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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nitro Straws

Tell this story (or a similar one): “You are scientists working in a laboratory with nitroglycerin in test tubes. Somebody was walking along with a tray full of tubes and tripped, making the tubes fly. You all rushed together and caught the tubes in your hands as you have them now. You had to catch them in this way because the sides are very fragile, and if you touched them they would likely break and cause a huge explosion. Such an extraordinary feat caught the attention of the press, and they would like a photo of you, but they need to see your faces. As a collective group you need to turn around so you end up facing outward. You need to do this without dropping the straws or touching the sides, otherwise everything blows up, and you must begin again.”
Everyone stands in a circle facing inward. Each participant points both fingers (arms at their sides with elbows bent at a ninety degree angle). The right palm should be facing up, and the left palm should be facing down. Place a straw in between the boys’ fingers (one boy’s finger on top and another boy’s finger on bottom and so on around the circle). They must figure out how to turn around without touching the sides of the straws or dropping them. If they accidentally do, they must restart.  
Blindfold a participant if they are getting it too quickly or one person is always the leader, and you want someone else to step up.

Life Lessons:
This game is very frustrating so talk about their frustration, what they did, what they could have done better, what worked, etc.

Problem Solving

Please Comment Below: Have you used this activity or one similar to it? What was your experience with it? I'd love to hear any ways that you have adapted it or processed it!

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Draw Your Own Island

Depending on your group size, you can have the students do this individually or split the students into groups. Give the student or group the butcher paper. Tell the students they are stuck on an island for one year (you can tell a story about how they are on a plane or boat that crashes and help will not be there for a year). They have a box in the middle of the island that they can pull anything out of that they want. They are to draw the outline of their island and what will be on it. Then give them the markers and tell them to start. This activity can last about 30 minutes. Throughout, stop them to process what they are drawing and why and process the entire task at the end.

·      At least one marker per participant
·      Butcher Paper (one for every five or six participants)

Life Lessons: 
This is a value clarification activity so talk with the participants about what they value and how their drawings did or did not represent their values, how they show what they value each day, etc.

Please Comment Below: How did this activity work with your clients? What other activities have you done for value clarification?

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


Tell the participants the rules and have them figure out their order. Once they have that down, put the marble in the first pipe, and the participants will try to figure out how to continue moving it to the bowl. If the marble hits the floor, they must start over – give them a few moments to come up with a strategy. Ask what did and did not work to help them get going.


·       Alike pipes cannot touch

·       Cannot touch others’ pipes with your hands/feet/etc.

·       Cannot touch marble

·       Must stay in the same order throughout the whole activity

·       Marble must move through the pipe

·       Once the marble is in a pipe, that pipe cannot move towards the bowl

Paradigm Shift


·       A PVC pipe for each participant (Half should be completely round and the other half should have the top cut off)

·       One marble

·       A bowl

 Life Lessons:
Importance of working together-no one could have done this by themselves just as they cannot reach all of their goals by themselves
Talk about how they approached this activity and how this compares to how they approach their treatment 
 Speed of the activity: was it easier when they went slow or fast? 

Please Comment Below: Do you have any tips or words of advice for running this activity or one similar?

Picture Credit:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spy Master

Ask players to gather together and close their eyes. Tell them they are all detectives and will be given a mystery to solve. Walk quickly around the circle and secretly tap one person who becomes the spymaster (you can tap a few more if you have a lot of participants). Tell everyone how many spy masters are in the game. Everyone else is a detective. Make sure all eyes stay closed. Circle the group several more times so the identity isn't given away.
Ask players to open their eyes and mingle around the room giving each other compliments and talking about their day. The spymaster should mix talking with "you've been double crossed." The person who was double crossed mingles one or two more times and then falls as dramatically to the floor as he/she would like. 
Detectives (all of the players who are not spy masters) try to uncover the identity of the spymaster throughout the course of the game. When a participant thinks he knows who the spy master is, he calls out, "I know the spy master!"and then calls the person's name out. Everyone votes to say if they think this person is or not. If the majority vote that they think the person is the spy master, the person is out of the game, whether the person is the spy master or not. 
Two ways to win: all of the spy masters are out of the game (detectives win) or the spy masters are the only ones left (spy masters win) When the round ends, appoint a new spymaster.

 Life Lessons
Talk about the importance of giving compliments (how it affects mood, etc.)
Discuss what it is like to be 'double-crossed' and how to deal with it
Talk about assumptions (if they guessed the wrong spy master) and the consequences of assuming 

Please Comment Below: What did you think of this activity? How did it go over with your group?

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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Recreation Songs: Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide!
Deep and wide,
Deep and wide,
There's a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Deep and wide,
Deep and wide,
There's a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Deep: one hand above the other, palms facing each other (with space between them)
Wide: both hands out and level, palms facing each other (with space between them)
Fountain: hands come close together and raise up and out like a fountain
Flowing: arms/hands move together like a flowing river

Sing the song all the way through, including the associated action with the word. Every time you sing the song again, a word will be eliminated completely (no humming), and the action will remain. For example, in the second round you could eliminate the word "deep" and participants will only sign the word. Every time you sing the song again, eliminate another word until the song is completely silent, and participants are only acting out the words.

Tips: use repetition and do not give hand-outs of the songs (eye contact is worth so much more!) Here is a link to a few other tips on leading songs (scroll down a little and look for the title: Leading Songs).

Please Comment Below: How did these songs work for y'all?

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


Monday, May 12, 2014

Loose Caboose

Split the students into group of 3-4 people. Have two people that are not in a group. One person will be the loose caboose, and the other will be the chaser. The loose caboose is trying to hook onto a train. When this happens, they make a train noise signaling for the front person (engine) to break off and become the loose caboose. All the while, the chaser is trying to tag the loose caboose before he grabs onto a train. When the chaser tags the loose caboose, they switch roles. If they get out of control, re-group, and slow down.

Variation: Put all of the students in trains (groups of 3-4). Tell them the goal is to create the longest train, but when someone grabs onto your shoulders, you have to let go, becoming a new engine.
Lessons: boundaries, personal space 

Please Comment Below: How did this activity work for your group? Did you do it with a large or small group? What did you process?

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Put participants in two equal teams. The teams sit on the floor in two lines facing each other. At the head of the lines, the "referee" sits with a coin. At the end of the lines, a small ball or other item sits on a chair. All the team members hold hands and close their eyes. The participants at the head of the line have their eyes open. The referee flips the coin (catch with hands or have it land on something soft so the players can't hear it landing). If it lands on tails, nothing happens. If it lands on heads, the participants at the head of the lines squeeze the next persons hand. When participants feel their hand squeezed, they squeeze the next persons hand until the last person's hand is squeezed. This person grabs the ball as fast as he/she can. The team that grabs the ball wins and rotates their players (the person at the back of the line goes to the front and everyone scoots down). The game is over when a team has rotated all of their players back to their spot in line.


Life Lessons

Sending false signals
How we communicate/send signals to one another

  • Coin
  • Towel (optional)
  • Something to grab
Please comment below on how you would use it 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:
 Credit: picture from

Monday, May 5, 2014

Funny Happy Birthday Song

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear [name], happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy happy birthday to you [NAME]!
Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy happy birthday to you [NAME]! (clapping)

There is sadness in the air, people dying everywhere BUT happy birthday (grunt-ugh) oh happy birthday (grunt-ugh). One step closer to the grave, THINK OF ALL THE FOOD YOU'LL SAVE BUT happy birthday (grunt-ugh) oh happy birthday (grunt-ugh)

Happy birthday [name] dear, happy days will come to you all year. If I had a wish then it would be, a happy happy birthday to you from me. (clapping)

One year older and wiser too, HHhhaappy birthday (clap) to you!

Happy happy birthday, from all of us to you! We wish it was our birthday so we could party too HEY!

Please Comment Below: What do you think of the birthday song? Does your family have a funny one they do or a variation on this one?

Here are a few links to ideas on how to lead activities better:
Photo credit:,d.aWc&psig=AFQjCNFp3iZmp2mb5g4SD5R31u2noJ3kSQ&ust=1399390405524221

Friday, May 2, 2014

Toe Fencing

To play, face each other, holding hands. Then try to tap the tops of each other's toes with your toes. When one of the partners scores three hits, it is time to switch to a new partner. Players should be equally armed - barefoot vs. barefoot, shoe vs. shoe, etc. Remember the name of the game is toe fencing, not toe stomping.

Life Lessons
Have fun, importance of laughter, etc.
Why somethings are okay in certain situations but not others, boundaries, etc.

Please Comment Below: What group did you do this activity with? How did you adapt for the safety of your participants?

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

Credits: pictures from