Learning by doing
May 23, 2010 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Short group activities or mini-workshops to use in an adult educational setting? I hesitate to say "teambuilding" exercises, but I am thinking in terms of the marshmallow challenge or Abigail and the boatman.

In my work I often do group education activities. These might be ice-breakers or introduction activities, value discussion activities (like the famous Abigail), workshops on setting goals and so on. These activities are often teambuilding-like, and the lesson might be learned through a game or other group work.

For most of them, I would want to have a minimum of 40 mins to an hour to run, but I have just been told I will be expected to run a sample group activity in a couple of days time. I expect that I will have a half hour in all to run it, and the group will likely be smaller than usual and be comprised of colleagues rather than my usual at-risk-youth demographic.

Ideally I want something short and easy to facilitate, with a nice payoff. Most presentation or introduction ones are out since they likely already know each other, and know me, but I am thinking of doing "somone who can say yes" I am seriously considering trying to run the marshmallow challenge, but for various reasons that might not be an option.

Please give me your favourite examples of these sort of activities, if you have really good ones that aren't short, post anyhow and perhaps I can adapt them. Simple, fun, impressive, short and with a point. That's not asking for much is it?

I have no idea what the proper name for these sort of activities is in English, so bonus points for googleable terms.
posted by Iteki to Education (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Since they already know each other, try a variation on paperbag skits. Divide into groups - 3-6 people per group will work, 4 seems ideal. Have each group develop a 60 second commerical for a product. (It will be quicker if you provide the product. Otherwise provide materials for them to make into a pretend product.) Have a much of props available. Give them 10 minutes to prepare, 5 minutes or so for each group to present their commerical and the debrief focusing on how the teams worked and roles that each person chose to take on in their team.
posted by metahawk at 1:22 PM on May 23, 2010

Google "odyssey of the mind spontaneous problems" for a mix of problems. If I recall correctly, these are designed for teams of 5-6 to do in under 15 minutes. Tend to fall in two categories - give as many answers as you can in the time allowed and build/make something. You probably want one in the second category.
posted by metahawk at 1:28 PM on May 23, 2010

I should mention that access to props other than printed handouts may be severely limited, which is part of why the marshmallow activity may be undoable, I think I am to go in empty handed. Sorry to have so few details on the actual situation available.
posted by Iteki at 1:40 PM on May 23, 2010

I found a ton once by googling "improv warmup." Most build team cohesion and many have a payoff, and they're all fairly short.
posted by salvia at 2:10 PM on May 23, 2010

You might want to try the Lost on the Moon (PDF!) exercise.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:06 PM on May 23, 2010

I've used 2 games to good effect. Divide people into groups, 3-6 people per group.

First game is to create a list of "achievements" of the group, one of which will be false. The entire group (or each of the other groups) guesses which one is the lie. Some samples of true achievements in the otherwise ordinary business groups I've facilitated: spent the night in jail, met Queen Elizabeth II, jammed with Heart.

The second game was to find something that all 3-6 members in a small group had in common, aside from obvious ones such as being members of the same committee, or all having had coffee that morning. One group discovered they'd all been to Mexico within the last year. Another discovered they each had exactly two grandchildren. Each group then share its commonalities with the entire group.
posted by angiep at 4:56 PM on May 23, 2010

What about Lateral Thinking puzzles? They are brain teasers. The leader proposes the question (eg: A man left home, took 3 left turns and when he returned a man in a mask was waiting for him. What was he doing?) and the team members ask questions to try to figure out what the answer is.
posted by CathyG at 5:29 PM on May 23, 2010

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