Drawings with descriptions

I learned this from Omi Yusuke and Tada Keisuke, students in a course I teach at Meiji University, in Tokyo. I like the way the gradual addition of features, and the inclusion of non-human elements, leads to an "exquisite corpse"-like creature. The addition of a complete object at the end creates an interesting contrast with the piecemeal creature. The creature's uniqueness makes it an interesting object for description and imaginative writing.

The Flow:

Participants pair-up or form groups of no more than four.

Step One

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).

ROUND ONE

What is our relationship to...?

I learned this from a Japanese popular educator whose name I can't recall. The combination of physicality with abstract thought produces interesting results.

The flow:

Put a disorderly pile of three or four chairs in the center of an open space, with all the participants around.

Announce that the chairs are the theme we want to discuss, for example, "English" or "Democracy" or "Equality".

I have a letter, aka, Fruit Basket

This well-known game is great for language learning, for modeling participatory learning, and for stimulating thought about a theme.

The flow is easy: the joker stands at the center of a circle of seated people facing in. The joker says, "I have a letter for everyone who..." and adds some description. For example, "I have a letter for everyone who has glasses." The people with glasses then have to move to different chairs. The person who ends up without a chair becomes the new joker.

Three Elements

I learned the game "Tree, Ground, Water" from students who taught a session of our English course at Meiji University.

The process is simple: the joker stands in the middle of a circle of people. S/he chooses one person and says, "Tree" (or one of the other elements). The person she chose then has ten seconds to come up with something that lives in a tree. If s/he can't, s/he becomes the new joker.

Drawing for the audience

Adapted from the judging technique used in the Kani Club performances.

Using the same procedure as in One line drawing, teams compete. However, instead of pleasing the judge, they have to please an audience. And, instead of waiting to the end to get the feedback, the audience votes each round. After each vote, one audience member tells the artists what s/he wants to see next. This way, each round should make the drawings incorporate the desires or ideas of the audience as well as the artists.

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.

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.

Variations:
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."

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