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.
(NOTE: Pressure Play Too, was written up for the first time in my book, Portable Teambuilding Activities. In the original version I use a few props, as shown in the diagram above - I needed some sort of image to catch your eye. In this version I want to let you know how to play using only playing cards.)
Here's why I really like this activity. Using only a deck of playing cards (of any size), I can run this one with 16 to 56 players (However, I have yet to have 56 players to try this with.) It's also a very adaptable activity. I can play it with an even or odd number of participants in a small (or large) space. I can have two, three or four small groups playing at one time - all interacting with each other. This versatility leads to (Facilitated Objective) discussions around focus, planning, resource management, anticipation, collaboration, mental models and innovation.
Card Set Up: First you need to prep your cards. Order them from Aces to Kings - it doesn't matter how you order the suits. Aces will be on top of your deck.
Play Set Up: Ask four volunteers to stand in the center of your playing area and touch right shoes together - four sets of toes touching each other. Now, deal out the cards (Aces first), to all the other players - one card each. (The toe-touching players do not get a card.) Ask the players not to look at the face of their card until you direct them to do so.
Let's Play: (For this description there will be four suits in play and 24 players)
The Let's Play rules above are for one round of play. After a round you can share the time the whole group achieved and then lead some discussion over the topics related to your group's program objectives (some Facilitated Objectives are listed above). Consider talking about how the group defines success. Will they want a better "time" (product), a better process, or both?
Another reason I really like this activity. You are already set to start the next round. After your processing discussions you have your four toe-touching players in the center from the last round (if they have untouched, have them re-touch their toes). The players with cards hold the card faces down towards the ground and begin the Blind Shuffle (exchanges). After five exchanges with five different players they stop moving. Ready to play!
Facilitation Note: Your group is free to plan their process before each round if they ask you for time. Keep an open mind with possible processes. If they are playing "by the rules" I let them run with their ideas. For me, three or four rounds have led to some great discussions.
Adaptations: If I have 16 to 18 players I use two suits. If I have 19 to 23 players I use three suits.
Let me know how this one goes for you. Leave a Comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I'm a big fan of Trolleys. The earliest description of this team coordination activity that I could find is in The Bottomless Bag by Karl Rohnke (1988). Classic Trolleys are built with 4 inch by 4 inch boards and rope (my favorite type is retired 11 mm climbing rope). Three quarter inch holes are drilled into the boards about 12 inches apart and counter sunk on the bottom side so when the rope, knotted on one end, is pulled through the holes (up from the bottom) the knot becomes lodged up inside the counter sunk hole. With the knot up out of the way the Trolley will remain flat on the bottom for easy maneuvering.
I've seen Trolleys made for three and on up to 12 participants. No matter how long you make them, be sure you have a place to store them. Here's a picture of "The Trolley Tree" - a solution for storing 12 participant Trolleys (somewhat) out of the way - near the open field where they are most often used.
When I first started using Trolleys the idea was to move your Trolley team from point A to point B as safely and efficiently as possible. In many instances there were multiple Trolleys moving across to the final destination at the same time. Now, when I program Trolleys I never tell my multiple Trolley teams they are racing, but we all know how this ends up! Nowadays, more often than not, I like to add some challenging obstacles to the Trolley travels.
Using colorful game spots (or any other flat prop - please don't use three-three-dimentional obstacles. Trolley boards will be unstable if set down upon the 3-D object), I can place them in a random or straight pattern. If the Trolley touches a spot during the crossing the team is required to stop all movement. Then, each person on the team must circumnavigate their Trolley boards, get back on and continue their movement. (If a participant touches the floor/ground during this Trolley obstacle variation I only require the team to stop until everyone is on the boards - all feet must be on the boards for them to work.)
Placing the spots in more-or-less of a straight line is very similar to Trolleying The Line (below). If you place the spots close together the best (safest) way to avoid the spots is to turn sideways and then lift one Trolley board at a time to clear the spots (you'll see this strategy in the video below). (Consider this: If a Trolley team decides to walk right over the spots (a viable option), every time a Trolley board is lifted and then set on a spot, participants must make their 360 trek around their Trolleys. It's one way to do it, but it takes a while.)
Trolleying The Line (video below):
This is my most recent favorite Trolley challenge - clean and simple. Start the Trolley teams about 20 feet from a long line laid down on the floor/ground (use tape on the floor and a rope outside in the grass - you want to avoid a line the Trolleys could "roll" on. This could cause some added speed to the Trolleys you might want to avoid).
Once the teams know the objective, "Get your team across to the finish area without the Trolley boards touching the line that is in your path" (more rules below), they can orientate their starting position any way. (You will see in the video that two teams decided to start sideways and one starting in the perpendicular position - this is the team that made it to the finish area the fastest. Both strategies are worthy of study.)
Trolleying The Line Set-Up:
The "Journey Area" is 40 feet wide. Set down your tape (indoors) or rope (outdoors in the grass), 20 feet from the starting line. Clearly mark the starting and finishing lines with cones on either end of the invisible line (between the cones).
Trolleying The Line Rules:
Below is a picture of the Trolley Team's start and a video of how it plays out. (Note: Before the first journey across the expanse, I had the teams practice moving the Trolleys together for about 10 minutes. I did not tell them about the Trolleying The Line challenge until they were done practicing - this is when two teams decided to start sideways, even though they did not practice going sideways - good stuff to talk about!)
Have FUN out their my friends. Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Before I explain The Cotton Ball Machine, I have to give a shout out to Kathy, Mia and some savvy kids for sharing with me. I love to share and I love it when others share so I can share that!! One share can lead to so much FUN! Thanks friends!
What's interesting about this sharing is the initial link - from Advanced Dental Care, Activities to Make Kids Smile. (I really like Game 2 on this first page). How many of you would go to a Dental site to find team building ideas? Right!
Okay. now I'm digging into the links on the initial page. I go to ZOOM Games (a PBS Kids show). I dig around here a bit (at this point I'm having too much fun!!) I get down to the Physical Challenges section and click on One-Handed, Blind-Folded Cotton Ball Transfer (the title catches my eye because I like easy-to-find resources). I think, "So how can we turn this into a team building activity?" We can find cotton balls most anywhere and plastic spoons, no problem. You don't even need blindfolds, you can ask players to close their eyes. Okay, what can we do? Here's what I'm thinking at this point:
The Cotton Ball Machine
(Many of you will see this one as an alternative to Pipeline.)
Here's what you need:
Here's how to play:
Objective: Given five minutes, move as many cotton balls as possible to the Finishing point.
After working The Cotton Ball Machine for the first time you can lead a processing session to find out what worked well and what didn't. Then, if you have time, you could offer the group another attempt to see if they can improve their score. How will their planning session go with the knowledge they shared during the processing session?
Okay! Have at it my friends. Let me know how it goes. And do let me know if you adapt the rules in order to meet the needs of your group. Especially the Transportation Rule. I really want to find out how groups work within this parameter.
Have FUN out there. Keep me posted!
One final SHOUT! Thanks for the share my friends. You are awesome!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
The Obstacle Field is my name for Mine Field - Mine Field is the traditional name for the unsighted-guide-someone-through-an-area-with-stuff-in-the-way activity. I like using "obstacle" (instead of mine) so I can ask my participants what obstacles they face in their lives and then talk about the skills, abilities, and behaviors they will need to overcome those obstacles. (Getting "help" from others is one of those behaviors, and verbal help is essential for Obstacle/Mine Field.)
For CUP IT UP fans and those interested in a great versatile prop - Check Out This Video of Obstacle Field using red cups - an unsighted player is guided through a field of cups. The overall objective is to avoid touching the cups. (Want more team building activities using cups - without alcohol? Pick up your copy of CUP IT UP - over a dozen team building activities using cups - and a few other things. Click on the link in the left sidebar of this blog for more details and purchase options. Or, just go to the FUNdoing Store and buy your copy right now!)
After presenting Obstacle Field to my adventure education students, one of them came up with this "Got It" version. (NOTE: I found many of my college-aged students to be very competitive - especially being physical education majors. So, they liked making and playing versions of team building activities that were competitive. This is not a bad thing. There is a lot to learn through competitive experiences, especially how we treat our opponents.)
How We Play, Got It (Competitive & Cooperative)
Competitive: The first boundary area that I saw for Got It was the back rectangular portion of a volleyball court - from the 10-foot line to the baseline. We had a lot of cones available so the boundary area was filled with them (of course you can use any type of obstacle but you will need something to elevate the small ball). One tall cone was placed in the center of the boundary area with a small ball atop this cone (see picture).
Teams of 5 or 6 players were grouped at each corner of the boundary area. Each team had one blindfold (optional of course - closing eyes is another option). One player from each team was blindfolded (eyes closed). On "GO!" each team, staying outside the boundary area, verbally guided their unsighted player into the cone area and towards the small ball. The first player to hold the ball up and say, "Got It" earned a point for his/her team.
After a "Got It!" was called, all blindfolded players could be sighted (take off blindfolds or open their eyes) and walk back to their teams to prepare for the next round. If an unsigned player touched a cone along the way s/he had to clap before moving on - 10 claps for the first touch, 20 claps for the second touch, and if a player touched a third time, s/he was "out" of the round - s/he had to stand quietly in the boundary area until "Got It!" was called.
In this competitive version, the first team to 5 points won the game. After each round of play (a round ends with someone saying, "Got It!", my student gave the teams 90 seconds to talk strategy before the next round began.
Overall, the students really liked this version - again, they were all relatively competitive and liked the challenge. After playing Got It, we talked about how it could be adjusted to be more collaborative. (I always presented this question after a competitive team building activity.) Here was the adjustment that was most popular...
Cooperative: The entire group, all four teams, had 8 minutes to collect as many points as possible - so, play is continuous. When time starts, an unsighted player from each team is guided into and through the boundary area in order to "touch" the small ball atop the center cone. After a touch, the player can remove his/her blindfold (or open eyes) and walk back to his/her team so another unsighted player can go for a touch.
If an unsighted player touches a cone s/he must return (sighted) to his/her team and either start again or the team can send in another unsighted player. If the ball falls off the cone it must be placed back atop the center cone, by an unsighted player, before it can be touched again for points. Play at least two games, with some good processing in-between, to see if the "group" can improve upon their first score.
Have FUN out there my friends. Keep me posted!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
In The Chiji Guidebook: A Collection of Experiential Activities and Ideas for Using Chiji Cards (I co-authored with Steve Simpson), there is an object lesson activity called Relationships. In this activity you spread the deck of image cards out on the floor or table and ask your participants to scan the cards and look for "relationships" between two or three cards. When they find cards that relate they call out "RELATIONSHIP" and then pull out the two or three cards and share what relationship they see. After the share, the cards are placed back into the mix and more relationships are called.
For example, looking at the cards above, I see an eagle and an ostrich. They are both birds. (I cannot say they both fly since the ostrich is a flightless bird.) Or, I could pick out the lamp and the fire - the lamp can hold a flame, or they both provide light.
The facilitated objective behind the Relationships activity is to open up a conversation with participants about relationships. After you "play the game" for a while you can present questions like: What is important to you in a relationship? What do you bring to a relationship? What strains a relationship? What sorts of relationships are there? How can we fix relationships when they seem broken? An so on.
Recently I came up with Relationships Too. I wanted the interaction with the cards to be more random, a bit more challenging. I wanted to force more creative thinking sooner in the activity process (since, when I used this activity for the first time with a small group of corporate adults, I had little time to reach the "innovative thinking" objective I was asked to cover).
Here's the idea. Shuffle the deck of Chiji Cards and set the deck on the table. Then, place two cards (drawn from the top of the deck) to one side of the deck (see pictures above). Ask the group, "What relationships can you make between the two cards showing?" After an answer I ask, "Is there another relationship?" And again, "Is there another relationship?" I go on with this question until someone (or more than someone) tells me there are no more relationships they can see (Note: There is often some frustration that surfaces in the first round or two over my "incessant" question - good stuff to talk about!). After determining there are no more relationships between the two cars, someone in the group can flip over another card and place it on top of either of the two cards showing. Then, play continues. "What relationships can you make between the two cards showing?" "Is there another relationship?"
In both versions of Relationships (for me), the "easy" connections are identified right away. Then, over time, more complex relationships emerge. How many relationships can you make between the Farm card and the Rainbow card? How about the Farm and the Rabbit cards? (Is it only a Rabbit?) Again, both versions allow me to explore the complexities of relationships AND they help me emphasize that after we get past the "easy" answers, more complex and innovative ideas can emerge.
Find your copy of The Chiji Guidebook and Cards HERE.
Change up Relationships with Climer Cards. Find them HERE.
Go to Wood 'N' Barnes Publishing for a FREE Chiji Card Processing Activity HERE.
Have FUN out there my friends. Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I do like the Bull Ring activity, popularized by my friend Dr. Jim Cain. There are lots of fun adaptations of the Bull Ring contraption (including the 3-D version SHOWN HERE). And, there are lots of challenges that can be presented with any of the Bull Rings. One of my favorites is, "Hole in the Wall".
Here are my rules and the three-part progression to this challenge. (The participants in the video below are college students in a management-related masters degree program.):
PART 1: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other.
PART 2: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other. Before placing the Ball on the second pedestal, all the participants and the Bull Ring contraption must pass through a hula-hoop being held up vertically by the facilitator.
PART 3: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other. Before placing the Ball on the second pedestal, all the participants and the Bull Ring contraption must pass through a hula-hoop. This time the group must figure out how to manage the hula-hoop without the facilitators help. (This Part is shown in the video below.)
I describe the hula-hoop to the group as a hole in a wall. A hole in a wall is in a vertical orientation and our hole in the wall has special powers - it can move around within the imaginary wall but it must stay in the vertical position.
When I am holding the hoop for the group (in Part 2), each participant can tell me how high they would like me to hold it and if they want it moved at any point during their passage through it. The hoop works the same way in Part 3, but the group members have to figure out how to manipulate the hoop following the Rules of play.
In the video below the group is (obviously) attempting Part 3. Noticed they have figured out a way, following the rules, to get through the hoop together after loosening the strings - remember, when the Ball is in motion the strings must be tight. (Now, does the Ball "move" during the loosening of the strings? We did talk about this during the processing session.)
NOTE: I've titled the "Part 3" video below, Bull Ring Hooped since it's also on my YouTube channel by itself without a description. I didn't add any music to this video so you could listen to the participants work their plan.
What's your favorite Bull Ring challenge? Leave us a Comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
To this day I remember my first Project Adventure workshop - 1990. Turnstile was one of the first activities our group attempted. I remember this activity because I wasn't very good at it. Now, I knew how to jump a rope by myself, but I never picked up the skill of jumping "into" a rope being turned by others - I truly remember being uncomfortable. What I liked about the process was that the facilitator had two ropes going. One for the challenge and one off to the side for practicing - those of use not ready for the challenge could practice as much as we wanted and then join the challenge when we were ready - or never join in at all. We could just keep practicing. (I'm sure this had something to do with Challenge by Choice!)
I couldn't find the earliest entry for The Turnstile, but here are the directions from the 1994 Second Edition of The Empty Bag Again by Karl Rohnke:
The added challenge to my first experience with The Turnstile was to see how many consecutive jumps we could perform, as a group, without missing "a beat". That meant once you got through to the other side after jumping you ran back to the starting side, got into line again so that you could keep the jumps going. So, as the challenge jumpers were working on the consecutive jumps, a number of use continued to practice until we felt ready to join into the count. Everyone was engaged and everyone was participating in a way that was comfortable to them at the time. And yes, I did eventually join into the jump count and logged in some points for the group - it was a heartfelt accomplishment I still remember! (Certainly I'm still part of the World Record team!)
Recently I was reintroduced to turnstile done in a new way (by my friends at Group Dynamix). The facilitator has a wide variety of challenges he/she can present to a group based on their readiness. In other words the range of challenges spans from easy to more difficult. Before I share my every-growing list of challenges with you there are several things you need to know: .
The Group Jump Challenge List
As noted above. You can start anywhere in the progression of challenges based on where you believe your group will initially find success. Then move them through as many as they can tackle within the time you have. Now, you can end with a success or not. What will your group need the most? (Failure is a powerful motivator and makes us think!!)
HERE'S WHERE YOU FIT IN
Okay, over the next week or so let's add to this list of challenges. Include your challenge in the Comments below or direct email me and I'll put them into this "ever-growing" list.
Have fun out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Tube Switch (1.0) made it's debut back in November of 2014. (HERE is the original post.) The equipment was easy to make using toilet paper rolls and index cards. It's been so fun for me to see this activity grow into the new 2.0 version.
Tom Gardner was the first to show off his new kit. He used 2 inch diameter PVC tubing, cutting the tubes about 4 inches high then adding numbered stickers - 1 to 28. For his number spots he picked up some yellow floor matting and cut out 4 x 4 inch squares before adding the numbers using a marker. (Construction Note: Each number should be small enough so it can be completely covered by a tube when placed over it.)
Recently I found out there were a couple sets made near me in Texas. My good friend and colleague Jennifer used (what I'm calling) the Double Play (Texas) Kit - shown in the video below. One Tube Switch set was made with numbers and the other set with letters. The number/letter spots were made with index cards which were laminated after the numbers/letters were added.
The tubes for this Texas (Double) set are made from 1.5 inch PVC tubing, cut 4 inches long. The numbers and letters were printed on copy paper, cut out and then taped on the tubes with packaging tape - they look nice and clean. There are 26 letters (of course) and 26 numbers.
Tube Switch: Double Play
Set up two separate Tube Switch areas. Use a 50 foot (or longer) activity rope to make a nice big circle for each area - have the rope circle areas about 20 feet apart. In this (Texas) version, one circle has the letter set and one circle has the number set.
Place down a set of number/letter spots in each area (see video). For a more challenging version of the activity, don't place any of the number/letter spots too close to the edge - far enough away so a player cannot lean over, while standing outside the rope circle, and look down through a tube to see the number.
After all the number/letter spots are placed set down the tubes over the numbers/letters - the tube numbers/letters SHOULD NOT match the numbers/letters on the cards. Be sure the tubes are completely hiding the numbers/letters.
After running this activity a number of times, I've found a good range of participants per Tube Switch area to be 8 to 12. With Double Play you get more action and there is now the potential to collaborate if you set it up that way. When you have enough people for Double Play, divide them into two groups. Assign one group to each area.
Here's the collaborative idea:
Move all the tubes to their matching numbers/letters.
*One interesting consideration in this activity - it is not a requirement to set a tube back down on a number/letter spot with the number/letter upright. If someone thinks of this, flipping over a tube that is going down on it's matching number/letter will help the group(s) know which pairs are matched up - thus saving time to validate matches at the end.
Let the groups try at least twice (even three times) to see if they can improve their overall time. Better yet, after each attempt, have groups "switch" (get it?) Tube Switch areas.
Be sure to check out the video to get a glimpse of the action.
Have FUN out their my friends! Let me know (pictures!!) if you build a set of your own and how it works out for you. Leave a comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D
There are lots of Key Punch variations out there - let's add another - why not. We already have the numbers! (If you haven't done so yet, check out Key Punch: The Overlap recently posted at the FDblog.) A colleague of mine (Thanks Kevin!) recently presented this version of the activity to a group during a "Points Challenge" program. This was one of the stations. Any number of different teams could play. A team needed to have 6 to 8 players to make an attempt - multiple attempts could be made by any one team and that team would then record there best score (see Scoring below.) .
Set Up: Numbered spots from 1 to 30 are scattered out on top of one or two table(s) (easier access to the spots). One Rubber Chicken and one stop watch is provided - left out on top of the table(s). (See photo above.)
Upon observation of a number of teams, the activity was energizing and exciting for them. And yes, under 60 seconds is possible! Of course, with good "teamwork!"
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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.