Saturday, November 1, 2014

DIY Dynamix - Bamboozle 'em

1 small item that fits in the palm of your hand
Cones (4 or more)

  • Use the cones to set up a goal line for each team. Split your group into two teams and have them start by standing on their goal line.
  • To be the team to get the most Bamboozle Touchdowns.
How to Play:
  • Each team will stand at opposing end lines to start the game. One team will be offense to start and the other team will start as defense.
  • The offensive team starts by huddling up around the referee (facilitator). The referee will give one player the small item. This player will cup his/her hands to hide the item in his/her hands. Before the offensive players break the huddle, all players will cup their hands so that the defensive players cannot tell who has the item.
  • On “Go!”, both teams run towards the opposite end line. The defensive players are trying to tag the offensive players.
  • Once an offensive player is tagged they must stop and show if they have the item or not.
  • A touchdown is scored if the offensive team gets the item all the way across the opposite end line without that player being tagged.  
  • Switch roles after each round and repeat.
  • Tagged offensive players must stop and show if they have the item or not.
  • If they have the item, the round is over.
Possible Discussion Questions:
  • What was your team’s strategy for getting the object across the finish line?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

DIY Dynamix - Circle Tag


  • Have everyone stand in a big circle, arms-length apart. They should not be holding hands from the start, but they should be at a distance at which it is possible to do so.
  • For the Chaser to tag the Escaper or the Escaper to close all hands in the circle.
How to Play:
  • Choose one player to stand inside the circle. This person will be known as the “Escaper.” Choose one player to stand outside the circle. This person will be known as the “Chaser.”
  • On “Go!” the Chaser will need to try to tag the Escaper. Both players can run inside or outside of the circle.
  • Any time the Escaper runs between two players in the circle, those players must hold hands to close that opening (“shut the door”). The Escaper’s goal is to close all the openings before the Chaser tags him.
  • It is important that the players forming the circle grab hands as quickly as possible after the Escaper runs between them so that the Chaser cannot make it through the same hole.
  • The game is over when either:
·         The Chaser tags the Escaper.
·         The Escaper closes all hands of the circle.
  • Assign a new Chaser and Escaper after each round and continue playing for as long as time permits.
  • When an Escaper runs between two players in the circle, they must hold hands right away.
  • The Chaser or Escaper can’t run through closed “doors” (two people holding hands).
Possible Discussion Questions:

  • What was your strategy as an Escaper/Chaser?
  • How did you show team spirit during this challenge?

Monday, September 1, 2014

DIY Dynamix - Hog Call


  • Start with everyone in a circle. Pick 2 - 4 different animals and whisper one animal in the ear of each participant.
  • To find everyone with the same animal that you are assigned.
How to Play:
  • On “Go!”, each player has to find ALL the players who were assigned the same animal as him/her.
  • The catch is that you are only allowed to communicate and act like you are that animal. For example, if someone is assigned “dog”, they can walk around barking like a dog to find his/her group. 
  • No talking, only communicating as though you are the animal that you are assigned to.
  • Give some people animals that won’t match with others to lead to conversations about inclusivity.
Possible Discussion Questions:

  • Was it easy or hard to find your matching animal group?
  • How did you communicate to find other animals?

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Monthly Challenge

Before summer winds down this August, get your sport on! Get some teams together this month and get sporty. Try a game of volleyball on the beach, or soccer at a local field. 

Share your experience with us on Facebook or in the comments below. Check back next month for another great challenge!

DIY Dynamix - Three Little Pigs


  • Divide group into teams of at least 3 people. Give each team the same amount of newspaper and tape.
  • To build a shelter that stays up when the leader blows on it.
How to Play:
  • Each team has to build a structure within the given time limit.
  • The structure must stay standing when it’s blown on by the leader (the big bad wolf!).
  • Three people must fit inside the structure.
Possible Discussion Questions:

  • What was your team’s strategy?
  • How did you work together as a team?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Effective Communication in Teams: Overcoming Obstacles to Communication

Effective Communication in Teams: Some Tips!
Overcoming Obstacles to Communication
Written By Shea Wood, M.A., CCC

            When there is a communication breakdown in a team, people often have a hard time identifying what went wrong. What contributed to the miscommunication? How can we overcome these obstacles so that we can improve our own communication and be more successful in a team?
There are many barriers to effective communication, including the sender’s inaccurate expression of the message and the receiver’s misinterpretation of the message. Sending and receiving skills have been discussed in previous posts, so here I will outline two additional obstacles and tips to overcome them.
1. Noise. Often, when we communicate, there is noise that needs to be overcome. There are different kinds of noise. Physical noise is the actual noise in our environment, like a loud truck going by, that prevents us from sending or receiving a message. There are also emotional and social sources of noise, which can be harder to overcome. When we are extremely angry, upset, or frustrated, it is difficult for us to send and receive messages effectively. This emotional noise gets in our way of actually being able to phrase our communication appropriately and listen to what another person is saying. In addition, our perspective, attitude, and assumptions influence how we send and receive messages, and we may not even be aware of these social sources of noise. If I expect a teammate to be rude to me, because this has happened in the past, we may interpret his or her message as rude or negative even if this is not the sender’s intention.
Tip 1: Be aware of the noise! Being aware of the noise that is present, and that may be contributing to miscommunication, is the first step. Stop and think about how your emotions and your own expectations are influencing your ability to effectively send or receive a message.
1      2. Trust. The amount of trust that exists in relationships with our teammates influences how effective our communication is. When there is a lack of trust, the sender reduces the amount of information s/he shares and may not provide a clear and detailed message that is required to effectively communicate an idea. If the receiver does not have a functional level of trust with the sender, s/he may be suspicious of the information being communicated and may not believe that the sender is credible. This lack of trust leads to a breakdown in communication, and it is very difficult for a team to work together in the absence of trust or effective communication.
Tip 2: Build trust in teams! Take the time to get to know one another, share personal thoughts and feelings appropriately, and work on small cooperative tasks. This can help a team to develop trust in the early stages of forming, and lead to more effective communication moving forward.

For more information on effective communication, see Johnson (2014). 

Reference: Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

DIY Dynamix - Don't Let it Drop

1 Balloon per team (or Water Balloons)

  • Create teams of 6 - 8 players. Each team gets a balloon and a marker.
  • To keep the balloon in the air, while following a set of rules.
How to Play:
  • Each team gets a balloon that they need to keep up in the air by following a set of rules.
  • If the balloon falls, the team has to carefully write a keyword on the balloon for something they need to do better. For example, “communicate” or “focus”. (If using water balloons, use a piece of paper instead). Once the team writes a word, they can start over and try again.
  • Play as many rounds as time permits or set a time limit and see how many times each team can complete the challenge.
  • The same person can’t touch the balloon twice in a row.
  • Everyone on the team must touch the balloon at least once.
  • If older: can’t use arms or hands to keep the balloon up.
  • If any of the rules are broken, the team needs to write a keyword on the balloon about what the team needs to improve on, and then start over. 
  • To increase difficulty and have extra fun in the summer, use water balloons instead of regular balloons! Use two hands and gently pass for this variation.
  • Don’t stop in between rounds and see how long a team can keep the balloon up by continuously following the rule pattern.
  • Try the game with larger teams for an added challenge.
Possible Discussion Questions:

  • Was this challenge frustrating? Why/why not.
  • Why was it important to communicate during this challenge?

July Monthly Challenge

This July, we challenge you to get unplugged! Join in on the fun and be sure to share your experiences with us on Facebook or in the comments below. Check back next month for another great challenge!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Check out this video and meet Kid President. The Kid President project was created by Robby and his Uncle Brad because they believe kids can change the world, and so can grown ups - but it takes all of us working together. In this video, Robby (Kid President) shares what he believes kids need to know, and asks for others to share what #thekidsneedtoknow. 

Below are the pictures that our facilitators have been drawing about what they believe #thekidsneedtoknow. 

We would love to hear from you too! Share what #thekidsneedtoknow with us in comments or on Facebook.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book your summer dates with Dynamix Toronto today!

Bring TeamPlay to your TORONTO/GTA summer camp, childcare or youth program. 

Call today to guarantee your date and program. Visits as low as $6.50 per child!

Great new sessions for Kinders, School Age, Tweens and Teens! Call 647-477-7615 to find out how to bring action-packed teambuilding to your location this summer.

DIY Dynamix - Team Bingo

Bingo Card and Action Cards (click below for PDF attachments)
1 marker per team
1 hula hoop per team
1 ball per team (replaced with a bucket of water balloons in the summer)

  • Divide group into teams of at least 5.
  • Print out one Bingo card per team and one set of action cards (choose the version with or without water balloons). Cut up and shuffle the set of action cards.
·         To complete a line or fill the Bingo card as a team.

How to Play:
  • Pull out an action card and complete the activity. The first team that completes the action gets to mark off the square on their Bingo card that matches the action completed.
  • Once a team completes a line or square the round ends.
  • There will be duplicates of action cards. This will allow teams to work on improvement strategies.  
  • Team must complete the task first to be able to mark off the square.
  • Can play as one team for smaller groups.
  • Decide on if the team is playing for a line or square based on time permitted.
  • Choose between action cards with or without water balloons.
Possible Discussion Questions:

  • How did your team work together to complete tasks?
  • Did the tasks get easier as you continued the game? Why?
  • Were there any leaders on your team?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Monthly Challenge

The Dynamix team will now be providing a new challenge each month for your class, family or team.

This June, we challenge you to get outside! It’s raining? That’s okay - spend two hours outside tomorrow or, better yet, throw on your rain gear and get out there!

Join in on the fun and be sure to share your experiences with us in the comments below or on Facebook. Check back next month for another great challenge!

Get inspired to join in on the challenge by checking out the short TED talk below about setting and achieving goals in 30 days.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Do It Yourself Teambuilding- Frozen Bean Bag

Activity Name: Frozen Beanbag

Materials: 1 Beanbag per participant

Setup: Give each player a beanbag to place on their shoulder, and have them choose a spot to stand

Goal: For all players to circulate around the room without dropping his or her own beanbag

How to play:
Players keep the beanbag on their shoulder and circulate around the room. If a player drops the beanbag they need to freeze. This player remains frozen until another player unfreezes them by picking up the beanbag and placing it back on their shoulder. Younger groups can hold their beanbag as they pick up another player’s beanbag. Older groups have to unfreeze a player without holding their own beanbag. Modify the movement to increase difficulty during the game (instruct players to job, dance, hop, etc.)

The rules:
· Players cannot touch their own beanbags.
· Younger groups can only touch their own beanbag when helping another player pick up a beanbag.

Suggestions for discussion questions:
· How did you communicate during this game?
· Did you ever get frustrated? Why?
· What was your strategy for picking up beanbags?

We would love to hear how this game went for you! Share with us in comments or on Facebook!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Advice to Graduates: When in Doubt, Ask for Help!

Graduation is a huge milestone. Leaving high school behind means breaking out of the imposed structure of one’s teenage years and forming one’s own life as a young adult. This is indeed an exciting time of liberation and self-reliance. However, cherishing this newfound independence too much may become a hindrance to future success. This lesson was illustrated beautifully by some grade four students with whom I recently worked:

I split the class into three groups and had each group stand on their own tarp. The class’ goal was to flip over their tarps without anyone touching the floor or using anything in the room to balance. After a few minutes, the class informed me that this task was "IMPOSSIBLE!" No matter how carefully they began to flip over their tarps, there just wasn't enough room for the whole group and someone always ended up touching the floor. The problem was that everybody had put their blinders on; they were all looking down at their tarps, unaware of the other groups around them. I asked the kids to stop and look around. They glanced up and a few kids noticed how close the groups were to each other. One child asked, "Can I step on another group's tarp?" And with that, the magical moment I had been hoping for occurred. Each group took turns crowding onto the other two groups’ tarps so they could flip theirs over. By reaching out to each other and sharing their resources, the class was easily able to accomplish a task that they had just moments before deemed impossible. 

It is an ironic fact of human nature that we turn inward at the exact moment when we should be turning outward. Faced with a particularly hard challenge or trying circumstance, we put our heads down and attempt to work though our difficulties alone. We should instead be looking around for assistance. So while independence can be wonderful, it is sometimes not the most beneficial course of action. My advice to graduates is a simple phrase I often find myself repeating to younger students: When in doubt, ask for help!

 Written by Shira Lurie, Toronto lead facilitator.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another happy group! Great feedback from St. Maria Goretti, TCDSB

“The Spirit Challenge [Assembly] which Dynamix delivered at our school was wonderful.  It was high energy and FUN (which the kids loved) and provided positive messaging (which the teachers and the admin team loved).  This is a great program for anyone who is interested in promoting the concepts of Respect, Cooperation and/or Team Spirit to a large group.  I highly recommend it!”

- Maureen Murphy VP, St. Maria Goretti

Monday, April 14, 2014

Do It Yourself Teambuilding - Chuck The Chicken!

Activity Name: Chuck the chicken

Materials: Rubber chicken

Goal: To get as many points for your team.

How to play:
Split your group into two teams with designated starting spots. Give team A the chicken. Team A launches the chicken as far as they can. Team B runs to the chicken and makes a straight line in front of it. The first player in Team B’s line picks up the chicken and passes it down the line backwards and overhead. The next person does the same, but passes it under their legs. This continues –over, under, over, under, and so on- until the chicken reaches the last person. The last person will throw the chicken as far away from the other team as possible and shout “Chuck the Chicken” to let them know the chicken is air-born. While Team B is passing the chicken, Team A makes a circle and the person who originally launched the chicken runs around the circle as many times as possible until the other team is done passing down the chicken. The team gets one point each time the chicken launcher runs around the circle. When Team A hears Chuck the Chicken, the game repeats with reverse roles for each team. Continue this game play for as many rounds as you would like!

The rules:
- Cannot block the person running around the circle
- The person who launches the chicken has to run around the circle.
- Have to have a different person both launch the chicken and run around the circle each round
- Each person has to get the chicken when passing it down

Suggestions for discussion questions:
- Did everyone have fun?
-What was your team’s strategy?
-How did you use teamwork in that activity?
-How does it feel to depend on your other teammates for your success?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Guide for Discussing RESPECT in the Classroom

As Corey has mentioned, conversations about respect can be complicated. We want our children to be respectful and considerate of others, but not because we have bribed, begged, or punished them. Teaching children, especially young ones, the value of respect is difficult. My advice is to tackle this subject through an open discussion in which the class decides together why respect is important to your classroom community.

Here are some questions you can use to guide your discussion and some answers you can probe for:

What is respect? What does it mean to be respectful?

-Respect is treating others the way you want to be treated.
-Being respectful means being considerate of others’ needs and feelings.

Who or what should we respect?

-We should show respect to everyone and everything. This means our classmates and teachers, but also our classroom and playground.
-We should respect ourselves.

What are some ways we can show respect in the classroom and/or at recess?

-Raise your hand and wait to be called upon before speaking.
-Put classroom supplies back where you found them.
-Follow the rules of any game being played.
-Never tease or make fun of another person.
-Dispose of garbage and recycling properly.

How will it make people feel when we are respectful towards them?

-They will feel like their feelings matter and that they have friends who care about them.
-They will think that school is a fun and safe place to be.

You can wrap up your discussion by having your students come up with a contract or pledge to be respectful that they will all sign. Whenever your students need a reminder, you can point to the agreement you all made together.

For additional resources, remember our Full of Character program has an entire session devoted to respect in the classroom!

Written by Shira Lurie, toronto lead facilitator


Monday, March 10, 2014

Do It Yourself Teambuilding- Follow The Leader!

Activity Name: Follow the Leader

Materials:  No materials needed

Goal: To have all participants follow their chosen leader.

How to play:
You can play this game anywhere -at home or in the classroom. Have your group stand in a circle. Everyone comes up with an action in their mind. This action has to be simple and easy to copy (like jumping up and down). Next, each person will pick a personal leader from the group and keep it a secret. On go, everyone will do their own action. The game leader will then call out ‘Follow your Leader’, and everyone will copy the actions of the personal leader chosen at the beginning of the game. The outcome will be different each time, so be sure to finish with a meaningful discussion about leadership, teamwork and non-verbal communication.

The rules:
-The action has to be a simple one that everyone can do
- Cannot change the leader you are following

Suggestions for discussion questions:
-Did you have fun?
-How did it feel to be a leader?
-How did it feel to be a follower?
-What are character traits of good leaders?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

At Dynamix, we celebrate women of all ages every day! Our team of truly great young women are out there in schools and daycares and youth groups every day, inspiring younger girls to be work together collaboratively, creatively and compassionately to help their communities! And every day, we meet great women educators and youth leaders who have a full-time commitment to the boys and girls in their classes. May we all celebrate together, the little and the big triumphs of the women and girls we love!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Effective Communication in Teams: Receiving Messages

In order to work cooperatively and successfully as a team, we must develop the skills to communicate effectively. While my previous article focused on tips for sending messages, this article will describe some helpful tips for receiving messages. Receiving a message skillfully is just as important as sending a message, and the way we listen and respond to a message sent by a team member can have an impact on our relationship. When we listen and respond in ways that are accurate and relevant, we communicate to our teammate that we care about what they have to say and have a desire to understand them. When we fail to listen and respond inappropriately we send the message that we don’t care about what our teammate has to say and are not interested in understanding them. Here are a few tips when receiving messages!

Tip #1: Actually Listen
Often when we are receiving messages from our teammates (either verbal or non-verbal messages, such as gestures and facial expressions), we are preoccupied with our own feelings and ideas, which may prevent us from actually receiving the intended message. When a teammate is sending an intentional message, such as sharing an idea, strategy, or a feeling they are experiencing, try to stay present and actually take in the information so you can respond accordingly.

Tip #2: Try Paraphrasing
It may feel awkward at first, because it doesn’t come naturally, but when someone communicates a message to us, try paraphrasing it back to him/her. Paraphrasing means simply restating the message in our own words. For example, if a teammate says in a group discussion “I feel like no one is listening to me”, you may reflect this back by saying “you feel like you’re not being heard in this conversation”. Paraphrasing can help ensure that you’ve understood the message, while at the same time, making the speaker feel validated and heard in his/her expression of the message.

Tip #3: Check the Meaning
After paraphrasing, or reflecting back the meaning of the message in our own words, it can be very important to check if you got it right. When you paraphrase and then ask your teammate “is that what you mean?” after they have communicated an opinion, idea, or feeling, it provides him/her with the opportunity to agree or clarify the message. Once again, this communicates to the sender of the message that we care about what they are saying and it is important to us that we understand the meaning of their message. This can increase trust in a team and suggests your desire to cooperate. 

In teams, we should constantly be focused on developing strong, meaningful relationships that are not only personally rewarding, but also help to bring us closer to our mutual goals. When we focus on receiving the messages being sent by our teammates, reflecting them back through paraphrasing, and making sure we accurately understand the meaning and intention of the messages, we are communicating to our teammates that we care about them. Therefore communicating does not only help a team achieve mutual understating, but it also helps us to strengthen our relationships.
For more information, see Johnson (2014). Keep an eye out for my follow-up article on tips for overcoming possible obstacles to communication!

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Written by Shea Wood, M.A., CCC

Dynamix: Teambuilding for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five Reasons to Send your Kid to Camp!

Although it seems like this winter will never end, summer camp registration is right around the corner. Camp offers unique opportunities for learning and growth that go beyond what is available to kids at school. Whether it is overnight, day, or a specialty camp, here are five reasons you should sign your child up!

1. An ACTIVE Summer
During the school year, kids spend most of their days sitting behind a desk, so it is essential that summer is a time of action! Camp games and activities will get your child moving in an enjoyable and safe environment. The excitement and spirit of camp will also teach your child that an active lifestyle is tons of fun.

2. An OUTDOOR Adventure
Most of camp life takes place outside. Whether it is nature based activities, like hiking and campfires, or sports, like swimming and capture the flag, your child will be immersed in what the great outdoors has to offer. They will benefit from the fresh air and sunshine, while also gaining an appreciation for nature.

3. A LEARNING Opportunity
There are so many opportunities to try new things at camp. One day it may be archery, the next pottery, and the next boondoggle bracelet making! Your child will have a blast learning new skills and trying things they have never done before. Camp also provides the chance for your child to improve at their favourite sports and activities, like dance or basketball.

Part of learning new things is having new successes. As your child racks up achievements throughout the summer, they will increase their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. In addition, the independence that camp offers will further develop their confidence and self-sufficiency. They will go back to school in September knowing they can learn new skills, improve through practice, and rely on themselves – a teacher’s dream!

5. A SOCIAL Environment
Camp is a great place for kids to meet new people and form friendships. By placing them outside their familiar environment, camp enables kids to develop their social skills among all different types of people. They will also get the chance to look up to their counselors, enthusiastic young adults who can relate to them and be positive role models.

Written by: Shira Lurie, Dynamix Toronto lead facilitator

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Do It Yourself Teambuilding - Double Trouble!

Activity Name: Double Trouble

Materials: Foam dodge balls, Pinnies (optional)

Setup: Have everyone stand in a big circle.

Goal: First team to pass the ball around the circle to each of their teammates back to the first person.

How to play:Make a big circle with everyone. Make two teams in the circle. (Every other person in the circle is one team) pass a ball to the first person in each team. On Go, one team passes the ball to the next player on their team one way and the other team passes the ball the other way. Take a step back after each round.

The rules:
-Cannot block the other team’s ball
-Must pass the ball to each person in the team
-Cannot switch directions

-What was your strategy?
-Talk about you can’t always win and how to deal with it.
-Talk about frustration and how to deal with it
-Why was it important to follow the rules?
-Did you want to intercept the other team’s ball? Why?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Effective Communication in Teams: Sending Messages

Our daily lives are filled with one communication experience after the next. Communication between ourselves and those around us is constantly occurring as we exchange messages to achieve an understanding of other people’s thoughts and experiences. Effective communication is essential when working in teams, and developing the skills required to achieve mutual understanding within a team through communication takes practice. The word “team” is being used to describe any grouping of individuals—including a committee, class, sports team, family, or work colleagues—as communication is imperative despite the type of team being discussed. If we need to work collaboratively with others, we need effective communication.
In this article, I will offer some tips for sending messages effectively.

Tip #1: Take Ownership!
It is important to take responsibility for your opinions, ideas, and feelings when expressing them to others. To do this, make personal statements such as “I think…”, “I feel…”, “It seems to me…”. When you own your messages, it suggests that you are honest and open with your teammates, and there has been a level of trust established in the group that allows you to comfortably reveal your thoughts and feelings.

Something to watch out for: How often do you use sentences such as “We think that…”, “Everyone knows…”, “Most of the team feels…”? Take note of this! When we speak for other people, it might feel safer than taking ownership for our thoughts and feelings, but it may lead to confusion, misunderstanding, or inappropriate representation of someone else’s opinion.

Tip #2: Describe, Don’t Evaluate!
When giving feedback on someone else’s behavior, it is important to simply describe what you see without making a judgment about it. When we evaluate another’s behavior, it can create defensiveness and establish barriers to effective communication. It is helpful to use descriptive statements, which describe specifically what you have observed without making assumptions about what that behaviour means about the other person’s attitude, personality, or motives. For example, it can be more beneficial to tell a teammate “you seem to be walking very slowly, what’s going on?” rather than saying “you don’t care about finishing this challenge quickly”. We don’t have all of the information. Maybe the person is sick, upset, offended, tired, or hurt (among other possible reasons for this behavior), so simply giving descriptive feedback can begin a dialogue to establish a deeper understanding of you and your teammates’ experiences.

Something to watch out for: How often do you include judgment or an assumption when giving feedback rather than just describing what you see? Take note of this and see if you can alter your communication when giving feedback!

Tip #3: Take the Other’s Perspective
The same message can mean two different things to two different people. In order to send a message effectively, you need to consider the perspective of the receiver. Perspectives are complicated and complex; they are formed through our values, beliefs, and experiences. We can never be certain or complete in our understanding of another person’s perspective, but if we try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we can create and send messages that are more likely to be received the way we intended. For example, if a teammate has absolutely no experience with soccer, and we consider this before sending our message, we may choose to say “try kicking the ball in the net” rather than “try to score a goal”, because the player may not know what it means to “score a goal”. Through perspective-taking, we can alter our communication so it can be more appropriate for the receiver and therefore more clearly understood.

Something to watch out for: How often do you phrase communication based on your own knowledge and experience without considering the perspective of the person your communicating with?

For more information, see Johnson (2014). Keep an eye out for my follow-up articles on tips for receiving messages effectively and overcoming possible obstacles to communication!

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Written by Shea Wood, M.A., CCC

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do it yourself teambuilding: Lily Pads

Activity Name: Lily Pads

Materials: Hula Hoops (1 per person)

Setup: Start by scattering 1 hula hoop per person around your entire playing area.  A 25’ by 25’ room is great, but this game can be played in different sized spaces.

Goal: To get everyone safely on a Lily Pad (in a hula hoop), even as Lily Pads disappear!

How to play:
Call out different ways for the group to move about the open space (e.g. walking, skipping, marching, running, chicken dance, etc.).  When you call “Jump on a Lily Pad!” everyone must run to a hula hoop and jump into it.  More than one player can share a hoop. After each round, you can take one (or several) hula hoop away.  As you eliminate more hoops it will require your group to cooperate by sharing hoops and including others.

- Did the activity get easier or harder as Lily Pads were removed?
- What did you do to overcome that challenge?
- What does it mean to include someone? How was that important in this activity?
- Where else could we try to do a better job of including others?

Learning to Lead: Practicing Leadership Through Gameplay

We often think of leaders as naturally assertive and charismatic people. We envision Presidents, Generals, and CEOs as born leaders, destined to be in charge. By cultivating the myth that leaders are born, not made, our kids develop a narrow impression of who can be a leader in their own world. Perhaps it is the person who speaks the loudest or the one with a Captain’s “C” on their jersey. Children who fall outside of these categories become hesitant to take on leadership roles and so do not develop their leadership skills, reconfirming their belief that they are not fit to lead.

We must teach our kids that leadership is not an inherited ability, but rather a skill that takes practice to master. At Dynamix, we believe that learning and fun should go hand in hand. So, here are three simple games that each offer a different leadership learning opportunity for your group:

1. Call and Follow - Rotate Responsibilities
GOAL: To have multiple children practice leadership through communication. 
SET-UP: Blindfold all but one player. Have the blindfolded children form a train with their hands on each other's shoulders. Have the non-blindfolded player, the "Caller," stand on a chair.
GAME: The Caller guides the blindfolded train around the room using only their voice. To increase the challenge, scatter obstacles, like pylons, around the room for the group to avoid. 
LEADERSHIP LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: Have children take turns being the Caller. This will give multiple children the chance to practice their communication skills and feel in charge of the group. It will also allow everyone else to practice following different people's directions. 

2. Blind Crossing - Creative Twists
GOAL: To give less assertive children the chance to lead.
SET-UP: Scatter a few hula-hoops around the room. Have the whole group hold onto one long rope.
GAME: The entire group must cross from one end of the room to the other by only stepping inside the hula-hoops and never letting go of the rope. 
LEADERSHIP LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: Add a twist by blindfolding a few of the more assertive group members. For an extra challenge, you can also tell the blindfolded people they are not allowed to talk. By limiting the influence of the group's natural leaders, other children will have the opportunity to step up and fill the leadership void. In addition, it will give your traditional leaders the chance to practice listening to others. 

3. Find the Leader - Leadership by Example
GOAL: To demonstrate the power of leading by example. 
SET-UP: Have the group sit in a circle. Pick one child to be the “Detective” and have them wait outside of the room. Pick one person in the circle to be the “Leader.”
GAME: The group must watch the leader and copy whatever action they are doing at the time. The Leader must switch the action frequently. The detective must reenter the room and try to guess which person is the leader by watching the group. 
LEADERSHIP LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: After the game, discuss what it means to lead by example – through our actions, not our words. Have the group think about the power of our actions and how positive and negative choices may influence other people. 

Written by: Shira Lurie, Dynamix Toronto lead facilitator

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Building Relationships in Teams: Self-Disclosure and Trust

When people work in teams, they build relationships. Strong relationships allow for more productive and meaningful teamwork and collaboration. This cycle highlights the importance of relationships in teamwork. Relationships develop through working in teams and relationships enable individuals to work together in meaningful ways.
Given the importance of building strong relationships, it is essential to consider what skills and behaviors lead to the creation of a strong and fulfilling relationships. By assisting children in developing these skills and behaviors, you are giving them tools to build a successful future that inevitably will require—and be enriched by—creating relationships and working with others. 
Self-disclosure is an act of revealing your thoughts and perspective about a present situation, or other relevant and meaningful information, to another person. Sharing personal thoughts is crucial when building relationships in teams. Self-disclosure allows team members to get to know one another better, identify common goals and overlapping values and, once common goals have been identified, allows you to work together toward accomplishing these goals. Just as strong relationships and teams are built through appropriate self-disclosure, the lack of self-disclosure between team members can result in the deterioration of relationships and influence the strength of a team. If an individual keeps quiet about his/her needs, desires and goals, other team members are likely to do the same; people in relationships tend to match the amount of disclosure coming from others. A breakdown in communication can lead to a team where members are not working together or recognizing and valuing one another’s needs and desires.
It is well known that trust is the foundation for building and maintaining meaningful, productive relationships. This is certainly true of building relationships within a team, and when trust is established, team members are far more likely to take risks, communicate important information, and share personal thoughts and feelings through self-disclosure. Similar to the concept of self-disclosure, levels of trust are matched in relationships, and if one individual takes a risk and trusts others in the group, other team members are more likely to do the same. Feeling as though someone else trusts you makes it easier for you to trust that person in return. Johnson (2014) offers helpful hints about trust, and there are four that I believe are extremely helpful to remember when developing relationships within teams:
1.      Trust is hard to build and easy to destroy: building a high level of trust within relationships can take a long time, and one act of disloyalty can eliminate trust in a relationship.
2.      The key to building and maintaining trust is being trustworthy: as Johnson (2014) says, “when you want to increase trust, increase your trustworthiness” (p. 99).
3.      Trust needs to be appropriate: always trusting and never trusting is inappropriate. Evaluate the situation and trust yourself in knowing when it is important to extend trust to others.
4.      Cooperation increases trust; competition decreases trust: generally, trust develops between individuals who are working with one another rather than against one another.

Self-disclosure and trust are necessary in building relationships in many different contexts, including sports teams, the work environment, friend groups, and families. If adults can model these skills and behaviors, not only will the adults have more fulfilling and meaningful relationships, they will begin to teach their children how to build fulfilling and meaningful relationships in all areas of life.

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Picture taken from Google Images:

Written by Shea Wood.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.