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Wiggle Tamers & On-Boards

by Sharon Ely Pearson

Whether gathering with children, youth, or adults sometimes you just need an ice-breaker to get folks warmed up, moving, or engaged with each other. It can be the first five minutes of a class, an introductory exercise when a group is meeting for the first time, or an activity to break up a long session of sitting and deep thinking.

Try any one of these next time you’re looking for a quick filler (or starter) with your group!

Spectrum Exercise. Get everyone up and moving. Have one side of the room serve as one answer on the spectrum, the other end of the room, the opposite. Or individuals could stand or sit, depending on their response. These are easy to make up on your own, depending on the questions. For example: How’s it going today? How was your week?

  • Barefoot in the Park / Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Sunny / Stormy
  • I felt like a princess/prince / I felt like a gym shoe
  • Miss America / bad hair day
  • Ant / grasshopper
  • Wonder Dog / fire hydrant
  • Baseball / Louisville Slugger
  • Tasmanian Devil / Rip Van Winkle
  • King Midas / Court Jester
  • Mother Theresa / Madonna
  • Statue / Pigeon

 Questions for on-board

  • What is your favorite food? Least favorite food? Favorite meal?
  • High point of the week? Low point of the week?
  • Favorite place in your house? Why?
  • What is your middle name? Where does it come from? Why did you get it?
  • Name your favorite thing to do on a rainy day.
  • What is your most prized possession?
  • What is the best costume you have ever had?
  •  If you were an animal, which one would you like to be, and why?
  • Remember the fits time you won something . . . how did it feel?
  • You are invisible for one day . . . what will you do?
  • You can raise one person from the dead . . . who will it be?
  • Where would you like to visit . . . why?
  • What is the best gift you ever got? The best gift you ever gave?
  • Which of the seven dwarfs are you most like today? This week?

Name Roll – toss a ball of yarn to students, each holding on to the yarn as it is tossed to the next person. Name a bible person, vocabulary word, etc.

Scrabble Scramble – write out the alphabet on index cards (1 letter per card, 2 of of the letters A-H-N-S-T, 3 of E-O). Distribute. Name or describe a biblical character – all must scramble to spell it out.

“That’s Me!” – When something is named that describes you, jump up and shout, “That’s me!” and then sit down again. Place close attention and you will learn a lot about each other. (Similar game, “The Big Wind Blows.”)

“Color Prayer” – Pass out colored sheets of paper. Name the color and whoever has that paper and prays for something (i.e.: red – apple)

“What’s Different?” – In groups of two, each person looks at the other. Sit back to back and change one thing about yourself (unbutton a button, untie a shoe). Turn around and face each other. Each one guesses what has changed in the other. They say, “Let’s change back to the lesson and see how it can change our lives!”

“Servant Jar” – Have a jar of pennies or coins available. Participants put coins in a special jar whenever they see a good deed done or someone doing something positive in clas. With the money, buy food for a food pantry or use toward a service project.

 Use drama to act out the lesson

  • Role play using costumes (get out the Christmas Pageant materials)
  • Slide show “freezes”
  • “Make” the whole scene using body movements

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