A good way to start is sitting in a circle, so everyone can see each other. Set an intention for the round/reflection. Do you need to address any issues that have occurred? Is something special happening today? Do you want someone who does not usually say that much to have the opportunity to talk in the group? Your intention defines what types of questions are good to ask. Here are some examples:
1. Pronouns and names should be a natural part of any round. It is a good way to start. Do it even though people know each other - make it a norm!
2. Examples of easier questions to warm up: what colour is your toothbrush? What's your favourite snack/fruit/animal/weekend activity/favorite subject in school/TV show/movie? Try avoiding questions about music/the activity you’re doing, this can put pressure on saying the “right” thing.
3. Reflective questions that require a minute to think alone before sharing: What I am proud that I did today? What challenges did I overcome? What do I want to do next time? What was our biggest accomplishment as a group? What made me happy today? How can I support the other members in the group?
The 1-2-4-all method is a good way to enable all participants in a group to speak, without having to speak in front of the entire group. It is very useful for bigger groups, but can also be valuable in smaller groups, especially if the questions are a bit difficult to answer.
Preparation: Sit in a circle. Hand out post it’s/papers and pens if that is feasible.
1. Ask a question in the group for reflection. Write it down on a flip chart/project on a screen to make sure everyone gets the question.
2. Give everyone a minute to think for themselves. This should be quiet.
3. Ask participants to turn to the person next to them. Administer this to make sure no one is left alone.
4. Give the pairs two minutes to tell eachother what they thought of. Let participants know when one minute has passed, and that they should switch.
5. Put two and two pairs together making groups of four.
6. Give the groups four minutes to tell each other what they have thought about. Ask them to look for similarities if that makes sense. Remind them that everyone in the group should have time to speak.
7. The groups of four get to share what they thought about to the big group. Instruct participants to say “In our group we discussed” in order to anonymise. You can limit the number of groups who share their reflection to three or four if you are a very large group.
8. Repeat the process if you have more questions for reflection.
Rock Paper Scissors - with cheers!
Rock paper scissors is a well known game, but this is an alternate version giving new life to an old classic. If you lose a round against someone, you have to stand behind them, hands on their shoulders and shout their name, cheering for them to win the next round! First, these are the rules of the game:
The rock is a closed fist; paper is a flat hand with fingers and thumb extended and the palm facing downward; and scissors is a fist with the index and
middle fingers fully extended toward the opposing player. Rock wins against scissors; paper wins against rock; and scissors wins against paper.
Then how to do this version:
1. Stand in a big circle and explain the basic rock- paper-scissors rules. Then explain that if you lose, you have to go behind the person you lost to, put your hand on their shoulder and cheer them on by shouting their name! It is good to ask for a volunteer to demonstrate with!
2. The winner then has to find another opponent, with
their partner still hanging on to their back.
3. In the end you have two long, human snakes competing for the win. When one of them wins, everyone gets behind this person and do a victory lap around the room cheering for them.
This game is quite short, so doing it 3-6 times is good. This also gives more participants the opportunity to win and have everyone cheer for them - quite a nice feeling!
Who you were at 6 years old
Group size: 4-20
1. Divide participants into pairs. Keep in mind who you are pairing up. Maybe you have an ongoing conflict? This can be a good way for participants to interact and get to know each other without focusing on music or other specific tasks.
2. Give the pairs two minutes per person to describe to the other one what they were like at six years old. What personality traits did they have? What interests they had, what role they had in their class/kindergarten. Maybe they have a funny story to tell?
3. Let participants know when two minutes have passed, and ask them to switch.
4. After both people in each pair have had the chance to talk, return to the big group.
5. Participants now present what the other person in their pair said for the entire group.
Find three things in common
Group size: 3-6
1. Ask each group to find three things they have in common. Avoid focusing on physical attributes. Examples can be: everyone has a pet, everyone loves Swiss chocolate, everyone wants to go to Iceland, everyone has had a hole in a tooth.
2. Give limited time - 5 minutes or so.
3. Ask each group to present their similarities to the entire group, or to you as a facilitator if the group is small.
1. Hand out post its and pens
2. Participants get a few minutes to think of what they need to feel safe during the workshop in silence. Explain that this can be anything from "I need access to coffee" to "I need people to use the right pronoun" to "We should test out every idea". It needs to be open, in order for more people to feel free to share what they need to feel safe. You can write it down on post its if you want, but it's not necessary.
3. Take a round where everyone who wants to, gets to say something they need to feel safe, and write it down on a large paper
4. Hang on the wall for the entire workshop/activity period.
1. Everyone wears name tags with pronouns all the time.
2. Give everyone info about the rules that apply at this activity.
I.e. No drugs, sleep time at 22, no phones except during designated phone times, wait until someone tells you it’s okay to leave the table at dinner (because there might be information given), be cautious with instruments, be inclusive, have fun and other rules you might have!
3. Write down the time schedule for the day somewhere everyone can see it. Using colours and objects to exemplify is a good idea!
4. Repeat time schedule orally at every morning gathering and other gatherings.
5. Make sure all participants know who to ask if: they need sanitary pads, if they are homesick, if they need some material, if they
have questions, if they feel unsafe, if there’s a conflict, if they have an idea for a game to do with everyone or other concerns, questions or worries they might have.
6. Use simple language to explain, and make sure everyone is following.
7. Have language police during workshops or other sessions where unknown words will be used. It is good if this is a leader/facilitator.
I.e. During the stage performance workshop someone might talk about monitoring. Many might not know what monitoring is, then the language police would raise their hand and ask the workshop holder to explain that word.
8. Remember that for some this is their first experience doing exactly this. Things that are obvious to you or previous participants, are not obvious to them. It’s better to explain something one too many times than not at all.
Two minutes to write a sentence
Come up with a new verse in five minutes, I’ll leave and come back.
Draw words from a hat to create a band name
Make a chord progression using all or some of these five chords
Write a chorus about your favourite animal
Write down possible topics for a song
Move the chords from the verse around to make a chord progression for the chorus
All limitations can and should be used together. What other types of limitations would work well in the type of work that you do?
“You were brave to try something completely new today”
“You are so good at including others,”
“You have so many great ideas,”
“I am proud of you for working as a team,”
“Thank you for following the group agreement,”
“Great job on testing out everyone’s ideas,”
“I am so impressed you made this song together!”
Is there an alternative way to play this instrument?
Can you explain this in more ways than one?
Is there an alternative way to participate in this activity?
Are all participants able to participate? (Consider ability- and neurodiversity)
Let participants know who to turn to if something feels difficult, overwhelming or they feel they are not able to participate.
Make sure everyone knows they can say no or sit some activities out (this should only be because they want to say no, not because the activity in itself is excluding).
Have different approaches to workshops and other activities where you want participants to absorb information. Presentation, tasks, rounds and reflection, games etc.