Type of Activity: Problem Solving/ Time Filler

Props Needed: None

Set Up: Don’t need much open room for this one since there’s no running – so just some hanging around space. Works well with 12 to 25 for 10 to 15 minutes.

Process: Have your group standing/sitting in random positions – avoid any sort of a circle. The objective (challenge) for the group is to call out the alphabet (English A, B, Cs) in sequence without any two participants calling the same letter at the same time. This is a random activity where no planning is allowed, just a “go-for-it” challenge. The only other rule is that participants cannot make eye contact with each other during the process. To get the game started (at any time during a program), we will call out, “A!” nice and loud. At this point the challenge is on. Any time two (or more) participants call out the same letter or we see participants making eye contact with each other, we call out, “A!” again real loud – this indicates a restart due to a violation of the challenge. We usually will not spend any more than 15 minutes on this one since the energy seems to die down after a while. We’ll transition into another activity after the group has beaten their best (highest) letter. This intermediate success motivates the group to revisit the challenge again later. And when they get it, A to Z don’t forget the celebrate!

Variations: Take out the “no eye contact” rule and see how they communicate – still no planning allowed. The original activity involves using numbers. If there are 21 participants in your group (including you) you use 21 numbers – the facilitator calling out, “ONE!” to start and restart. Along with the numbers is a great “math” challenge. Once the group is successful with the challenge (counted 1 through 21) everyone keeps the number they called. At random one participant will call her number – if two participants call out at the same time the facilitator calls, “restart.” After a single     number is called the facilitator calls a mathematical action like, add, subtract, divide, or multiply.  Another participant can then shout out his number to add to the equation. The answer must be called out within the group – by either one or two participants, i.e., “two” and “five” could be combined to form the number “25”.

Debriefing Topics:

  • Were there any ‘silent’ strategies that came up during the activity?
  • What was frustrating for you?
  • What would you do differently if you were to do this activity again?

For original write up purchase "The Empty Bag.”  

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