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IMPROV EXERCISES FOR THE CLASSROOM
~ Supportive Dynamic & Peer Bonding ~

THE COUNT

Need: Nothing! They can play from their desks. :)

Time: 3 minutes to whenever you decide to end it!

Play: Explain that *as a team* we are going to count to 20 (or whatever you choose) BUT no one is allowed to say more than ONE number in a row; it only counts if: each person says ONE number at a time, and no one interrupts each other!  Explain also that they are probably going to interrupt each other and that it's OK!  And if (or when!) they interrupt, you will start them again at zero.  It can be supportive to let them know it's not a race, not timed, just an attempt to *try* something together.  This is a game about discovering patterns, practicing supportive communication (listening & speaking), and in order to do that we have to allow the "failure".  Try this as many times as you feel it is supportive.  You can invite them to try with their eyes closed!  

Tie In: This exercise reconnects them to the moment, reinforces their roles as supportive members of a team (and the different ways to be supportive), lets them practice taking turns (and experience the value in that), and invites them to explore failure as a likely (or inevitable) experience to trying.  Trying is enough, and that is worth celebrating!  Rather than getting mad about "not reaching 20" can they find other opportunites or make other observations about the perceived "mistake" (two of them had a connection, the value of listening to make things work, knowing that to achieve success sometimes we speak and sometimes we listen AND sometimes we mess up.  Also, with you always restarting them at zero reinforces you role as the anchor and the supportive permission to try again.  They can also cultivate a safer relationship with themselves in knowing that their contribution is valuable both through speaking AND listening and being present.  It is super-hard for them to let go of that feeling of control (or take a risk to be wrong) so be as patient and playful with this exercise as possible!  They are watching you to see how you respond to 
failure"!  When they see that YOU are comfortable with their "failures" they will feel more safe & supported to try, knowing that i they mess up, it's OK. 

5 THINGS!

Need: Nothing - but it helps with energy to play this by standing in a circle, so if you have the space...

Time: 5-10 minutes (depends on the size of your class)

Play: This one comes with a chant (yay!): "Fiiiiive Things! Five things, five things, five things!"  **They will watch your energy so be mindful of your own enthusiasm and invite them to meet you there! Be patient with kids and anxiety - they may not match your confidence today, but they might one day if you don't give up on them.  They go around the circle, each person asks the person beside them to "name five ____" - they get to choose what they ask each other to "name five" of (five subjects, five characters in a story, five letters in some word, five types of poems, etc).  The person asked to name five things then proceeds, with enthusiasm, to name these things BUT ... (and this might be hard for you, Teacher, because ... I get it!) ... BUT, they get to be wrong; the goal is for them to make the fastest most spontaneous responses and in between each "thing" they name, everyone else cheers, "ONE!" , then "TWO", then "THREE!" after each of the five items.  So, no matter what they say, they are celebrated.  Oftentimes, they'll say the "right" things, and oftentimes, they'll say made-up, unexpected or "wrong" things...but it's ALL great!  The focus is on them taking the chance, using the confidence, trying their best, sometimes being right, and sometimes being wrong.  If they try to be wrong on purpose just celebrate the fast "right" answers AND the "wrong" answers that felt organic and honest to illustrate the value is on trying our best, honestly, and then whatever happens = we celebrate each other.  

Tie In:  They are co-creating a supportive dynamic, energy, and habit for each other with this game.  They are giving each other permission to take a creative risk, to go for it, and to even be "wrong" and know that's OK, and that even when they make mistakes or make unexpected guesses, they will always have each others' backs.  This also exemplifies the value of "mistakes" and the unexpected, since they often make us laugh and feel more connected! It also nurtures the permission in your classroom for trying and failing, which helps them feel safe, and then they are all set to celebrate each other, all the more, when they succeed!  This game also helps the practice of taking turns and steering peer focus in supportive ways.  It's also a good name game if you include the rule of " (Name), please say five things_______".   You can also incorporate curriculum support with the "Five Things" - you could structure it however you want (eg."five things that have to do with a topic or unit"). 

MORE Improv Exercises for the Classroom

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