My Top Five Picks: Improv Games as Icebreakers

I love icebreakers.  I love opportunities to get folks up, moving and interacting with each other, and I think you can learn amazing things about your group just by listening to the interactions as they are happening.

Never underestimate the power of laughter to disarm even the most shielded person.  By opening a group up to hilarious and goofy interactions with one another, you give them an opportunity to safely let their guard down without feeling too vulnerable.

My favorite way to create fun interactions is through Improvisational Comedy.  I would have to say improv games are my go-to resource for fun activities and icebreakers.  I’ve talked about ice-breakers before, but you asked for more…so here they are….My top five pics for Improv games:

Fun and Laughter pave the way for open conversations.

1.  Conjoined Twins

Supplies Needed: None

Set Up: Have your group divide up in pairs. Each pair has to come up with some way to be ‘conjoined’ (yes that means they have to touch one another.)  You’ll need someone not playing to interview each set of conjoined twins.

The rules for this game are simple.The players are conjoined twins who must speak simultaneously when giving answers to the questions from the audience. The players receive questions one at a time from the group and are then given the opportunity to spontaneously answer. Generally, the answers are only one or two words. Asking questions that require longer answers challenges the players. The players are forced to follow each other in determining what to say- they are speaking together as they listen.  The content of the answers is not important to the game but yield howls of laughter as the players try to come up with the answer and speak in unison.

I’m kind of starting with the most difficult on the list first, but this is my absolute favorite.  This game brings up so many things….like trust, listening, willingness to lead and to follow. It is a veritable minefield of learning lessons.  The drawback is that once you get a gaggle of gals giggling, it can be a bit difficult to control, but it’s a great trade off, especially for a smaller group of 10 or so.


2.  Circle Warm Up

Circle Warm Up– Warning: Uncontrollable laughter is possible!

Supplies needed: None

Circle Warm-Up is Comedy Improv game used to loosen a group of people up and get loads of laughs.  The group stands in a circle facing in.  First person steps forward and makes a gesture or sound and everyone in the group repeats it.  Play continues around the circle until everyone has gone.  GO FAST! Do whatever you think of first.  If someone gets stuck, and starts to fidget, that becomes their motion and the group repeats it.  This is a great way to begin talking about how much easier it is to open up and be silly when you trust everyone is going to as well- this helps build the trust that others will open up and be vulnerable later.

3. One Word Story

One Word Story- Learning to accept and build

Supplies needed: None

One-Word Story is an Improv game used as a warm up in Comedy Improv groups.  Divide your group into groups of 8-10.  Once you are in your groups, ask for a suggestion of a fairy tale story to tell as a group.  Then instruct the groups that they will have 2 minutes to begin to tell the story one. Word. At. A. time. The key is to go fast and to add onto the word the person in front of you said.

Tip: Inevitably, you will end up with a yellow submarine in Cinderella or ruby slippers in Snow White.  This game gets hilarious. Stop the game after two minutes and ask, “Do you guys actually remember the story?”  Ask for some of the really ridiculous suggestions.

This game highlights the point that even though we may have a really clear direction and idea of where things should be headed, we only have control of ourselves and our contribution to the team.  The idea is to learn to take what your teammate gives you, view it as a gift no matter how much it diverges from your plan, and build on it.

Recently I played this game with a group of young women 18-25.  As we were going around the circle there seemed to be this wrestling to control the “power” words of the story- you know the big ones- nouns, verbs, seemingly ridiculous adjectives like Irish, and frankly, the story got lost.  This game the opportunity to talk about the fact that often times the most valuable word in a story is a single letter, like ‘a’ or a short word like ‘the,’ and tat while those words seem insignificant to us when we look at them by themselves, the story can’t go on without them. It was a beautiful moment that spoke to the importance and purpose of each and everyone one of us.

4.  Whoosh

Supplies needed: None

Whoosh is a warm-up improv game that is played in a circle.  The basic level of it is whoosh is passed around the circle like an energy, it travels from person to person in one direction around the circle. Then you can add levels like “BOINK” which stops the whoosh and rebounds it to travel in the opposite direction. You can add “OVERPASS” which makes the whoosh jump over the person next to you and land on the next person. And at this point you can add many fun hilarious levels to the game which gives players handfuls of choices to make, respond to and be confused by. We play ninja,  monorail, scooter, galactica, hyperspace and subway just to name a few…and I am fairly certain that most of these I made up on the spur of the moment…so have fun with these!

This is a great exercise to watch who engages and who doesn’t and to learn who has a tendency to overpower things as well. This one game can tell you a whole lot about the personalities in your group and how well they work together.

5.  Flock Dance

Supplies: None

This is a very physical, very silly and wildly fun game! Stress the silliness of it and that there must be commitment on everyone’s part in order for this to be fun.

Have your group arrange themselves in a “flying V” with one person at the front of the ‘V’ and the others staggered behind them, like a flock of birds. The player at the front begins leading a dance (either to a stereo or to music that they hum or sing themselves). The other players follow the leader, duplicating their movements as closely as possible. After 15-20 seconds (or when the song changes, if you’ve got a stereo and a “DJ”), a new leader moves into the front until each player has had a chance to try leading.

The idea behind this game is to get full commitment.  This is an especially useful game if your subject material for the rest of your event is very deep and will require lots of vulnerability.  This also helps players be aware of leadership and take the initiative, to follow, and to let go of habitual patterns of movement and really WATCH someone else closely.

Flock dance is about finding a balance between leaders and followers, so in as much as followers should be aware of the leader, so should the leader be aware of his/her followers and ensure that they are supported.

Safety is also a concern, as the flock will be watching the head bird.

Woah! This is a long post, but there you go…my top five improv games.  There are so many more that I love…you know what, that I would love to share with you- so if you are interested in more or in chatting about how you can make your next event super awesome- shoot me a line at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com, I’d love to help!

Have fun!

Captivating Heart was awesome!

 

 

There were 31 of us….women from all walks of life….beautiful women who came for rest…who came for restoration…who came for redemption.

And after a year of planning and  and working….the weekend was amazing!

 

We had adventure..

We had friendship….Join us for the rest at www.captivatingheart.com

NWA Motherlode features Captivating Heart!

We’ve just returned from our leadership retreat out at New Life Ranch in preparation for Captivating Heart! What an amazing place! We cannot wait for you to join us out there! 

Can you believe Captivating Heart is only a month away?  Crazy how fast this year has gone…

So on the eve of the end of early bird registration, NWA Motherlode has featured Captivating Heart in an interview….why don’t you check it out?

 

How often do you really take time to refresh your spirit and renew your mind? If that sentence makes you sigh, you might enjoy a retreat coming up the first weekend in October called Captivating Heart. It’s going to be held at the awesome New Life Ranch just outside of NWA in Colcord, Oklahoma.

In fact, this event sounds amazing…read the rest of the article here

A Party in the Garden

Oh! It was beautiful!

Photo by Beckey Mwaba

The day…the garden…the tea cups….

Simply a beautiful, elegant Saturday morning.

We had lovely entertainment:

Aren’t they sweet? “I’m a Little Teapot!”

We had lessons on the proper way to “take tea.” The most important? “Always speak with kindness.”  I think we will add tea to our daily routine just for that.

Carried Away Crafts gave us these divine bath fizzies for each of our guests.

We had wonderful give-aways and gallant young men to serve us. We had sweet  babies and beautiful music….and cupcakes…did I mention we had cupcakes?

But the most breathtaking thing of the whole beautiful garden party? The most captivating thing….was all of these beautiful women…women in their finery and sundresses….women in their fancy hats and tiaras….women in their Captivating Hearts.  They were stunning each one.

On Saturday, June 9, we had our first fundraiser for Captivating Heart.  We had a wonderful group of ladies in attendance.  We raised over 900 dollars! This will provide partial scholarships for several women!

 

Oh so many things to tell….

Where to begin….there are loads happening around here (with me…and with the ministry!)

So I will sum up the goings on!

First, Captivating Heart is coming to life!

Captivating Heart is a retreat ministry based on the bestselling book, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Captivating is based on the message that there are core desires of woman’s heart- to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to be the beauty of the story- and that unlocking and understanding these desires are the secret to the feminine heart.  The core message of Captivating is this:

Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation.  The desires that you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman are telling you of the life God created you to live.  ~ Captivating

I have felt a strong desire for several years to bring this message to my community in a way that is affordable and accessible to women locally, so a team of twelve other faithful ladies and I have been working diligently to provide just that…and it’s coming together! I am so excited! AND I so want you to join us!  There are tons of ways to register:

1) You can go to the events page and click on the “register now” button under Captivating Heart…

or

2) Check out our online home at www.captivatingheart.com.  You can find out all the information and register right there online! Special shout out to Madwire Media for donating design hours to create our site!

We’re hosting our first fundraising event!

To raise funds for Captivating Heart and provide scholarships to those who could not otherwise afford the retreat we are hosting a Garden Party on June 9 from 10-12.  We would love for ya’ll to come out….you can purchase your ticket to attend and find out more about the event here:

http://captivatinghearttea.eventbrite.com/

Fundraising has begun in earnest! 

So if you can’t make our awesome ladies tea (I’m super excited to wear my new garden hat!) and you want to donate to our cause (please, please, please consider it!) then, we have a way for you to do that as well through our totally secure fundly site…We’d love to partner with you to help make this happen!

http://fundly.com/s/captivatingheart

Hmmmm…I think that those are all the exciting updates I can think of right now, but the truth is I’m super tired and I need to rest up for a brain scan tomorrow….beauty sleep for pictures, you know? (beneath this false bravado is a girl secretly asking for your prayers…I really detest having someone inject radioactive dye into my head, strap my head into a cage and stick me into a really noisy, very tight-quartered tunnel.) Thank you so much in advance for your prayers and love! Hopefully, I will have more to share this weekend!

Grace and Peace,

CK

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday…Again:)- Relevant

Oh, “Five Minute Friday!” How I’ve missed you! Seems hard to believe, but lately I don’t even feel like I’ve had five minutes to participate….a sad, sad story I tell….and well, just know…I’m working on it…and God is too.

So, flex your fingers, and let’s play Five Minute Friday.

Where we throw caution (editing, revising, and worrying) to the winds and just write. Without wondering if it’s just right or not.

For five minutes flat. Then link up here www.thegypsymama.com.

Today’s prompt is:  Relevant.

Disclaimer: Ok…I admit it…1) it’s Saturday and 2) this actually took like 12 minutes to write- but there are quotes and links and other fun stuff in there! Forgive me? 🙂

Ready? GO!

I am scared of what God is asking me to do.  For a couple of years now, God has seeded in me the desire to lead a women’s conference in conjunction with a Pastor’s conference my church helps support in Northern India.  For a couple of years the excuse I used was “I am not sure how my ministry will be culturally relevant. What will I speak on?”

My pastor (who teaches at the conference each year) has done his best to allay my fears. The conference coordinator has met my ideas with excitement and enthusiasm.  Still, the question has batted around in my brain…paralyzing my efforts to coordinate such an endeavor.

And then my friend, Geof Kimber came to lead worship at our church for a weekend conference.  We traded books, my Living Life with Strings Attached on godly relationships for his Fruits and Roots on worship.

I was 22 pages in when Geof rocked my world with this statement:

“God’s Word overrides culture. We are certainly to be effective in reaching people of other cultures; nevertheless our calling to that end is not to mold the Word of God to our various cultures, but to mold our cultures to the Word of God.

The notion that we are relevant to our own culture, but irrelevant to others, is still missing the point….Being irrelevant to other cultures is simply evidence that our own cultural views have so shaped our understanding of Scripture, that they are engrained into the way we apply them.”

Bam! OUUUCHHH!

Geof just performed the writer’s equivalent of a 2 x 4 to the head….It stung a little at first (who am I kidding, it stung a lot), but I was heartened by his words. I don’t need to make myself cultural….I just need to teach the Truth. Which is exactly what Geof says the answer is (and he should know, he travels the world leading worship and walking his talk…you should check him out…he’s amazing!)

He says:

“The solution to ministering effectively in a cross cultural setting, is proper exegesis of what the Word of God actually teaches, so that the Scriptures will shape the way we understand our cultures, not the other way around.”

This is exactly what I needed to understand.

I’m still scared. I still  have questions. But I am moving forward anyway.  Plans are in the works for a 2012 Women’s conference.  I will need your help…with prayers, with funding, with encouragement…but I know you will come through!

STOP

If you want information about the 2020 Conference, check out TellAsia’s website here. And if you would like to donate to this year’s pastor’s conference you can do so through the donate button below.  Our hopes are to send 1,000 native pastors to this four day training conference this year.  It cost just $40 to pay for their food, lodging and supplies why they are at the conference….$40 will help train a pastor to lead a church….pure awesomeness! We need your help!

Donate today to help train pastors in India!

My Top Five Picks: Mixers and Icebreakers

If you have been to a workshop or seminar I’ve conducted in the last three or so years, it is likely that you have experienced one or more of these games.  They are my favorites and so easy to draw lessons out of. One of the wonderful things about icebreakers and mixers is that you can learn so much about your audience by listening in on the conversations that are taking place around you.

Listen for the lessons the audience receives, even if they aren't what you originally planned.

The most important key about any object lesson though is to be prepared to learn as much from your audience as they do from you. Go in with a clear picture of the lesson you want them to walk away from the exercise with, but also be open to hearing something different.  Often, we will get so wrapped up in the message we think we are there to deliver that we resist when the Holy Spirit leads us down a different path.  This is even more true with games and exercises.  Be willing to explore what is going on with your audience at the expense of your own agenda.  The most powerful of lessons are those that are personal and real for someone at that moment. Trust that God placed you in the role of facilitator for a reason and release the control of the message to Him.

Ok…on to the fun stuff!

Fun and Laughter pave the way for open conversations.

I’ve already given you my very favorite icebreaker: Me, Too

Me, Too

But Mixers two, three and four come from the world of improvisational comedy or improv (think “Whose Line is it Anyway?”).  I believe that fun and laughter are the easiest paths to begin to let down our masks and allow others to see us as we truly are.  It’s easier to be uncomfortable together. These games push us to be silly together.

Circle Warm Up

Circle Warm Up-- Warning: Uncontrollable laughter is possible!

Supplies needed: None

Circle Warm-Up is Comedy Improv game used to loosen a group of people up and get loads of laughs.  The group stands in a circle facing in.  First person steps forward and makes a gesture or sound and everyone in the group repeats it.  Play continues around the circle until everyone has gone.  GO FAST! Do whatever you think of first.  If someone gets stuck, and starts to fidget, that becomes their motion and the group repeats it.

One-Word Story

One Word Story- Learning to accept and build

Supplies needed: None

One-Word Story is an Improv game used as a warm up in Comedy Improv groups.  Divide your group into groups of 8-10.  Once you are in your groups, ask for a suggestion of a fairy tale story to tell as a group.  Then instruct the groups that they will have 2 minutes to begin to tell the story one. Word. At. A. time. The key is to go fast and to add onto the word the person in front of you said.

Tip: Inevitably, you will end up with a yellow submarine in Cinderella or ruby slippers in Snow White.  This game gets hilarious. Stop the game after two minutes and ask, “Do you guys actually remember the story?”  Ask for some of the really ridiculous suggestions.

This game highlights the point that even though we may have a really clear direction and idea of where things should be headed, we only have control of ourselves and our contribution to the team.  The idea is to learn to take what your teammate gives you, view it as a gift no matter how much it diverges from your plan, and build on it.

Hitchhiker

Hithiker: Attitude is contagious

Supplies needed: 4 chairs

This game is best done in a smallish group (10-15) as it takes a while.  The story is there are three people in a car and one hitchhiker. They pull over to pick up the hitchhiker and she gets into the back seat behind the driver. But the hitchhiker has a strange tick. As the driver is driving, the rest of the car slowly picks up the tick (preferably without the front seat watching the back seat) until the driver has the tick and finds an excuse to pull over and get out.  The players then rotate one seat and play begins again with a new hitchhiker and a new tick. The players keep the last tick, until it is replaced by a new one.

This particular game flows beautifully from One Word Story which teaches us that in this life we can’t choose what we are handed.  We can’t change other people’s thoughts, feelings or behaviors.  The one and only thing that we have any control over is ourselves. We can control our thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how we perceive a situation and what we choose to do with the information that we are presented.  We can choose to reflect a positive, Godly attitude, or we can choose to become a bitter root that can infect an entire group, or ministry, or even church.  In Hebrews 12: 15 says: “ See to it that no one misses the grace of God an that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

On the other hand, Hitchhiker teaches us how easy bad (and good) attitudes can spread among a group.

Pass the Beans

Sharing our hidden talents...

Supplies: 15 dried beans for each participant

Everyone has a special talent  and unique experiences, but sometimes they are hidden, so no one else knows about them. The goal of this game is to reveal those gifts to the rest of the group.

Ask women to form groups of five, and then have each group sit in a circle. Give each person 15 persons. Explain that the girls are to try and collect beans by describing their unique experiences or abilities. For example, a woman might tell about running in a marathon, being able to recite all the books of the Bible, or her passion for painting with watercolors. Whatever activity they describe must be absolutely true.

After someone shares an activity, each lady who has never done that must give the person who shared one bean.  Have participants take turns listing their unique experiences and abilities until each person has shared 10 activities.

After everyone has shared at least 10 activities, ask women to report how many beans they’ve collected. Then ask for volunteers to share interesting activities they heard about and encourage those that have done that activity to share more.

I hope that these are helpful to you! Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions about these or any other suggestions you see here!