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.
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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.