Staff Development Reference Guide
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Staff Development Reference Guide

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A compilation of ice breakers, team builders, and general development activities. Each activity is broken down by level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) as well as time frame, group size, and ...

A compilation of ice breakers, team builders, and general development activities. Each activity is broken down by level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) as well as time frame, group size, and activity level.

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Staff Development Reference Guide Staff Development Reference Guide Document Transcript

  • Staff Development Reference Guide A few notes about this packet: Each activity is broken down into three main categories: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Every activity also has an estimated timeframe, ideal group size, and approximate activity level. This being said, many of the activities in this guide can be structured/adapted to fit the needs of your particular group. Some activities are accompanied by processing questions, whereas others will need the facilitator to think of his/her own. Either way, make it your own! This guide is a compilation of activities from a variety of sources. I have not facilitated or processed many of these personally, so some of the estimations listed for each activity could be slightly inaccurate. Just go with it, and feel free to update whatever works for you.  Compiled by C. Drew August 2011
  • General Tips for Facilitating 1. Always keep your purpose in mind. Listed below are just a few of the many benefits of staff/team development: Assess/respond to the needs/interests of staff Enhance personal /professional development Develop cohesiveness Encourage communication & discussion Increase productivity Break down barriers Re-energize the team Motivate/inspire/boost morale Provide satisfaction in solving/completing a task Improve problem solving skills Stimulate imagination 2. Know your TML: Time, Materials, Location – and how TML affects what development you do. Use your time wisely (don’t forget time for processing!) – know what materials to which you have access – know the limits/challenges of your space. 3. Be sure that you are choosing activities that will best benefit your particular group! Remember: there are many different types of development activities: ice breakers, team builders, continued training, improving a particular skill set, recognition, etc. (Note: this packet does not focus on recognition, as “staff recognition” will be covered in a different session.) 4. Choose activities that will challenge your group, but not impose any undue anxiety. 5. Review activities thoroughly before facilitating them. Be sure you are prepared with any materials you may need, and you have a good handle on how the activity will run. Try to prepare for any “likely questions” your team/participants may ask. 6. Frame the activity – give a reason why it’s important/pertinent to your specific group. 7. Take a “mentor” role when needed. Some activities (or parts of activities) will stump your group. Know when it’s appropriate to step in and provide some guidance. (This can be tricky.) 8. Process the activity - the learning that results from the experience is of greater significance than the experience itself. 9. Be sure to recognize the achievements of your group and that your group members feel “heard.” Successful Development Checklist:  Does your activity/development fit with your overall theme? What is the outcome?  Is your activity/development relevant to the needs of your group?  Can your activity/development adjust or adapt to the level of your particular group?  Does your activity/development contribute to the group dynamic and highlight individual talents?  Is your activity/development challenging and/or creative? Remember: Not ALL staff development needs to be planned or done in groups! Remember development comes spontaneously as your team spends more time together, especially if you’ve got your “Facilitator Hat” on!
  • General Processing Questions It is always best to create your processing questions specifically for your group & the activity you facilitate. Remember the “What – So What – Now What” method: What: Check in with the group about what happened throughout the activity – individually and as a team. Be sure you are objective and honest. Debriefing should feel safe for all participants. So What: What did the participants learn from the activity (about themselves, others, or the team as a whole?) This is a crucial step in identifying relationships with others and the group. Now What: How does the information participants learned from the activity/development apply to their role in the team/group? How will this help them in making future decisions? Listed below are some common processing questions that you can adapt: What did you think of this activity? What was your initial reaction to this challenge? Did it change over the course of time? What worked well during the process? What hindered the process? How did you plan your communication and/or teamwork to complete your goal? Did your plan work well? Did you change it – and did the change go over well? How difficult was it to agree on the outcome? What were some of the techniques you used to accomplish your goal? What roles emerged during the process? Was there a leader? What behaviors would you describe as showing leadership? How did the group respond to the leadership? Did everyone have an active role? Does everyone agree? Why or why not? Was your role a typical role for you, or did you step out of your comfort zone? How do you feel about the decision made? What did you learn about the decision-making processes of others in the group? Did you work as a team? Does everyone agree? How do you know? Did everyone feel as though they had the ability to express their opinions? How can communication enhance or inhibit a group dynamic? What were some of the effective forms of communication you used in completing this task? How were differences of opinions handled? What feelings were expressed verbally during the activity/exercise? What about non-verbally? Did anyone criticize either themselves or others during the activity/exercise? What about recognize? Did your group work well together? Was working with a group difficult or easy? Explain. What could be done to improve this group’s process in problem solving? What would an observer have seen as the strengths and challenges of the group? What strengths did each person bring to the task? What strengths does each person bring to the group? What skills did it take for the group to be successful? How does this activity relate to your position as an RA? What did you learn about yourself during this exercise? What did you learn about other group members? Has your concept of others in the group changed? Why or why not? What beliefs about yourself or others were reinforced today? Which were challenged? What lessons did the group learn from this exercise which could be applied to future situations?
  • Beginner Activities Comic strip Chaos Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate Cut up many comic strips into individual frames and place them in a large container. Each participant takes one frame of a comic strip. Ask the participants to find the other frames in the same sequence. For a greater challenge, do not allow participants to speak or show their frame to anyone else until they are sure it matches. It’s a great game to break a large group into smaller groups. Question Master Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Participants should stand in a circle. One person starts by looking another directly in the eye and asking a question. The person who has been asked a question cannot answer. Instead, they should look another person in the eye and ask a different question. If you start to answer, hesitate, laugh, or otherwise interrupt the pace of these rapid-fire questions, you’re out! Keep going until there’s only one person standing. Introductions with the 3 Ps Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate Ask each person to take a turn by introducing themselves to the rest of the group by 3 P’s, which means: Personal – Anything about themselves. Professional – What their title is and what they do in a nutshell or their professional goals. Peculiar – Something peculiar and unique to them. Creative High 5s Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate With a partner, come up with as many creative ways to give them a high 5 as they can in 60 seconds (or however long you choose). Under the leg, behind the back, etc. Volunteers can then demonstrate them. Impulse Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Divide your group into two and have them line up parallel to each other (sitting is preferable.) The lines do not have to face each other. The first person in each line should be standing next to the leader. The first person of each line is the only person with his/her eyes open. At the end of the two lines there is a small ball, which should be placed equidistant between groups – the last person of each line should be able to reach it easily. The line leaders watch as the leader flips the coin. As soon as the coin comes heads up the line leaders need to squeeze the arm/hand of the person sitting next to them who will squeeze their neighbor and this will happen until the last person feels the squeeze, as soon as they do they grab the ball as fast as they can and their team gets a point. If the coin is tails up, nothing should happen – if a team incorrectly grabs the ball, they lose a point. The first team to 5 points wins.
  • Fuzzy Ducky Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Silly concentration game and great warm-up. All participants in a circle. We will count numbers clockwise, except: o any number that is a multiple of 3, or contains a 3 (like 13) becomes 'Fuzzy' o any number that is a multiple of 7 or contains a 7 (like 17) becomes 'Ducky' o any number that is a multiple of 3 and 7 (like 21) or contains both 3 and 7 (like 73 and 37) becomes 'Fuzzy Ducky') Hesitate Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Low In this game a scene is played, in which at any time, any player may 'hesitate', and ask the audience for help. Anything provided by the audience must be justified and incorporated. (Examples: James, hand me that .... (signs the audience for a word) -- Lollypop. Or: Ah, I was sailing the 7 seas in my .... Newspaper. Yes, Newspaper, finest vessel ever built by ..... (Martians) Killer Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low The group sits in a circle, where one participant has been designated, “it” (by drawing cards, or slip of paper, whatever the facilitator chooses.) The object is for the killer to wink at group members, who then “die” (leave the game.) Encourage creativity in death scenes. One can accuse if one suspects or catch the killer in action, but if they are wrong, they must also die. Enemies & Allies Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Individually, participants mentally select one other participant to be their “Enemy” and another participant to be their “Ally.” When the facilitator says, “Go,” participants should run around and try to align themselves so that their Ally is directly between them and their Enemy. Play continues as long as the facilitator would like. Jedi Mind Trick Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Stand in a circle with one person in the middle. The goal of the person in the center is to take another participant’s place in the circle. Members of the outer circle attempt to switch places without losing a spot in the circle to the person in the middle. To switch places, a participant on the outside makes eye contact with another member of the circle and then both members run across the circle and switch places – no one may switch spots with the person next to them. No talking or additional gestures can be used. Human Letters Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Divide the team into groups of 4 to 5 people. The facilitator calls out a letter. Each group has to spell out the letter on the ground with their bodies. The group to get the letter the fastest, or the most accurate, wins. Keep score.
  • Prui Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate/High The Prui (pronounced proo-ee) is a gentle, friendly creature that grows. If you want to get people in touch and feeling comfortable with each other, introduce them to the Prui. Unlike the Blob, which everyone avoids, everybody wants to find and become a part of the Prui. To do this, everyone stands in a group, closes their eyes (or uses blindfolds) and begins milling about. When you bump into someone, shake his or her hand and ask, “Prui?” If the other person asks “Prui?” back, then you have not found the Prui. Move on to another person. When everybody is bumping about, shaking hands, with strains of “Prui? Prui? Prui?” floating around the crowd, the referee whispers to one of the players that he or she is the Prui. Since the Prui can see, this person opens their eyes. It seems that the Prui is also a smiling mute, for when someone bumps into him or her, shakes hands and asks that gentle question, the Prui doesn’t respond. Ask one more time just to be sure. Eureka! You have found the Prui at last! Now you can open your eyes and become a part of the Prui to by holding hands. When someone bumps into you, if you have a free hand, shake their hand but do not respond. When someone bumps into two clasped hands, they know they have joined the Prui somewhere in the middle and must find their way to the end. Make A Monster Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: High The group task is to create a monster, within the following guidelines: o The monster must be made up of all the group members, and they must all be connected. o The monster must have five feet on the ground, no more, no less. It can have only five arms waving in the air like tentacles, no more, no less. (To figure out the number of feet and arms, divide the group in half and add one.) o The monster must make three noises. o The monster must be able to move from one spot to another with arms waving, feet moving and noises sounding, without falling apart! (You may want to make tape marks on the floor. Make the distance challenging, but not unattainable!) Some additional challenges — if certain individuals are taking charge and monopolizing the planning process, it is possible for lightning to strike and take their voice away! Other individuals can be made blind (close their eyes or blindfold them). Process this activity by discussing who took leadership, how the group solved the problem, and if anything could have been done differently. Draw & Write Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Have participants sit in a circle, each with a paper and a pen. Each person starts by writing a sentence/phrase on the top of their piece of paper, then folds the paper so no one can see what they’ve written. Each person passes their paper to the person to the left, who unfolds the paper and attempts to draw what the phrase is. For instance, if the phrase is, “the dog barks,” the person would try to draw a dog barking. The drawings should be small, and right under the phrase. Once each person has completed this, participants should fold the paper so both their drawing and the original sentence is covered. Pass the paper to the left. The person receiving the paper now attempts to figure out what the picture is, without looking at the original sentence. Pass to the left until people receive their original paper again; once this occurs, have all participants read the sentences. Most times hilarity ensues at the difference between the original sentence/phrase and what has occurred over the various attempts at decoding it.
  • The Human Knot Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate The group stands in a circle, facing in, shoulders touching. Each person puts in his or her right hand and takes someone else’s right hand. The only restriction is you cannot hold the hand of the person standing next to you. Each person then puts in his or her left hand and takes someone else’s left hand. The only restrictions here are you cannot take the hand of the person standing next to you, and you cannot take the left hand of the person who’s right hand you are already holding. Without breaking hands, the group must untangle the knot of hands, arms and bodies by climbing over, under and through, until they are left standing in a circle, two separate circles, or a figure eight. Dr. Know It All Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Low Select three to five volunteer participants to step in front of the group. These participants make up “Dr. Know It All.” Participants in the audience can ask Dr. Know It All any questions they would like. The facilitator repeats the questions. Dr. Know It All answers the question by each of the volunteer participants saying one word at a time. Back to Back Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Divide into partners with one person left over in the middle. You need one person to be the “caller”. The call will yell directions telling the partners to line up “back to back”, “foot to foot”, “elbow to elbow”, “shoulder to shoulder” and so on. When the caller yells “people to people”, everyone must find a new partner. The one left over is now in the middle. Back to Back 2 Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate Break participants into pairs, and have each pair sit back to back. The challenge is for that pair to stand up together without external help. If the group gets it quickly, try different variations: stand toe to toe, add more people to each group, etc. Plinky Prompts Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Go to www.plinky.com and select a few questions. Sometimes a good icebreaker can be as simple as answering a good question or prompt. If the goal is to get people warmed-up, talking, laughing and having fun... sometimes that's all it takes. Ask people to pair up and share with their answer with their partner. A few samples: Paul Simon was going to Graceland, Toto blessed the rains down in Africa – what place would you write a song about? Explain why it's worthy of song. -- Animal face-off! Who would win in a fight between a bear and a shark? Defend your pick. -- Who would you rather be seated next to on a daylong bus trip: an irritating talker or a quiet person who stares? What's your rationale?
  • Solemn & Silent Estimated Time: 10 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low The facilitator explains that this exercise takes self-control. Members pair back to back. On the count of three, everyone must face their partner, look each other in the eye, and try to remain solemn and serious. No talking allowed. The first person to laugh or smile must sit down. All who remain standing then take a new partner and the activity continues until one person remains. If you get a pair at the end who are both keeping a straight face, the rest of the group can act as hecklers to disrupt them. Option: instead of keeping a straight face, ask participants to make a silly face as they turn around. Jeopardy Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Activity Level: Low Have two participants close/cover their ears or leave the room if possible. Then ask the audience for questions and answers. Examples would be: What is the color of an American school bus? Yellow. What is dyslexia? Not being able to make words out of letters. --- Write down the answers, not the question. Bring the participants back into the room, or have them uncover their ears/eyes. Provide the participants one of the answers let them come up with questions that might be answered correctly by that answer. It's kind of like 'what would the worst/sillies/funniest question be that could have this answer?' Peruvian Ball Game Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Activity Level: Moderate Everyone starts milling about the room, miming a particular kind of ball. It can be light or heavy, have a texture, whatever, as long as it is particular. At the facilitator’s sign, everyone passes their ball to someone else. Have the participants pass the balls at least 5 times, after which everyone tries to find his or her ball again. Human Bingo Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Create a paper with a series of questions arranged in a Bingo format (squares.) Participants are required to find another participant who can answer yes to a question. They must have that person sign their name within the square. The object is to meet as many people as possible and fill a “BINGO” (or the whole sheet, depending on time constraints and the size of the group.) Here are some samples: knows their zodiac sign, from a northern state, member of a sorority or fraternity, has been a competitive athlete, has traveled out of the US, Knows how to polka, etc. Confusion Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Create a worksheet with the tasks listed below. For the following, participants must find a different person to complete each task. Once the task has been completed, the participant should have that person sign his/her sheet of paper. The first person to get all tasks complete win. Get someone to do five pushups – Stand on one foot with your arms outstretched for twenty seconds – Leap frog over someone five times – Get someone to whisper the Pledge of Allegiance – Play “Ring around the Rosy” with two other people – Get someone to recite a nursery rhyme – Shake hands with someone and discuss the merits of your favorite ice cream flavor for at least 1 minute – Have someone teach you a dance/dance step. Feel free to add your own!
  • Find Someone With X and Talk about Y Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Activity Level: Low/Moderate Create a worksheet for your participants with two columns: “Find someone with X” and “Talk about Y.” Be as creative & purposeful with the columns as you’d like, depending on the needs and size of your group. Here is a sample: Find someone with X Talk about Y Same birthday month Summer vacation Same eye color Favorite food Similar size of hometown Fun things this group can do Same favorite color How to reduce stress Body Hide Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Activity Level: Moderate Excellent exercise to get to know each other, and to learn to trust and touch each other. Get 5 volunteers; 4 of these must try and hide the fifth person, using nothing but their bodies. The other students stand around the group and try and see pieces of the fifth's clothes, shoes, skin. The other students watch/ try and find uncovered pieces of person. Don't tell them they go next, with one person less. Zip, Zap, Zop Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low/Moderate Stand in a circle. Someone begins by pointing to another person in the circle and saying "ZIP!" That person then points to yet another person and says "ZAP!" That person points to another person and says "ZOP!" This continues, but the words must be said in order: ZIP, ZAP, ZOP. If someone makes a mistake and says a word out of order, that person is out of the game The M & M Game Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Activity Level: Low Pass a bag of M & M’s around the circle and ask everyone to take as many as they think they need. (Request that no one eats their M & M’s before receiving all of the instructions!) After the bag has made its way around the circle, ask each participant to share one thing about themselves for every M & M they have taken. This game can also be done with toilet paper! Partner Interview Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Activity Level: Low Ask participants to pair up with someone in the group that they do not know. This includes facilitators. The task is to interview their partner and find out as many unique things about him or her as possible. Once the pairs are through interviewing, they come back to the group and introduce their partner with the knowledge they have gained. (Taking notes is an option, but doesn’t make the game as much fun!)
  • Eye Contact Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Standing in a circle, have everyone look down. On a certain cue have everyone look up at a specific person. If you make eye contact with someone you must take a step back from the circle. If you do not make eye contact with the person you are still in the game. The game continues until two people remain. Psychic Ten Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Sitting in a group, with eyes closed, try to count to 10. Only one person in the group can speak at a time, if more than one speaks, the group must start over again. Name Crostics Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate Give a piece of paper to every participant and ask them to write their name in the middle of the paper about a half an inch high. When given the signal, the participants should move around the room, attaching their names to their name if the letters fit (like a crossword puzzle). The person who is able to attach the most names is the winner. Balloon/Ball Game Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low/Moderate Pass a beach ball/balloon around the circle and have everyone write one or two questions on it (depending on the size of the group and the ball.) Once it is complete, pass the ball around the circle. The person who catches it must answer the question nearest to his/her right thumb. Option: create your own “question ball/balloon” & provide it to the participants. The Cold Wind Blows Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate/High All players but one sitting a circle, one person in the middle. The person in the middle calls out a category or some descriptive that applies to that person, and at least one other person in the middle. (i.e “The cold wind blows on anyone who likes the color yellow.”) When called, if a player matches the description must leave his/her chair and find another chair. The person that doesn't find a chair becomes the next in the middle. Note: the things shared in the middle can be as lighthearted or deep as the group is comfortable. Human Dragon Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: High Divide your team into 4 teams of 6-8 individuals. You can have odd numbers or vary the length of the "dragon" depending on the skill, size and ability of your athletes. Each team designates the "head" person and the "tail " section of the Human Dragon. All other team members fill in behind the head of the dragon by holding on to the person in front of them at the waist. The goal of the activity is to have the head of each dragon attempt to tag the tail of any other dragon team. Only heads of the dragon can do the tagging because all other team members must remain connected (with two hands) to their teammates. Players attempt to avoid having their team's tail be tagged and skillfully attempt to shield their tail from other dragons on the prowl.
  • Money Madne$$ Estimated Time: 15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: High The moderator needs a whistle and follows the sequence on the paper. Each person gets $3000 to start the game. Tell the participants that every time they hear the whistle they have to throw a $1000 in the air. If you get it back, great, if not, someone else gets it. Special Note: Each participant gets one free exchange of money during the game. If they get down to only a $1000 they may ask someone else for a $1000. If you get asked for a $1000 you must hand it over. But you only may do this once during the game, so do it sparingly. Listed below are some ideas, feel free to make up your own: o Find someone of the same sex. Add up the letters of your first, middle, and last name. The competitor with the longest name wins $1000 from the loser. o Find someone with glasses on, or contacts. Say “AHH” together until one person runs out of breath. Whoever can say “ahh” the longest wins $1000 from the loser. o Find anyone you don’t know. Both of you start singing the National Anthem one word at a time alternating between both of you. The first person to make a mistake gives $1000 to the other person. o Find someone that looks like you. Play the game “Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish…” (You know the game you all played when you were young to decide who was it first.) The loser of the game has to give the winner $1000. o Find someone who has the same color hair as you do. Both of you empty your front two pockets. Whoever has the most junk in them has to give the other person $1000. o Find someone who is the same heights as you. They must switch money with you! Group Juggling Estimated Time: 15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Activity Level: Low/Moderate Create a group of 5-7; meanwhile, have available enough comparatively soft, throwable objects (nerf balls, softies, beanbags, tennis balls) so that there are a few more than one per person. Have the group stand in a circle facing one another and so that the circle’s diameter is no more than 12-15 feet. One person in a group of six keeps the throwable objects nearby and lobs one of them to a person across the circle. That person lobs the ball to a person opposite from him/her and this continues until a person-to-person sequence is set. Do no throw to the person next to you. Once everyone knows whom to throw to and receive from, the initiator starts the ball again, but this time includes another ball and eventually another until there are six balls being kept aloft simultaneously. Try reversing the sequence; i.e., throwing to the person you formerly received from and/or juggle the same amount of objects as there are people in the group (i.e. 6 people, 6 objects.) Guess It Estimated Time: 15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: High This is good activity for large groups. The facilitator explains that s/he is going to mention a few things about him/her and then make a guess as to how many of the participants have any of those things in common. The participants should raise their hands if the statement applies. For example, the facilitator might say, “I like the color purple. I guess that 10 of you will also like the color purple.” The participants then raise their hands. This activity allows the participants to get a sense of commonalities. Option: if the facilitator gets it right (or very close, depending on the size of the group,) bring someone else to the front to share & guess. Also: the facilitator can write his/her guess on a piece of paper, rather than saying it aloud.
  • Two Truths and a Lie (with a small twist) Estimated Time: 15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Each team member writes 2 true facts and one lie on a card. The facilitator collects the cards and reads them aloud. The team members try to first guess who wrote the “facts” on the card, and then decide which fact is the lie. Tic Tac Toe Estimated Time: 15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low/Moderate You need nine chairs set up in three rows. Divide the team into two groups: X's and O's. Just like in regular tic-tac- toe, the X's and O's alternate, except they sit in the chairs instead of drawing it out on paper. Ask a question of your choosing (could be about anything,) the first team to answer correctly gets to send a representative to a chair. The first team to get three in a row, diagonally, vertically or horizontally, wins. Recommendation: use some sort of buzzer to aid in the answering of questions. Card Triangles Estimated Time: 15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Before the activity, get a deck of playing cards and cut the cards in half diagonally, then in half diagonally again, so each card is now in four triangle quarters. Mix all the pieces well, and place an equal number of pieces in the same number of envelopes as you will have groups. Divide the participants into teams of approximately three or four. Give each team an envelope containing playing card triangles. Tell the teams that they have only pieces of their cards, and that the other teams have the other pieces. Tell them that in a minute, you will open bartering and teams will be allowed to trade with each other to get the pieces that they are missing. Give the teams 3 minutes to examine and sort out their pieces, and to plan their strategy for bartering. Open the bartering. Everyone participates by bartering for the pieces their team needs. They may barter individually or as a team. Allow 8 minutes for bartering. Count the teams’ completed cards, and announce the winning team (optional). Debrief the activity using these sample questions (optional): How willing were others to trade with you? What negotiation tactics were most successful for you? (Seeing what they wanted and offering that; Being aggressive; Being a nice guy; etc.) How did your strategy change during play? Why? What other skills did you have to draw on to be successful? (Listening; Empathy; Giving a personal touch; Creative problem solving; etc.) In what situations do we find ourselves for negotiating for time, information, or resources? Rock-Paper-Scissors Tag Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: High Form two groups. During each turn, a team must decide whether they are “rock, paper, or scissors”. The teams face each other, and on the count of three shows either rock, paper, scissors. The one who wins chases the other team. If the chased team member gets caught before they reach a designated home base, s/he becomes part of the other team.
  • Rock- Paper-Scissors Cheering Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Have everyone pair up and get ready for a good match of paper rock scissors; specify single elimination or best of 3 (depending on time allotted) Here's the catch: The loser becomes the victors most ardent cheerleader. If Frank beats Charlie, Charlie follows Frank around for the following rounds cheering his name. Every time a participant wins, s/he also win over that individual's cheerleaders. In other words, say one person has won a few rounds and has 5 cheerleaders, but then s/he loses – s/he and all of his/her cheerleaders follow the new winner. Wallet/Purse/Backpack Scavenger Hunt Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Participants should form smaller groups of 2-3 people. Each participant is asked to take out 4 items from a wallet/purse/backpack. Each must fit into one of these categories: The most worthless item, the most priceless item, the most revealing item, the most memorable item. The members of the group share with each other. The facilitator reconvenes the whole group and asks the following questions: What did you learn about your partners? What did you learn about your partners’ values? ABC Scavenger Hunt Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Members are asked to get out their wallets, purses, backpacks, and as a group try to find at least one item that begins with each individual letter of the alphabet. One and Only Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Give players file cards and pencils and ask them to write descriptions of themselves. The descriptions must point out their unique qualities, experiences, or accomplishments — the things that make them unlike any other person in the group. It’s better to describe personality than physical appearance. Players should not sign their names. Collect file cards and shuffle them. Players form a circle and sit on the floor. File cards are passed out. If a player receives his or her own card, players close their eyes and switch cards. One by one, players read the cards they are holding. After each reading, the group tries to guess who wrote it. The goal is to try to guess as quickly as possible the identity of the unique person. Design, Run, Build Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Break the large group into smaller groups of three. Give each of the three people a different role: the architect, the runner, and the builder. The architect and the builder should be far enough away from each other so they cannot see each other. Give each group two sets of building materials (of the facilitator’s choosing, legos are probably easiest.) Have the architect build something with the legos (the facilitator can choose to pre-design something, or have the architect create something on his/her own.) The ultimate goal is to have the builder build the exact same object, without ever having seen it. The runner is the only communicator between the architect and the builder, and must somehow communicate the design. Options: the runner must stay a certain amount away from the architect and/or the builder while communicating, the runner is the only one who can speak, etc.)
  • Anything You Can Do Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Have each person introduce themselves and then state something they have done that they think no one else in the class has done. If someone else has also done it, the student must state something else until he/she finds something that no one else has done. Optional: have participants stand in a circle. As they state what makes them unique, have them step forward. If the statement applies to anyone else, those people also step forward. Continue saying unique things until no one else steps forward when you do. 20 Questions Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low/Moderate Create a deck of index cards (or half sheets of paper,) each with one person written on it. These people can be characters from cartoons, literature, sports, current events, history, etc – so long as they are fairly well known. Tape one index card to the back of each participant. Have the participants ask yes or no questions to the other people in the group to determine their particular character. Puzzlemaker Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Cut poster board into enough pieces so each participant can have a piece. All each member to decorate their puzzle piece to represent themselves. When everyone has finished, the participants need to figure out how to put the puzzle together. Discuss how the community/team is made up of unique individuals, though everyone fits together, too. Ball of String Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low While standing in a circle; pass a ball of string from one member to another; only the person with the string can talk. After everyone has had their turn to speak and share their feelings, there will be a web of string. This web illustrates the interconnected nature of group process. Everything they do and say affects the team. Option: toss a balloon in the middle and have them try to keep it in the air without anyone touching it. The Blind Draw Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Divide the group into smaller groups of 2: one drawer and one communicator in each pair. The communicators will sit facing the facilitator, the drawers will sit with their backs to the facilitator/communicators. The facilitator creates a drawing large enough for all communicators to see; once this occurs, the communicators must tell the drawers (using only words) what they see, and how to imitate the drawing from the facilitator. The drawers may not talk to other drawers or to their communicators. Give the participants 5 minutes. Compare drawings, then switch. Once this swap has occurred, process the activity.
  • Towers Estimated Time: 25-30 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Low/Moderate Provide each group (4-5 people) with a variety of building supplies of your choosing – legos, building blocks, straws & tape, sticks, paper, marshmallows & toothpicks, etc. Task each group with the following: Your group is charged with construction of a freestanding tower of any shape or size using only the provided building materials. The company you own won an invitation to build a small scale tower to prove that your architects and builders can do it for the least cost and the highest profit. The goal: to build the largest tower with the given supplies. Options: participants can only talk for the first 5 minutes, or not at all, or try something fun: no one can speak while touching the building materials. Also try giving participants 10 minutes to work on their project and then having them switch to a new tower. Also try giving different supplies to different groups. Common Threads Estimated Time: 25-30 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Divide large group into smaller groups (2-3 people.) Instruct each group to find 10 things they all have in common. Challenge them to think creatively and lay ground rules of your choice (cannot list going to the same school, being in the same building, etc.) Once the small groups have finished, pair up two smaller groups to create larger groups and challenge those groups to find 10 items. If you’re daring enough, eventually have the entire group find 10 things in common. Speed Dating Estimated Time: 25-30 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Low/Moderate Give each person a paper plate. Have them draw a face of a clock on their plate with a line next to each number. Then have participants walk around and find a “date” for each hour, writing their name by the hour. Participants cannot make a date with the same person twice, or meet more than one person per hour. (For fewer participants, meet every other hour or every 3rd hour, whatever fits your group.) After everyone has made their dates, speed up time and allow 1-3 minutes per “hour.” The facilitator will call out the first “date hour” – participants will find their “date” – the facilitator will ask a question that the participants will have to answer to/with each other: what’s your favorite vacation spot – where’s your hometown – what do you like most about your job – any questions that fit with the group!
  • Intermediate Activities Greetings Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate All participants start milling about the room. You then ask them to greet each other, perhaps just by shaking hands. Participants just shake hands, move on, and greet the next player they meet. Then ask the players to greet each other in a more specific way. A few possibilities: o greet each other like you greet a long lost friend o greet someone you don't really trust o greet an ex-lover o greet someone you really hate o someone you have a secret crush on o someone you had a one-night stand with o someone that sold you a crappy used car o someone with bad breath o greet someone like you are a cowboy, a soldier, etc. Choices Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate Ask members to stand in the middle of the room and have them move to either side to indicate their choice between “this” or “that.” Some examples: Are you more like a Cadillac or a Volkswagen? - More of a saver or a spender? - More like a dog or a cat? - More yes or no? - More like a student or a teacher? - More here or there? - More religious or non-religious? - More like the present or the future? - More like a file cabinet or a game closet? - More intuitive or rational? - More like a tortoise or a hare? - More like an electric typewriter or a quill pen? - More like a roller skate or a pogo stick? - More like a bubbling brook or a placid lake? - More like a gourmet restaurant or a McDonald's? East or west coast? Design a car or build one? Jeans or khakis? Morning or night? Love or money? Listen or speak? Bat or baseball? Options: you can center the questions around a theme, or ask random. You can also ask participants to call out their own “questions.” Lap Sit Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate A group of players form a tight circle, standing shoulder to shoulder, and then everyone turns to their right (or left). Each person holds the waist of the one directly in front of him/her, everyone takes one side step toward the center of the circle to tighten it. The players then try to sit on the knees (not the thighs) of the player behind them, creating a sitting circle. The real fun of the game starts after the sitting circle has been formed, by using a variety of collective actions suggested and attempted by the players: holding arms out to the side, clapping three times, touching the ground outside the circle, taking three steps backwards. This last task usually leaves the entire group in a cheerful heap on the floor. It is possible to get whole schools in a single circle, but the stepping challenge becomes much more difficult. Regardless of who wins, the players or gravity, it’s a wonderful way to bring a group together to end a session.
  • What’s Our Logo Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Allow your group to select a group name and then ask the group to develop a logo that will portray who and what they are to the other event’s groups Group Values Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Ask team members to individually come up with the values of the group. Then break into small groups. Give each group newsprint and markers, and ask them to draw a picture that might be used in a magazine or newspaper to advertise your group . . . focusing on the values. Ask groups to share their ads with the larger team. Process the activity by asking the group to discuss recurring themes or possible contradictions. You may choose to use this activity to develop an agreed-upon set of values and expectations that will guide the team’s work. The Target Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low One participant volunteers to be the first Target. Everyone else writes one thing about the Target on a slip of paper or index card. It can be a compliment or a little tid bit about the Target. The facilitator collects the statements. Randomly select one to read aloud (i.e. “Someone says you are obsessed with Ringo Starr!” or “Someone called you a good listener.”). The Target gets one chance to guess who wrote it. If the Target guesses incorrectly, read another random statement. Each time a statement is read, the Target has one chance to guess its author. Play continues until the Target can correctly identify the source of a particular statement. When the Target correctly identifies the author, the author becomes the next Target, and another round begins from step 2. Mr. Potato Head Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Blindfold one participant and have the remaining participants tell him/her how to assemble the Mr. Potato Head. It is up to the facilitator to decide if there is a “right” way to assemble the Potato Head, or if all members simply have to agree on its assembly. The Protector Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Low This exercise is a variation of Dodgeball designed to enhance cooperation and provide an experience of a dependent versus a protector. This should not be attempted until there is a base level of trust. The group forms a circle around two volunteers who start by standing in the center. Present a large foam ball, explain that the group working together is to tag one of the two people in the center (who will be identified as “it”). They are to tag “it” by throwing the ball and hitting “it” below the knees. The other center person will be “it’s” protector, and this person is to try to stop the group from hitting “it.” When “it” is tagged, he/she joins the group, or switches roles with the protector (depending on whether he/she needs a rest). Give everyone, if possible, an opportunity to play both roles. Discussion questions: What was the difference between the two roles? What was similar between the two roles? Does anyone find him/herself in these roles in their lives?
  • Become/Charades Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate This one can be player with all players at a time, or you can ask the group to watch as players come up with different ideas on how to do this. Ask the players to become different objects. For example: A jar of mayonnaise, a pack of cigarettes, dentures, etc. At first, this will probably not lead too much. Add side coaching’s, like: You are a jar of mayonnaise. Opened or not? Full or empty? Fresh or not? Show it; You are a pack of smokes. Empty or full? Filter cigarettes or not? Where are you? In someone's pocket or on a shelf in a shop? Show it; You are a flower. What kind of flower? Blooming or not? In a vase or in a field? What color? Freshly picked or not? A present to a lover or at a funeral?; You are a clock. Big Ben or grandfather clock? Working or not. Is your time right or not? A watch? Who is wearing you? How could you show that?; You are French fries. McDonalds or Wendy's? Hot or cold? Any ketchup? On a plate or in a cardboard box? Eaten or not? Yummy or yuck? After a while, players should be able to come up with the side coaching’s for themselves. Encourage the players to try out different kind of items of their own choosing or that of the audience, see what participants come up with. The Farmer and the River Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate/High Break your group into smaller groups of four. In each group of four, the members must decide who will play the following roles — farmer, chicken, fox and bag of grain. Once the roles are established, each group of four has to figure out the following problem: The farmer has to get the fox, the chicken and the bag of grain across a wide, deep river in a rowboat which will only hold two at a time. However, if he leaves the fox alone with the chicken, the fox will feast, and likewise, the chicken would eat the grain if left behind unattended. There are no trick answers. (For the sake of any facilitator who does not have the answer, the farmer must take the chicken over, come back for the fox, take the fox across and bring the chicken back, take the grain across to the fox, then come back again for the chicken!) One Line Scene Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Play a one or two minute scene, where only one line of dialog can be spoken. As the facilitator, you can come up with your own scene suggestions, or rely on the creativity of your group. You can also decide if you will provide the one line that can be spoken, or leave it to the participants. Indicate to the participants when they have around 30 seconds left. This exercise teaches participants what can be communicated using non-verbal communication. Things like, 'thank you', 'I love you', 'I appreciate this', 'I'm sorry" and so forth can all be communicated non-verbally. Encouragement Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Have a piece of paper for every participant with one name on each page. The participants sit in a circle. Everyone has 30 seconds to write one positive thing on each participants sheet (30 seconds per sheet, then pass them). At the end, each participant goes home with a sheet with many encouraging statements. A variation of this game is to have each participant have his/her own paper taped to his/her back.
  • You’re Fired Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Break the group up into partners, and number each either a 1 or 2. Follow the script below – do not change it: o (1) {Knocks on a door} o (2) Come in. You know why I called you? o {Indicates s/he does not know why} o {Hands 1 a (mimed) piece of paper} o I thought you wouldn't take that into account? o You're fired. o Fine. I hated that stupid job anyway. Once they’ve done the scene for the first time, have them replay the scene, but give them a side coaching. Watch how the scene adapts when: o You're nervous/ happy/ sad/ afraid of the other o The other smells nice/stinks o You've been eating beans/garlic o You turn into a crow/monkey/cow o You are in a wheelchair o You try to make a pass at the other o Your underwear doesn't quite fit (too small) o You are a bit deaf, you can't find your glasses, you lose a contact, lose your dentures o You are a kleptomaniac Options: Only have one set of partners do this at a time, or only give instructions to one person of the pair (so the other can’t hear.) Discuss verbal/non-verbal communication. Tarp Flip Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small Group Activity Level: Moderate Layout a tarp on the ground and have all team members stand on it. The smaller the tarp the more challenging the exercise! No Tarp? Use taped together newspaper sheets - the fragile paper makes the challenge even more interesting! While standing on top of a completely open tarp, the group must create a plan to get everyone on the opposite side of the tarp without anyone stepping off. The size of the tarp should be defined by the number of individuals in the group. Minefield Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Moderate Have group discuss things that are detrimental to functioning as a group. For each characteristic/action, throw an object into the playing space, the "minefield." Have group choose partners. One partner is blindfolded at one end of field. The non-blindfolded partners stand at the opposite end of the field and try to talk their partners through the minefield without running into any of the obstacles.
  • Airport Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Medium/Large Group Activity Level: Moderate When large airliners land, they use radar and complicated instruments rather than relying only on the vision of the pilot. In this activity, players rely on senses other than sight. Divide the group into pairs. One person becomes the “pilot” while the other partner is the “air traffic controller.” One pair sets up to “run the course.” The rest of the players become the runway by forming two lines about eight feet apart with the lines facing each other. Use objects you find in the room (or ones you supply,) such as chairs, books, boxes, shoes and so on, as obstacles on the “runway.” Be careful not to use objects that will be harmful if stepped on or bumped into. The air traffic controller stands at one end of the runway. The pilot is blindfolded and stands at the opposite end. The controller verbally guides the pilot down the runway so that the pilot avoids obstacles and the people on either side. Walk a Mile in My Shoes Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Provide each participant an outline of a shoe, and ask them to decorate it in any way they’d like. When everyone’s decorated their shoes, ask them to write down a key word or phrase in response to the following questions somewhere on their shoe (or ask your own!) Eventually discuss these as a group: o What do I like to dig my heels into? o What causes knots in my stomach?/ What ties me in knots? o Who keeps me on my toes? o Who provides me the most support? o When was the last time you felt defeated? o What are you always running to/towards? o Where do you go to soul-search? (Options: provide different “types” of shoes in outlines: boots, flip flops, sneakers, dress shoes, slippers, etc. – have the participants select whatever type they’d like, and have them explain their choice.) Emergency Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Read each of the following problems to the group, and ask each student to come up with a solution. After a few minutes ask them to share their ideas in turn, giving anyone the right to pass. If the group is too large, then split into more manageable groups. It is often fun to ask the participants if they would change any of their ideas after they have heard what others have to say. The facilitator should also participate. o You have just been notified that the dam behind the town where you live has been badly damaged by lightning. The town must be evacuated. (Your family and pets are safe, but your family has no household insurance.) What would you take? o Your group has decided to complete a 30 mile hike in one day. It is now late at night and raining. You are hungry, cold, tired and almost there. Suddenly your best friend whispers, “I’m not going any further and I don’t care.” Your friend falls down and just lies there. Somehow the other kids sense it’s a fake and start cursing. You think they might get violent in a minute. What would you do? o In a long range test of human survival, you have volunteered to spend the next ten years of your life in an isolated arctic outpost. For your efforts you will be well paid and become famous. All your needs for food, warm clothing and shelter will be met. You ill also have TV, radio and movies available. You may take with you a single crate of personal possessions not to exceed 100 pounds (animals and people excluded). What would you take? o In an energy crisis, you have been instructed to eliminate the ten least useful appliances in your house (irons, dishwasher, clocks, TV’s, etc. are included). List in order of least usefulness the things your family would do without.
  • Advanced Activities Improve This Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Ask the group to look around at the current seating arrangement. Announce to the group that they have exactly 60 seconds to improve their seating arrangement. Do not give any further instruction. Look at a clock and tell them to begin… Now! If the participants ask for clarification, simply repeat your original instructions. If they directly as for clarification, say, “You determine for yourself what ‘improve’ means. You are all adults. It seems pretty obvious.” During reflection, make sure to note this. Stop the activity after 60 seconds and debrief the activity using these sample questions (optional): Did you meet your objective? (Yes, because I am closer to the window; No, because I’m not sure what the objective was; Not sure; etc.) What was your objective? Was it clear? (If they think it was clear, ask them to define “improve,” and then show how it could have meant to get more people up front, or to get in a better circle, or to sit boy-girl-boy-girl, etc., to show there were assumptions made). Did you seek clarification? Why not? What happened when you tried? How does this situation relate to everyday life? (We often try to accomplish things when we are not clear on the real goal or the specific criteria for success; We often don’t ask for clarification, and if we do, we don’t press until we get what we truly need to succeed; etc.) What can we do to prevent this kind of thing from happening? Blame Game Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Participants form a circle (standing). The facilitator begins by pointing to someone else in the circle. S/he should keep pointing while that participant points to someone else and keeps pointing. This should continue until everyone is pointing at someone else (the last participant points at the original facilitator). Everybody can lower their hands, but they should continue to look at the person they pointed to. This person is your “Idol.” Explain that when the activity begins, the objective will be to watch your Idol closely and copy his or her every action. Now ask the group to stand perfectly still. No one may move unless his or her Idol does. And if his or her Idol moves (twitches, coughs, blinks, etc.), he or she is to mimic that movement exactly and then be still again. Begin the activity and play for several minutes. Pause the activity. Designate one participant as “where the buck stops.” When movement starts and moves around the group, that participant will NOT repeat it. Restart the activity and play for several minutes. Options: secretly designate someone to move on purpose every once in a while. Debrief the activity using these sample questions (optional): We were supposed to stand still – What happened? (Expect some participants immediately to start blaming their Idol for moving) - Who knows who started the movement? (Allow for some accusations; inevitably it will be difficult or impossible to pinpoint who really started each movement.) - How much does it matter who started it, once it got started? - How much energy do we spend looking for scapegoats in life?- How are we to blame for perpetuating certain behaviors that eventually become team norms? What examples of this do we have?
  • Leadership Values Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Explain that it is important that leaders clarify their own sense of leadership values. Ask participants to reflect upon the values that define their role as a leader? Then ask participant to individually circle five values listed below that best complete the following sentence: " _________________ is a ‘cornerstone’ in my approach to leadership." These words listed are a springboard, feel free to add your own: ACHIEVEMENT, ADVENTURE, CHALLENGE, CONTROL, CREATIVITY, BALANCE, FAIRNESS, FREEDOM, HAPPINESS, HARD WORK, HONESTY, HARMONY, INVOLVEMENT, ORDER, AFFECTION, COMFORT, CONFORMITY, COOPERATION, DIRECTNESS, EXPERTNESS, FLEXIBILITY, FRIENDSHIP, HELPFULNESS, INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY, LEADERSHIP, MORALITY/ETHICS, LOYALTY, PREDICTABILITY, RESPONSIBILITY, RESPONSIVENESS, PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, POWER, RECOGNITION, RISK, SELF- RESPECT, VARIETY, SECURITY, TRADITION, TRUST, WISDOM I can’t vs. I won’t Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Have the participants make a list of “I can’t...” statements. Ask them to consider their school life, social life, home life, etc., as possible areas from which to draw these statements. They should have at least 15 items on the list. Once their list is complete, they should choose a partner. Both partners will take turns saying aloud their “I can’t...” statements, with appropriate feeling. Once all pairs are finished, ask them to go back and say their statements out loud with one correction. This time they will substitute the words “I won’t...” for “I can’t...”. Explain that this may feel funny at first, but each person should try to use the same amount of feeling on the “I won’t...” statements. Bring the group back together and discuss the difference between “can’t” and “won’t.” Are the “I can’t” statements really statements of something impossible, or are they statements of something possible that they simply refuse to do? Discuss the need for people to be aware of their power of refusal. “I can’t” implies being unable, crippled and controlled from the outside. “I won’t” affirms the responsibility for their actions. Often this reaffirmation of responsibility even leads to the transformation of an “I cant” to an “I will.” After you have used this exercise in group, make a habit of correcting people who say “I can’t.” Ask them to repeat whatever they have said with the words “I won’t.” Chairs Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Collaboration Versus Competition: This is a visual way of helping groups see how collaboration and competition affect group goal accomplishment. This is a silent activity, so there should be no talking. Divide the group into two smaller groups. Ask one group to arrange the chairs into rows, and ask the other group to arrange the chairs into a circle. Watch them set off to do their task. In the end, the group either competes within itself or finds a way to collaborate to form the chairs into rows, a circle or a new form. Process this for the experience and for the deeper meaning. Discover Your Character Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low This activity works best with teams/groups wherein the members have worked together for awhile. The facilitator creates any set of characters (TV shows, movies, cartoons, etc) and prints out a description for each one. Be sure to include at least as many characters as there are people in your team/group (ie. 10 group members = at least 10 characters.) Distribute the character set to each participant. Participants should first identify which character best fits their own personality, and then continue to “assign” each team member to a different character in the set. Once each person has done this individually, have the group come to a consensus. Be sure that everyone explains their choices, especially for the character they picked as their own.
  • Leadership Swap Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Sometimes it is helpful to allow the participants to have some time just to swap leadership examples. In short they have some time to portray their own leadership style by giving examples. This activity is a structured leadership example exchange. Divide the group into smaller sections of 2 or 3. From the list of "situations" below, instruct the groups to take turns giving examples of something they have done or witnessed. In addition to those listed below, you may want the groups to identify their own Leadership Situations: o A creative twist on a situation or issue. o A clever improvisation--"dancing on your feet" o A pleasant surprise o An Aha moment o Something that generated a great deal of excitement o A conflict resolved o A breakthrough insight or solution o A really tough situation o A blindside experience o A moving (emotional) situation Brown Bag Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Give each participant a brown paper bag (lunch bag size will do.) Ask each participant to decorate the outside of his/her bag with words/phrases/pictures describing his/her personality. Everything on the outside should be either something that is visible to others or something that person doesn’t mind sharing with almost anyone. Participants should then place three objects/items/pictures inside the bag that they do not typically share. Break up the participants in groups of 2 or three and have them discuss their bags. Then ask the participants to come back to the larger group and share at least one item from the outside and inside of their bags. Note: this activity is best done if the facilitator gives the participants significant time to complete the bags (i.e. introduce the activity one day, and then share everything the next day.) Masks Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Participants are given a piece of paper (preferably poster board.) They are asked to cut out a face shape (like the size of a regular face.) They can cut out eyes/mouth if they want. Participants are then asked to decorate the face: one side represents what they feel people see/know/believe about them, and the other side represents what s/he feels about her/himself (things going on inside, what people do not necessarily know or see.) Participants share what they feel comfortable sharing.
  • Trapped Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low This exercise can bring about some lively conversation. It can be used as a tool in working toward improvisation, decision-making and creativity. The group is told they are trapped in a hut in the middle of a large forest, food is pretty much gone and to stay there would probably mean that they would perish. To reach safety, they will need to overcome the following obstacles: o Break out of thick walled hut. o Climb over a 20 foot smooth barricade. o Negotiate an intense barbed wire fence. o Cross a treacherous, murky river. o Travel through an entangled, deep tropical forest. o Cross a malarial swamp. The group is to decide on three things that would be useful to their escape. They will have nothing else at their disposal. The group cannot use things like helicopters or magical devices like laser guns. Heart Transplant Estimated Time: 20-30 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Give each member of the group the following situation (It is best if you write the information down on a sheet of paper.) You are a member of a surgical team at the World's Greatest Hospital. All the patients listed below must receive a heart transplant TODAY or else they will die. There are only two hearts available and you must decide, from the list, which two patients will be heart donor-recipients. o A Seventy-year old Female U.S. Senator credited with creating and protecting the nation's first National Health Plan. o A Hispanic ex-offender who is very successful drug dealer. His "business" allows him to hire community youth, support his extended family of fifteen, and be perceived by community as a leader. o An African-American Vietnam veteran an amputee who created a national training program for people with disabilities. He is under investigation for possible embezzlement of program funds to support a known gambling addiction. o A white fifteen-year-old female tested intellectually “gifted.” She is on drugs and supports her habit through prostitution. o A scientist/researcher who is known to be closely associated with a white supremacist group and is very close discovering a cure for aids. o Ex-Roman Catholic priest who works with small children in a day-care center. He is a homosexual and a strong gay-rights advocate. His lover recently tested positive for HIV. o Tell the individual members to come up with a solution. Once all participants have come up with their own solution, ask them to pair with a partner and agree on a solution. Once this has occurred, have the group come together and compromise a solution. All members must agree! Once participants have come up with their own answer, break them into groups of 2-3 people and have them reach consensus. Once those smaller groups have compromised to one final set, ask the whole group to do the same. Optional: To give the activity a personal feel, secretly designate one person as each “character” in your group. After your group has decided on the two people they will save, have each “character” plead for the heart one at a time. After the group has heard all of the pleas, ask if they’d like to change their choice(s).
  • The Lifeboat Estimated Time: 20-30 minutes Audience: Small/Medium Group Activity Level: Low Give each member of the group the following situation (It is best if you write the information down on a sheet of paper.) You and your partners together form the “lifeboat committee.” There are six people on a sinking ship. You will have to decide which two of the following six people will be allowed to get on a lifeboat to safety. The rest will drown. o A fifteen year old who is a prostitute in order to buy drugs. The teenager’s most recent aptitude test showed this person is academically gifted with an astronomically high IQ. o A male, African-American Vietnam veteran who is paralyzed from the waist down. He works for the government and has come up with a successful work program for veterans. He and his department are under scrutiny for embezzlement. o A doctor who is extremely close to finding a cure for cancer. The doctor is a prominent, proud member of several neo-nazi and skin-head organizations, as well as the American Nazi party. o A middle-aged Latina-American woman who sells heroin. She supports her family through her drug sales, including four nieces and nephews who are in college. No one in her family is aware she is a drug dealer. o A gay ex-priest who runs an inner-city day care facility. His partner recently tested AIDS positive after years of being only positive for HIV. o A Caucasian woman who is a special education teacher at the local high school. She is four months pregnant, and allegations have come out that the father of the child is a 15 year old student. She is highly respected by her peers in her work with the special education population. Once participants have come up with their own answer, break them into groups of 2-3 people and have them reach consensus. Once those smaller groups have compromised to one final set, ask the whole group to do the same. Optional: To give the activity a personal feel, secretly designate one person as each “character” in your group. After your group has decided on the two people they will save, have each “character” plead for the heart one at a time. After the group has heard all of the pleas, ask if they’d like to change their choice(s).