Community Building Exercises

Community Building Exercises
Building community exercises is about building the whole community for understanding one another, learning how to collaborate together, developing listening for learning, and other methods of the whole school community to be open to learning with and from one another. Multiple examples are below that could be effectively used for a wide range of ages. These are only some examples. More can be found on the PDF handout files at the bottom of this page.

The objective of the game is to create an abstract machine using people as parts. One person begins by making a simple motion and sound. The leader selects another person
to join the machine – this person adds another motion that works in rhythm with the first person. The leader continues to select people who continue making simple motions and sounds that work in rhythm with the machine. The leader (or a person in the group) is at the controls that can turn the machine off and on, or speed the machine up and slow it down. The leader can be specific on what the machine does or makes.

Pass the Rhythm
Everyone stands in a circle. One person begins by modeling a clap (the rhythm), then turns to a person next to them (we’ll say to the left) and they must clap the rhythm together while looking at each other in the eyes. The person who just received the rhythm now turns to their left and does the same action with the person on their left. This continues until the rhythm returns to the person who began the rhythm.

The group mingles around, casually talking to each other. As they continue mingling, you call out a name of a category, like pets. The players then have to find other people who have that in common with them. Other categories you can try are: someone with the same number of brothers and sisters as you, someone with the same color eyes as you, someone with one of your hobbies. Let one of the players take your place and be the leader who can call out the categories.

In Common • Commonalities
Participants face the inside of the circle on their individual spots. One person (start with the lead facilitator modeling several times, then each person will do it once) will state something true about themselves. An example might be “I have taken ballet lessons.” Then everyone who has this “In Common” with the person who stated “I have…” will leave their spots and trade with someone else. This is followed by another person sharing something true about themselves. Then everyone who has this “In Common” with the person who stated “I have…” will leave their spots and trade with someone else.

People to People
Everybody mingles around, greeting one another normally (thus the title “People to People”). You, as the leader, stop movement by proclaiming “elbow to elbow!” or “knee to ear!” The group must form whatever configuration you say by finding someone to touch elbows with or a knee to put an ear on. When you say “people to people,” the mingling and greeting begins again. The game becomes more creative when you announce animal configurations, like “Elephant to elephant!” or “Snake to snake!” or “Alien to alien!” These can lead to “Trunk to trunk!” and “Tail to tail!”

Participants are in pairs. They will connect with hands (you could also do it with elbows, fingers, etc.). One person will close their eyes and the leader will keep their eyes open. They will then start walking together. It is the responsibility of the leader with the eyes open to lead the other person who is trusting them on a safe path while they are walking around. Initially do for short segments (e.g. 30 seconds), then have the pairs switch who is the leader.

I Love My Neighbor
Participants face the inside of the circle on their individual spots, except for one person, for example Ashenafi, who is “It” and stands in the middle. Ashenafi starts by saying “I love my neighbor who…,” finishing with a characteristic or description, such as, “I love my neighbor who has an older brother.” Then all the participants to whom this is true leave their spots and trade with someone else. Ashenafi then scrambles for the open spaces, and whoever is left without a seat is the new “It” and must begin again saying “I love my neighbor who…” Each person who is “It” is not allowed to repeat any of the other things previous “Its” have said.

Combines elements of mirroring and zoom that includes movement, sounds and moving
in a circle. One person (initially the teacher) does a motion (movement and sound), then everyone repeats the modeled motion. Then another person in the circle does a motion followed by everyone repeating the modeled motion. The order could be determined from a caller who selects the next person or in order around the circle. In the beginning a suggested rule is to keep your feet on the ground and stay where you are standing.

Group Mirror
One person stands facing everyone in the class. They can stand anywhere in the class. It is important everyone has a clear view of the person leading the movement. All participants should stand clear of any objects or furniture. The order of modeling could be: moving arms; moving arms and hands; moving arms, hands, and fingers; moving arms, hands, fingers, and head; moving arms, hands, fingers, head, and torso; moving arms, hands, fingers, head, torso, and elements of the head (e.g. the eyes). The person who is the mirror leads the participants for approximately 30 seconds, then says freeze, with all the reflections now a stop motion of their movements. Then upon hearing continue they continue the reflection of the mirror. Group mirror is very effective to quickly start with the students participating from wherever they are in the class.