Dinamicas de Animacion (icebreakers)

Activities whose main function is to get people to loosen up, to communicate with each other freely, to relax, to get excited or enthusiastic. Most often they are games, but they can also have thematic content.

One line drawing

I learned this from Minami Yoshitaka, Yasuhara Kouhei, and Yamazaki Ryouta in an English class they taught at Meiji University. In this game people compete to create collaborative drawings that illustrate some thing or idea. It could lead very nicely into discussion, especially if the theme is one of relevance to people's lives.

The flow:

  • Form teams of three or four people.
  • The joker chooses a theme, for example, "job hunting" or "Freedom Rides."
  • One player from each team lines up before the whiteboard in a row, waiting for the signal.

Introductions - ask me a question

Shiho Ide, a participant in my Tokyo English for Activists class, came up with this nice way to do introductions.

Standing in a circle.

The first participant introduces herself, saying her name and what she would like others to call her. She then chooses another person who must ask her a question, any question. After the first person answers the question, the second person repeats the process.


Most people would say...

I learned this game at Kani Club, the theater improvisation group in Tokyo, Japan. The game asks participants to filter their free association through their sense of what others might say. The object is to avoid "idiocy" -- in the sense of being isolated in one's thinking. At the same time, the "idiotic" answers are often reasonable or creative.

That's how I feel.

Adapted from "Busca tu cancion" in 101 juegos musicales. See also I second that (e)motion.

The joker writes down three to 10 emotions on index cards, two cards per emotion. (One set of three if you have an odd number of participants.) There should be as many cards as participants.

Shuffle the cards, keeping them face down, and have people pick a card, keeping it hidden from others.

That's my song!

Slightly adapted from "Busca tu cancion" in 101 juegos musicales.

Choose three or four songs that are probably known to everyone in the group and write each song's title on two index cards. You should have as many cards as participants. (For odd numbered groups, add an extra card for one song.)

Shuffle the cards and have participants each choose one card, being careful not to show it to others.

The Gift

Learned this at Kani Club.

In pairs, one person (The Giver) mimes giving the other a gift. Her mime should show some quality of the gift -- size, weight, temperature, value, etc.

The Receiver receives the gift in kind (showing its weight, etc) and identifies it. E.g., "Oh what a beautiful lobster! Thank you so much!"

The Giver, in the spirit of "Yes, and...", follows the Receiver's lead, adding some detail about the Gift. E.g., "I pulled it up in the trap this morning and thought of you."

Feel Free

This is a spiel that I give when beginning work with a new group.

Feel Free

In this course there is one rule: feel free. To me this means three things:

  • Feel free to be comfortable. Feel free to stretch, to sit comfortably, to stand, to use the bathroom. Feel free to make a phone call (outside). Feel free to sleep (outside).
  • Feel free to be uncomfortable. Feel free to be confused, to be shy, to be ashamed, to forget, to be stumped. Feel free to be frustrated, even angry. Feel free to be ignorant, to be mixed up, to be off balance.

The shared object

A simple approach to emancipated teaching. As my friend Charley once said of a different activity, "This is a double black diamond!" To use this activity well you need to know what you are doing, and not doing, and why.

I heard you fired your boss...

This game is a variation on the "Yes, and yay" improvisation game I learned at Kani Club. The purpose is to be playful and free with language, using a standard form of interaction creatively. Like most games, it can be thematic or simply fanciful. (In any case, it needs to be fanciful.) Finding the creativity and play in each other is an important gain for people working together in groups. Just as we need to re-invent the wheel periodically when it comes to our strategy, we also need to re-discover each other from time to time.

The flow:

Simon Proposes

I thought up this idea for a game to introduce OWS-type consensus decision-making signals, to practice their use, and to spark discussion about the basics of consensus and some difficulties in consensus decision-making.

Circle game, whole group.

Joker first reminds people of the game Simon Says, leading a quick refresher round of the game. In this game, though, Simon doesn't get to give commands, s/he can only make proposals.

So, for example, the joker says, "Simon proposes we touch our noses."

Then, all the players "twinkle":
a) up to show their support

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