Temple Beth Hillel et al.

ACTIVITY DESCRIPTIONS

January 19, 2021

Show Yourself If

This is an ice-breaker to help participants who are meeting for the first time to connect with one another and see what things they have in common.

 

  1. The host begins by asking everyone to stop their video.

  2. The host then states a prompt that begins with “Show yourself if…” and can be followed by whatever you’d like. Ask participants to start their video if the prompt is true for them. Example prompts include:

    1. Show yourself if you have a pet

    2. Show yourself if you are you the oldest sibling

    3. Show yourself if you like ice cream

  3. Once the participants have shown themselves, pause a moment to allow all participants to take in everyone who has shown themselves. Then ask everyone to stop their videos again.

  4. Repeat for as many times as you’d like. Once you have done several rounds, you may choose to ask other participants to provide their own prompt. Feel free to give them the option to do so vocally, or to type their prompts in chat where you can then read the prompt out loud for them.

Word Ball

1. You may choose to have participants do this activity all together in the main session, or if you have a group larger than 10, you may choose to split them up into breakout rooms.

2. Assign a number to each of the participants and ask them to rename themselves by placing their number in front of their names. This creates an order -- essentially a “virtual circle”. We find it easiest if the host assigns number 1 to themselves.

3. The host holds an imaginary ball and “passes” the ball to the next person in sequential order by throwing the ball directly into the camera. When passing the ball, the host says a word.

4. The next person “catches” the ball, repeating the word that was passed to them by the previous person. They then pass the ball to the next person, saying the first word that comes to mind.

5. This continues until the last person catches the ball and then passes their new word ball to the first person. The cycle repeats for as many times as you wish.

 

Notes: This activity should be done quickly. When people play this game for the first time, they may want to spend a lot of time thinking of the “right” word. It’s helpful to remind them the right word is the first word that comes to mind and the objective is to be as quick and spontaneous as possible.

Story Spine                            

The Story Spine is an effective framework for telling an engaging, cohesive story. When used as an activity for students, it helps keep students focused and playfully co-creating, which in turn helps to establish a sense of community and trust. You can either keep the stories general or incorporate themes and content from class.

                           

  1. Ask the students to rename themselves by placing a number in front of their name, from 1 to 9. It's also helpful to paste the Story Spine in chat so that students can easily follow along.

  2. The first person will start off with number 1, "Once upon a time" and finish the sentence with whatever they like.

  3. The rest of the students continue in order, each adding on a line from the Story Spine (Everyday..., But one day..., etc.) until they reach the last line of the story, number 9.

   

Story Spine:

  1. Once upon a time...

  2. Everyday...

  3. But one day...

  4. Because of that...

  5. Because of that...

  6. Because of that...

  7. Until finally...

  8. Ever since then...

  9. The morale of the story is...   

               

Notes:

  • This activity can also be done in smaller groups, pairs, or even solo. 

  • You can easily adapt this exercise for Jewish learning content. You can choose to keep this openly based on a theme (Purim for example), or can seed the first line of the story (“Once upon a time there was a queen named Vashti who refused to dance for the king” for example). 

  • You can make the story as long as you want by adding more "Because of that..." lines in the middle of the story.

What Are You Doing?

This is a favorite game among students. One of the best things about this game is that it incorporates physicality, which we don’t often get opportunities for online. This is a game focused on being silly and spontaneous. If playing in pairs:

 

  1. Participant 1 starts by doing a physical activity. 

  2. Participant 2 asks “What are you doing?”

  3. Participant 1 replies by saying anything other than what they are actually doing.

  4. Participant 2 engages in the activity named by Participant 1.

  5. Participant 1 now asks “What are you doing?” and the cycle continues.

      

Notes:

  • If played in a larger group, have participants rename themselves with a number to create a virtual circle. The play moves forward, in sequence, rather than between two people.

  • A challenging variation to this game is to give a letter that the activity must start with. For example, if the letter is F,  the person who replies to the question “what are you doing” must respond with an activity that starts with the letter F, like “Feasting” or “Frolicking”. You can also do this with 2 letters (A B or H J, etc) or 3 letters (JGF or KLD) to make it more challenging. For instance, if the letters are TD responses might be “tickling dinosaurs” or “telling Dad”. 

Remember Our Trip?

Two students are going to recall an imaginary trip that they took with each other. 

The location of the trip can be set in either modern times or in the past. This exercise gives students an opportunity to imagine themselves in these locations and create a personal relationship with them in a fun, engaging way with others.

  1. Firstly, choose a location for this imaginary trip. For example, let’s say the location is present-day Israel.

  2. In breakout rooms of 2 students each, one student will start. To make it easier to determine who goes first, you can specify that the person with the longer hair goes first or the person whose first name starts earlier (or later) in the alphabet goes first. The first student will start with “Remember our trip to Israel?” 

  3. The second student will respond with “Yes, and…” and finish the sentence with whatever they’d like.

  4. The first student responds to that with “Yes, and…” and finishes the sentence with whatever they’d like.

  5. The two go back and forth like this until the end of the breakout room session. 3-4 minutes tends to be a good amount of time for this activity.

  6. If at any point one of the students feels like the story has come to a close, they can say “Yes, and next time let’s remember to bring the rubber ducky” and that will end the story. They can then begin a new one if there is time. 

Group Counting

This is a great activity for developing “group mind”. This is also a great way to practice reading the room and being present with each other. 

 

  1. The group will be counting one person at a time in a random order starting with 1.

  2. Whenever two people two people say the same number at the same time, the group resets and starts back at 1.

  3. The facilitator can state that the group is trying to attain a specific goal, like reaching the number 10. They can also make the goal to reach as high a number as possible.

 

Notes: This game is a great closing activity for a session. It can be done repeatedly throughout the class term. It’s fascinating to see how much higher the group is able to get over time. This is a fun game to play as is, and also a good vehicle to layer Jewish learning content onto. We highly recommend doing this the “original” way for quite a while so that students are able to get used to the format and have some fun playing it this way. 

 

 Here are some ideas for layering on Jewish learning content:

-Counting in Hebrew

-Using the Alef Bet instead of numbers

-Any prayer or other text that has a specific order

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