This document contains ideas used in the course of facilitating at ropes courses. It is printed, inserted in a binder, and placed in a backpack along with other items used while facilitating. It is organized into several sections based upon the typical sequence of a day. Some of the activities overlap with those listed in “adventure activities in PE” document. What differentiates these activities is that they can organized out of material in a backpack or are built by the ropes course.
Warm Up Activities/Large Group Field Games
Have You Ever – Participants stand in a circle on spots; there is one fewer spot than participants. The participant without a spot stands in the center of the circle and states an activity he or she has done. For example, “Have you ever watched a Phillies game live?” Those individuals who have must find a new spot on the other half of the circle. The participant unable to find a spot goes to the center.
Variation: Participants try and stay in the middle by saying unusual yet true things. The first person to raise their hand, meaning they have also done that, takes their place (better in small groups)
Variation: Instead of poly spots, have participants come to middle and slap 5, last one (or 2) to return to circle goes to the center.
Variation: Dizzy Izzy Tag – After being tagged, spin 3X’s and then go after partner.
Telescope Tag - everybody’s it tag but while looking through your telescope (aka your two hands forming a tunnel over one eye; the other is closed)
Giants, Wizards, and Elfs - see tag games on thenewPE.com, under lessons/activities tab
Heads-Tails Tag – see tag games on thenewPE.com, under lessons/activities tab
3’s Company (play with 2 its) - see tag games on wikiPE, under lessons/activities tab
Blob Tag – One student is it. If tagged by the blob, that student joins hands thus becoming a member of the blob. The blob continues trying to absorb all students into itself. If the blob breaks apart (lose hand grip), it can not tag anyone until it reforms.
Variation: When blob reaches 4 people, it is allowed to split in half.
Safety in Numbers – 3 students are selected to be it, the rest of the students are scattered in general space. Students can link arms to form safe bases by interlocking arms in groups of 2 or 3. “Its” can also partner up and tag safe bases of equal number. For example, students linked into a group of 3 can be tagged by “its” also in a group of 3.
Band Aide Tag – place hand on where tagged, continue until 3rd tag, 10 jumping jacks, return
Triangle Tag – see tag games on wikiPE, under lessons/activities tab
Banana Tag – Everyone’s it and if tagged, put hands over hand and lean sideways (like a banana). After two people simultaneously pull their forearms down, the banana may resume the game. No tagging those helping or 3 steps afterwards.
Popper Tag – To create poppers, take a pool noodle with a hole in the center. Cut it length-wise in half. Then take each half and cut into inch wide sections. Squeeze both ends and it will pop away. To score points, must pop into the backs of others. The person being popped may however earn extra points by catching the popper before it hits the ground.
Knee Tag – Goal is to tag others on the knee. Participants may protect themselves by by covering both knees with theirs hands, may not move while doing so. If tagged on the knee, kneel down on one knee. If high 10’d (like getting a high 5 but with both hands), participant may stand up and rejoin game. Allow everyone to walk before beginning.
Left-Right: Form partners. One partner is the left partner and can only travel in straight lines and turn LEFT. The second partner is the right partner and can only travel in straight lines and turn RIGHT. Task: tag your partner while not exceeding a walking pace; tagged becomes the tagger.
Pro Ball – several soft throwables are distributed in general space. On go, throw and hit others. If hit, squat down or take a knee. Remain there until the person who hit you is hit themselves. If you don’t know who hit you, pick someone standing. If you hit and are hit simultaneously, go free.
Hoop Me Rhonda: Have participants form groups of 2, 3 or 4. The objective is for the group to throw a hula hoop from person to person across a field as many times as possible in the time provided. The thrower and the recipient must remain stationary. The recipient must clasp both hands above his or her head. The recipient may move one foot like a basketball pivot. If the hoop is dropped, it must be thrown back and attempted again (can create a more harsh penalty). Count the number of times back and forth across the field.
Great activity for goal setting: ask each group to set a goal of how many crossings. Discuss goal setting. Hoop me Rhonda is a take off of the Beach Boy’s song Help Me Rhonda
Pip, Squeak, and Wilbur – Form groups of 3 in a circle, the character called must run around the circle, pass through a bridge created by their partners, and collect an item from the middle. First round, one item for each group, afterwards, one item less than the number of groups. Last one is eliminated.
Bat Spin Relay
Finger Tag – The group splits off into pairs and they shake each others hand with their index finger pointed at the other person. While holding the other person’s hand as such, they try and tag each other with their index finger. The only limitation is that the arm you are holding on to, from shoulder to finger, can't be tagged. In other words if you are shaking each other’s right hand, neither your right arm nor their right arm can be tagged. Once you are tagged or tag the other person, switch partners.
Knock me over ... I dare you... - Position your palms at about shoulder height in front of you. When your palms touch those of your partner that activity begins. You attempt to make your partner move either their feet or have them touch any part of you first.
Variation – do on one foot
Push Into Balance- face a partner a couple feet apart, lean forward and place palms on palms. Push so that each partner becomes vertical w/o taking a step. One partner takes a step back and repeat. Continue to see how far the partnership can go.
Do What I Did – Facilitator says one of four stepping commands: left, right, forward, and backward. There are four progressions 1) say the action, do the action (say “left”, step left) 2) say the action, do the opposite (say “left”, step right) 3) say the opposite, do what I say (facilitator says “left”, participants say “right”, participants step left
Variation: Ask the group to perform whatever movement you do as you do it. Now ask the group to perform the previous movement you did.
Wamp Um – Using pool noodles
Reaction Ball –1) a person throws the reaction ball underhand so it lands in the middle of the group. Any person tries to catch it. After they do, step out of group. Group effort for each person to catch ball without it bouncing twice. 2) 10 throws – throw ball up but allow to bounce, count each bounce. If ball rolls before being caught, number is zero. If participant touches ball but doesn’t catch it, number is zero. Count the total number of bounces the group accumulates in 10 throws. Do again and try and beat previous. 3) Consecutive – throw up, catch after one bounce; throw up, catch after two bounces; throw up, catch after 3 bounces and so on. If mess up, up start back at one bounce
NAME GAMES/GET TO KNOW
Blanket Down – Divide the group into two teams and have each team hide behind one of the two sides of the blanket as it is held up like a wall between them. Each team sends up a person to the blanket-wall directly facing the other team. When the blanket is dropped the first person to say the other's name wins. The loser goes to the other side.
Variation: The people chosen must sit back to back. The respective teams then describe the other person to them without using names or initials.
Group Juggle – Stand in a circle, say a person’s name, and underhand toss them a ball. Remember who you tossed to. Continue until everyone has caught the ball and it returns to the originator. Begin again but this time, keep adding balls into the group until there is one ball for every person. Variation: 1) do it with no, 2) time it (must use fewer balls), 3) send one object (different from rest) backwards. Young kids can play seated while rolling the ball. Can tell pass receiver to say “thank you.”
Adjective Circle – Stand in a circle. One person starts by saying their name and an adjective that describes them (Example: Tall Tom). Then next person says, “It’s nice to meet you Tom, I’m Softball Sally.” This continues until everyone in circle has gone. At the end, see who can go say everyone’s name without a mistake.
Picnic – Go around the circle, everyone must say their name and them item they’re bringing to our picnic. The item must match the first letter of the person’s name. For example, I’m Matthew and I’m bringing Mastadon.
My new friend – Introduce your partner to someone; include their name and two other pieces of information predetermined by questions. For example, ask about weirdest food eaten and favorite vacation destination.
Hello I’m Not - Start by introducing yourself and then who you are not. Hello, I’m Matthew, I’m not Frank over there in the Berks, I’m not John in the beard… (try to reach six)
Identity Theft – Introduce yourself and two pieces of information. Move onto the next person and now you introduce yourself as the previous person. Circle members give the correct information and clear up mistakes.
Bumpity Bump Bump Bump
Stand in a circle. One person is in the middle, they spin and say one the following four words to an individual, you, me, left, or right, followed by the words Bumpity Bump Bump Bump. The person spoken to must reply with a name before the person in the center says finished with Bumpity Bump Bump Bump. If the person in center say, “me,” reply with the name of the person in the center, if they say “you,” reply with your own name, if they say “left,” reply with the name of the person to your left, if they say “right,” reply with the name of the person to your right. If you fail to produce a name in time, you move to the center.
Variation: The person in the middle spins and points to any person in the circle. The person pointed at ducks. The two people to either side of the person who ducks, must say the other person’s name. The person who doesn’t say the name first replaces the person in the circle center.
Concentric Circles - Form two circles, an inner and outer one with participants facing one another. Each participant greets the other and answers a get to know question provided by the instructor in 60 seconds. Next, the inner circle rotates X number of spaces to the left or right and the process begins again.
Elevator – Simulates the discomfort many people feel in an elevator. Participants stand in a circle. Each time, when asked, they move to the opposite side. 4 steps, 1) cross but only look down, 2) cross and look at least 3 people in the eye, 3) cross and greet at least 3 people with words and a handshake. Q’s: what strategies worked, how did it feel, how relate to life
Commonalities – You provide a topic and everyone must get into groups with likeminded people. For example, if you say “favorite baseball team,” participants break into groups. Later identify the groups (favorite food, # siblings, year in school, disgusting habit, pet peeve, etc)
Cognitive Activities - lunchtime, down times, etc
Number Game – Hold up one finger, this is zero. Hold up two fingers, this is one. Hold up three fingers, this is two. Hold up four fingers, this is three. Hold up five fingers, this is four. Hold up six fingers, this is five. Continue to hold up between 1 and 5 fingers and ask students what number it is. The pattern is that the number is always the previous one shown. For example, if on the tenth time asking what the number, three fingers are held up, the answer on the eleventh time is three.
Keys – Hold a set of keys in one hand, pass it back and forth each time saying “these are keys. Are they keys?” If you said “OK” before passing the keys back and forth or after the previous, they ARE keys. If OK was not said, they ARE NOT keys.
Twenty Questions – One person chooses a mystery item. The rest of the group has a total of twenty questions, which they may ask to guess what the mystery is. All answers are Yes or No.
Chief – Group sits in a circle. One person leaves the group while they decide who is going to be the chief. When the decision has been made the group begins following the chief, doing whatever s/he is doing: clapping, snapping, making funny faces, etc. The person returns and watches the group to see whom the chief is. When they figure it out, a new person is chosen.
Observation – Split the group into two teams and have them line up with each line facing the other. One team is “observed” first. They freeze for a set amount of time (ex. 30 seconds) while the other team tries to memorize everything about their frozen picture. The team that is observing must stay in their line. After the allotted time, the team that was observing turns their backs while the observed team changes a set number of items (2 or 3) about their picture. For example, Samantha gives her watch to Billy to wear, or Billy zips his previously unzipped sweatshirt. These both count as one change for the team. To make the game more playable, the facilitator should explain that changes can only be done with clothing or accessories - not body positioning. After the observed team makes it’s changes, the team that was the observers turns back around and has a time limit or a set number of guesses in which to figure out what the changes are. After the time is up, swap and the observers become the observees.
Green Glass Doors – This is a word game to see what can go through the green glass doors. Any words with double letters can go through. Butter can go through but not margarine. Books can go through but not newspapers. Someone that is loony but not crazy.
University Entrance Exam – later in document
Brain Teasers – later in document
Minute Mysteries – later in document
Picnic – Tell participants if they can bring something or not to the picnic. The item can begin with the same letter as the persons name, end with the same letter, or have the same number of letters. Choose one of the three conditions and see if the group can figure it out.
TRANSITIONS - moving from one activity to another on a path
Trust Walk - Students work in partners, one is blindfolded while the other is behind them with a hand on each shoulder. When the music starts, walk in general space. The sighted student guides the blindfolded student while avoiding any collisions.
Variations: change “driver,” change from walking to another movement pattern or speed, shrink the area of the playing surface
Variation: Sherpa Walk - Participants are given blindfolds and can be asked to get into a formation (typically a line) that can move or they can hold onto a rope. The person in front guides the group by following the clapping hands of the facilitator. Make sure that participants are aware that if at any time they feel uncomfortable, they can let you know, take off the blindfold, or say the word "freeze"
Introductions - Learn about someone & introduce them
Two Truths and a Lie – Each person in the group thinks of two truths and one lie about themselves. The members each share their three stories and the group votes on which one is a lie.
Buddy Teach – As students walk, each person teaches the other something interesting (French phrase, snapping quirk, etc)
Comfort Line – Have participants stand near the facilitator relative to their comfort level with something. It can be done reflectively after an activity, or at the start of the day in discussing the Challenge by Choice philosophy. This will give the facilitator an idea of how people are feeling about their upcoming or past experiences.
Six Packs – form groups of different sizes, you can’t be in a group with the same person twice. Group names: Double trouble – partner up; Triangle Team - group of three; Four Square - group of four; Five Star - group of five; Six Packs - group of six. Form the groups in order to six but then begin to randomly call out different size groups and see everyone run!
Killer Handshake - Facilitator chooses a person to be the "killer." The killer kills by shaking hands and injecting poison into the person's wrist by pressing lightly with their index finger. The victim must die a loud and terrible death 1 or 2 handshakes after being stung. The group tries to guess who the killer is by accusing. It takes two people to make an accusation and they have to do it at the same time. If they are both wrong, they both die and the killer continues until s/he is caught.
Spy & Angel – Stand in circle, each person silently picks one person to be their angel and another person to be their spy. Do not say who your spy or angel is. Task: To keep your angel between you and the spy at all times while moving about the room.
Light Saber –
Odd or Even – In partners, one person is odd and other is even. Begins like rock, paper, scissors but each person flashes a number 1-5 via fingers. Total the fingers shown to see who won. Continue to next group.
Prayer standoff – Face a partner, palms touching one another in front of body (prayer position). When fingers of both partners touch their own chin, each partner may attempt to touch both shoulders of their opponent. May choose to block instead and then touch shoulders.
Finger Wiggle – place palms together, twist hands so that middle fingers are in opposite directions. 1) face off against another person to see who can finger wiggle first, 2) finger wiggle with a partner, 3) 4-way finger wiggle in a circle.
Wave Race – participants form a large circle and bend their arms at a 90 degree angle to side. Left palm is up and right palm is down. When the “wave” reaches them, turn their hands over in succession as quick as possible as the wave goes to the next person. Time to see what the record is. Variation: In the opposite direction from the originator, send the word “zoom.” See which sign reigns supreme (finishes first)
Cat and Mouse – Participants form circles of 12-16. One member stands on the inside (mouse) and one member on the outside (cat). The remainder of participants stand in a circle with space between them. Anytime the cat or mouse goes between them, they link arms. The mouse attempts to not get caught while closing openings such that the cat is trapped either inside or outside the circle from them.
Entourage – Start with rocks, paper, scissor between two people (best of 1 or 3). The loser becomes part of the other person’s entourage and forms a group of 2. The leader and his/her entourage of 1 competes against another group of 2. The losing group joins the other to form a group of 4, one leader and 3 in the entourage. Continue until one person has the entire group as his/her entourage. Encourage festivity and support for your entourage leader (like the celebs)
Variation – Ta Da – Use storm about little island and weird customs. 1) curtsey or bow, 2) do dance (ta da, ta da, ta da, ta da, ta da, ), wind hands and flash symbol
Pass Around Circle
Knee - Try and pass an object (stuffed animal) around your circle from one person’s knee to another
Quick Cards - Pass out a deck, participants move about the activity area. On go, they look at their card and form a line according to their suit. The aces should be in the middle with their backs to each other and butts halfway to the ground. The “2” of hearts sits on the ace of hearts knees and so on. Keep time and see how few seconds it takes to complete. When trying again, have participants move about exchanging cards face down before the go command.
Look Down, Look Up – Form one circle. Instruct everyone to look down at the ground, then count to three or tell everyone to look up. When they look up, they should make/ attempt to make eye contact with someone else in the circle. If two people link eyes, they must scream and leave the circle and form another one. This continues, with people swapping circles every time they make eye contact. If one looks up and that person has made contact with someone else they simply remain in the same circle.
Gotcha! – Participants find a partner and stand face to face a comfortable distance apart. Each partner points their left palm face up in front of them. Each partner then places the tip of their right index finger on the palm of their partner. When the leader says “GO,” each partner closes their palm trying to catch the other person’s index finger. Of course, while closing your palm, you are also trying to remove your finger. Find another pair and form a circle. Using the people on either side, form larger and larger groups as players begin to laugh and have more fun!
Variation – Clap hands using your partners in a circle formation (Noel’s game), vary # of claps
Ah, So, You – The facilitator demonstrates the commands with volume and zest. Create a samurai story to match. AH (yelled) is like bringing one arm up to your forehead as if saluting. SO is doing likewise but in front of your neck (defensive maneuver). YOU is an offensive maneuver where you point in a chopping motion to someone else. Practice these maneuvers. AH is the start, whichever direction the fingers point, that person alongside must do the SO. Whatever direction the SO fingers point, the person alongside must do the YOU. Whoever was pointed out continues with the AH. If done incorrectly, the groups says You Outta Here. Those removed become the designated harassers (DH’s) and whisper the words to others still playing.
Hagoo - The group forms a gauntlet and tries to get a person to smile, without touching them, as they walk though the line.
Variation: Have the person walking through with a mouthful of water.
Tug of War – Have a bandana tied in the middle. Once the bandana crosses a certain point, one team wins.
Tarp Flip/New Leaf – Group stands on a tarp stretched out on the ground. Task: Flip the tarp over without any member falling off or touching the toxic water around them. If easily attained, challenge them to find another way of turning it over. Vary tarp size depending on group.
Warp Speed - The object is for the ball (any kind, a ping pong ball works great) to be touched by everyone in the group in the shortest time possible without individuals touching one another. It can be done in l or 2 seconds or less!
Variation: Must hold the touch for 10 seconds
Camera – Get a partner and stand behind them with your fingertips on each temple. Spin them in a desired location and have them open theirs eyes. Both partners take note of what they are looking at. Repeat three times and switch partners. Afterwards, see how many times the partners match in terms of what they picked out. Debrief on the power of perspective and how each person sees the world differently through their lens.
Who am I? – Each person has an animal, famous character or person's name taped on their back, and they get to ask yes and no questions to figure out who they are.
Hoop Pass (classic game) – Form a circle holding hands. Pass a hoop around the circle w/o breaking hands, time it and try and beat previous attempt. Variations: 1) hoop pass with several hoops, 2) pass differently sized hoops in opposite directions, 3) Cat and Mouse (Mice) – pass several smaller hoops in the same direction (mice) and one large hoop in the same direction, as the large hoop catches the small ones, they drop out of the race.
Infinite Loops – Create a string (about 3 feet long) with a loop on each end. Place a hand through each loop, cross the string with your partner, then try and get out without removing your hand from the loop.
Paper Portal – Send one or two students away while giving the remaining group the challenge of passing through a piece of paper. First, fold it in half, cut parallel lines on the ends from the folded side, cut the middle of the folded side, now cut parallel lines alternating on each side. When the two return, the group must describe, using only words, how to accomplish the task.
Quick Hoops – “Everyone must get through the hoops twice.” Decide what that means to your group and see how quickly you can accomplish that. (high5, people back to back, up & down)
Hug a Tree – Partners in a wooded area. One partner is blindfolded. Non blinded partner leads other to a tree then away in a meandering path. Blindfold is removed and participant tries to determine which tree they were originally led to based upon their non-sighted observations.
Longest Line – Divide into groups of 7-8 and choose a starting line. When you say go, the group is trying to make the longest line without detaching from each other. They may use anything they have ON them to help connect the line. Longest line wins but review each line to determine if there are any breaks.
Key Punch – Place the numbered poly spots down in any order to form a “key pad.” Create a boundary around the “key pad” (indoors, typically a basketball key). Do not let the group see the set up. They are to start from a starting line a set distance away from the “key pad.” Tell the group a set order of numbers that they must punch in (ex: lowest to highest or all even numbers, etc.) in order to disarm the nuke or some other scenario. Only one person is allowed inside the boundaries to touch the keypad at a time. If multiple students enter, both must exit before someone returns and give a time penalty. They may touch a key in any number of ways. Give the group time to plan strategy. To start, the group runs together from the start line to the “key pad,” punches in the code, and run back together to the finish line as quickly as possible. Time them, and repeat as many times as necessary until they are satisfied with their time.
Frozen Pond (Don’t Break the Ice) – Create a pond with a climbing rope on the ground. Each person gets to throw a poly spot into the pond. The spots represent a floating piece of ice. The entire group must move onto the ice floats and off again without touching the ice. If someone steps on the ice, the whole group goes back. Before round 2, have the group decide upon one spot to remove and one to relocate. Ask the group for a goal of how few spots they can get down to. Allow piggy backs only for trusted groups.
Blind Square - A rope is placed near the blindfolded participants. The team must first find the rope, then unravel it completely and make a perfect square on the ground, all within the allotted time. This activity focuses on communication, problem solving, leadership and team effectiveness.
Variation: To make it more challenging, mute them and/or make them get into an order around the shape they make (birthday, height, shoe size...)
All Aboard - All students in class or a subset of the class must get themselves aboard a small area such as tape marks on the floor or a piece of wood. The class must work together to determine how this is possible. Once all aboard, students have to hold it for X amount of time or sing a song such as row row row your boat.... If successful, reduce the size of the area.
Line Ups – participants must get in the correct order without saying a word (good icebreakers)
Birthday – Line up in order of birthday (modify so students need to line up according to birth year as well as month, day)
Lily Pads - Students are given X number of poly spots (lily pads). They must cross the alligator infested swamp without falling in. If someone falls, the entire team must go back. If a poly spot (lily pad) is left unattended, the alligator (facilitator) eats it. Students are given 5-10 minutes to discuss solutions and strategy. The number of spots to distribute equals the number of participants divided by 2 plus 1.
Trust Activities (Spotter’s Position - Feet shoulder width apart and staggered, knees bent, hands up, and eyes on the participant; General Commands - Participant: [Name] ready to fall? Spotters: [Name] ready to catch, Participant: [Name] falling, Spotters: [Name] fall away)
Dyad or Stiff as a Board – One partner stands stiff as a board (body tight, hands interlocked under the chin). The other partner is the catching position meaning their legs are staggered and bent, their arms are up and ready. The first fall begins with the catchers hands on the back of the faller. The faller and catcher go through the above commands and then the faller falls backwards. The catcher catches the faller focusing on his or her legs and then stands up the faller and stabilizers him/her. When comfortable, the faller can tell the catcher to step progressively step back when comfortable so the hands no longer start on the fall.
Triad or Book Ends – A three-person trust fall similar to the dyad except after the fall is stood up vertical, they fall forward. The forward catcher catches on the upper arm near the bicep.
Mortar and Pestle (also called Butter Churn) – Similar to triad except that the faller may fall sideways as well as forward and backward. Therefore, there are four catchers around the fall. If the faller falls sideways, the catch is made just below the shoulder.
Levitation (see figure) – The person being levitated lays stiff on the ground in the falling position. Warn participants this is a serious activity because failure can result in paralysis and death. Eight individuals are positioned around the person being levitated. One person, the leader or #1, is at the feet lifting along the achilles tendon. Lifters 2, 3, and 4 are spread out along one side with both hands under the person being levitated. Lifter #5 is at head supporting it. Lifters 6, 7, and 8 are on the other side. When #1 says “first position”, the person is lifted to waist high. When #1 says “second position”, the person is lifted to shoulder height. When #1 says, “third position”, the person is lifted to the height of the shortest persons outstretched hands. Next, the person being levitated is slowly rocked back and forth while being lowered, falling almost like a leaf of feather. There should be no talking during this activity besides #1
Trust Falls –Participants have one of four options: a) be a supporter or catcher, b) be lifted from the ground to a height, c) be lifted from a height onto the ground, or d) fall backwards onto a bed or arms. The bed of arms should be organized like a zipper with each person alternating arms. The fingertips should extend to the elbow on the opposite side. Each person’s lower body should be in the catching position with arms bent. It is important for the fall to remain stiff as a board and not bend at the waist. One person should be positioned on the height (a vault, a series of mats etc) to align the faller with the zipper of arms. The fall should have a donut (or deck ring) around their arms to prevent them from flailing. Rotate spotters around horseshoe pattern.
Back to Back – Participants sit back to back on the floor. They must stand up using the other person for support. Neither participant can use their hands. Repeat with groups of 3, 4, 5 etc up to whole group. Variation - Front to Front Stand Up, feet together and holding hands
Yurt Circle – Students stand in a circle and hold hands. Number students 1 or 2 (or P, E or colors, etc). On count of 3, all 1’s lean forward and all 2’s lean back. Alternate moving forward and backward. See how far you can get.
Partner Pull Up – Partners face each other, sitting down with their toes touching. They reach forward, bending their knees, grasp hands and pull together to try to stand up and then sit down again. Variation: Add group members to form circles which stand up. First with two participants, then 4, then 6, then 8 etc. See if the whole group can stand up.
Flower Power – Partners stand toes to toes and hold hands or grab arms. They attempt to lean back and straighten their arms. When successful, find another pair and stand toes touching, facing one another. They are requested to do the same thing by grabbing each other’s hands or forearms and attempt to lean back and straighten their arms. Then a group of eight attempts the same movement.
Traffic Jam - Divide the group into two teams. The teams face each other in single file lines or horseshoe pattern with each person standing on a carpet square. Place one carpet square between the two teams. The object is to have the teams pass each other and trade places. The rules: you cannot go backwards, only one person on a square at a time, only one person can move at a time, you can only pass onto an open square, you cannot pass anyone from your own team or more than one person at a time. You can: move into the empty space right in front of you and move around a person facing you directly into the empty space behind them.
Variation: TP Shuffle - The TP stands for telephone poll. Students must switch places without falling off of a telephone pole in the woods. Otherwise the group goes back.
Variation: Begin the activity with two groups performing separate traffic jams. After one group completes the challenge, have them help the other. Afterwards, have both groups combine to do one traffic jam.
Minefield - Pairs are formed with one partner blindfolded. Set up boundaries with various objects scattered around within the boundaries. Sighted individual must stand on the sideline and guide their blind partner through the "minefield" without letting that person touch any of the objects. If a object is touched the pair must begin again. The guide needs to stay out of the minefield!
Log Jam - Have all students stand on a long narrow object (log outside, low balance beam inside, etc). The task is to rearrange the group according to some criteria such as height or age. No member of the group is allowed to touch the ground or lift another. Consequences include starting over or wearing blindfolds.
Human Knot - All students or a selected number stand in a circle and link arms with someone across the circle. The objective is to untangle the knot into its most simple form-usually one circle or two interlocking circles. Group members may not leg go unless they feel unsafe. Give tough challenges one “out” where they can briefly let one connection go and rejoin.
Variation: Spaghetti Soup – Tie the ends of a length of rope together so they won’t easily come apart. The rope should be approximately 5-6 feet per participant. Coil or jumble the rope along the floor in a line. Each participant simultaneously bends over and grabs a section of rope on the OPPOSITE side with one hand. Participants stand up and must return the rope to a circle formation without releasing their grip.
Electric Fence - Facilitator and the chaperone hold the ends of a jump rope high enough so that the shortest individual cannot jump over the rope. The group must then grasp hands in a line and without breaking hands or touching the rope, get the entire group safely over the rope. You may position one or two assistants on the opposite side to help.
Variation: Allow students to not hold hands
Noodle Cubes – Two teams each get 12 noodles. From behind a rope they are timed to see how fast they can build a cube (4 for base, 4 walls, 4 roof). Compare times. Next, build one large cube (record is 9 seconds); floor is 8, walls 8 (two high), ceiling 8.
Turnstile - Whole group must move one at a time through a large turning rope without touching it. Rope turners must also go through. If a person is caught, whole group must go back. Allow students time to devise strategy and practice.
Variation: One jump in the middle, must go through with a partner, whole class at once. Run around and perform again to see how many participants can pass through in a minute
Magic Rope - Similar to turnstile where everyone must go through without getting caught. However, the group must decipher the code, otherwise the rope will stop twirling and everyone must start over. Examples of codes include alternating gender, all girls then all boys, tallest to shortest, partners only, etc.
Untie the Knot - Tie three or more simple overhand knots and figure 8’s in the rope. While holding onto the rope with both hands, untie it. Sliding hands along rope is OK.
The Blob – The challenge is to create a balanced shape, using all group members and with the fewest number of body parts touching the floor. All players must be connected. The group must maintain the balanced position for a count of 10.
Moonball - The group must move a beach ball or similar ball from the starting line across a space to the finish line. All group members must start behind the line. Each group member must hit the ball at last once before anyone can hit the ball a second time. Variations: 1) count the number of hits before a drop, no person may hit the ball a second time before all others have done so, 2) Lose a limb – If you contact the ball with your right arm, you lose it and can no longer hit the ball with it. You can still use your legs for mobility even if you use them to keep the moonball up.
Maze - Students must navigate through a maze or pattern on a sheet. The facilitator has a map of the maze where certain squares are colored. However, participants only see a blank maze. After a student steps on a square, the facilitator gives the thumbs up or thumbs down. If the participant doesn’t look up to check, the thumbs down symbol is given. Following the thumbs up, the participant may try a new square. If not successful, a new participant must attempt the maze. With each successive thumbs up, the group moves through the maze with one person standing on each successful square. However, if a thumbs down is given, the whole group must go back.
Blindfolds - A series of actives using blindfolds to create blindness. 1) line up from shortest to tallest, 2) trust walks - assign two locations for non-sighted and sighted partners to touch before returning to the start (no physical contact between participants), 3) distribute related cards and students must find their partner (peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, etc), make these difficult, 4) repeat step 3 but this time participants must find their partner using non-verbal communication only (make cards words which students can communicate non-verbally to others such as hot and cold), 5) the group forms a linked line, participants must navigate across an area to another location, allow time to plan and have participants use landmarks along the way (keep participants safe, bring a whistle), 6) ball toss, one partner is sighted and the other is blindfolded. Upon a successful catch, step back, if a catch is missed, step in, 7) Blindfold Tag – form partners, one person is blindfolded. The pair may walk together in the boundaries and communicate through verbal commands. They can't touch each other. Designate one pair as "it." When they tag another blindfolded individual, they are the new team "it." You can also have the person who is blindfolded carry a noodle to tag other participants.
Zoom – Book by Istvan Banyai (1998) featuring pictures of a scene that gradually step back. Randomly distribute the pages of the book on the ground(must be torn out). Participants pick them up and place them against their chest. On go, participants are allowed to study the picture for 60 seconds. Afterwards, give participants time to talk (~3 minutes), look at pictures (60 seconds), talk (4 minutes), look at picture (60 seconds), talk as a group (4 minutes). Participants try and organize pictures in the correct sequence face down on the ground. You can alternate looking at pictures and talking until participants are ready.
Challenge Wall (upper & lower)
Whale Watch (upper & lower)
Do I Go?
Spider’s Web (can do with a rope instead of participants)
Nitro Pit (single & double)
Wild Woozy (upper and lower)
Islands – horizontally suspended climbing net (can use intermediate island)
Birds Nest ??
MultiVine (upper & lower)
Burma Bridge (upper and lower)
Cat Walk (log traverse)
Whale Watch – levels 1) balance on it, 2) balance while partners on opposite sides switch places, 3) balance where everyone moves across center in chess knight trajectory, 4) partners on opposite sides try and stand up on whale watch at same time, 5) whole group tries to stand up on whale watch at same time.
Nitro Trolley (Nitro Crossing) – Scatter objects in the middle, retrieve as you navigate the middle. Designate participants as pirates and sailors; the pirates cannot exceed the number of sailors on either side.
Web of Compliments – One person starts with a ball of yarn and thinks of a compliment for another group member. They say what they are proud of in that person and why they appreciated their accomplishment and then pass the ball of yarn to them while holding onto the end. This continues throughout the circle so that each person holds onto their piece of the yarn when they pass the ball. This can continue as long as you’d like or have time for, however as a facilitator you should make sure that each person has received it at least one before ending the activity. There are a lot of discussions that you can then have about what the web represents to your group, etc.
Concentric Circles - Form two circles, an inner and outer one. Participants greet each other and answer a debriefing question provided by the instructor. After a satisfactory period of time, the inner circle rotates X number of spaces to the left or right and the process begins again.
Chiji Cards – Spread the cards out before the group and have them pick a card that best represents an experience or feeling they had. Go around and ask each participant to share why they picked that card. Can also ask how one card might represent the group’s performance or the whole group could choose 3 cards of their experience that tell a story, or determine only one card that represents the entire activity. A great avenue to create chiji cards (unless you buy them online) is to print and laminate clip art which is available free online or with Microsoft Word.
Index Card – Write processing question on different index card and pass them out. Afterwards, have the participants reflect and answer the question as part of whole group, in partners, in small groups (place #’s or symbols on the cards to form groups), or silently. You may have participants exchange cards and at the conclusion, have them share part of their conversation on what they learned.
Quick Toss – Toss an object around the circle and when caught, participants answer a predetermined question or can share a thought, compliment, or experience.
Circle Shuffle – All participants stand in a tight shoulder with arms behind each others’ back. The circle rotates to the left until someone yells “stop.” That person makes a compliment directed towards someone or the group. That same person yells “right” and this continues until another person yells “stop” and the process continues.
Rose, Thorn, & Bud – At the end of the activity, have each person share their rose, bud, & thorn – something they enjoyed about the activity (rose), an area that needed improvement (thorn), and something they hope to take away that they learned (bud).
Thumbs Up, Middle, & Down – Have group members show with their thumbs how they thought the activity went with thumbs up, middle, or down and have them explain why they chose what they did.
Car/House Parts – Ask each person to choose the part of a car or part of a house that best represents their role within the group or particular activity. For example, the foundation might be the person that is like the rock of the group, the computer provides information, the mirrors help see things that aren’t always obvious, etc.
Nature Object – Have group members find an object in nature that they can bring back to the group (as long as it doesn’t disrupt nature) and share how it represents them or something they felt or experienced.
Quick Celebration – Slap own knees twice, clap hands twice, snap fingers twice, then say “ya” all together