These are training tools for practicing particular skills needed to think abstractly: description, recall, summarizing.

Daughters in Boxes -- 函入り娘 2

Based on the famous speech by the Meiji era Japanese feminist leader Kishida Toshiko, this activity asks participants to create a manga version of her speech, working in teams.

I have spelled out a nine step process, but it might make sense to do a much quicker, rougher version of this, to leave time for other discussions. Steps 1, 4, 5 are essential, I think.

Step one is to read the original essay (for Japanese readers, in Japanese), and do a reader response writing activity.

Step two is to form teams with a mix of self-identified skills/capacities:

This can't possibly work

Like a nightmare scenario, in this case teams take a given, established object, situation, institution, relationship, saying, etc. and try to disprove it, brainstorming, prioritizing, and presenting reasons why it can not work, be true, etc.

Teams compete to make the most convincing arguments. (Need to think about criteria for a convincing argument.) Can be decided by a team of judges, or by the joker(s).

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.

Ten Levels of "So..."

Like Ten Levels of Why, but going the other direction.

Start with the last reason given in Ten Levels of Why.

Spoken version:
The player says her/his sentence out loud, then one person says, "so...?"
The player must give a consequence; "So..."
Then another person asks "So...?" and the player must give a consequence that flows from the previous statement... and so on, until ten so's have been asked and answered.
At the end, the person repeats the original sentence and the tenth consequence.

Thinking sideways

I adapted these slightly from activities in the book Intraemprendizaje by Iñazio Irizar (

Brainstorm on a given theme from six standpoints. For example:
Love, Hate, Need, Have, Fear, Hope
Useful, Useless, Safe, Dangerous, Easy, Difficult
or, using terms adapted from Edward de Bono (

The Marshmallow Challenge

Describe and Verify

I learned this game from students in a course I taught at Meiji University. This description game gives people a way to practice communication and verification of understanding.

Set up the room with four chairs facing away from the whiteboard. Leave space behind the chairs for people to stand.

Form four groups of four-seven people. One person from each group sits in a chair, the rest of the group lines up in a column, facing her (and facing the board).

Each of the people in the chairs (the Describer) is given an image (photos, paintings, etc).