This is a fun activity used as an energizer for the group. Ask the group to find a partner to challenge in an alphabet race. When the facilitator yells “sparkles” (isn’t sparkles much more fun to say than go?), the partners will trace out each letter of the alphabet with their index finger. The first participant to trace the alphabet (A-Z) will win and then move on to play another member of the group.
After a few rounds, feel free to ask the participants to cooperatively spell out the alphabet in unison. It is challenging and creates a paradigm shift within the activity.
This activity is very similar to the one Mark Collard explains in this video:
Keep playing until the group wears out their arms (usually a couple of rounds will do).
Founder, Paradigm Shift
Every once in a while, I like to reach way back into my game bag and pull out some classic activities that have been tried and tested with thousands of groups over the past few decades. Nothing describes “classic” as much as Group Line Up.
I’m sure you have done this one before, either as a participant or a facilitator, and you know that it is both fun and challenging. You can ask a group to line up as quickly as possible, without talking, without using their hands, and even with their eyes closed (be sure to have built a sincere level of trust before attempting this one). Depending on how much time you have, you can even sequence these line-ups from easiest to hardest to develop a sense of community and learning within the group. Be sure to use as much space available and have loads of fun playing.
Below you will find 101 different ways to line up a group. Most of these we picked up along the way, either playing, facilitating, or improvising.
101 Ways to Line Up a Group
1. By First Name
2. By Last Name
3. By Middle Name
4. By Initials
5. By City Born
6. By Grandmother’s First Name
7. By State/Country Born
8. By High School Mascot
9. By Favorite Food
10. By Height
11. Color of Hair (Lightest to Darkest)
12. Color of Shirt (Lightest to Darkest)
13. By Shoe Size (Smallest to Largest)
14. Smile Size
15. Length of Time at their Job/Organization/School/Church
16. Size of Thumb
17. Hand Size
18. Eye Color (Lightest – Darkest)
19. Who Lives Furthest Away From the Room (Closest-Furthest Away)
20. Length of Hair (Longest – Shortest)
21. Length of Nose
22. Length of Commute Time
23. Straightest Hair to Curliest Hair
24. How High You Can Jump
25. Arm Length
26. Who Can Reach The Highest
27. Wing Span
28. Distance from Thumb to Pinky
29. Size of Big Toe
30. Rank of Embarrassing Moment
31. Ear Size
32. Foot Width
33. Ring Finger Size
34. Size of Head
35. Average Time Getting Ready
36. Length of Tongue
37. The Furthest You Have Traveled From Home
38. Amount of Facial Hair (Most to Least)
39. Year of When Your First Vehicle Owned was Manufactured
40. Year Your House was Built
41. Birth date (From Youngest – Oldest)
42. Month They Were Born (Jan-Dec)
43. Birth Order (First, Second, Third, Etc.)
Deck of Cards
44. Alphabetically (Ace of Clubs – Two of Spades)
45. Deck Order (Two – Ace for each Suit)
46. By Suit (Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades)
47. Number of Letters in Each Number (Two has three letters, so it will come before five, which has four letters)
48. Alphabetically by Number (1-12 = Eight, Eleven, Five, Four, Nine, One, Seven, Six, Ten, Three, Twelve, Two)
49. Lowest to Highest (1-infinity)
50. By Cell Phone Number
51. Zip Code
52. Mailing Address Number
53. Likert Scale (1-10)
54. Area Code
55. Number of Letters in Full Name
56. Number of Children
57. Number of First Cousins
58. Salary – Lowest to Highest (Play this one Carefully)
59. Number of Books Read This Year
60. Number of Countries Visited
61. Number of States Visited
62. Number of Times You Have Moved
63. Number of People in Your Immediate Family
64. Number of Total Roommates
65. Number of Pets You Have Owned/Own
66. Number of Pieces of Jewelry You Have On
67. Number of DVDs Owned
68. Number of Roller Coasters Ridden
69. Number of Amusement Parks Visited
70. Total Number of Vehicles Owned
71. Number of Ball Caps Currently Owned
72. Number of T-Shirts Currently Owned
73. Number of Cups of Coffee Per Day
74. Ounces of Soda Per Day
75. Pairs of Shoes Owned
76. Number of Siblings
77. Number of Books Owned
78. Number of Times You Have Visited Wal-Mart This Month
79. Number of Times You Had Eaten Out Last Week
80. Number of Trash Cans in House
81. Number of Lamps in House
82. Number of Scars
83. Number of Piercings
84. Number of Tattoos
85. Number of Broken Bones
86. Number of Jobs
87. Number of Keys on Key Chain
88. Number of Cards in Wallet/Purse
89. Number of Items in Your Pocket
90. Number of Schools Attended (Preschool-College)
91. Number of Speeding Tickets
92. Average Mouse Clicks Per Day
93. Number of TV Shows Watched Consistently
94. Number of Movies Watched in Theater This Year
95. Hours Sleep Per Night
96. Number of Times You Have Checked Facebook Today
97. Number of Text Messages Per Day
98. Number of Potholders in House
99. Number of Drawers in House (Including Dressers, Kitchens and Bathrooms)
100. Number of Coffee Mugs Owned
101. Number of Years You Rode the School Bus
As you can tell, you can pretty much line your group up in any manner you desire. Try these out and let me know which one is your favorite. Do you have any you can add to the list?
Founder, Paradigm Shift
The last couple days have been incredibly fun for me as I traveled to several different high schools to facilitate workshops on a multitude of topics: social media awareness, goal setting, decision-making, group personalities, and even scholarships! Each group session started off generally the same…a tired group of high school students meandered into the room burnt out due to end-of-the-semester testing and Christmas-itis (you know…when you are itching to start Christmas activities). I decided to turn to one of my favorite energizer activities that lightens the mood and get the participants in the right frame of mind (a fun one) for the upcoming workshop…I played Wooshball with them!
If you are not familiar with Wooshball, it is a classic sequential activity that allows participants to warm up to the idea that they are playing a game with an imaginary ball. It is fun, enthusiastic, almost always full of laughter, regardless or their level of Christmas-itis.
I have two examples of Wooshball for different types of learners. I have a great video from the guys at campishere.com, and a written version that you can print out and share with your staff or team.
Circle up. The facilitator pulls an invisible Wooshball from their pocket or game bag. They explain that the Wooshball is very light and it just sort of floats there in their hand. When passing the Wooshball it actually makes the noise “Woosh.” So when passing, either to the right or left, it makes the Woosh sound. The person receiving the Wooshball has many options. I prefer to explain these options in sequential rounds, playing each for a minute or so, to allow the group to get the hang of Wooshball.
- Round 1: The Wooshball can travel right or left around the circle, as long as the participants enthusiastically say Woosh as it goes right or left.
- Round 2: The group can now say “Whoa” and put their hands up to refuse the Woosh. The person trying to pass the Wooshball turns to their other side to pass it. If there is a “Double Whoa,” which happens when a person gets “Whoa’d” on both sides, the group passes the Wooshball around the circle as quickly as possible.
- Round 3: Sometimes, a participant wants to skip the Whooshball across the circle to another participant. When this happens, a group member will point straight across the circle and “Zing” the Wooshball to another participant. (It is important to make good eye contact and point the Zing directly at the other participant so the Wooshball doesn’t float into outer space. I also like adding Zing followed by another participant’s name to reinforce names.) Also note that you cannot “Whoa” a Zing, of course.
- Round 4: If a participant catches the Wooshball they can now add a “boingee.” When a participant boingees, they put their hands together above their head and bend at the knees and say, “boingee!” During a boing-ee, all of the other participants will mimic the boingee-er. After a boingee, the boingee-er will woosh or zing the boingee to another group member.
- Round 5: If a participant wants to move to another spot in the circle while Wooshballing, they can “Mega-Boingee.” When Mega-Boingee-ing, a participant will yell, Mega-Boingee – pogo stick style. Then the entire group will hop on their imaginary pogo stick to another point in the circle (use any variation of the Mega-Boingee you desire – examples are: slow motion style, giraffe style, or even the popular Gangham Style).
- This activity is best when the facilitator (this means you!) gets as silly and as fun as anyone in the group. They will follow your example, I promise.
- Be patient with participants as they learn the game. It is not life or death if they get it wrong. You can play this game where participants are removed from the group if they mess up, but I think this activity is best suited when everyone is involved and engaged.
- If it is not working, and the participants are either not understanding the game or have somehow disengaged, feel free to stop the game short. You can always resume when the time is right.
- If you want to have some craziness, add another Wooshball to the group.
- This game is generally just for FUNN…you know when Functional Understanding (is) Not Necessary! Have FUNN, play around and enjoy that you get to play games like this with participants who love them.
I hope you enjoy Wooshball as much as I do, and let me know if you have any questions about this activity or how to implement it into your program’s curriculum.
Founder, Paradigm Shift
I love YouTube. It is an excellent mix of powerful informative videos and clips of hilarious cats.
I love watching cats and their shenanigans, but I love a great experiential-based video as well. YouTube is packed with informative videos that highlight different group activities. I have been ransacking the world web for the best videos covering team-building activities, name games, icebreakers, chants and jingles, and so much more. I created a YouTube channel that highlights my favorite videos, displays my personal videos, and even has playlists of different activities. I tried to find videos that were fun and clear, but also included explanations and instructions to facilitate the activities.
Here is one of my favorite icebreaker videos, Human Javelin, by the fine folks at Ultimate Camp Resource.
Take some time, check it out, and see what other experts around the globe have displayed on YouTube. I will be consistently adding videos to the playlist, so please let me know what you think and tell me if you have any good videos I have overlooked!
Have a great day!
Founder, Experiential Adventure
Experiential Adventure is very excited to announce that we have written a e-book, Not The Same Name Game Book: Creative Ideas for your Group to Get to Know Each Other Better.
Not The Same Name Book is an essential piece of every facilitator’s book collection! This hands-on book is perfect for any group wanting to get to know each other better.
Add it to your digital library by clicking the “Add to Cart button below!”
Name games are not limited to the ropes course, classroom or birthday parties. Use these simple name games in any situation where a group will be together for an extended period of time.
Use a name game to:
- Introduce students to their new teacher and classmates
- Present new members to a team or organization
- Open up participants in group counseling
- Have fun at a birthday party
- Generate camaraderie within a family or team
- Open up sequencing activities on a ropes course
- Start a meeting or workshop
- Energize participants after lunch or during a long day
- Develop similar interests within a committee
- Create opportunities to meet new people at a conference
- Introduce new students to your youth group
This is not an all-encompassing list; there are so many options that will best fit your group’s needs and size. The best way to use these name games is to try them out! Use them early and often to get a group excited to learn about each other.
Learning and remembering someone’s name is absolutely vital and important to the success of your leadership. We have seen firsthand the results of taking time to allow a group to learn names. The more quickly group members learn the names of other group members the more quickly they will bond and work together.
This will lead to a higher level of success regardless of the type of group you are leading. It is most unlikely that a leader would ever think, “I wish my group knew each other less. I wish they did not know one another’s names.” This idea is, of course, preposterous. So too, is the lack of a strategic plan to encourage stronger group interaction.
Not the Same Name Game will aid that strategic plan. This book will encourage stronger group interaction. We have facilitated these games all across the country and in our international leadership camps. In our realms of leadership, we have seen these name games proven.
We have chosen to use name games early and often in our roles as camp director, small group facilitator, youth pastor, TRiO personnel, and many more. This is a choice we have never regretted. Neither will you.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as we enjoyed writing it, but more importantly, we hope you enjoy facilitating these activities as much as we have. Try out new variations, put your own personality and influence on the activities, and create new stories on how you learned these name games. If you have fun during these name games, your participants will have fun too, regardless of age, gender, position or location. These activities have been tested and approved all across the world, and I hope they bring you the same joy and camaraderie they have brought us!
Ryan & Jerrod
“And so with all things: names were vital and important.” – Algernon H. Blackwood
At the end of last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the Oklahoma Division of Student Assistance Programs‘ Annual Conference in Tulsa, and presented a breakout session titled “Teamplay Tubes.” ODSA is the state organization for all of Oklahoma’s TRiO programs, and the conference is an awesome way to learn new information about legislation and regulations within the grant-funded community, but also a great place to share and disseminate information amongst peers. The breakout sessions give us an opportunity to share our newest techniques and information in a fun and informative way.
This year, I decided to use a new initiative, Teamplay Tubes, which we bought from the fine folks at Training Wheels. According to Training Wheels, Teamplay Tubes are a collection of PVC tubing and connectors that can be used for nearly 2 dozen activities that promote teamwork, creativity, communication, problem solving, decision-making, and skill building. This is a very versatile training tool that will challenge any group.
This was how I sequenced the workshop, with everything leading up to Teamplay Tubes and ended with the Feelings Marketplace Debrief.
Bumpity, Bump, Bump
Change Train (Change/Reverse/Switch)
Feelings Marketplace Debrief
Teamplay Tubes has several initiatives you can use with a group, and I decided that “Network” would be the best for our participants. With Network, your goal is to create a closed off network of tubes that has no openings left exposed. Therefore, all pipes and connectors were connected to the “Network.”
It is hard to find a more outgoing and persistent group than the TRiO counselors, so we had an absolute blast! They are an easy group to lead and facilitate, and they dominated Teamplay Tubes.
Rookie Bridge Camp. It is one of my favorite things that Northeastern State University has to offer…a volunteer driven two-day camp for incoming students that helps acclimate freshmen to campus life through games, skongs, small groups, and of course, a great float down the beautiful Illinois River.
I experienced RBC as an incoming freshmen in 2001, and was fortunate enough to volunteer in 2002-2004. It was one of the first places where I participated in experiential learning, and it was influential in my college success.
I am fortunate enough to still be involved with the program, and even got to facilitate activities and initiatives with the RBC Emeritus at the base of the Rockies last summer.
This year, I helped the volunteers learn new initiatives, icebreakers and games, and we had an absolute blast! The sequencing lineup included:
a. Point Around
c. Kung Fu
d. Arm Locked Stretch
3. Fast Fingers
4. Everyone’s It (three rounds)
5. Hospital Tag
6. Midget Bump Tag
7. Just Like Me Tag
9. Thumb Wrestling
10. Bumpity, Bump, Bump
11. Change Train
12. Cowboy, Bear, Ninja
13. Human Geography
15. Rubber Band Challenge
16. Group Row, Row, Row Your Boat
This was a great training. Of course, the volunteers are the perfect group to facilitate! They are fun, lively and full of energy. I look forward to working with them again. Rush RBC!
Thanks to Sarah Johnson Photography for the pictures.
A group line up is a must-have in a facilitator’s “bag of activities.” When used properly it is an effective and powerful way to build cohesiveness within a group, an excellent time-filler, and a unique way to work on a groups’ verbal and non-verbal communication. A facilitator can use many different ways to line up a group (see below), and can have the participants line up in a multitude of varieties, such as with full communication, no verbal communication, no hands (hands in pocket), no verbal and no hands, blind-folded, etc,. You can also make the participants split into two groups and make it competitive, first team to line up correctly wins. Also, have the group line up in order, and the first person in line gets to decide how to line up next and in what order!
This can be done propless or with props, it just depends on your time, room size and resources. A few good, cheap props to have on hand are decks of cards, pieces of paper with numbers on them, or Project Adventure Keypunch (actually not too cheap, but has many other applications!).
Ways to line up a group propless:
1. In alphabetical order by last name
2. In alphabetical order by first name
3. In alphabetical order by middle name
4. By birthdate in chronological order
5. In birthday order, Jan. 1st – Dec. 31st (I have found this is the best way if the age discrepancies are wide within the group)
6. By height
7. By smile width
8. By geography (Who lives furthest from the location of the room)
9. Longest term of employment within their company
10. How happy you were during your childhood on a scale of 1-10
11. How much you fear death (Kind of morbid, but for sure a conversation starter!)
12. Line up on how much you liked this activity on a scale of 1-10 (a great debrief technique)
13. Shoe size
14. Length of hair
15. Height you can jump (tons of fun to watch)
16. Length of nose (also fun to watch)
17. Line up by numerically by street address number
18. Line up numerically by phone number
19. Line up numerically by area code
20. Line up numerically by zip code
25. Line up alphabetically by city born
26. Line up by length of commute time
27. Line up alphabetically by Grandmother’s first name
28. Line up by shirt color in the order of a rainbow’s colors (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
29. Line up by hair color, lightest to darkest
30. Line up by size of graduating class
31. Line up by thumb size
32. Line up straightest hair to curliest hair
33. Line up numerically by the number of letters in their full name
34. Line up by year they graduate/will graduate high school
35. Line up numerically by the number of letters in their first name
Ways to line up a group with props:
1. Line up numerically
2. Line up odd numbers in one line and the even numbers in another line (can become competitive)
3. Line up numerically alphabetically (sounds confusing, but have the groups line up depending on how their number is spelled…for example: eight, eighteen, eleven, nine, one, ten, two)
4. Give the group a large number, and the group must line up in an order that would mathematically create an equation that would combine their numbers to your large number (for example, you have a group of 10, and your number is 25…10*9/1+3*2-8+4/7+5-6=25)
5. Line up from highest number to lowest number
6. Give the group a sequence and have them line up (such as alternating higher and lower numbers)
7. Line up numerically with a deck of cards (jack is worth 10, queen 11, King 12, Ace 1 or 13)
8. Line up by suit order with a deck of cards
9. Line up alphabetically with a deck of cards (same concept as above, but with a deck of cards, this time, however, they have to be in alphabetical order by deck too)
10. Line up with no suit being next a card of the same suit or same number
Be creative! Have fun! Mix up the line-ups, and try some of these without verbal communication, and some with your eyes closed…Let me know if there are any line-ups I left off the list that you have come up with!
P.S. – Props to Ben Ellis for helping me on this list…
Since it is such a great Tuesday, I would like to share with you one of my all-time favorite initiatives that is applicable with all age groups, and is great with groups ranging from 20-30 participants.
“Zoom” is my favorite kind of book (a picture book), that challenges the reader through varying perceptions and points of view, and guides the reader along a journey of self-analyzation and discovery. The author, Istvan Banvai, paints a wonderful portrait displaying how we view ourselves, the world, and others around us, making Zoom a fantastic initiative tool, and a “must-have” for every facilitator’s game bag.
I use this activity as a team-building and communication exercise, challenging my participants to expand their horizons both internally and externally. This is an exceptionally powerful tool if you are wanting your group to look beyond their own “world-view” and personal approach.
The prep work for the activity is extremely easy, all you have to do is carefully cut out every page and laminate each individually. (I made copies of the pages and stapled them in their original order, just for organizational sake)
This activity needs some accurate sequencing, because this can be a challenging activity, and I generally have led the group to this point by having the participants successfully accomplish easier tasks. This allows them to gain the confidence and group cohesiveness needed to complete the “Zoom” activity.
To start the activity, I mix up the pages of “Zoom” (they have no page numbers), and tell the participants that they are going to each receive a page of the book, and that as a group they must tell the book’s story. I tell them that they must get in order in a line, from page one of the book to page 30. Before I hand them the page, I tell them that they must not show their page to anyone, they must keep it close to their chest and not allow anyone to see it, both intentionally or unintentionally. I allow the group to describe their page in any other manner they choose…they can use any other verbal or non-verbal means of achieving this activity.
This is when the fun of the activity takes place! If you have read the book, it starts out zoomed in very closely on a rooster’s comb (their awesome spiked hair…)
Then the book slowly zooms out a little more each page as the reader gets a larger view of the rooster…to a scene of two kids on a farm looking out of a window at a rooster…to an overhead shot of the farm…to the farm actually being toys that a girl is playing with…on the back of a magazine…that a young man is holding…
That young man is on a cruise ship…which is on an advertisement on the side of a bus in a large city…
That bus and big city is on a television…being watched by a man in the middle of the desert..
That man and TV are actually on a postage stamp…being delivered to a tribe of indigenous people on the beach…
Those people are being watched by a pilot who is flying overhead…way up in the sky…
And, finally, the book zooms out to see the plane in the hemisphere, Earth from space, and then a tiny white dot on an all white page…
I left out a few pages, but I know you get the drift of the book, and hopefully of the activity. As the participants are describing their page to the other group members, there is usually a complete disconnect. Especially when pages are not close together – imagine someone with the rooster comb page describing their page to someone with the view of Earth from space. It takes some time, but usually the group starts to figure out that the book is progressing outwards, and typically a leader within the group will start to organize the book together.
After the group believes they have the book in order, I have them stay in that specific order, but circle up so everyone can see the pages, and then one-by-one we turn the pages around and reveal the story. The participants finally understand what is happening as their “view of the world” becomes a complete group story and occasion.
The group debrief is generally focused on how everyone has their “own story” within the overall story, and how it is always important to step back and see another’s perspective and vantage-point.
“Zoom” has many real-world implications and is an easy initiative to debrief and sequence. Every time I have facilitated this activity it was a huge hit amongst the participants, and is truly in my top 5 activities! Check it out and let me know how it went with your group!