Friday, February 27, 2009

Play, Play, Play - one of my first books

A few people have written me emails about my books. Here is the original introduction to one of the most popular books, Play, Play, Play: Games You Never Played Before Because I Just Made Them Up. The original title for this book (when self-published) was Facilitating Success. Companies were just starting to warm up to the use of outdoor experiential activities to help them improve communication and collaboration. I helped the traditional outdoor (ropes course) facilitators move indoors with portable games, which was more interesting to corporate clients.

If you are interested in Play, Play, Play then you can order it online here or through any bookseller.

This book was written from the materials presented at the 1994 Annual Texas Experiential Ropes Association Conference and the 22nd Annual International Association for Experiential Education Conference by the author. It is intended to be used by persons with some previous understanding of experiential education. Please take all necessary emotional and physical safety precautions when facilitating these activities. The facilitator of these activities assumes all risk and liability for any loss or damage which may occur as a result of the use of these activities or their variations.

Playing games and conquering initiatives should always have a purpose (i.e. meet a goal) for your experiential clients. Successful experiential leaders will always have these goals in mind when instructing a group, and the group will always expect to learn while they have fun. Knowing why you are using a particular game or initiative is always the first step in successfully using it.

Always modify the game or story line to be the most relevant and stimulating for your group when presenting the guidelines. Allow the group as much flexibility in interpreting your words as possible while still challenging them to meet their goals. The more enthusiastic you are in your presentation the more fun they have. The name of the game/initiative and the labels for the elements of the game are always more meaningful to the participants when they are specific to the group you are working with. For example, "Put Out the Fire" might be called "Math Mashers" and the balloons represent whole numbers 0 through 9. The first grade student must smash the balloons with a bag that has the sum written on it of the balloons thrown at them by the teacher within 15 seconds. Or a corporate executive may have to stamp on balloon colors representing poor management skills while avoiding good skills in "An Exercise in Efficiency".

Make mental notes and observations while watching the challenge participants. You must resist the urge to give hints or solutions to your group. Your role is to find and recognize issues that would be beneficial to the group in processing the game or initiative while keeping the members physically and emotionally safe. Now is the time to formulate your processing questions and observations that will help your students/clients meet their goals.

Processing is the most important element of any experiential exercise. Questions should be open-ended and not leading. Participants should use their own discovery during processing to gain the maximum benefit. Guiding a resistant individual may be best done by other participants. You will probably find processing time most efficient if you have developed appropriate expectations in the group members prior to bringing them into your group.

Frequently successful questions:
What did you notice during the activity?
How did you feel during the activity?
What did you learn?
How can you apply this new knowledge to your life?

Always make time for closure for your group. You may discover that the group feels best about their experience if the closure focused on their strengths, success, or growth.

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