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 Voice

I got this from Kani Club, the improvisation school in Tokyo. It is a great "Yes, and..." game.

Pairs or trios (daunting to do in larger groups, but could be done with practiced players).

The idea is for the players to speak a sentence simultaneously without knowing what the sentence will be ahead of time, relating the sentence to some physical action or pantomime.

Speed Dating

Simple, familiar, quick dialogue game.

Two rows of people facing each other, standing close enough to hear each other over the noise of others speaking. Joker chooses a theme and explains the rules -- both people should talk and listen, one minute, when time is up one line shifts one person to the left. (The last person on the row moves to the other end of their line.)

Often used for introductions. Can also be used for a check-in, or for rapid discussion after another activity.

The law of C

I adapted this brainstorming game slightly from an activity in the book Intraemprendizaje by Iñazio Irizar (

1. Players seated in a circle, one person standing in the middle points to a player and says, "C!" The player has five seconds to say a word starting with C. If they miss, they go to the center.

2. In Teams: given a theme or object, people brainstorm words related to that object that begin with C.

Permutation Game

Learned this from students in my Critical Reading course. They used PPT to run the game.

Jokers take quotes from famous people (thematic quotes are best), scramble the words and write them on the board (or ppt). In teams, players compete to re-write the sentences, one word at a time, in correct order. There is a strict time limit of 2 minutes.

Feel Funky

Working with a group that was already familiar with my Feel Free mantra, I added another term: feel funky. I use them term the way Cornel West uses it, to capture creativity and energy born of the grit and grasp of reality, to suggest the freak and the insubordinate joy of life. Play P-Funk or Sun Ra or Mingus.

Me --> You (recognition game)

Haka Variations

Use the haka form to practice the body language of other emotions and attitudes: instead of intimidation, how about love, shame, flattery...?

Use it with language, as a kind of competition -- each side having its players say something in English, different for each player, showing off their language skill and clever ideas.

Use it with sounds, each side taking turns making one sound or word, like my name "Matt." The leaders can coach their teams and tell them which word is next.

Three by Four

Adapted from "Two by Three by Bradford" in Augusto Boal's Games for Actors and Non-Actors.

Team of three. Player one says, "One". Player two says, "Two." Player three says, "Three." Player one says "Four." Repeat the sequence again and again, picking up speed.

Once the team is smooth, the joker introduces a sound in the place of "one." The teams play again, this time using the sound in the place of "one."

Once the team is smooth again, change the sound into a word.

Repeat until all four words have been replaced by words and the team is saying a sentence.

Which would you rather...?

Play the game "Which would you rather be?" (have, do, see, eat...)

Do it first for fun, making the questions challenging, surreal, random, etc.

Then do it thematically: which would you rather be: a boss or a worker? A capitalist or a cooperativist? The questions should be real, not rhetorical or testing people's adherence to a political line.