10 November 2022 Training games are a terrific method to give students hands-on learning opportunities in a less formal setting and to engage them in a less stressful environment. This article will examine four training programmes that significantly enhance classroom instruction and are usable in virtually all classrooms and even certain businesses. Balloon Questions When teams (or separate cohorts) come together personalities can clash – often creating an unstable discourse that can disrupt communication, workflow and potential team synergies. ‘Balloon Questions’ aims to break down the barriers between parties and create common ground. Read the breakdown below for more information. Game Break Down Objective: To learn more about team members in a fun and interactive way. Time: 10 -15 minutes Materials: Balloons, paper and pens/pencils. Description: When new or remote teams come together, the objective is often to learn more about other team members in a stress-free way. Balloon Questions is the ideal choice for such a ‘get-to-know-you’ activity. Process: Give each person a balloon and a small strip of paper.Ask them to write down a question on the slip of paper, place it in their balloon, blow the balloon up and tie it off.Once everyone has finished, instruct the group to hit their balloons into the air, trying to keep all the balloons in the air for as long as possible.After a few seconds tell everyone to grab any balloon (other than their own) and take it to their seat.Each person will then take a turn popping their balloon and answering the question inside. Debrief: Thank the learners for their participation and explain that getting to know each other is an important part of the learning process. Extend by suggesting that answering random questions often encourages us to think more creatively compared to standard questions. As such, this may impact how they consider the framing of their own questions during the training that follows. Variations: For small groups, you may have each person in the group answer every question. Rather than a get-to-know-you, this could be refocused into a closing activity with the aim of checking for understanding. In this variation, the participants would be asked to think of a question relating to the course content to put into their balloon. Categorize This! Do you lead a life that is so hectic that you hardly have time to think? If that’s the case, you’ll probably discover that you don’t often have time to consider what influences your instincts and split-second judgements when it comes to making decisions. By looking at ordinary objects and discovering connections between what appear to be unrelated things, “Categorise This” helps participants revisit their cognitive processes. This enables participants to take their time, reflect, and become self-aware of their thought process. Game Break Down Objective: Classify a range of unrelated items into four distinct categories. Time: 10 -15 minutes Materials: 25 random objects, paper and pens. Description: This activity helps participants to revisit their thought processes by viewing everyday items and finding commonalities in seemingly non-related things. Process: Collect a variety of objects and put them in the centre of the room on a table, so that all items are visible to the participants. These objects can be very different things and can be as varied as stationery, food, toys, jewellery, tools and so on. Aim to gather around 25 different pieces.Divide the class into smaller groups of 4-6 participants.Give each group a sheet of paper and a pen. Ask the groups to classify the displayed items into 4 categories of their choice.Once complete, invite a spokesperson from each of the groups to explain how they classified things and the logic behind it (e.g. they may have considered their end-use, some common characteristics or similarities in their names etc.) Debrief: Thank the learners for their participation and explain that humans make value judgements thousands of times a day. We will classify, categorise, group and label everything around us and this could have positive or negative consequences. Invite the group to discuss how this classifying process is like the topic you are presenting (e.g. communication skills, teamwork, managing customer complaints etc.) Variations: As an extension, you could ask the groups to come up with as many categories as possible for the displayed items and award a prize to the group that comes up with the longest list. Alternatively, give specific categories that they have to use and when debriefing ask the participants if this made the task easier or harder. Two Sides of a Coin Do you need a training game that challenges players’ preconceived notions and pushes them to consider all sides of the issue? Then two sides of a coin are the ideal learning exercise for your students, providing a parody of the well-known “devil’s advocate” school of thought that presents many points of view. Game Break Down Objective: To encourage participants to see both sides of a problem, and challenge preconceived notions. Time: 10 minutes Materials: A coin (for introduction to activity only). Description: Building on the timeless notion that there is positive and negative from a single experience, teams of 2 or more come together and discuss a situation, issue or problem from two different sides. The activity uses the coin as an analogy to look at the ‘flipside’ of things. Process: Introduce the activity using a coin to explain that we are going to look at two sides of the same event or issue.Divide the group into teams of 2 or more people.Invite one of the team members to share something negative that has happened in their life. It can be a personal or professional memory, but mandatorily a true incident. (For instance, if there are two members, Partner A shares something negative that happened in their life with Partner B. Then Partner A discusses the same memory again, but this time focusing on the bright side with positive takeaways. In this way Partner B helps to shed light on the silver lining of the negative experience. Afterwards, they switch roles.)If there are more than two people in a team, each person should be given the opportunity to share their memory, with the other members of the team looking for the ‘silver linings. Debrief: Explain that this short, yet effective activity helps team members to see the good in things and people and challenges preconceived notions. Explore how the participants felt about being asked to consider the flip side of negative incidents and invite them to discuss how this strategy could be used in their own lives. Variations: Instead of sharing an incident from their own lives, they could look at specific incidents that are introduced in their training to discuss both sides. Alternatively, they could examine a new strategy or concept from class, to look at the positives and negatives of implementation e.g. automation in manufacturing can reduce certain jobs (negative), but enables faster production which could allow the business to be more viable and thus able to employ additional staff in new job classifications (positive). Piece of Pie Piece of Pie pushes participants to come up with viable, actionable ideas that guarantee positive session outcomes. By enabling participants to condense any session’s key takeaways and critical information into manageable, simple-to-understand, and, most importantly, simple-to-remember chunks of knowledge, Piece of Pie serves as the ultimate culmination to any class or training session. For further details, see the game breakdown below. Game Break Down Objective: To allow participants to reflect on the learning from the session and decide what is most relevant and important for implementation on the job. Time: 10 minutes Materials: 1 sheet of paper per participantPens Description: This activity helps everyone identify the best thoughts and actionable ideas from the session in order to encourage action as participants get ready to leave at the end of a session. Process: Ask everyone to take out a piece of paper and a writing implement. Say, “Based on what we have talked about here today, I would like for you to answer the following questions.”Here is what they write. (Model this on a piece of chart paper.) P – Priceless piece of information. (What has been the most important piece of information for you today?) I – Item to implement. (What is something you intend to implement from our time today?) E– Encouragement I received. (What is something that I am already doing that I was encouraged to keep on doing?) Debrief: Use the following situations and questions for debriefing. Turn to a partner and share what it is that you wrote down.What were some of the keywords that you heard while you shared?What were the common themes that kept coming up?What would it mean for our organization if we implemented the things on your papers?What would it mean if we did NOT implement the things on your papers?What are the next steps that you think we should take together? Variations: Instead of sharing with a partner, have everyone get in a circle and share one or more of the things that they wrote on their piece of paper.Try and bring in some actual pie as you close the session. As you eat the pie, have people answer the questions above as well as talk about how the image or object of “pie” is relevant to the work that they are expected to do. With these four training games now in your arsenal, you have a diverse roster of activities to engage your students and challenge their perspectives with new knowledge. For more Training games that can assist your student consider signing up for the MRWED newsletter today.