On Friday I was in Weymouth training local teaching assistants (TAs) in how to use games to encourage positive relationships between young people. Naturally I did this through a long and detailed PowerPoint presentation that I read out word for word from the slides.
I kid, I kid, of course I did the whole thing through a series of games, which was a lot of fun for me and the TAs seemed to enjoy it too. I looked at three different types of games:
- Games to help you get to know one another and start talking (icebreakers)
- Games to encourage teamwork, co-operation and collaboration
- Games that encourage teamwork through competition
Remember to get the most out of all of these activities …
Before the activity
- Explain the rules as simply as possible.
- Don’t give tips on how to complete the task.
- Don’t explain what you want them to get out of it.
During the activity
- Unless a judge is needed, you should take full part in the activity.
- If everyone is struggling, pause the game and ask people what is going wrong; ask them what they could do to change it.
- Stop the games while people are still excited, don’t wait for them to start dragging.
After the activity
- Don’t make a big deal out of winners and losers – a quick cheer or round of applause is enough.
- Draw out the learning through asking them to reflect on the activity, don’t tell them what you think the learning should be.
- Ask those who succeeded: What worked well in your team? What did you do that allowed you to succeed?
- Ask those who struggled: What would you differently next time?
- Ask those who struggled but managed in the end: What do you change? Why? Did that work?
- Finally, ask them what they learned through the activity – they may well come up with far more than you intended!
Getting to know one another, seeing one another as more than just a, say Y3 pupil.
- Before the game: Create a bingo sheet by having a grid with a statement in each box (e.g. Supports Arsenal; Plays a team sport; Has been to the Houses of Parliament). Each of the statements should encourage them to ask some questions of other participants that will help them get to know them. Print one for each participant.
- Give each participant a sheet and a pen.
- Explain that they find one person in the room about whom each statement is true and write their name in the box.
- They have to fill in all the boxes, so will have to talk to everyone in the room.
- It’s good to include yourself in the game.
- Human bingo sheet for each participant. Here are some you can just use:
Human bingo - children - PDF
Human bingo - post-16 - PDF
Human bingo - adults - PDF
and some you can edit:
Human bingo - children - Word
Human bingo - post-16 - Word
Human bingo - adults - Word
- Pen for each participant
Talking in circles
Listening skills; difference between discussion and listening; getting to know one another.
- Get everyone to sit down, make sure all chairs are filled and that everyone is opposite someone.
- Ask everyone to introduce themselves to the person opposite.
- Pick a topic and ask the people on the inside to talk about it to the people on the outside.
- Then pick another topic and ask the people on the outside to tell the people on the inside about it.
- Get one circle to stand up and move around a few places; get them to sit down and repeat with different topics as many times as you like.
- You can ask them to make a decision together (e.g. if we had to watch one TV programme together all weekend, what would it be?)
- Get them to reflect on good listening and what the difference is between when you’re just telling someone something and when you have to make a decision together.
- Two circles of chairs, one inside the other. Each chair should be facing another chair.
Getting to know one another, speaking out loud; being a bit silly.
- Before the session, write a series of questions to put in each of the envelopes. These should be amusing, vaguely revealing and quick to answer. E.g.:
- If you were a superhero, what power would you have?
- Where’s the best place to eat?
- If you had to watch only one TV show for ever, what would it be?
- Split people into groups of 4 or 5. Ask them to pull their chairs into small circles, so they can see everyone else in their group.
- Hand each group an envelope and get one person to read it out to the rest.
- Each group follows the instructions on the envelope, which read:
- Take a piece of paper out of the envelope.
- Read it and tell everyone else in the group your answer.
- Put the paper back and pass the envelope on.
- Keep going round the circle.
- Envelopes with instructions on: Envelope game instructions
- Slips of paper with questions on in each envelope: Envelope questions
Throwing an alien
Concentration; eye contact; using names; being silly.
- Everyone stands or sits in a circle.
- Explain the scenario: there is an invisible, face-eating alien loose.
- Put your hands to the sides of your head and wiggle them about (this is you trying to wrestle the alien off your face).
- The person on your right has to put her left hand to her head and wiggle it about.
- The person to your left has to put his right hand to his head and wiggle it about.
- Make eye contact with someone else across the circle and throw them the alien.
- That person has to ‘catch’ the alien by wiggling their hands next to their head and the people on either side each have to wiggle one hand.
- Get the alien thrown around quickly.
- You can get people to concentrate more by:
- having more than one alien;
- getting people to shout names of other people in the circle (does the alien follow the names or the eyes?)
Splat/Compliment Splat/Fact Splat
Getting to know names; being silly.
- Get everyone in a circle and ask them to imagine they have some horrible goo in their hands.
- Go round the circle and ask everyone to say their names nice and loud.
- When you shout someone’s name they have to duck and the person on either side of them has to pretend to throw the goo over their head and
- The slowest person gets splatted and is out. If the person whose name is called doesn’t duck s/he is out.
- Get the person who is out to call the next name.
- When just two are left, stand them back to back and get them to have a duel. The last person out counts. The final two have to step apart each time a number is counted. When a number is called out of order they have to spin round and splat each other.
- Rather than splatting you have to say a compliment about the person ducking. The quickest one wins.
- Rather than splatting you have to say a fact about the subject you’ve been studying. Incorrect or repeated facts mean you lose. Otherwise, the quickest wins.
Bombs and shields
Getting people moving around. Works with any size group (if you have enough room).
- Ask everyone to think of one other person in the room. They shouldn’t let that other person know that they have chosen them.
- Then get everyone to choose a second person, also without letting them know.
- The first person they chose is a bomb.
- The second person they chose is a shield and is the only thing that will save them from the bomb.
- When the bomb explodes their shield is in between them and the bomb.
- Start running around. Count down and make a boom.
- Afterwards you can get everyone to shake the hands of their bombs and shields.