By Jodi Bernstein, MEd | July 5, 2017
Capacity Building Specialist, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands
Here’s a warm-up or “wake up” activity that is fun, challenging and energizing. It gets participants moving around the training space, stimulates their brains and invites alertness and laughter. It also offers an opportunity for the facilitator to normalize the making of mistakes.
Based on an activity developed by Humor That Works.
Setting: In-person training event, ideally with a group size of at least eight, on up to 80 or more. The group will need space to walk around.
Time: 10-15 minutes
- Warm up the group and create some new connections.
- Energize the group and the space they’re in.
- Stimulate participants’ brains through thinking, challenge and movement.
- Encourage participants to think in new ways about the focus of the training.
Best Used: As a warm-up, or to energize a training group partway through a training.
Preparation: You can view an example of this activity being facilitated by Humor That Works staff here.
- Introduce the activity. Explain that you will be guiding participants in an activity that involves walking around the room and engaging their brains in some new ways.
Ask participants to keep this question in the back of their mind as they do the activity: “What does this have to do with [topic]?” (Fill in the topic of the training. For example, “What does this have to do with educating young people about STD prevention?” or “What does this have to do with preparing teachers to use new techniques for computer science education?”)
- Invite participants to make appropriate accommodations based on their abilities. Because the activity involves movement, ecnourage participants to make any accommodations they need to be comfortable. For example, if you give the instruction to jump and someone happens to be experiencing back pain, they might bounce, shrug their shoulders or choose some other gesture. Participants can make similar adjustments to do the activity from a seated position if they aren’t able to walk around the room (encourage them to sit near the center).
- Instruct: Walk. I’d like you to stand and begin to mill around the room. When I say “walk,” you walk. When I say “stop,” you stop.
Give instructions to walk, then stop, a few times.
- Switch. Okay. Now we are going to switch it up! When I say “stop,” you walk. When I say “walk,” you stop. Got it? Let’s try it.
Give instructions to walk, then stop, a few times. You can repeat an instruction (e.g., “walk...walk…stop…walk”).
- Instruct: Clap and Name. Okay. We’ve got stop=walk and walk=stop. Now we will add on! When I say “name,” you say your name. When I say “clap,” you clap one time.
Get the group moving. Then give the instructions “name” and “clap” a few times. Intersperse “walk” and “stop” instructions.
- Switch. Let’s switch again. When I say “name,” you clap. When I say “clap,” you say your name.
Use all four instructions as the group moves about.
- Instruct: Jump and Dance. Okay. We’ve got walk=stop, stop=walk, name=clap and clap=name. Let’s add two more. When I say “jump,” you jump up once. When I say “dance,” you dance.
Use all six instructions as the group moves about.
- Switch. Let’s switch again. Now, walk=stop, stop=walk, name=clap, clap=name, jump=dance and dance=jump. Play!
Continue the activity a little bit longer.
- Debrief. Possible questions:
- What was fun about this activity?
- What was challenging?
- What did this activity have to do with [topic]? (Your suggested topic from the beginning of the activity.)
- How does this activity mirror something about facilitating or teaching?
- What does this activity tell us about what it is like to learn complex information?
- What did you discover are the keys to success for this activity? And how did you measure success?
Optional: You may want to play some upbeat, energizing music softly in the background.
Jodi Bernstein, MEd, is a Capacity Building Specialist for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. She can be reached at Jodi.firstname.lastname@example.org.