recent go-to icebreaker (a re-kindled activity). To summarize, each group of three people roll out a 15-foot length of webbing along the ground/floor. Then, one person at a time, flanked by a person to his/her left and right, slowly walks down the length of the webbing sharing "timeline" highlights of his/her life. Jim told some recent workshop participants (above), you could also share timelines of other things like one's timeline of high school, college or work history, or the timeline of a significant challenge they had to go through. Jim says its a great way to share your voice in a small group.
There you have it! I'm not sure if it's just 10 of his favorites, but there's some great take-aways! Thanks Dr. Cain. You're the best!
I invite you to share your TOP 10 in the comments below.
Have fun out there.
After sharing Sam Sikes' Top 10 activity list (September FUNdoing blog post), people have been asking for my list. (Others have shared their lists on Facebook - search "Top 10 Activities Cavert" and here's another list from my friend Brian in Canada.) What follows is my "Portable" Top 10. In a further post I'll share my Big Prop Top 10 - there's just so many to choose from. (To quote my friend Sam, these are in no particular order.)
This one plays well with 10 to 30 participants. You'll need a standard deck of playing cards (the bigger the better - the picture above is me using SUPER JUMBO cards.) Make a big circle with a 50 foot long rope and set out all the cards face down inside. Now divide your group into teams of two or three players (you could go with up to four per team, but I find there's too much waiting around and "I hate waiting! What if I throw you a rope....?" I digress.) Give each team a game spot or carpet square and ask them to place it down on the floor/ground about 10 feet from the outside of the circle of cards.
Have each team gather by their spot or carpet square while you give them the directions. The objective of the activity is for each team to have four cards of the same rank at their spot/carpet square - the timing starts when the first player breaks the plane of the rope circle and stops when all teams have four-of-a-kind. Please be sure to remind the teams that they are all one "group" working together in small "teams" to achieve the objective as quickly and safely as possible.
(NOTE: I worked with an adult group recently and one of the participants did not know what was on the faces of a deck of cards - true story. So, don't assume participants will know what four-of-a-kind means. You'll need to explain. Now, if using playing cards is a bad idea for your group make up some letter cards so the teams can obtain four-of-a-kind in letters.)
I usually get in at least three rounds so the group can experience improvement. If they delve into their mental models and phantom rules results can be impressive.
That's the gist of one of my TOP 10s. I like it because it brings up a lot of discussion about assumptions, mental models, and phantom rules, and pushes participants towards helping each other in order to clock the fastest possible time. It's also a good activity for working on goal setting and meeting expectations. I've seen it done with a group of 20 players in under 90 seconds.
Speaking of assumptions, here's one I made that lead to a variation of Four-of-a-Kind that I now use on a regular basis (if you have time to read on). I've been working with Group Dynamix in Texas recently, a company that provides team building programs for groups. I saw they had a couple decks of SUPER JUMBO cards so I grabbed a deck for Four-of-a-Kind. As I was setting down the cards my group was taking a short break. By habit I was counting the cards as I set them out. 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56. Rats.
My mind started going to the place where I was wondering what idiot....but, I thought, let's see what happens. When I presented the rules to the group I did say, "There are more than 52 cards here and I don't know if there is a complete deck - please keep this in mind." Well, of course one of the teams was after a set of four that was missing a card. At first it was an issue, then it became an opportunity for the group. Good stuff.
WARNING: Since this discovery I've set up the deck in a way where some cards are missing - adding extras from another deck - and I do not frontload with any warnings. In one case so far I was harshly accused of "setting the group up" for failure. However, it did end well after a good processing session about assumptions and the difference between "reacting" to challenges and "responding" to challenges. Concepts this group needed to hear. Again, good stuff!
I'd love to read your TOP 10 - share in the comments!!
Have fun out there.
Table Top Ricochet (TTR) is one of my favorites when I have access to tables. If you are familiar with the World of Ricochet then you know the fun to be had. Instead of the traditional, more firm R-Ball, I go to a softer ball for TTR (but, the firmer ones do work just fine). HERE is where you can find a set of the softer ones.
You play TTR around a table with 5 to 7 players per table. Here are the basic rules outlined by Sam in The More The Merrier (p. 331 if you have the book):
Serving (underhand or overhand), and the game, continues until a foul is made. One point is scored every time the R-Ball touches the table top. If the R-Ball makes more than one bounce off the table after a serve and is then caught, the score for that serve is doubled (e.g., two bounces after a serve is worth four points.) When a foul occurs that particular game is over and a new game can begin (if there is time). Keep track of the score for each game. Play for the highest possible points for your table group within the time given. (I find there is good play energy for about 10 to 12 minutes.)
Be sure you remind players to watch their steps when going after a runaway R-Ball.
I find TTR to be a great energizer and a fun competitive game if I'm working on "competitive" learning objectives.
What's your Top 10 list of activities? Please share with us in the comments below.
Have fun out there!
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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.