Therapeutic Games

You will find free samples of the Therapeutic Games found in these popular books below, or click on the Home page for PDF files of the sample games from each book.

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Magic Block

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To talk about the need for some people to always be searching for the one thing that they feel will make their life complete, which can sometimes cause people to miss out on the good things they already have in their life.

Who
People who are so focused on getting to the next level (more money, more drugs, becoming more popular, finding a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.) that they miss out on what they already have.

Group Size
2 to 8 is ideal (but the game can be played with larger numbers)

 

Materials

  • The JENGA game with one block that has a star or other symbol marked on the bottom side of the block.

 

Description

     Play the JENGA game with one block marked with a star (or other symbol). Offer a prize to the group if they can find the magic block before the tower falls. This can be anything from a treat to extra minutes of free play time or allowing the person who finds the star to select the next game the group plays. However, if the tower falls before anyone can find the magic block, then the group has to complete a task (this can be anything from cleaning, to exercise, to singing a silly song). 

Discussion Prompts

  1. Were you focused primarily on finding the star or were you enjoying the process of playing the game?

  2. Once the star was found, did you want to continue to play the game to see how high the tower would go, or to see who would knock it over, or was the fun over?

  3. Have you ever been so focused on getting something in your life that once you achieved it you were left wondering what to do next?

  4. Is it good to have things in your life that you are striving to find?

  5. Are there some things you could be striving for that are negative?

  6. What things are you always searching for in your life?

  7. Do you ever miss out on things in your life because you are so focused on a goal that only the future seems to matter?

  8. How can you achieve balance in your life when striving to reach a goal?

Rich vs. Poor

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To understand how we react to the situations we are born into and to recognize ways to improve our own situation.

Who
Individuals who think they’re victims of their own circumstances and who could benefit from looking at ways to improve their situation.

Group Size
4 to 8 is ideal (but could have more if have bigger teams)

Materials

  • The MONOPOLY game

Description
     Place one card from each of the property groups in a pile. Shuffle the pile and evenly distribute the cards to the group members. If there are extra properties, have group members roll the die and the highest roller gets to select an extra property. Continue until one card from each property group has been distributed. Once everyone has their cards, give them the other properties that go with their set(s). Each card set in the game should belong to someone.
     Money is distributed based on the amount of money each property would cost to buy (e.g., the person with Boardwalk and Park Place would start the game with $750 – the amounts listed on the board). 
     The railroads and utilities are up for grabs if anyone wants to buy them when landing on those spaces. The game can be played using the Chance and Community Chest Cards or simply make those free spaces.
     Now, play a regular game with each person moving around the board. At the end of the game, discuss the feelings individuals have towards those who started with less and those who started the game with more.

Discussion Prompts

  1. Did you feel that one player had an advantage over the others in this game? If so, how did this make you feel?

  2. Do you ever look at what others have and get jealous? If so, why do you think you have these feelings?

  3. What do you usually do if you find yourself in a situation where you feel that you’re at a disadvantage compared to others?

  4. Is there a way to move yourself into a situation where you have more security in your life than you have now? What will it take for you to do this? 

  5. What changes can you make in your life to change your current situation?

Variation

  • Focus the questions on anger management issues if you have individuals who react with anger when others have more than them.

 

Truth or Lie?

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To share how you view yourself in a non-threatening manner.

Who
People who have a hard time sharing openly about how they view themselves. Groups who could benefit from getting to know one another at a deeper level

Group Size
4 to 15 is ideal

Materials

  • APPLES TO APPLES game

Description
     Spread the red and green cards out on the table. Each person selects three cards that they would use to describe themselves (the truth); they also pick out three cards that are the opposite of who they are (a lie). (Both the truth and the lie can be green or red cards.) Each person should have their own two sets of cards in two piles face down in front of them. Nobody else in the group knows which pile is a truth and which one is a lie. 
     Starting with one member of the group, the leader randomly selects one of the piles (or the person sitting next to them can do this as well) and asks the person to turn those cards over for all to see. The group members then vote “truth” or “lie” based on which pile they think was revealed. Voting can be done by asking or by using the green and red cards to vote (any green or red card will do). Simply place a red card down on the table if it is thought to be a lie and green if it seems to be true. Give one point to anyone who guesses correctly. After each turn, ask to see the opposite pile and have the person explain why they selected the cards they did.  

Discussion Prompts

  1. Why did you select the cards you did?

  2. Was it harder to find cards that were true about yourself or ones that were lies? Why?

  3. Was it hard for you to find positive things about yourself?

  4. Do you feel that you’re bragging if you are asked to state positive things about yourself?

  5. What did you learn about another member of the group that you didn’t already know? Were you surprised to learn this information?

Variation

  • Instead of asking for “truth and lie” cards, tell the group members to find three cards of things they like and three cards of things they don’t like.

 

Building Words

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To discover how the choices we make as individuals can affect others.

Who
People who need to think about the choices they’re making in their own lives.

Group Size
4 or more

Materials

  • The BANANAGRAMS game or the SCRABBLE game

  • Paper

  • Pens

Description
     Divide the group into teams of two to eight members each. One at a time, each team member will go to where you have a pile of letter tiles laid out and select a specific number of tiles. (You want each team to end up with a total of around 20 tiles.) When selecting the tiles, allow individuals to look at the letters. However, don’t allow them to let the others in their group know what was chosen until everyone has selected their tiles. Once everyone has collected their tiles, team members reveal the letters they chose to their own team and put them all into one pile.
     Set a time limit (three to five minutes), and challenge the teams to use their letters to make as many words as possible by rearranging them. Have them write down the words on their paper. You may give points according to how many words they come up with, extra points for longer words, etc. The team with the most points at the end wins.

Discussion Prompts

  1. Did the letters you chose make it easier or harder for the group to create words? 

  2. Did you have control over what letters your team members chose?

  3. If you chose your letters after they had been picked through, how was your selection compared to others?

  4. In your own life, do you ever experience times when the choices you make have an affect on a group of people? 

  5. Do you find the choices you make in life usually help or hurt others?

  6. Do you feel like you have control over the choices you make?

  7. Do you ever feel like the choices others make hurt you?

  8. If others make poor choices that affect you, how can you overcome this obstacle?

Variations

  • After each team has made as many words as they can with their letters, have them write the words down on a list. Send the list and letters to another group, who can get bonus points for any additional words they make.

  • Let people collectively choose which letters to use. Next, either allow them to keep the letters or make them trade with another group. 

 

Story Clues

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To play a communication game requiring individuals to listen carefully to determine the clues in the story. 

Who
People who have trouble sharing their feelings directly and who hope others can pick up on hints and clues.

Group Size
2 or more

Materials

  • The TABOO game

  • Paper

  • Pens or pencils

Description
     Give each person a piece of paper and a pen. One person in the group selects a card and must tell a short story using all the words on it. (You may wish to set a time limit for this story.) Group members attempt to guess the six words by writing down six guesses as the story is told. After the story, have the storyteller read the words on their card. Each person earns a point for every correct word they have on their list. 

Discussion Prompts

  1. What clues did you listen for to help determine what the words were?

  2. What listening skills did you have to use today to pick up on the clues?

  3. Do you tend to tell people how you feel directly? Or do you let them guess how you’re feeling through the clues you give to them?

  4. What happens when you think someone got your clues but it turns out they didn’t at all?

  5. In what circumstances would it help you to be more direct, rather than relying on clues?

 

Consequences and Rewards

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To explore actions we take in our lives that are negative and to understand the consequences that can occur. To explore positive things we can do and understand the rewards for choosing a positive way to live instead of a negative one.

Who
Individuals who would benefit from looking at positive ways to deal with situations and understanding the consequences of acting in a negative manner.

Group Size
4 to 10 is ideal (find items to use as game pieces if you have more than four)

Materials

  • The CHUTES AND LADDERS game

  • 2”x1.5” Sticky Notes (or regular size Sticky Notes and cut them into smaller sizes)

  • Scissors, if needed

  • Pens or colored markers

  • Extra game pieces (if you have more than four players)

Description
     Hand out four small Sticky Notes to each person. Ask everyone to create two new spaces for the game that can be associated with one negative thing that a person might do to slide backwards in life. The first Note tells of the action and the second one reveals the consequence. These can be just words on the Note, or they can draw pictures. Ask each person to do the same thing regarding a positive behavior, with one positive action listed on one Note and the reward revealed on the other. 
     Ask the group members to share what they have come up with. Then place the negative ones on a chute and the positive ones on a ladder before playing the game as a group. When a person lands on a related space, ask them to share with the group any time they may have had a similar experience. 

Discussion Prompts

  1. Was it easier to think of situations that held negative consequences or positive rewards? Why?

  2. Do you think about the possible outcomes before you act? Or do you act first and then worry about the consequences later?

  3. Was there any positive action that someone put on their Sticky Note that you would like to do more often in your own life?

Variations

  • Use paper instead of Sticky Notes and cut the paper into pieces the size of a space on the game board.

  • Ask group members to come up with enough cards to fill all of the CHUTES AND LADDERS game spots on the board (hand out more than four notes to each person). 

  • Have the group think of the new spaces for the board as a group and the leader writes them down.

  • Make a paper copy of the game. Next, have each person fill in blank Notes for CHUTES AND LADDERS negative and positive actions and consequences as described above. Share with the group about the new game board they have created. 

  • After creating the new spaces, play the game but do not place the Sticky Notes on the game until someone lands on a chute or a ladder. At that time, they can share what they came up with.

 

Missing Pieces

(from the book Therapy Games)

Objective
To discover what people feel is missing in their own lives, and to figure out what they’re doing to try to fill the void.

Who
People who are always trying to fill a void they feel with something that may not be healthy.

Group Size
1 or more

Materials

  • Any size puzzle that your group can put together in one session.

Description
     Select a puzzle for your group to put together. Prior to the group time, hide as many pieces as there are people in your group around the meeting room. Don’t tell the group there are pieces missing. Simply have them all work together to put together the puzzle. Once the puzzle is put together (minus all the missing pieces), use the Discussion Prompts for the 1st session.
     After the discussion time, let the group know about the pieces that are hidden around the room. Each person needs to find one piece in order for the puzzle to be complete. After everyone has found one piece, ask them to identify things that they can change in their own life to make their life whole again. As each person speaks, they can put their piece into the puzzle. When the puzzle is complete, move on to the Discussion Prompts for the 2nd session.

Discussion Prompts – 1st session

  1. Can you relate to a puzzle that has missing pieces in any way?

  2. What is something you always feel like you’re missing and searching for?

  3. Is this a healthy or negative thing for you to spend your time searching for? Why?

  4. If you feel like there’s a void in your life, what do fill this void with? Is this negative or healthy? 

  5. Do you think some people focus too much on what they feel is missing and they overlook all the good they have?

Discussion Prompts – 2nd session

  1. Can you relate to a complete puzzle that is all put together in any way?

  2. When do you feel that your life is whole and complete?

  3. If you’re someone who is always searching for something, what can you do to make your life whole?

  4. What is something you can change in your life right now to fill in the holes and make yourself whole?

 

Same Letter, Different Name
(from the Self-Esteem Chapter of the book 104 Activities that Build:)
   

Ambitious, athletic, artistic and altruistic, - there are plenty more words that begin with “A” that create a positive description of people we know or even of ourselves. Thinking of new words from A to Z that are descriptive of the people we know is the purpose of this game, and with added competition it’s lots of fun. The best part, though, is getting to hear positive descriptive words about yourself at the end of this fast paced thinking game.
 
Objective
For group members to increase self-esteem by recognizing the positive traits that exist in each other.
 
Who
People who could benefit from hearing positive comments about themselves in order to improve their own self-esteem. Group members should be familiar with each other.
 
Group Size
4 to 20 participants
 
Materials

  • Paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • A timer or stopwatch

  • An envelope filled with the letters of the alphabet (written on small slips of paper)

 
Description
    Divide the group into two even teams and ask each team to write down on one piece of paper all the names of the people on their team and on the other team. Once all the names are written down, select a letter of the alphabet from the envelope. Inform the teams what letter was chosen and give them two minutes to work as a team to think of a positive word, or words beginning with the chosen letter that describes each person. For example, if the letter H was chosen and the names John, Amy, and Craig were on the list my team may come up with:
John  -  Hard worker
Amy  -  Honest, Humble
Craig -  Handsome
    Once the time limit is up bring the two teams together and ask them to each read their list to the group. For added fun and competition you may give each team a point for every word on their list that isn’t on the other team’s list.
    Play as many rounds of this game as you have time for. You may want to make specific rules for the activity (i.e. you must think of at least one word for each person on the list). The discussion may be held at the end of the game or hold a short discussion after each round.
 
Discussion Prompts
1.  How do you feel about the words that were chosen to describe you?
2.  Were you surprised by any of the words used to describe you? If so why?
3.  Did anyone give any ideas for the a word that you would use to describe yourself ?
4.  Is it easy or hard to think of positive words to describe others? Yourself? Why?
 
Variations

  • Don’t give a time limit; instead give bonus points to the team that thinks of a word to describe everyone on the list first.

  • With a large group don’t include your own team on your list, instead just think of words to describe the members of the other team, or break the group up into more than two teams.


Creative Coloring
(From the Teamwork Chapter of the book 104 Activities That Build:)
     

Sometimes in life we must accept help from others or rely on our friends and family for help if we are to be successful. If one person tries to build a house all alone, there is a lot of work to be done and it’s a difficult task, but when a whole team of people pitch in and contribute, a complete house can be built in no time. Each person is a part of a puzzle and can offer different talents to use in the building of the complete house.
     In this activity each person is a part of a team that can make a big project easy and each person contributes his/her own skills to create the big picture.
 
Objective
To promote teamwork through a group project and for the group to work together as a team.
 
Who
People who need to practice using teamwork by working closely with others to finish a group project.
 
Group Size
4 to 12 participants
 
Materials

  • 12 different colored markers, crayons or colored pencils

  • A large sheet of paper

 
Description
    Give each member of the group a different colored marker, crayon or pencil and inform them that this will be the only color they can use for this project. The group must now create a picture, using all of the colors. Each person may only use his/her color (no trading or sharing is allowed!).
    For example if the picture contains a tree the person with the brown marker will draw the tree trunk and the person with the green will then draw the leaves.
 
Discussion Prompts
1.  Was this a difficult task for the group? Why or why not?
2.  How did you work as group to complete the picture? Was teamwork needed or could everyone work on their own?
3.  Is everyone in the group happy with the picture that was created? Why or why not?
4.  Is it easier to do things by yourself or with others?
5.  Why is it important to be able to work with others as a member of a team?
    
Variations

  • For smaller groups each person may have more than one color.

  • For younger children or lower functioning groups it’s a good idea to tell them what picture they should draw.

  • Have the group color in a page from a coloring book, rather than creating their own picture.

  • For added teamwork ask the group to decide how to determine which color each person will use.


Crazy Comic
(From the Communication Chapter of the book "104 Activities That Build:)
    

Creating a good concept can take a really long time, and lots of thought must be put into it. When there is a large group of people working on the idea, the task may suddenly become easier because there is more brainpower working on the project. However, if people can’t communicate their ideas with each other and make group decisions, many problems may arise. This activity is a simple task, but a great deal of communication is needed if a group is to be successful when attempting to work together to create an original idea.
 
Objective
To communicate ideas with others and make group decisions based upon discussion.
 
Who
People who need to work on communicating ideas with other people and who need to learn how to make a group decision by compromising on the ideas given.
 
Group Size

3 or more
 
Materials

  • Paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Colored markers, crayons, or colored pencils

 
Description
    Divide the group into smaller groups of three to six members each. Supply each person in each group with a piece of paper and writing utensil. Instruct the groups that they are to create an original comic strip and each person in the group must draw one frame of the strip (if there are four people in a group, the comic strip will contain four frames). The group must decide what to draw, the story line and who will draw what (there is a lot of communication involved in this one)!
    Once the discussion has taken place about the comic strip and the decisions have been made, each person draws the frame s/he is responsible for on his/her own piece of paper. Everyone should be drawing at the same time and not taking turns with their group members. If you want to make it really challenging, don’t allow group members to see each others’ papers when they are drawing.
    After the comic strips are completed, allow time for sharing and give each group a chance to show their comic strip to the other groups.
 
Discussion Prompts
1.  What different communication skills were needed for this activity?
2.  How important was communication during this activity?
3.  What was the most difficult part of this activity for you?
4.  Did your comic strip flow? Why or why not?
5.  When involved in part of a group process, do you want things to always go your way or do you allow others to contribute ideas?
6.  Why is it important to be able to make decisions with other people?
7.  What things do you need to do when making decisions with others?
8.  In your life, when is it important to be able to communicate clearly with others?
 
Variation

  • Give them some ideas about what characters or settings to use in the comic strips.


Hidden Heart

(From the Anger Management Chapter of the book "104 Activities That Build:)
  

The things that we keep hidden inside are our hurts, emotional pain, scars, and anger. Some people work extra hard to hide these feelings and eventually may physically hurt themselves or others if they don’t share their feelings with others.
    This activity gives people the opportunity to share their pain and the anger they have hidden inside. When people start to deal with these feelings of anger before becoming destructive they can experience happiness in their lives once again.
 
Objective
For people to recognize and understand that the anger they keep on the inside affects how they live their lives. To help people recognize the good things that they have in their hearts and to encourage them to share this part of themselves with others.
 
Who
People who are angry about their own lives and who show this anger easily to others. People who are angry on the inside and keep the anger buried deep down which leads them to have many negative feelings towards themselves or towards others.
 
Group Size
1 or more
 
Materials

  • Paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Scissors

  • Thin pieces of ribbon

  • One small, and one large balloon for each person (not inflated)

  • Permanent colored markers

 
Description
    Give each person a small balloon, piece of ribbon, paper, scissors and a pen or pencil. Explain to them that this balloon represents their heart and all of the pain, hurt and anger that can be found inside of it. Instruct them to cut slips of paper that are small enough to fit into the balloon, to write down their hurts and anger on these, and to then put the papers into the balloon and tie the balloon closed with the ribbon (do not blow up the balloon). These papers do not have to be shown to anyone.
    Give each person one of the larger balloons and ask each person to put their “heart” (the smaller balloon) into the larger balloon. Instruct each person to blow up the large balloon and tie it shut. Tell them that they are to write on the outside of the balloon how they present themselves to others on the outside so that nobody can see the things that are hidden on the inside. Some people use humor to hide the pain; others always act confident even though they feel insecure and lonely. These are the types of things people should write on the outside of their balloon.
    Once all of the balloons are written on, gather the group together and discuss what is written on the outside of the balloons. Challenge the members of the group to each share at least one thing they have written down on the outside of their balloon. Then ask each person to state if it is a good thing to cover up what is on the inside or if they would like people to know more about what’s going on in their life and if so to think of a way that this can happen. After this discussion, allow them to pop their balloons as a symbolic way of getting rid of all the walls and devices that they use to hide their pain.
    After the balloons are popped, the hearts with the ribbons tied around them should remain. Challenge each person in the group to find someone in the next week’s time whom they trust enough to give their heart to. They should explain to that person what the balloon represents and why they want to give it to them; they should then let that person untie the ribbon to see what is inside. If possible bring the group back together a week later for a follow up group to find out who was able to find someone to give their heart to. Or simply challenge the group to read what they had in their “heart” to the group.
 
Discussion Prompts
1.  How are you affected by the feelings and emotions that you keep inside of you?
2.  What things inside of you makes you feel angry?
3.  How can your life change if you get rid of the negative things and leave only the positive in your heart?
4.  How can you get rid of the negative things in your life?
5.  Do you trust anyone with your heart? Why or why not?
6.  How can it help you to find someone to trust with your feelings and emotions?
 
Variation

  • Simply place a piece of paper with your name on it inside a balloon to represent you as a person and then write down the things that you do to keep people from getting to know the “real” you on the outside and share these with the group.


Family Totem Pole
(From the Self-Discovery Chapter of the book "104 Activities That Build:)
     

A totem pole is a tall woodcarving consisting of animal heads and/or bodies and is used to tell Native American stories or legends. A family totem pole can be created to tell the story of a family in a fun and unique way.
 
Objective
For people to explore feelings, perceptions, and relationships that they have with their family members.
 
Who
People who need to share about their family life with the group or with a counselor but who have a difficult time talking about family dynamics and family situations.
 
Group Size
1 or more
 
Materials
Construction Paper
Glue
Scissors
Tape
Colored markers
Optional: Cardboard tube (i.e. toilet paper roll, paper towel roll or wrapping paper tube)
Optional: Google eyes, felt, fabric, puff balls, pipe cleaners, or anything else that can be used to create animal faces.
 
Description
    Ask the group if they know what a totem pole is and explain how each totem pole tells a unique story. Explain to the group that they are to create their own unique totem poles about their families. Each person chooses a different animal to represent each family member and places the animal on the pole wherever they think that family member should be in their own story. For example, one pole may have a lion for a brother who is good looking, athletic and everything seems to come easy for him, and who also happens to be known for being quite lazy. Each totem pole must include at least three people and each person must put him/herself on the totem pole s/he is creating. Emphasize that a family can be whoever they feel their family is at the time. For some it may be a foster family, grandparents, a special relative, or even a group home.
     Give each person a cardboard tube or create one by rolling construction paper long ways into a tube and taping it. Supply the group with all the animal face creation supplies that you have gathered that can be used to create animal faces. Instruct them to create animals out of the materials and to glue them onto their totem pole. Allow quite a bit of time for this activity and people will do a really good job and be proud of their totem poles when they are finished with them. Allow for sharing time at the end so that each person may explain his/her special family totem pole to the group.
 
Discussion Prompts
Discuss each totem pole after it has been explained to the group. You may allow group members to ask questions or use this time to discuss family relations that are occurring in each separate family.
 
Variation

  • Create the totem poles out of modeling clay or play dough.


Leisure Brochure
(From the Coping Skills Chapter of the book "104 Activities That Build:")
 
    A brochure is a simple means of advertising that can get people excited about something new and fun. Many brochures are about recreational activities such as skiing, water slides, white water rafting, shopping, etc. The pictures and the words in the brochure are meant to spark your interest in the activity.


    The leisure brochure activity is also an interest sparker. It is meant to get people interested in some of their old but forgotten activities and interest them in new things to fill their time.
 
Objective
For each person in the group to explore his/her own leisure interest, activity participation, and personal leisure lifestyle. To discuss how activity involvement can be used as a coping skill.
 
Who
People who spend their free time doing the same thing over and over again and who need to integrate a variety of activities, that can be used as coping mechanisms, into their lives. 

Group Size
1 or more
 
Materials

  • Paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Colored markers, crayons or pencils

  • Optional: Colored paper, scissors, glue, glitter, etc.

 
Description
    If you have any brochures lying around that advertise activities and events (i.e. white water rafting, skiing and vacations and that can be found at your local Chamber of Commerce, outdoor stores, AAA, or travel agencies) bring them for the group to see, then talk about what a brochure is. A brochure is something that is used to advertise an activity, product or event and is used to get people interested in participating in all the fun that is described in its pages.
    Ask everyone to create their own “leisure brochures” that advertises all of the interesting things they have done for fun and leisure in their life. The brochure should state why these are things the author enjoys and what is so great about each activity. The job of each person is to create a brochure that others will be interested in and that will create interest in the activities listed.
     After everyone completes their brochure, allow time for sharing. This is a great way to get people to think about all the fun things they used to do but don’t do anymore, to think about the things they enjoy doing now and to get new ideas for coping activities from others.
 
Discussion Prompts
1.  Are there any activities that you thought of that you haven’t done in a while but would like to do again? Why don’t you?
2.  How could any of the activities you listed help you to cope with your problems? Do you use these activities? If not, why?
3.  Did you like any of the ideas someone else listed? If so, can you pursue any of these?

Gift from the Heart
(from the Self-Esteem Chapter of the book "The wRECking Yard")

Giving and receiving gifts is often a very special and magical event. The giver expresses caring for the receiver by selecting something he or she feels would be appreciated. The receiver gets a token of affection and love. This activity is about giving your understanding of others to them and learning how others see you through the exchange of thoughtful gifts.

 

Objective
To build relations among group members through positive interactions and to increase self-esteem by receiving thoughtful gifts from others.

Who
People with low self-esteem who could benefit from being thoughtful and nice towards others.

Group Size
2 or more

Materials

  • Paper

  • Pens, Pencils

  • Colored markers or crayons

 
Description
Each member of the group chooses an imaginary gift to give to each person in the group. Each gift is drawn or described on a piece of paper to be given to the recipient. The gifts should be thought out so they represent the individuals who receive the gifts. The gifts may be deep and thoughtful such as “courage to face life’s difficulties”, for someone who has shared many deep problems with the group. Or the gifts may simply be something the receiver would enjoy, such as “a season ski pass to go skiing any time you want,” for someone who enjoys skiing. Once everyone has completed their gifts, let one person at a time give out his/her gifts to the others. When giving the gifts, the giver should explain what the gift is and why she or he chose to give that particular gift to the individual.
 
Discussion Topics
1. How did you decide what gifts to give?
2. What did you think about the gifts you got?
3. Do you think there was a good match between the people and the gifts they received?
 
Variation

  • If the group is large, assign each person a select number of group members to create a gift for, or break the large group into smaller group.


Mega Mini Golf

(from the Teamwork chapter of the book "The wRECking Yard")
 

Playing golf is an individual sport, but creating a golf course takes many different people working together to reach a common goal. In this activity each person can contribute unique ideas and listen to the ideas of others to make a great golf course.
 
Objective
For group members to use teamwork in a group situation, by participating in group decision making.
 
Who
People who need to work on being a member of a team and getting along with teammates while working on a teamwork activity.
 
Group Size
4 to 16 participants
 
Materials

  • Large plastic cups

  • Hockey sticks or golf clubs

  • Whiffle balls or tennis balls

  • Any equipment that can be used to create mini golf obstacles (i.e. cones, basketballs, jump ropes, chairs, blocks, beanbags, tables, milk cartons, boxes, tumbling mats, etc.)

 
Description
     Use a large field or open room. Place all the equipment (except for the hockey sticks or golf clubs and balls) in a pile in the middle. Break the group into smaller groups of two to four members.
     Each group may use a few items from the pile to create an original mini golf hole. Each group gets one of the large plastic cups to use for the hole itself. Use the cup by tipping it onto its side so that the open end is the target at the end of the mini golf hole.
     Using the selected items, the group creates an obstacle in front of the cup, with a designated starting point for the ball. Once each group has completed their mini golf hole, tour the golf course as a group, allowing each group to give an explanation of their hole to the rest of the group.
     Once the tour is completed, give each person a hockey stick and ball. Have the group play a round of mini golf with each small group starting the game at a different hole.
 
Discussion Topics
1. Did everyone in your group contribute to the creation of the golf hole? If not, why not? If so, what contribution did you make?
2. Would it have been easier or more difficult to create a mini golf hole by yourself? Why?
3. Was there any confusion about the explanation of the course once play started?
4. How was teamwork used during this activity? 
 
Variations

  • Depending on the size of the group and the amount of time allowed, each group may be allowed to create more than one golf hole.

  • With younger children it is a good idea to supply each group with a small pile of items that they must use when creating their golf hole. Also, use hula hoops for the hole. 

 

Direction Direction
(from the Communication Chapter of the book "The wRECking Yard")
      

In our society there is a constant transfer of information from one person to another. You must be careful when you pass information on if you want it to stay accurate. One great example shows up in rules for a game. If you check with people in different parts of the country you will find out that many of the games have different rules. Someone, something changed the rules a little bit
     In this activity someone gets a set of rules and the group gets to see how easy it can be to make mistakes in passing them on. This can be a fun way to see what can happen when information is not passed on correctly.
 
Objective
For people to recognize the importance of using good communication skills when giving directions and when receiving directions. To recognize the difficulties encountered when interpreting what someone else said.
 
Who
People who believe everything they hear.
People who could benefit from listening carefully to directions and passing them along correctly.
 
Group Size
2 or more
 
Materials

  • Varies

 

Description
     Chose a game that has a few specific rules that must be followed in order to play the game (and enough rules to make it hard to remember them all). Prior to the activity select one person and give him/her the direction for the game without telling the rest of the group. Verbally explain the game can clearly state all of the rules.
     At the time of the game, the person who has heard the rules will give the directions to the rest of the group without any help from you. Allow the group to play the game once through before having a group discussion or making any corrections or clarifications in the rules of the game.
 
Discussion Topics
1. Was there any confusion about the rules of the game?
2. Why do you think the game was explained correctly (or incorrectly)?
3. What is important to remember when listening to others and when giving directions?
 
Variations

  • Select a game that requires two teams. Separate the two teams and select one member from each team to receive the directions for the game. Each person explains the rules to his/her team.

  • Give each team a different set of directions, on purpose.

 

The Board Game Challenge
(from the Anger Management chapter of the book "The wRECking Yard")

Not every competitive game is physically active. These games can be every bit as intense and frustrating as physical games. With these activities the group gets a chance to practice its anger management in another kind of realistic situation.

 

Objective
For people to show good sportsmanship towards teammates and towards an opponent in a competitive situation. For people to practice using appropriate anger control skills when becoming frustrated, agitated or angry in a competitive activity.

Who
People who have difficulty controlling their anger in competitive situations.

Group Size
3 or more

Materials

  • Play money

  • A variety of board games that played by taking turns

  • Some suggestions are Operation, Stay Alive, Simon, Jenga

 
Description
The idea of the game is to finish with the most money. Money is earned by accomplishing different tasks from different games. For example if you are using the game Operation, pass the game around. Give each person a turn to pick out a piece without getting buzzed to earn a set amount of money.
This type of competition may be done with many different games. Use your imagination and resources to give away money using different board games. Money creates a competitive environment that seems to bring out intense feelings. Also a prize may be offered for the one with the most money at the end to increase the incentive and make the games a bit more competitive.

Discussion Topics
1. If you lost, how did you feel?
2. Why did you want to win?
3. Do you ever get angry or disappointed when playing a game? If so, how do you handle it?
4. Do you feel competition is good or bad? Why?
5. Would you have had the same desire to win if money had not been a factor? Why or why not?
 
Variations

  • Hold an auction at the end of the game so that the group members can spend the money they won.

  • Give away money for acts of good sportsmanship. Take away money for acts of poor sportsmanship.

 

To Make this Box Represent Me, I would…
(from the Self-Discovery chapter of the book "The wRECking Yard")
 

Being able to open up to others in a group is the first step in becoming an active member of the group. Some people have difficulty opening up to others and sharing their feelings. Something as simple as a cardboard box can be a helpful tool for getting people to feel comfortable about sharing their feelings with the group, for the first time or even for the fifteenth time.
 
Objective
To learn the perception that each person in the group holds about him/herself.
To provide a chance for people to open up to others in the group.
 
Who
People who have difficulty expressing their feelings directly.
 
Group Size
2 or more
 
Materials

  • An empty box with a lid

 
Description
     Gather the group into a circle. The leader holds the empty box and says "to make this box represent me I would…" (i.e. "I would fill it with chocolate covered candy and then tape it shut because it is difficult to find out what is inside of me but once I open up there are many wonderful surprises to be discovered.").
     Once the leader has completed the statement he/she passes the box to the next person who then completes the sentence and then passes it to the person beside him/her. The box continues around the circle until everyone has had a turn.
 
Discussion Topics
1. Did the box make it easier to say something?
2. Did you feel that you could be in better control of how much you said?
3. What did you learn about others?
 
Variation

  • Change what the box represents: "To make this box represent __________ (my family, the way I deal with my anger, my relationship with God, my role in this group, etc.), I would…"

 

Time Switch
(from the Coping Skills chapter of the book "The wRECking Yard)
      

Playing in the backyard with a bunch of other kids or hanging out in a friend’s bedroom after school are examples of unstructured activities. Going to a church sponsored event, school dance or football practice fall into the category of structured activities.
    Some people keep themselves out of trouble by becoming engaged in mainly structured activities while others enjoy the freedom found when engaging in unstructured activities. Helping the members of the group recognize the role that planned and unplanned activities have on their lives will help them make better choices in their leisure lifestyle.
 
Objective
For people to recognize behavior that is related to the use or misuse of their leisure time and to explore the difference between structured and unstructured time.
 
Who
People who could benefit from a more or less structured leisure lifestyle.
 
Group Size
4 or more
 
Materials

  • Varies

 

Description
     Divide the group time into two parts. Spend half of the group time playing a game that is organized and led by the leader of the group. This organized game may be anything from a board game to a running game, as long as it has rules and includes everyone in the group.
     Once the group time is half way over, stop the organized game and allow the group to have unstructured free time. Provide the opportunity for free play, by providing materials and equipment that are available in the facility.
     At the end of the group time, gather the group together and make a group list of the good and bad aspects of structured time and the good and bad aspects of unstructured time.
 
Discussion Topics
1. Do you ever find yourself getting into trouble when time is structured? Unstructured? If so why?
2. What are the benefits you receive when you are involved in structured activities?
3. Why is it important to be able to spend unstructured free time in a positive way?
4. If you feel you should be involved in more structured activities, how can you do that?