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.
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.
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.