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.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hang out in the shadows (literally) and observe Nate Folan (he's in the light colored hat) facilitate a day-long training for a summer camp staff (I was facilitating the next day). Nate was featured a while back in a Top 10 Blog - lots of fun details and activity links.
During the training he led one of my favorite tag games, Popper Tag. Over the years I have called this one Flashback Tag. I use soft tossables or crumpled up paper (snow)balls. The idea is to toss your tossable at the backs of other players. If you hit a back (between the shoulders and the waist - no arms), you get a point. First one to 10 wins.
Add a Transformation Part of Nate's focus with his trainees was to emphasize different aspects of facilitation. Using Popper Tag (PT) as his experiential pathway, he introduced players to the idea of "being silly" and how this (or these) behaviors fit into building a fun caring community of learners. So, he invited each participant to "transform" into the chicken of their choice once they obtained 10 points playing PT. From a group of players to a flock of chickens. Brilliant!
Players were given a challenge and a choice to "chicken" or simply move around amongst the flock of chicken as players, one-by-one transformed. For me, it was a fabulous way to step right into a fun, crazy space. Magical! (Now, I'm not sure all the players would agree with me, but I got the lesson.) Ready to smile? Check out the action.
Have FUN out there my friends. Let me know how the transformation goes!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
The Video Initially I was going to cut my footage down enough to simply understand the game. As I was editing it occurred to me that keeping all the footage would allow for more analysis of the way I worked with these middle schoolers. So, if you want to watch enough to get the idea, you only need to stay in through my introduction. Otherwise, catch as much of the 17 minutes as you can - lots of interesting interactions (you might need to turn up the volume to pick up some go the voices).
NOTE: The only part I cut out was dealing the cards. To save time, I dealt out three cards to each person, then single cards around (to the right of me) to finish up the deck.
LIGHTNING 156 As this activity unfolded for me, my first mental model was for groups to play all the cards in 156 seconds (this is what I tried with my conference captive audience). I found this task to be pretty challenging - out of six groups trying it, one got within four cards after 156 seconds. Possible? I believe so. Now I'm thinking, Connections will be a good way to lead into Lightning 156. Once a group has time to practice the game and work out some of the cooperative behaviors they will need, they should be able to beat the Lightning clock. (I'll be working towards getting some video of this level in the future.)
Keep me posted my friends.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Grand Prix Racing is an activity found in, The Revised & Expanded Book of Raccoon Circles by Jim Cain & Tom Smith (pick up your copy from Training Wheels). If you don't know, a Raccoon Circle (in the Adventure Ed biz) is a length of tubular webbing around 15 feet long (see picture below) that can be used for dozens of community building exercises and discussion activities. I first learned Grand Prix Racing from Jim Cain (and he attributes his knowledge of the game to Tom Heck). I really like this one as a large group energizer. In most cases it's set up as a competitive experience, but each of the rounds are fast and fun so the competition part seems to take a back seat (and it's always something good to talk about).
A NOTE ABOUT WEBBING Tubular Webbing is recommended for Raccoon Circle activities. Flat webbing can be found as well, the kind of webbing used for belts and straps on packs and such. Flat webbing is not as friendly on the hands as tubular webbing. Yes, tubular webbing does cost more per/foot, but for team building activity use, it lasts forever (unless you expose it to toxic chemicals!). You can pick up Raccoon Circle webbing precut from Training Wheels, or at sporting goods stores that sell rock climbing gear - they can cut the webbing off the spool for you. (I'm guessing you can also find tubular webbing online.)
At the most recent National Challenge Course Symposium (NCCPS) in Boulder, Colorado, my good friend Cindy led Grand Prix during a Raccoon Circles activity workshop. With permission from the crowd (and Cindy) I was able to capture the fun.
Needs & Numbers: You'll need a little room for this one. Each small group will need enough space to form a circle around their (15-foot length) tied webbing circle. So, if you have a lot of groups, you'll need a lot of space. (You will notice spacing needs in the video.)
Set Up: Ask 6 to 8 players to stand around one of the webbing circles you've placed on the ground in the activity area (indoors or out). Then, have them pick up their circle holding it with both hands about waste level.
WARNING 1: If your group is new to webbing (or rope) circles, you might have to frontload some safety points before picking up the rope (e.g., please be mindful of others on the webbing/rope - we're not going to be pulling or tugging on the webbing/rope just yet.)
WARNING 2: Make sure your webbing pieces are all the same length - a 12 inch difference can influence race results. (Sorry Yellow team!!)
Process: Cindy does a great job preparing the group for the races - so, refer to the video for more details. I do want to add a couple more option I like to use (not in the video).
The Pit Stop: Races are a sequence of Left, Right, Left, Right patterns (which you will see). After a few races, I add the Pit Stop. For example, Left, Left, Right, Right, Pit Stop, Right, Right, Left, Left - CHEER! When a group gets to their Pit Stop, the webbing circle is set down on the ground, all the players in the group turn in place 360 degrees then pick up the circle again to complete the remainder of the race.
The Figure Eight: (The idea is credited to Tim Borton.) Add one or two races into the mix with the webbing configured into a figure eight. Consider a slow warm-up lap or two to get the dynamics of the webbing.
BE MINDFUL: Don't make the race sequences too long, it's easy to forget the requirements if there is a lot to remember.
For me, five or six races meets my energizing objective. Then, if you know a couple other webbing activities you can transition right to them.
Have FUN out there my friends, Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
My friend Barry and I put out the book, Cup It Up: Teambuilding With Cups in 2017 (paperback and digital versions) - and we're not done coming up with more. My Crew friends helped me work through my thoughts and get some video (below) on this activity, so a BIG THANKS goes out to them!!
FYI: If you haven't seen it yet, there is another cup activity (not found in the Cup It Up book), Flip Flop Tower (with Video) I posted here on the FUNdoing blog back in 2016.
Over the Top can be played indoors or out - as long as you have a stable surface to place the 9-Grid set of cups. I developed this activity with the mind-set (facilitated objective) of focusing discussions around "roles and responsibilities". Of course, there can be other objectives planned. I also wanted to see what would happen with limited directions (listed below). Also, of course, you can add more directions to make the expectations clearer. (One of my mantras: More directions, less creative freedom.) Okay, let's go!
Needs: For every small group of 5 to 7 players, you need 1 Small Bowl, 9 Ping Pong Balls, 12 Cups and a timing device.
Set Up: Divide your bigger group into smaller groups of 5 to 7 players. Give each small group the needed equipment.
At this time, these are the only directions I provide (what I consider to be the fewest directions needed). You are (as always) free to add, subtract and change things to meet the needs of your groups.
Notes: I give myself enough time on this activity for groups to make at least three attempts in order to improve their process (i.e., get a better time). I will start each attempt so each group begins at the same time - each group's timer starts their time when I say "GO". Then, they are responsible for stopping their time when there is one ping pong ball in each of the nine cups in the 3 by 3 grid.
After each attempt, I lead a discussion about the different roles and responsibilities taking place in each group and what's important to know about each of the roles. We also talk more about the responsibilities of each person (in their role) and how they are able to manage their time - what can save time and what they focus on in order to save time. In general, we also talk about what's been working for the group and what they might want to do differently before the next attempt.
When appropriate, I also will graph the times for each group so that we can collect data from the process. This data could lead to some collaborative sharing of ideas.
Finally, before each attempt, I will encourage players to change roles if people want to experiment with other responsibilities.
Things to Consider:
Let me know how it goes out there my friends. How do we make it better?
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.
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.
Recently, I was a guest on the Growing People Podcast with John Losey. My good friend John and I talked about my journey as a team development professional, what my creative process looks like, my advice to new facilitators and more. HERE is the link to the full 55-minute interview if you have the time to absorb the whole thing.
For those of you pressed for time, the videos below are shorter clips taken from the interview covering a few of the main questions John had for me. I'd love to hear your feedback about my perspectives. Leave me a comment below.
Thanks for watching!!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Chris Cavert on What Makes a Great Facilitator (7:43)
Chris Cavert Advice to Young [and not-so-young] Facilitators (4:38)
Chris Cavert Apps and Resources [My Favorites at this time.] (5:16)
In December of 2016 I posted a basic presentation of the activity ZOOM along with a newer variation I learned from my friend Scott Goldsmith. A while back I tried a variation of ZOOM that was new for me - I made it up prior to a particular program. (Now, this doesn't mean I was the first one to come up with the idea - you know how they float around once someone thinks one up.) I forgot about this variation until today when I ran across some video footage I took of some ZOOMers in action. So, after a little editing on my phone I have the video for you and the step-by-steps below.
As ZOOMers know, there are about 30 usable picture pages from the book (after you cut off the spine of the book and laminate all the pages). For this example (as in the video) I'll set up play using all 30 pictures.
ZOOM: On The Spot
Rules of Play:
Please let me reiterate one thing. Be sure your put down the reference pictures in the right place so that the pictures, placed down by the group members, will connect appropriately to ones visible. (I'm guessing you can guess why I know putting them in the wrong place is not fun!!)
Your discussion(s) will be related to two possible outcomes (or three if you misplaced a reference picture): 1) All the pictures are in the correct order (based on the order of picture pages in the book), or 2) two or more pictures are out of order. Know you will be able to discuss what led to their success, what led to them being "mostly" successful, as well as what participants focused on most when they were not successful - being mostly or not at all successful. Of course, there will be a lot more group dynamics during the activity, so pull out what relates the best to the group's objectives.
Get the Book(s) You can also play this variation with the book ReZoom - find both books at the Training Wheels Gear store.
Have FUN out there! Do you have a ZOOM variation you like? Share it with us in the comments below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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.
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.