For developing communication skills, noticing how we communicate.

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.

Yes, and...

I learned this rule of improvisation at Kani Club, and have found it very useful in my teaching. (A statement of the rule and nine others is here:

It is most useful for any activity in which you will ask people to create a story or some other content together.

It can be added to the Broken Squares activity -- in which "Yes, and..." is a great tool for solving the collective puzzle.

One word to a hundred

Joker asks participants to write a sentence using just one word.

Compare results. (No need to split hairs over the definition of a sentence, the purpose is to play with language.)

Joker then asks for two-word sentences.

Compare results.

And so on, one, two three, five, ten words, then jump to twenty, fifty, one hundred-word sentences.

Have people find examples of each, feeling free to use poetry, lyrics, any text.

Play the same game additively, start with one word, add another, and another.

Maria is a teacher

In this chain story-telling game the joker starts off the story with this sentence:
"[Maria] is a teacher." [Any name]

Each participant adds something to the story, either describing Maria or building a narrative.

Like the game "Juan y Juana" in Tecnicas Participativas, the game should produce some interesting elements, a kind of rough image what what we take a teacher to be. This can be made clearer by following with another story, this time starting with "[Maria] is a student."

One Word At A Time

Another Kani Club game.

In pairs or trios, people take turns telling a story one word at a time, improvising as they go. Time limit should be relatively short: 2 minutes?

Person A: This
Person B: morning
Person C: when
Person A: I
Person B: opened
Person C: my

As with all Kani games, the key is to embrace others' ideas and add your own. (Yes, and...)

Joker can give everyone a word on which they have to end, e.g. "carnations" or "exploded."

Ten Second Objects

Adapted from "Ten Second Objects" on the Drama Resource website ( The original activity is great as is:

"Divide everyone into small groups (4-6). Call out the name of an object and all the groups have to make the shape of that object out of their own bodies, joining together in different ways while you count down slowly from ten to zero. Usually every group will find a different way of forming the object. Examples could be: a car, a fried breakfast, a clock, a washing machine, a fire."


Nothing is given: Observation, Knowledge, Deduction

When asking people, "What do you see?" I find the question often confuses them. Though I prompt people with Denzel Washington's line in the film Philadelphia, "explain it to me like I'm six years old" people are unsure what is being asked.

Compare yourself

In this activity people use illustrations of others to introduce themselves through comparison and contrast. I have used images by Joe Sacco from Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, but it would also be interesting to use images of historical figures (known or unknown), literary figures, objects (a cactus, a fish net, a wave), etc.

Hand out pictures randomly (or lay on table for self-access).