Friday Lesson: A.S.A.P. Activities (As Simple As Possible)

Courtesy of Chris Cavert |

A.S.A.P. Activities (As Simple As Possible)

Needs: Each activity will have its specific needs. For some of the timed activities, you, the facilitator, will clock everyone under the same time. Also, each activity is designed for groups of 10 to 12 participants.

Procedure: The following activities can be used in a variety of ways. Take one to fill some extra time in your program. Have these activities in your back pocket in case you need to stop a planned activity early. Use them all with a large group split up into smaller groups in order to focus on self-directed problem solving skills—each small group can be working on the same activity under a pre-established time limit.

I like to have a copy of the activity directions for each group as a reference. Most of the questions I field from groups can be answered through the directions—and how the directions are interpreted.

Each activity includes one particular topic of discussion (D) you might cover. This is not the only possible topic; it’s simply a suggestion. Each activity (A) also has one word in quotes. You could choose to talk about how each group defined the word suggested. For example, in the Names activity, the word LEARN is quoted. What did “learn” mean for each group? What was the expectation of “learn” imposed on each group? The quoted words are just another possible topic to explore.

Names (Props: None. This one works best with people who don’t know each other yet.)

A: “Learn” everyone’s name in your group in the next 4 minutes (facilitator timed).

D: Share what you said to yourself when you were first given the challenge? What if I gave you $1,000,000 to learn everyone’s name in 4 minutes? Is it worth $1,000,000 to learn names?

The Alphabet (Props: Each group will need a timing device. Most often, someone in the group will have a watch that will work.)

A: As a group, without using any “props” or tools, say the English alphabet backwards, in reverse-order, from the letter Z to the letter A. Challenge: How fast can you say the alphabet backwards with everyone in the group saying at least one letter during the process?

D: Discuss some of the expected and unexpected challenges you worked through during the task.

Tie the Knot (Props: One 5 foot rope for every pair of players.)

A: Pair up players in your group – this is still an all-group challenge. With each player of each “pair” holding on to the end of a 5-foot rope, without letting go of either end, tie an overhand knot in the rope.

D: Discuss the concept of helping. Did “helping” occur? What are some particular issues around the concept of helping that are important to you? (If you had a person without a partner, what did you do?)

Circle Walk (Props: None)

A: Set this up: Form a group circle with all players connecting feet, side-to-side, with the right and left players. Now “move” around the room as a group and touch each wall one time. If any foot-to-foot connection is broken, start your wall count over (when starting over it’s as if no walls have been touched yet).

D: Discuss some of the reasons why rules are put into place and why many consider it important to follow rules. Discuss when it might be appropriate to not follow the rules.

Balloon Drop (Props: One balloon for each group.)

A: Have one person in your group drop the inflated balloon. Without the inflated balloon ever traveling in the upward direction, how many people in your group can “touch” the balloon (without holding it), one person at a time, before it hits the floor.
Alternative Directions: How many balloon touches, with everyone taking turns, can be made before the balloon hits the floor.

D: Discuss your level of success for this activity—include everyone’s perspective on success. In the end, as a group, how would you rate your success on a scale of 1 to 10? What one thing could have been done to raise someone’s score one point?

360 Degrees (Props: Each group will need a timing device and one oblong object (e.g., tongue depressor, plastic cup, pool noodle, golf club)

A: In the fastest time possible, have every person in the “group” independently turn the object provided 360 degrees. You have the next 4 minutes to record your fastest group time.

D: Discuss how you shared ideas as a group—include how many ideas were thought of, how many ideas were shared, and how many ideas were tried.

Possible Objectives:
•Exploring mental models—how we understand and define things.
•Self-directed group work.
•Exploring the ratio of planning and implementation time.
•Improvement over time—and why, or lack of improvement due to challenges within the group—focusing on how the challenges can be solved.

Notes: I tend to walk around while the groups work on these challenges in order to observe and answer questions. As noted above, I often simply tell the group to refer to their directions for the answers—or, how the lack of information also answers questions. Also, always be mindful of safety issues that might arise—keep the safety eyes open!

Observations/Questions: (See each individual activity.)

Variations: A.S.A.P. Activities can be created from many of the “low risk” activities used in teambuilding. The idea is to give only enough information so the group can get started—they are then left on their own to figure out the rest.

This lesson is compliments of Chris Cavert, from his new book due for release in 2010 “Affordable Portables Two”.

To find more information and to contact the author, please visit:

Thanks for joining us in November for Friday Lessons with Chris Cavert. Chris has written twelve books including Affordable Portables, Games for Group, Books 1 & 2, Games for Teachers, and If Anybody Asks Me.

Be sure to check out future Friday Lessons! Laurie Frank will be sharing in the month of December. Laurie is the author/coauthor of several books, including Journey Toward the Caring Classroom, Games for Teachers, and Leading Together.

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