For developing communication skills, noticing how we communicate.

Sound shiritori

Sound shiritori, joker is judge of sound match, uses silent way to help people find the right sound.

Play --> Ace (or eight...)

No words ending in -ing.

Can combine with sound color chart that shows letter combinations per sound, but point is more to get people to stop thinking visually (letters) and think aurally instead.

Sugoroku Board Game

For centuries board games have been used for entertainment, propaganda, and education. Monopoly was based on the Landlord Game, which was designed by followers of Henry George to education people about Land Rent and the single tax. Coopoly is designed to teach the challenges of running a worker cooperative. Some Japanese sugoroku games present bildungsromans or cautionary tales.

Excellent guide to instructions for games:

Work & Education, Past and Future Sugoroku Process Notes

Circle of questions and answers

Standing in a circle, a group of five to ten people. The joker hands the first player an index card with a word on it (or an object or picture). Player 1 has to ask Player 2 a question based on that word. Player two answers, then does the same for Player 3, etc.

The Mute Button

Idea for an activity: in trios, one player is the couch potato, the other two are actors in a TV show. The actors improvise a dialogue. At any time, the couch potato can say, "mute!" as if hitting the mute button on a remote control. When s/he does that, the players continue their dialogue without any sound.

The players have to pay attention so that when the couch potato turns off the mute, they have something to say.

I'm sorry, I don't understand...

In pairs, person one greets person two. Person two has trouble understanding everything that person one says and asks for clarification twice or three times. Example:

1: Hi Yolanda! How are you?
2: I'm sorry, what did you say?
1: I said, "How are you?"
2: I'm sorry I don't understand.
1: How are you feeling?
2: Oh, fine. Thank you. How are you?
1: Fine.
2: What?
1: I said I am fine.
2: I'm sorry, I don't understand...

Do for a short time, two minutes or so, then switch roles.

Liar's lecture

Based on the activity "Puro Cuento" in Técnicas Participativas Para la Educación Popular Vol. 1.

Joker gives pairs of participants 5 minutes to choose a short text -- about one-half to one page long. (The text needs to be available to all. A passage from a textbook, a handout prepared ahead of time, a webpage everyone can find on their phones...)

Listening game

I learned this from a student at Meiji University.

One person sits in the middle of the room surrounded by the other participants. S/he asks the group to think of one thing -- for example, their favorite musician. On the count of three, everyone calls out their answer at the same time. The person in the middle, who can ask the group to repeat their answers if necessary (again, all at the same time), listens carefully and then names all the musicians s/her heard, checking who said it. If s/he correctly hears all the items, s/he can choose the next person to sit in the middle.

So you mean...

An idea for an activity based on the game Um, what is...?. I got this idea from Yurie Kumakura.

In pairs, one person tells a story, or makes an argument. The listener stops her from time to time to confirm his understanding. "Okay, so you mean....?" If the listener is correct, the speaker confirms this and moves on. If not, she repeats or clarifies. This can be done in a serious way -- confirming the other person's argument -- or in a silly way, confirming (or misconstruing) the most obvious details.


I got this idea from a TedX talk by Chris Lonsdale: "How to learn any language in six months."(

The concept is simple: create a simple 3x3x3 matrix of three nouns, three verbs and three adjectives. Make sentences using one of the nouns, one verb, and one adjective. The goal is to make as many meaningful combinations as possible.

The players should feel free to add other words and parts of speech, but the basis of the sentence should be three words from the matrix.

One sentence symphony

As a child I remember playing a game in which one person made a repetitive mechanical movement, with a sound to match. The next person added a new movement and sound, and so on, until the participants had assembled a big, clanking, wheezing machine.

In this activity, the first player says one word, again and again, establishing a beat. (1, 2, 3, 4 --> The, The, The, The...) The next player adds a word and another rhythm. (1, rest, 3, 4 --> time, --, time, time) Each successive player builds the sentence and the sound.