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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

You're a Star and Sign my Cast

These are some of my favorite pre-openers! Pre-openers are activities used at the beginning of a social as people arrive. Pre-openers are meant to keep people involved and talking so they do not lose interest. I have used these as activities as well - not just pre-openers. Either way they are fun and keep the participants' attention.

My Experience
I have always had great success with these games. One time, everyone wanted to keep playing - we played You're a Star five times! I was starting to run out of names so I had the participants write names and tape them on their friend's back. Both games are easy to explain and very chill so the participants can talk, catch up, get to know each other, etc.  

Sign My Cast
Give every participant a brown bag with a hole in the bottom and a marker. The participants put their dominant arm through the brown bag to create a cast. The participants walk around mingling and signing each other casts with their non-dominant hands. When everyone seems to have all of the signatures, have them stop and count the number of signatures they have. Have those with 10 signatures raise their hands, then 15, 20, and so on until only one person's hand is up. Have that person say how many he/she has and then give him/her a piece of candy or some other prize. 

You're a Star
Before everyone comes, write the name of a famous person on different index cards. Choose names the group will know. Tape an index card on each players back without showing the player the name written on the card. Have all the players walk around asking each other "yes/no" questions untill the players figure out who they are. If someone figures it out quickly, give them a new one to keep the game going or just have them try to help others.

Here are some ideas for You're a Star: 

  • Kids: 
    • Characters from Disney shows/movies
      • Jessie
      • Ariel 
      • Simba
    • Superheroes
      • Batman
      • Thor
  • Teenagers and Adults 
    • Characters from recent movies/television shows
    • Different actors
      • Will Smith
    • Sport players
      • Michael Jordan
      • Peyton Manning
  • Elderly
    • Characters from older movies/television shows
      • Casa Blanca
      • MASH
    • Famous sports players from his/her era
Also with You're a Star, if you are having a hard time coming up with names, have participants write down a famous person and tape it to another participant's back. Participants definitely have a lot of fun this way because they are more involved.

Life Lessons
These activities can be used to build communication and social skills. You're a Star practices problem solving skills and critical thinking while having fun! Sign my Cast practices motor skills especially since everyone will be using their non-dominant hand.

Make sure to bring extra materials just in case more people show up, etc.

  • You're a Star
    • Enough index cards for each person to go twice - just in case
    • Markers to write the names with
  • Sign my Cast
    • Enough markers for everyone to use one
    • Enough brown bags for everyone participating

Where to Play
You can play both of these inside or outside. I love it!

Please comment below on how you would use these activities with your population, thoughts on how it has worked for you, advice for others on how to implement it, what you would process and so on! We'd love to hear about it! 

Here are a few links to ideas on how to lead activities better:

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Signs and Animal Sounds

    I love playing signs and animal sounds! Both of these games are great with a big group of people. These games are great to get good laughs and have always been hits with my friends. We joke about funny moments for days after. I hope you enjoy too!

    My Experience
    I started playing signs with my cousins when I was younger and have loved it from the first time I played! We usually start with easy signs and eventually have massive hilarious signs. I have taught my friends the game and have all gotten great laughs while playing. 
    I played animal sounds for the first time at a bonfire at college. We laughed so hard listening to our friends trying to make the noises! I always have a hard time with this game because I am a laugher so I usually give myself away when trying to make an animal sound. This game is a blast!
    If you play and have any experiences you would like to share please do!

    Everyone starts off sitting in a circle. Each person picks a sign such as twirling hair, scratching the nose, etc. Go around the circle twice to have everyone show his/her sign. Then choose one person to go in the middle. This person closes his/her eyes and spins in a circle while counting down from five while someone in the circle starts passing the sign. The way to pass the sign is to do someone else's sign. The person accepts by doing his/her sign to show that he/she has received it. He/she can hold onto it or pass it on by doing someone else's sign. That person does his/her own sign to accept it and so on. The person in the middle is trying to find the person with the sign. When the person in the middle thinks he/she knows who has the sign, he/she touches that persons knee and asks, "Do you have the sign?" If the person answers yes, then that person is in the middle and starts counting and spinning while the sign is passed around. If the person answers no, then the person in the middle stays in the middle and tries to find the person who has the sign.

    Animal Sounds
    Everyone sits around in a circle, and one person is chosen to be in the middle. The person in the middle closes his/her eyes while spinning in a circle and then randomly points to a person (the person keeps his/her eyes closed). The person in the middle chooses an animal and tells the person being pointed at to make that animal's noise. After the sound is made, the person in the middle has to guess who made that sound. If he/she is correct, then the person who made the sound is now in the middle. If he/she is incorrect, then the person in the middle points at someone else and tells him/her to make an animal noise. 
    Twist: If you would like to play this with younger children, have everyone sit in a circle with one person in the middle. The person in the middle closes his/her eyes and spins around in a circle and points to a person. The person in the middle makes an animal noise and the person who is being pointed at has to guess the animal. If the player guesses correctly then he/she is now in the middle. If the player does not guess the right animal, the person in the middle stays in the middle.

    When switching the person in the middle, have the person who just left the middle start the sign every time so no one gets confused. If you do not want to do that, at least be clear on who will send the sign; otherwise, you could end up with multiple signs being passed. Also, if someone is trying to send the sign to another player who is not receiving it, tell them to keep sending it to that one person. Otherwise, there could be multiple signs sent around. 
    For animal sounds, rather than the person in the middle just pointing to someone to make the sound, he/she can hold a pillow and sit on a player's lap and tell that person the noise to make. This way is definitely HILARIOUS! But some player's are given away because the person who is it can feel the pants/shorts. I think it is worth is just for the humor perspective.
    Please give any recommendations you have about the games! I'd love to hear them.

    Life Lessons
    The life lesson I have always taken from these games is mostly being able to laugh and have fun and how that builds friendships. They both can be used to talk about communication - especially signs because everyone has to be looking to see if someone is trying to send them the sign (listening to others). Also, many signs can be similar so whoever is trying to send the sign must be careful to send it to the right person. Players in signs are practicing memorization as well.  

    • Enough chairs for each person minus one. For example, if you have 15 people, you only need 14 chairs.
    Where to Play
    You can play inside or outside. I have played in a pavilion, in a living room, and out in the grass. 

    Please comment below on how you would use these activities with your population, thoughts on how it has worked for you, advice for others on how to implement it, what you would process and so on! We'd love to hear about it! 

    Here are a few links to ideas on how to lead activities better:
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      Wednesday, May 22, 2013

      Doctor and Goliath Dodgeball

      Dodgeball is a classic! I have always enjoyed playing. Recently, I found a new way to play the game. It keeps the integrity of dodgeball and makes it more fun. The game is called Doctor Dodgeball. I have also added a new twist on this game called Goliath Dodgeball. Together, they are definitely my favorite!

      My Experience
      I LOVE this game!!! I have run this game with children as young as 7 years old and adults as old as 24 years old. I have played with as few as 6 kids to 30 adults (thirty was a little crazy - I would recommend splitting it into two different games of dodgeball if you have this many people). It has become one of my favorites! The point is to keep everyone participating in the game rather than being on the sidelines. The way to best introduce this is to start off with the doctor and play a few rounds. Then add the goliath. This way they understand what is going on without too many changes at once.

      Doctor Dodgeball

      Divide the players into two equally numbered teams, and have each team stand on their half of the playing area. Give each team one minute to designate one player to be their 'doctor.' The teams do not disclose who their doctor is to the other team. The doctor is able to 'heal' any of the players that are hit and who already got out of the game (players can be healed as many times as they get out). The way I have done this is have the players who have been hit put their hand out for a high-five. The doctor 'heals' another player by giving him/her a high-five.

      The objective is to hit all the opposing players and/or the opponent's doctor (with the soft foam balls) to win the game. The game begins with a staff saying go, then the players run to the middle, and grab the balls to start throwing at each other. Once a player is hit, he must put his hand out for a high five from the doctor which lets him back in the game. No one can rescue the doctor if he gets hit with the ball. The game ends when one side is all out. Change doctors with each round of play.

      Goliath Dodgeball
      The more I have played this, I have realized that the doctor version can go on forever. To help speed the game up, you can add a "goliath" on each team. If "goliath" gets hit, then the whole team is out. Each team should keep their goliath a secret. This keeps the game moving a lot faster! Then more people have a chance to be a doctor and goliath. You could also just do Goliath dodgeball without the doctor.

      For the half-court line, I use frisbees because the participants can clearly see the line and the frisbees hold the balls in place so they are not rolling around. 

      Life Lessons
      Doctor dodgeball can be used to teach the importance of second chances. You can talk about how they felt when they were unable to play (left out, sad,etc.) and then how they felt after they had been 'healed' (included, excited, etc.). You can teach them the importance of including others and making friends.
      Goliath dodgeball can be used to teach the importance of every person and working together as a team. We are only as strong as the weakest person. 

      This can be played inside on a basketball court or in a multipurpose room. Outside, it can be played on a nice grassy area or pavilion. If you play outside, you will be chasing the balls down. I would recommend playing in an area with walls on either side so the balls are easier to get.


      • 10-20 balls
      • Frisbees or something else to create a halfway line

      Please comment below on how you would use these activities with your population, thoughts on how it has worked for you, advice for others on how to implement it, what you would process and so on! We'd love to hear about it! 

      Here are a few links to ideas on how to lead activities better:

      I first read about this game in the book, The Ultimate Playground and Recess Games on page 78. I took the game they outlined and put my own little spin on it.
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      Monday, May 20, 2013

      Animal Tag

      Tag is such a fun game to play! I have found a few twists that I absolutely love playing! I have played them with kids as young as 6 years old. The kids love the creativity these twists allow.

      My Experiences
      I have played this game of tag multiple times. I love seeing everyone participate and laughing together. The participants are always super creative with their animal choices and how they portray their animals.
      If you use this game, please comment and share your experience or twists you added! I'd love to hear different ideas!

      Animal Tag
      Choose one player to be 'it'. On the starting signal, the tagger attempts to tag as many players as possible. If tagged a player must assume an animal position (you can also do sports or other categories). A tagged player is un-'frozen' when a player who isn't frozen guesses his/her animal. If the player guesses the wrong animal, he/she stays frozen until the animal is guessed correctly.

      You can let the players use their hands to tag each other if they get along well. I have found that a soft ball works best so the participants do not get too physical if they do not get along well. 

      Life Lessons
      Point out the importance of good communication. My favorite time I played, one of the girls decided to be a guinea pig. No one could guess her animal. After the game, we talked about the importance of using words and actions that others will understand. Also, when his/her animal was not being guessed, the participants would switch to different positions for the same animal. Using this, we talked about the importance of rephrasing to help communication. 

      • 1-2 soft balls
      Other Variations of Tag
      Freeze-Tag Toss 
      Triangle Tag
      Spot Tag
      Coping Skills Freeze Tag

      Please comment below on how you would use this activity with your population, thoughts on how it has worked for you, advice for others on how to implement it, what you would process and so on! We'd love to hear about it! 
      Here are a few links to ideas on how to lead activities better:

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      Monday, May 13, 2013

      Wheelchair Basketball

      My Experiences
      I have played wheelchair basketball many times and have absolutely loved it! Shooting the basketball is very different when sitting down, but it is so fun! My friend, Kelly, and I put together a wheelchair basketball tournament. Everyone seemed to love it! 

      The rules are very similar to basketball such as the height of the hoop (10 feet). A few rules are modified such as players must dribble, pass, or shoot after pushing/touching the wheels of the wheelchair twice. Double-dribble does not exist in wheelchair basketball. Players cannot run their chairs into other players' chairs - that is a foul. Defenders are not allowed to stay in the paint longer than five seconds.

      The participants can vary. Wheelchair basketball was designed for people who have a spinal injury, amputated leg, etc., but over time, more people have started playing. People without a disability can participate now as well. When all of the players on the teams have a disability, it is called an adaptive sport. When some of the players have a disability and some do not, it is called reverse integration.

      Where to find Wheelchair Basketball

      Many city recreation centers now have wheelchairs for different wheelchair sports for example the new Provo Recreation Center. The wheelchairs are different for basketball so please do not try using regular wheelchairs. The wheelchairs for basketball have angled wheels so that fingers and arms are less likely to get hurt. Just call around and see if you can find any.

      Collegiate, Professional, and Olympic Levels

      Many Colleges have a intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball team such as University of Texas at Austin. Also Title IX was just reinterpreted so that college intramural programs must include adaptive sports. Check out the link below for the letter from the government to the universities. Many NBA teams have a wheelchair basketball team affiliate such as the Jazz. The Paralympic Games host wheelchair basketball teams from across the world. The video at the top of this blog shows a few highlights from Beijing.

      Events tend to go over best when they have a theme. For wheelchair basketball, a few different themes can be used. For our tournament, we chose to use March Madness as our theme. We had the tournament the Saturday before Selection Sunday for the NCAA tournament and called it Selection Saturday. The title of our event was Wheelin' March Madness. We gave out trophies to the top two teams. Other themes could be disability awareness day - usually around April 3rd. Another idea would be around the time of the Paralympics (starting the week after the Olympics). 

      Uses as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
      This activity could be used as a treatment to help improve functionality for someone who had a lower body amputation or received a spinal cord injury. This could also be used for leisure education to teach someone how to play so they can play in the future with friends whether they have a disability or not. 

      Please comment below on how you would use these activities with your population, thoughts on how it has worked for you, advice for others on how to implement it, what you would process and so on! We'd love to hear about it! 

      Here are a few links to ideas on how to lead activities better:

      Photo Credit: 
      Wheelin' Jazz Logo:

      Road Warriors Logo:

      The Video: 

      All of the other pictures: Taken at Wheelin' March Madness March 15, 2013 by Kathryn Williams