Community Building

for Montessori school teams

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Dear Montessori Head of School,

Here are a list of games which you can play with your team at different points throughout a work week or as part of an in-service session. A detailed explanation of each of these listed games follows. I am available to talk through any of the games to provide more insight and also to share ‘how to’ on a video call.


These ‘Short and Sweet’ games take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes and generally are done while sitting around a table (exception is “Step Forward If”).

1. Step Forward If…

2. Here’s Looking at You

3. Six Word Memoir

4. Fortunately/Unfortunately


These “Laugh out Loud” games are more improv-oriented, involving people to get up and play a scene. These are very low stakes, easy to play, and will elicit a lot of laughter in the group. These each take between 10 and 15 minutes.

5. Slow Motion

6. Hitchhiker

7. Power Point Improv


These “More Involved/More Revealing” games take a bit more time (15 – 20 minutes) and have more reflective discussion involved.

8. Copy my Drawing

9. Super Brain


1. Step Forward If…

How to play

The group stands in a circle. The leader makes a statement (“Step Forward If…you are left-handed). For whomever the statement is true, they step forward. The group gets to learn about each other and learn what everyone has in common, or is extra-ordinary about each other. Other group members can contribute statements.


Variation

Fast or slow - This can be played as a quick warm-up, as described above, or it can be played more slowly to invoke conversation. With the slow version you can go through 8 – 10 statements in about 6 – 7 minutes. In the slow version you may only do three statements. With each statement, pause once everyone for whom the statement is true and ask questions to learn the background.

Examples:

Fast version - Show yourself if…

You drink coffee, instead of tea

You were born in the month of (the current month)

You are the youngest of your siblings

Slow version – Show yourself if…

            You have a scar on your knee

You have sworn in the past 24 hours

            You have chocolate stashed in your office/classroom somewhere


Ideas and Usefulness

Good warm-up - This is a good warm-up activity for a new group getting to know each other. It is also good for a large group, since there it does not require talking (in the fast version).

Inquiring Thinking – Once the group has played this game of couple of times, have the group members make up their own statements. This is a good exercise for students to think in an inquiring fashion. Which statements elicit a few, but not all participants? Which statements uncovered something new and surprising for the group?

2. Here’s Looking at You


How to play

For this game, everyone needs a piece of paper and a pen/pencil

The group is put into pairs. Each person in the pair is drawing the other person. When drawing the other person, they cannot look down at their paper. They can only look directly at the person they are drawing. This is a quick draw so only 30 – 60 seconds is needed for everyone to draw each other.

Once the time is up, then the group shares their drawings. The results will look very Picasso-ish. The idea of this exercise is to emphasize the joy in doing, rather than having a perfect drawing. The drawings will have their own beauty, and it’s that appreciation that is being cultivated. The artists should title their work, sign it, and give it to their subject if they like.


3. Six Word Memoir


How to Play

Players have six words to summarize their entire life, or their being, or their philosophy of life. Give players 2 – 3 mins to create their memoir. The players can share their memoirs with the group if they like.  

* There is a website where people can submit their memoirs. www.sixwordmemoirs.com Some examples from Six Word Memoirs: “Learning that my dreams aren’t his”, “She wasn’t always a good girl”


4. Fortunately/Unfortunately


How to play

The group tells a story together, by taking turns in telling the story. As each person begins their part of the story, the words 'fortunately' and 'unfortunately' alternates.


To get the game started the leader can ask the group for a name of a story that has never been written. In the example below the suggest was, “What’s that Smell?”

Example:

Player 1: Fortunately, it was a warm day and everyone was outside playing, biking, hiking, and swimming.

Player 2: Unfortunately, there was a very strange aroma that caused most folks to gag upon whiffing it.

Player 3: Fortunately, for a few people this aroma gave them superpowers.

Player 4: Unfortunately, the main superpower it gave them was to make more of the foul smell.


The game ends once every member has shared a line and the story is concluded.


5. Slo Mo

How to play

Two people act out a scene together completely in silence and completely in slow motion. The duo will be given a scenario such as:

  • Greeting a long-lost friend

  • Greeting a very friendly dog

  • Giving a surpise gift

  • Bowling a strike

  • Reading horrible news

  • Sprint finish (2 – 8 players)

  • Tug o War (2 – 8 players)

The theme song from “Chariots of Fire” should be played while the players act out their scene. This adds a lot of comedy. Emphasize to the players to move very slowly, to watch each other carefully, and to ‘play’ together. They are telling a mini-story together.


6. Hitchhiker

How to play

Three players and three chairs are needed for this game. The chairs are set in a line next to each other facing the group.

The game starts with two players seated in the chairs, as if they are seated in the front seat of a car, with one of the players driving the car. The third player stands to the side as a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker is picked up and has a distinct characteristic, theme, or habit. The two in the car take on the characteristic of the hitchhiker. The ‘thing’ is heightened and exaggerated by all three players. Another player from the audience can stand at the side of the car as a new hitchhiker. The driver then finds a reason to exit the car, the two passengers scoot down, with one at the driver’s seat exiting, and then pick up the new hitchhiker. The new hitchhiker has a distinct characteristic which the two in the car adopt and exaggerate.

Example play:

The hitchhiker may be itchy and scratching themselves. When the hitchhiker enters the car then all three people in the front seat of the car are all itchy. After a bit a new hitchhiker stands at the side of the car (with their thumb out). The driver ‘pulls over’ and makes an excuse to leave the car. The two players left in the car scoot over to make room for the new hitchhiker. This hitchhiker has the characteristic of wearing a very large hoop skirt and is very proper. Now all three people in the car are all very proper and wearing a large hoop skirt. The game continues with different people from the audience coming up as a new hitchhiker with a new characteristic. The fun in the game is everyone taking on the new characteristic and exaggerating it and making it their own.


7. Powerpoint Improv

How to play

Two players will be experts on a topic and do a presentation using a Powerpoint presentation. However, the players have never seen the slides and won’t know what the topic is until they get started. This requires a laptop and screen for the audience and players to see the slides.

The players need to act as if they know exactly what the topic is and exactly what the slides are all about. The success of this game is the players being committed on their expertise and also listening carefully to each other.

8. Copy my Drawing

How to play

The group splits into pairs. Player A will have a very simple drawing (example below), which Player B cannot see. Player A and B should sit in chairs back-to-back from each other so they cannot see one another, but only hear each other’s voices. Player B has a clipboard, a paper, and a pen/pencil. Player B is going to replicate the drawing of Player A based on the description that Player A gives. Player B can ask any question to Player A in order to confirm or get more details on the drawing. The players have 5 - 10 mins to make the drawing together. After this time they can look at each other’s drawings to see how close they got.

Discussion should follow on what worked in the blind draw and what did not work. This can be linked to communication in general on the importance of listening, being concrete and specific, and also to ask the right questions.

9. Super Brain

How to play

The group is divided into teams of 5 players. The group is in a standing formation with one person in the middle and the other four surrounding them (front, right, back, and left). The person in the middle is the ‘super brain’ and needs to follow and answer questions from the players surrounding them.

·      The front person will be doing slow movements which the super brain person needs to mirror.

·      The person to the left will be asking for simple math problems, such as 3 +1, which the super brain needs to answer.

·      The person in the back will be asking personal questions, such as “what is your middle name”, which the super brain needs to answer.

The person on the left will be asking simple spelling questions, which the super brain needs to answer.

The questions and movement are all happening at the exact same time. The people asking are doing so calmly. They will repeat the question until the super brain answers the question at which point they ask a new question. See diagram below. The purpose of this game is to experience, in a playful way, how our brain multi-tasks when working in the classroom. We are using our bodily-kinesthetic mind, our analytical mind, our reading/writing mind, and our emotional brain (personal questions). In discusion after the exercise, people can reflect how they reacted to the game. Do they stop moving when doing math? Do they get frustrated? Do they laugh? What is their coping? It can bring about conversations on how they cope with the constant buzz from their day in the classroom.

Here is an example ppt slide on the topic of “Healthy Habits”.

I am happy to provide a slide deck to you.

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Above, example slides to use for PowerPoint Improv on the topic of "Healthy Habits"

Get in Touch