Change! As team builders we have a lot of opportunity to work with groups dealing with change - one of the constants in todays world. Recently I was given the chance to experience change in the moment. (My new internal response/reaction is to breathe, then say, "okay, let's see what I can do!" I still need to work on my facial expressions though - the lead facilitator that asked me to 'change' thought I was mad - no, just thinking. I'll do better next time.)
Okay, back to the change. Our team was about to host 150 middle school students. The plan was to divide the large group into five different smaller groups - the expectation was about 30 players per small group. I was (t)asked to run a Key Punch activity and assigned a pretty generous space to lead it. I was ready to set up Key Pad Express (Full G.E.M. write-up HERE) when the change occurred. The lead facilitator wanted me to move to a conference room area - okay, "let's do it!" The space was a little bit more than half the size I was planning on. So, time to change Key Pad Express to Key Punch: The Overlap.
I set up the room like the diagram above. (The diagram is not to scale - it's more for the visual.) There are two sets of numbered spots from 1 to 30 in each of the play areas - so, 60 spots are in each area. The two sets of numbered spots in each area were different. One set I used has black numbers, the other set has yellow numbers (see the picture below). (If you don't have the poly-numbered spots it's easy to make your own sets with small paper plates or index cards.) Each of the two sets of numbers were scattered randomly around each play area before starting. (In the diagram above notice the gray spots scattered around among the white spots.) I also placed one bucket (not in the diagram) on each of the masking tape lines. This Bucket is the final destination for the animals - when both animals from one area make it into the designated bucket the time stops. And yes, the buckets can be moved to any place on the masking tape line before the time starts. (If you set this one up outside you can use an activity rope instead of masking tape.)
To finish the set up I placed a small stuffed animal on each of the number ones - four stuffed animals, two in each play area. We used a cat and a dog in one play area, and a lion and giraffe in the other area.
Here's what I like about this activity and overall set up:
Here's the context in which we were working. There were 150 middle school students in total. They were organized into five different groups based on a particular fine arts class they were in at there school (as noted above) - they were classmates (some classes crossed graded levels). Their "team building" program started off with some large/all group (everyone) ice-breakers and warm-up activities. After that each group moved to and started off at one of five activity stations set up for them (some team building activities, some recreational). Each station ran for 20 minutes with two minutes for moving between stations. So, we had 20 minutes with each of the five groups. I was the lead at the station and I had a co-facilitator. Once the directions were given each of us worked one of the play areas.
The smallest group from the school included 16 participants, the largest group had 40. With the first group we had at our station we divided them in half - as they entered the Key Punch room we asked them to place one foot on one of the masking tape lines on the floor. We also asked them to have an equal number of people (plus or minus one) on each of the masking tape lines). Once this was done we gave the directions:
Information & Directions:
After I presented the information and directions to the entire group, each play area group then consulted with their facilitator. This is where questions were addressed [smaller groups made this process a bit more efficient]. Again, considering the limited time and the dynamics of each group I offered more or less information (from initial observations I could see some of the groups could handle some problem solving together, other groups had limited skills in the problem solving area - but were great workers when provided with an idea or two).
Since we had white boards and markers in the room we were able to write down the times for each attempt. I wrote down the time when the first animal from my area made it into the bucket and then the overall time when the second animal made it into the bucket. This provided some good information to discuss. For example, "Could we get both animals in the bucket as fast as the first one made it in?" This question from me was meant to get them thinking about sharing ideas - collaborating.
In most cases there was enough time for each play area group (during each rotation) to get in three attempts (some got in four). Since we knew, and told each group, that we would be rotating stations when the 20 minutes was up, my co-facilitator and I did a little processing between each attempt. Just enough to spark a little adjustment to their plan so they had some chance at recording better times.
The last point I want to share is related to the motivation factor. We challenged each group to "beat the time for the 'conference room' challenge" (this is what we called it). We kept the top two lowest times on the white boards and built up the challenge to beat one of the two times. In this way we did not encounter any competitive behaviors between the two play area groups in the room. We also encouraged and congratulated them on improving their own times. I thought these motivational approaches worked well for this middle school program.
Thoughts? Additions? Other ways to Key Punch? Leave us a comment below!! Thanks.
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.