SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
Introducing Bernie DeKoven
Meet a believer in deep fun.
Junkyard Sports by Bernie DeKoven
Make sports fun again.
Trash Basketball by Bernie DeKoven
Basketball with a paper wad and two moveable trashcans.
How To Design an Effective Training Game in 10 Minutes
Here's an invitation to our revamped online course.
Leadership Advice from Your Role Model
What would [your role model] do?
Classification Card Game
Low, High, Most
Another fast-paced two-person training game.
Objectives and Objectivity
Why they are usually incompatible.
SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.
Editor: Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan
Assistant Editor: Raja Thiagarajan
Editorial Advisory Board: David Gouthro, Diane Dormant, Kat Koppett, Les Lauber, Steve Sugar, and <type your name here>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2004 by The Thiagi Group. However, they may be freely reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no need to obtain special permission for such use as long as you do not reproduce more than 100 copies per year. Please include the following statement on all reproductions:
Reprinted from PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE. Copyright © 2004 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for permission.
All registered subscribers receive Play For Performance free of charge.
However, to prevent us from becoming bankrupt, we have decided to adopt a Busker Protocol. If you like what you read, if you find it useful, and if you'd like us to continue publishing the newsletter, please feel free to chip in with any financial contribution. Our estimated annual cost for this newsletter is $30,000. So we suggest an annual contribution of $30 (which is less than one-third the subscription cost of Thiagi's earlier paper-based newsletter). We would appreciate any amount that you send us, but make sure it is less than $30,000 (since we don't want to make a profit). You can mail your check to Thiagi, 4423 East Trailridge Road, Bloomington, IN 47408 or call us at (812) 332-1478 to charge the amount to a credit card. Or you can charge your credit card online, through The Thiagi Group, Inc. Please let us know if you need an invoice for financial record keeping.
Thiagi believes in practicing what he preaches. This is an interactive newsletter, so interact already! Send us your feedback, sarcastic remarks, and gratuitous advice through email to email@example.com . Thanks!
Bernie DeKoven (http://www.deepfun.com/) is serious about having fun and helping others have fun. He has been reinventing sports for more than 35 years, has designed a curriculum with more than 1,000 children's games, and has developed the training program for The New Games Foundation. He designed and led an event for 250,000 people for the Philadelphia Bicentennial celebration, where he introduced really big (16-foot long) pick-up sticks.
DeKoven has invented almost every kind of game—educational, entertainment, digital, physical, social, mental—for companies such as Mattel Toys and Children's Television Workshop. He is a lifetime member of the Association for the Study of Play.
Recently, I asked Bernie what advice he would have for designers and facilitators of games. This is what he said:
Don't take your game too seriously. Remember that the experience of players during the game is really vital. So even if you are designing or using a horrible simulation, you have to make sure that players never lose their dignity or fun.
Here's what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and other best-selling books, has to say about Bernie:
Bernie is the only person I know who not only knows about play, but knows how to teach it. May his efforts prosper, for they help us all.
My sentiments, exactly! To learn more about—and more from—Bernie, please read the review of his latest book and an excerpt from it.
I am predicting that Bernie's new book will start a revolution that will change the way sports is played around the world.
The book contains more than 75 demonstration games. Each of these self-contained games is ready to be played indoors or outdoors. More importantly, each game is a starting point for the creation of several variations, modifications, and combinations.
The games feature nontraditional variations of six traditional team sports: soccer, football, basket, baseball, hockey, and volley. (Hey Bernie, what happened to cricket?) All of Bernie's games require and reward physical, mental, and social skills; they foster creativity, ingenuity, leadership, compassion, and cooperation.
All of Bernie's games can be played without any expensive equipment or supplies. All you need to play these games is junk (such as bed sheets, broom handles, bubble wrap, carpet tubes, ribbons, rope, tuna cans, and toilet paper). The games can be played in any environment with any group. They are geared for participation across a wide range of ages, abilities, and cultures. Even adults can play and enjoy these games, as demonstrated at a special session at the NASAGA 2004 Conference.
The three introductory chapters on introducing, creating, and coaching junkyard sports summarize Bernie's philosophy of play that emphasizes fun, creativity, teamwork, leadership, inclusion, humor, compassion, and community. The book is delightfully illustrated with zany drawings by Bob Gregson and supplemented by the Junkyard Sports Website (http://www.junkyardsports.com/thebook.html), which provides additional resources and upgrades.
Buy the book. Join the revolution. Organize a JunkFest.
Details. Junkyard Sports. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. (ISBN: 0-7360-5207-0). Copyright © 2005. 172 pages. $19.95. www.HumanKinetics.com .
Taken from Junkyard Sports copyright © 2005 by Bernie DeKoven. Reprinted with permission from the author.
The team in possession of the ball gets 2 points every time they successfully get the ball in its basket. The team with the higher score at the end of 20 minutes wins. The trashcan carriers must stay within their zones. They can run with their trashcan and raise or lower it as they desire. If playing with a ball that doesn't bounce, players may not run with the ball. If the ball does bounce, players must dribble the ball while moving. Players cannot cross into the basket zone. Players cannot touch each other.
Two teams of 3 to 10 players per team.
Trash Basketball can be played on almost any open playing area, from 8 by 12 feet to regulation dimensions—basketball court, gym, playground, any open area. If players use a bouncing ball, the area should have a hard surface.
The field is divided into two or three zones (depending on whether you're playing on a half or full court). For a simple game on a half court, one zone is for the playing area, and the other is for the basket (trashcan) carriers. For a larger game on a full court, one zone is the playing area and one zone on each end is a basket zone (for a total of three zones). The boundaries for the basket area should be no more than a quarter of the court. The basket carrier can only travel within the basket zone (so that there's always a separation between the players and the basket carriers).
A trash basket and trash basket carrier are positioned in the basket zones at either end of the playing area (if playing full court).
Players should wear rubber-soled shoes or be barefoot if on a hard surface.
We are happy to announce that a revised version of my online course How To Design an Effective Training Game in 10 Minutes is now ready for you. Hundreds of participants from around the world have successfully worked through the earlier versions of this online course. Based on their feedback, we have improved the content and the activities. We have also incorporated principles and procedures from our Four-Door Approach to elearning.
It costs US$49 to register for this course. For this price, you have unlimited access to this online course for the rest of your lifetime!
As the name indicates, the training goal is to enable you to design effective training games, each in about 10 minutes.
This course is based on Thiagi's powerful concept of framegames that uses templates for the instant design of training games.
Here are the specific objectives for the course:
The online course is organized into four modules:
Each module is organized into four areas:
The basic philosophy behind this Four-Door elearning format is to give you total freedom in pacing and sequencing your learning according to your preferred learning style.
You can register for the course right now and work through it at your own schedule. We are looking forward to interacting with you at the course website.
Today, when I searched Amazon for books on leadership, I had to deal with a potential list of 15,483 items. I am sure that this number will swell tomorrow because writing and publishing books with leadership advice is a growth industry.
This structured sharing activity provides a faster, cheaper, and better alternative to buying and reading a lot of books: You tap into the wisdom of the group—and of their role models.
At least 20 minutes. (Actual time requirement depends on the number of participants and the depth of discussions.)
Select a role model. Everyone has one or more ideal leaders whom they have personally met or read about. Ask participants to individually select a role model who has inspired them. This role model could be a family member, a school teacher, a boss at work, a captain of the industry, a political leader, a sports coach, a military genius, a spiritual mentor, an inspiring writer, a fictional hero, or a prophetic guide. Ask each participant have a clear mental picture of this leader.
Name the role model. Distribute index cards to each participant. Have them write the name of the role model (example: Mother Theresa) if other participants can recognize this leader. Otherwise, ask participants to write a brief description of this role model (example: my third-grade teacher). Pause while participants independently complete this task.
Roleplay the role model. Ask participants to take on the role of the role model they selected. Ask them to imagine that a young person is asking this role model for leadership advice. Ask participants to write on their index card one important piece of advice they would give (in their assumed role) to this young person. The advice may be about leadership styles, characteristics, attitudes, behaviors, or skills. Encourage participants to limit themselves to one or two short sentences. Pause while participants complete this task.
Exchange the advice cards. Ask each participant to turn the card with the written side down and exchange it someone else. Repeat this procedures until all cards have been rapidly and repeatedly exchanged. Blow a whistle to get participants' attention and ask them to stop the process.
Read the piece of advice. Ask each participant to read the piece of advice on the card that they received. Invite them to think about this piece of advice and how it would help them personally to become a better leader. Encourage them to think about applying this piece of advice to their personal and professional life. Pause while participants do this.
Read aloud. Select a participant at random. Ask this person to stand up and read the piece of advice from the card, without revealing the role model. Ask everyone else to listen carefully. If necessary, ask the participant to read this piece of advice again.
Guess the role model. Ask everyone to think about the piece of advice for a minute. Then ask them to guess who could be the role model (leader) who gave this piece of advice. Invite participants to call out their guesses. Point out that most leaders have similar traits, perceptions, behaviors, and ideas. Ask the participant who read this piece of advice to identify the role model specified on the card.
Read similar pieces of advice. Invite other participants whose cards contain similar pieces of advice to read them aloud. Identify minor differences among these ideas. Discuss the potential impact of these differences.
Read opposing pieces of advice. Ask participants to review the piece of advice on their cards and see if it contradicts the advice read earlier. Invite any participant with such an opposing piece of advice to read it aloud from her card.
Reconcile the differences. Point out that even though these pieces of advice contradict each other, it is not as if one of them is correct and the other one is incorrect. This is because effective leadership requires a variety of flexible styles depending on the nature of the situation, the type of the followers, and the personality of the leader. Discuss the context in which each of the opposing pieces of advice would be effective.
Continue the process. Select another random participant (who has not yet read the piece of advice from her card) and read aloud the advice from her card. Follow this by guessing the role model, and reading and discussing cards with similar and opposing points of view.
Select a piece of advice. After the discussions, ask participants to think back the variety of advice from different role models and select the one that they want to implement in their personal and professional life. Remind participants not to count the number of pieces of advice they have received but make the one selected piece of advice count. Encourage them to begin implementing this piece of advice immediately.
Don't have enough time? You do not have to read and discuss all the cards. Conclude the activity whenever you want by moving to the final step (of personal selection and implementation). After the session, collect all the cards, type up the pieces of advice, and send them to the participants.
Not enough participants? Ask each participant to write two separate pieces of leadership advice, one on each card. During the card exchange step, ask participants to give away both cards, each to a different person.
One of the key outcomes of this activity is the discussion of situational leadership. This requires a sufficient number of opposing pieces of advice (example: Do it now vs. Plan carefully; Tell people exactly what to do vs. Ask your followers for advice; Exude self confidence vs. Maintain humility). After conducting the game, collect all the advice cards. Carefully review items and save the good ones, especially those with opposing pieces of advice. In subsequent games, ask participants to exchange the cards they wrote with a card from your stock.
Here's another game in our recent series of two-person games with classification card decks. This game is similar to Trumps, which was presented in our July 2004 issue. This game also involves winning tricks. However, you may win a game without winning the most tricks.
To rapidly recognize the behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, perceptions, expectations, problems, and strategies associated with the four stages of team development.
Two. Larger groups may be divided into pairs to play the game in a parallel fashion. If an odd player is left out, the facilitator can play the game with this person.
5 - 10 minutes. The game may be replayed several times to determine the winner of a match.
How To Play Low, High, Most Handout. This handout (which includes a glossary page) summarizes the rules of the game. Make a copy for each player.
Four Stages of Team Development Handout. This handout summarizes Tuckman's model. Make a copy for each player.
Feedback Table. This table is used for settling disputes during the game. The table lists each card number and the correct team-development stage (or stages) associated with it. Photocopy this handout to provide a copy of this table to each player.
A deck of GROWING A TEAM Cards. This deck contains 99 cards. Prepare your own deck by typing the numbers and statements from this list on your own cards. (See below if you don't have the patience to do this.)
Assemble play groups. Organize participants into pairs. Give a deck of Growing A Team cards to each pair. Also distribute a copy of the Feedback Table to each player, asking players to place it with the printed side down.
Introduce the four stages. Distribute copies of the knowledge-base handout, Four Stages of Team Development. Make a brief presentation, using examples that are relevant to the players.
Brief the players. Acknowledge that most players may not have a complete grasp of the four stages in team development. Explain that you are going to play a card game that will help them become more fluent with these stages.
Introduce the Growing A Team cards. Ask each player to pick up a card from the deck. Ask a player to read the statement on the card and invite everyone to identify the team-development stage associated with the statement. Announce the correct stage. Explain that this is the suit of the card. Demonstrate how to verify the suit by using the Feedback Table.
Explain the three attributes of each card. Use the information from the What Card Is That? section of the handout. Give some practice in determining the rank, suit, and number of several cards.
Explain the rules. Distribute copies of the handout, How To Play Low, High, Most. Walk the players through the rules.
Monitor the game. Ask the players at each table to select the first dealer and begin the game. Walk around the room, clarifying rules and settling disputes among players as needed.
(All words in italics are defined in the glossary.)
Deal the cards. Deal five cards to each player, one at a time. Turn the next card (the 11th card) face up. Check with the Feedback Table and announce the suit of the card. This is the trump suit. Place the rest of the deck face down. This becomes the stock.
Object of the game. At the end of each game, you get one point each for winning
You win the game by scoring two or three points.
Play the first trick. Nondealer starts the first round by playing any card from her hand. You follow suit by playing a card of the same suit. In this case, the player of the card with the higher rank wins the trick. If both cards are of equal rank, the player of the card with the higher number wins the trick.
If you are not able to follow suit, you may play a card of the trump suit and win the trick. Or you may discard (play a card of any other suit) and lose the trick.
Play the second trick. Winner of the first trick leads a card for the second trick. Play proceeds as before, with the higher ranked card of the suit led or the trump winning the trick. (If both cards are trumps, then the higher ranked trump wins the trick.)
Continue the game. Winner leads a card for the next trick. Game is continued as before until all five cards are played out.
Conclude the game. The player who won three or more tricks gets a point. Both players examine the tricks they won and locate the lowest-ranked card. The winner of the trick with that card gets a point. If there is a tie for the lowest-ranked card, then the winner of the trick with the lowest-numbered card wins a point. Similarly, the winner of the trick with the highest-ranked trick (or the highest-numbered card in case of a tie) wins a point. The player with two or three total points wins the game.
Play subsequent games. Take turns to deal the cards. The first person to win three out of five games wins the match.
Dealer. At the beginning of the game, one of players shuffles the deck and distributes the cards one at a time. This player is the dealer. When more than one game is played, players alternate being the dealer.
Discard. During the game, playing a card that is neither of the suit led nor a trump.
Follow suit. Play a card of the same suit as the one that was led by the other player.
Hand. The set of five cards that each player receives at the beginning of the game.
High. Scoring one point by winning the trick that contains the highest-ranked card played in the game. In case of a tie for the highest-ranked card, the winner of the highest-numbered card scores one point for high.
Lead. To play the first card to a trick.
Low. Scoring one point by winning the trick that contains the lowest-ranked card played in the game. In case of a tie for the lowest-ranked card, the winner of the lowest-numbered card score one point for low.
Nondealer. The person who is not the dealer for this game.
Number. One of the three attributes of a card. This is the absolute value of the number printed on top of the card. (See also Rank and Suit.)
Rank. One of the three attributes of a card. The rank of the card is the last digit (units digit) of its number. Card ranks range from 0 to 9. Example: The rank of card 27 is 7. Cards with the numbers 8, 18, 38, 88, and 118 all have the same rank of 8. (See also Suit and Number.)
Stock. Cards that are not dealt at the beginning of the game.
Suit. One of the three attributes of a card. The suit is the category to which the printed item on the card belongs. Example: Forming (See also Rank and Number.)
Trick. The cards played by both players during a round of the game. One person plays a card face up from her hand. The other person plays a card from her hand in response, following suit if possible. (See Winning a trick.)
Trump (noun). At the beginning of the game, the dealer turns up the 11th card. The suit of this card determines the trump suit. Any card of this suit is called a trump.
Trump (verb). Playing a trump card in response to the card led by the other player. You may play a trump card only when you cannot follow suit.
Winning a trick. Each trick is won by the higher ranking card of the suit led or the trump. If both cards are of the same suit and rank, then the trick is won by the card of the higher number.
Every playing card in the Growing a Team deck has three attributes: rank, suit, and number.
Here's a sample playing card from the Growing a Team deck:
The number of the card is the complete number on the card. The number of the sample card is 48.
The rank of the card is the last digit of the number on the card. The rank of the sample card is 8, which is the last digit of 48.
The suit of the card is the stage of the team development process associated with the statement on the card. This is not directly printed on the card; you must read the statement and decide which suit it belongs to. This sample card belongs to the forming suit because the statement belongs to the forming stage.
It is easy to determine the rank of a playing card: Just ignore the first digit of the card. So 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, and 92 all have the same rank (that is, 2). Ranks run from 0 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).
It takes some effort to determine the suit of a Growing a Team card. Read the statement on the card, analyze it, and classify it correctly.
Some statements may describe more than one stage of team development. These playing cards belong to more than one suit. When you play one of these cards, you choose the suit to which the card belongs.
In 1965 B. W. Tuckman, who had been studying the behavior of small groups, published a model that suggests that all teams go through four distinct stages in their development:
Forming. The first stage in a team's development is forming. During this stage, the team members are unsure about what they are doing. Their focus is on understanding the team's goal and their role. They worry about whether the other team members will accept them. Team members frequently look for clarification from their leader.
Storming. The second stage in a team's development is storming. During this stage, the team members try to get organized. This stage is marked by conflict among the members and between the members and the leader. Through this conflict, the team attempts to define itself.
Norming. The third stage in a team's development is norming. This stage follows storming, after the team members have succeeded in resolving their conflicts. They now feel more secure with one another and with their leader. They effectively negotiate the structure of the team and the division of labor.
Performing. The fourth stage in a team's development is performing. During this stage the team members behave in a mature fashion and focus on accomplishing their goals. This stage is marked by direct, two-way communication among the team members.
|Card. Suit||Card. Suit||Card. Suit||Card. Suit||Card. Suit|
|1. P||21. F||41. P||61. S||81. F|
|2. N||22. P||42. F||62. N||82. P|
|3. N||23. S||43. S, N||63. F, S||83. P|
|4. P||24. S||44. S||64. S||84. N, P|
|5. F||25. N||45. N||65. F||85. P|
|6. P||26. N||46. N, P||66. N||86. F, S|
|7. F||27. P||47. P||67. F||87. P|
|8. P||28. S||48. F||68. P||88. P|
|9. F||29. N||49. S||69. P||89. N|
|10. S||30. S||50. F||70. P||90. F|
|11. S||31. S||51. P||71. P||91. S|
|12. N, P||32. S||52. P||72. F||92. S|
|13. F||33. N||53. S||73. N||93. F, S|
|14. P||34. F||54. F||74. P||94. P|
|15. F||35. N||55. P||75. N||95. F|
|16. N||36. N, P||56. F||76. P||96. S|
|17. P||37. F||57. F||77. N||97. P|
|18. F||38. N, P||58. P||78. P||98. N, P|
|19. F||39. N, P||59. S||79. F||99. N|
|20. N||40. N||60. P||80. N, P|
We will sell you a deck of ready-made printed cards with team-development items, along with the Feedback Table. Currently selling for $18, we will give you a 50 percent discount of $9 and throw in free shipment (for USA orders only)! Order your decks through our secure online store.
You must clearly specify all the objectives for your training materials and activities. You must clearly communicate these objectives to all learners at the beginning of the training session. During training, you must focus on helping the learners achieve these objectives.
Most trainers and training designers are obsessed with behavioral objectives. Objectives are very useful because—
However, like all profound truths, the opposite principle is also true: There are times when de-emphasizing training objectives has some powerful advantages:
As a trainer, you are more open to what happens during the session. You are less likely to disparage learners' questions and comments that are not aligned with the training objective. You are willing to listen to the learner, accept her offer, and pursue new avenues.
As a learner, you maintain a beginner's mind and pursue all interesting avenues to learning rather than focusing on what is on the test or what is directly related to the objective.
When you have an objective, you cannot be objective.
Having objectives (or goal or intentions) makes it difficult for you to be an objective (impartial, open-minded, or critical) observer. What you teach and what you learn are unduly biased by your predetermined intent. Obsession with objectives removes healthy playfulness from the learning process.