Examples 1-3 adapted from http://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/tools#warmups.
Also known as the Spectrogram.
Techniques: Normal Spectrum lines
Spectrum lines for 5 - 100 people
A spectrum line can help to explore the different views on an issue within the group. It is a dynamic way of discussing philosophical rather than practical topics in large groups.
Start by creating an imaginary or real line through the room (chalk or masking tape on the floor are good for indoor spaces). One end stands for “I agree completely”, the other end for “I disagree completely”. Outline the issue under debate and formulate it into a statement to agree or disagree with. Ask people to position themselves along the line according to their views. They may try out several spots before making a final choice. Ask them to have a short conversation with the person next to them, explaining why they are where they are. Then invite participants to share their viewpoints and feelings with the group, allowing one person to speak at a time. Repeat this exercise with other statements that explore the issue under discussion and observe whether and how people's opinions change. You could also use a curved line so that people can see each other. This exercise taps into both our intuitive and rational sides and needs to be done quietly and thoughtfully. A spectrum line may require strong facilitation to stop the group from slipping into general discussion.
Have a look at this video which outlines a revised version of this activity here, adding in a new dimension to move from a 'spectrum line' to a 2d map.
10 minutes; 10 - 100 people
A very physical team version of 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'! Sort the group into two teams and explain that each team has to choose one of three options -- Wizards, Pixies, or Giants. Demonstrate the action for each choice.
Now get the teams to huddle together and give them a minute or two to agree on their choice. Then they stand facing each other across the room, and on your count of "One...Two..." they take two steps forward. On the count of “Three...” they do their thing, be it wizardly, pixie like or gigantic.
Here's how to score:
Play enough rounds for a clear winner to emerge, or until laughing begins to hurt. One variation sees the winning team chase the losers. Any losers that are touched before they get to the safety of their starting point join the winning team. The game is won when one team captures all of the other.
10 minutes; 5 - 20 people
An excellent game for focusing people and getting them to work together. It creates laughter and energy without being physical. Because it's not a physical game it's more suitable for less mobile groups. With everyone sitting or standing in a circle, explain that they have to count upwards -- set a target (usually 10) if you like. There are a few complications though. Only one person can say any one number. If at any stage two or more people speak simultaneously the group have to go back to 1 and start again. Nor can the same person say more than one number in succession. It's possible that some clever person will attempt to coordinate the group with hand gestures or nods, or even by speaking so that they count around the circle. Discourage this. The point is to enjoy the challenge, not necessarily get to 10. If the group succeeds too easily, try the whole thing again with a twist. Either get them to count to 20, or ask them to shut their eyes, or turn their backs, or lie down, or any other cunning mechanism that prevents them from seeing each other!
As a bridge between opening circle and breakout sessions, group exercises are an excellent way to reinforce the ethics of contributing your voice and speaking with friends you have not yet met. The following are suggested group exercises.
Spectrogram (also noted above) is an excellent exercise for letting participants "show where they stand" and allowing them to discover allies and new perspectives on relevant issues.
Strong Wind Blows is a fun game to get the blood flowing in the morning, while also allowing the group to discover common bonds in an often humorous way.
SpeedGeeking is a wild and wacky way to automate and expedite the time honored "brain dump", allowing participants to brief each other on their projects and work in a fast and furious format.
Many of these warm up exercises have been adapted from drama games designed to help actors to start to get into different roles. A quick internet search of "drama games" will provide you with many examples of exercies that may be suitable for adapting for your workshops. Here are some links to get you started.
Many of these games are passed around in an informal basis. We will be contacting the authors of these blogs to check what license they have for their writing.
Pick an exercise and post it in the comments below. Why did you decide on this warm-up exercise? How will it help increase participation in your topic?
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