Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Fun Team Building, Brain Bending Game!

Hi bloggy buddies! Last night was my second night of volunteering with the mentoring program. As I mentioned before, I've been matched with an alarmingly hyperactive ten-year-old named Sadie. The whole thing is somewhat awkward because there are only about six children, and six adults, in the program, plus the two leaders. So generally the other five children and their mentors are working quietly and happily on some sort of project or game, while Sadie shrieks at the top of her lungs and zips around the room like a stray bullet! I haven't managed to make much of a connection with her, mostly because it is hard to converse with someone when you are chasing them down a hallway and trying to wrangle a permanent marker out of their hand! LOL!

At any rate, the activity we did last night was a lot of fun, and it even kept Sadie somewhat engaged about seventy-five percent of the time. I thought I'd share it with you, because some of you may be able to use it with your classes or even with your own families! We played with 10 to 13 year olds, but it can probably be played by any kids who can read and spell  somewhat fluently, at least well enough to spell three letter words!

Divide everyone into small groups. We had three in a group but you could make larger groups of four or five if you want! Each group gets a few sheets of  paper, and each group member gets an index card. You'll also need a timer. Plus, if you include the bonus round, you'll need a few extra items. (See Step 5.) Now here's how you play. 

1. Each group member writes on his own card two vowels and eight consonants. Don't show the other members of your group what you're writing, yet!

2. All of the groups now have a specific amount of time (five minutes, ten minutes, whatever...) to make as many words as they can from the letters on each index card. You don't put the index cards together to use all the letters... you just see how many words you can make from one, and then the next, and then the last. For instance if my index card said a, e, g, f, b, t, l , s, my team could write down flag, tag, gas, last, and so on. Write all of the words down on a sheet of paper. It doesn't matter how long or short they are, as long as they are real words. When the timer goes off, pens and pencils go down!

3. The groups have to count how many words they have written down. The teacher or whoever is running the game might want to go around and scan the lists to make sure all of the words are valid and that there are no duplicates! The teacher should write down the number of words each team got. 

4. Now, each group switches index cards with another group! The same process begins again, but this time, each word is worth two points! When the timer goes off, the teacher should write down the total each group has and add it to each group's previous total.

5. Here comes the bonus round! You'll need to have blown up a bunch of balloons... maybe about twenty. Each balloon should have a slip of paper inserted inside it. (Do that part before you blow it up, obviously!) Half of the slips of paper should have two random vowels and eight random consonants on them. The rest of the slips of paper should be blank.

6. The teacher or organizer presents the following information to the teams. They now have a big decision to make. Each group can opt to either take a balloon or not take one. If they choose to take one, and it has a slip of paper with letters on it, they can participate in the bonus round, earning two points for every word they make from those letters. But if the balloon has a blank slip of paper in it, that team loses twenty points. The members of each group will have a minute to discuss this and decide what they want to do. If they choose to take a balloon, they can send one member of the group up to get one.

7. Begin the bonus round for any teams that are going to participate. 

8. After the timer goes off, the teams that participated can add their newest totals to their scores. The teacher or organizer can now declare which team is the winner!

9. You can also have a class discussion afterwards, about how each person feels they contributed, what were the hard and easy parts, how they decided whether to take a balloon for the bonus round, etc. 

Its a fun game, and its a lot more exciting than it may sound! I hope some of you get the chance to try it out!

And now, for a funny story from student teaching. 
Kiwi and Teal, two little girls in the at-risk class, both speak English and Polish fluently. They've become great friends and play together every day. Today, the two little girls were speaking to each other (in English) as they colored. The kids who are English Language Learners are encouraged to practice speaking in both English and their first languages, so the teacher, Mrs. Wing, casually suggested that the girls might like to speak to each other in Polish. Kiwi looked horrified and said,. "Noooo!" 
"Maybe you could teach me some Polish," Mrs. Wing said.
Again, Kiwi said, "Noooo!"
"Why not?" asked Mrs. Wing.
Kiwi retorted, "I'm not your mother!" 

Thats it for today, everyone! Thanks for reading! 


Do you have something to share with the class?