Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games: Quick, Effective Activities that Explore Communication, Goal Setting, Character Development, Teambuilding, and More--And Won't Break the Bank!

Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games: Quick, Effective Activities that Explore Communication, Goal Setting, Character Development, Teambuilding, and More--And Won't Break the Bank!

by Mary Scannell, Jim Cain

Make training a game that everyone can win!

Featuring activities and exercises designed for groups of any size, The Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games proves that training can still deliver outstanding results, even when you’re watching the bottom line.

Whether you’re a trainer or facilitator, a group leader or manager, you’ll


Make training a game that everyone can win!

Featuring activities and exercises designed for groups of any size, The Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games proves that training can still deliver outstanding results, even when you’re watching the bottom line.

Whether you’re a trainer or facilitator, a group leader or manager, you’ll find the games in this book are excellent tools for building trust, exploring character, fostering collaboration, and demonstrating more effective communication techniques. Better still, with minimal props like index cards and markers, these activities are not just cost-effective but are also simple to set up and can be done virtually anywhere.

From painless icebreakers to group challenges to meaningful community-building projects, The Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games is your winning game plan for maximizing group engagement and getting the most ROI from your training budget.

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McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
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Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games

Quick, Effective Activities that Explore Communication, Goal Setting, Character Development, Teambuilding, and Moreâ?"And Won't Break the Bank!

By Mary Scannell, Jim Cain

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012Mary Scannell and Jim Cain
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-177437-6



Effective Teaching, Training, and Facilitating

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

—William B. Yeats

Whether you fit into the category of teacher, trainer, or facilitator (or any other title, such as group leader, manager, educator, presenter, or dozens of other choices), the suggestions in this first chapter will help you improve the presentation of your subject matter, increase the participation of your group, provide a format that is active and engaging, and become the best presenter you can be. Best of all, the activities featured in this book will help you present a wide variety of topics to your audience, using engaging methods that will help you meet your training needs, all at minimal cost.

While the classic definitions of teacher, trainer, and facilitator are unique in each case, there are some similarities in each profession. This chapter will share some of the best practices in each of these fields and in the process provide valuable tools you can use in your next program. In addition to the educational tools you'll find in this chapter, you'll also find several suggestions that are outside the educational realm but nonetheless have tremendous value when working successfully with groups. Not surprisingly, many of these ideas are perfectly applicable to the world of teaching, training, and facilitating groups.

On my first day of work as a design engineer for the Office Imaging Division of Eastman Kodak, I met Mike DeCecca. Mike walked into my office and remarked, "You're the new guy, huh?" I responded affirmatively. Without missing a beat, Mike immediately asked, "Do you know the Big Three?" I was a bit caught off guard by this impromptu quiz but quickly blurted out, "Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors?" After I answered Mike's question, he quickly pulled out his employee identification card and printed in neat handwriting on the back the Big Three:

1. What is it?

2. How is it done?

3. How can I use this to my advantage?

Mike confided in me that once I knew the Big Three, life would never be the same. Beyond the knowledge that you already have is a whole world of possibilities. Every time you see something, read something, or experience something, it becomes part of you, and you can use that knowledge and experience to your advantage in the future when presented with challenges and problems. Because I now know the Big Three, I am forever looking for new and better ways, sometimes from disciplines well outside my field of endeavor, and I'm using those new and better ways to my advantage whenever possible.

—Jim Cain

That is exactly what this chapter is all about. The Big Three. Things to read, consider, experience, and eventually make a part of your teaching, training, and facilitating. They are some of the most powerful ideas we know when it comes to improving the quality of your abilities to work with groups. We hope you enjoy this collection. Good luck!

Here is a list of the 20 ideas, suggestions, and pieces of advice that will be presented in this first chapter. May this information inspire you to be the best trainer, teacher, and facilitator you can be.

1. Ancora Imparo

2. The Power of Friendship and Positive Relationships

3. The SUCCES[s] Model

4. Three Important Things

5. The Four Fatal Assumptions of Leadership

6. Searching for the Right Book

7. Borrowing from the Field of Cooperative Learning

8. Educational Hooks and Triggers

9. The Experiential Learning Process

10. Peak Learning Strategies

11. The Six Rs

12. The Competency Ladder

13. The Seven-Minute Rule

14. Why Active Learning?

15. The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Memory

16. The Three Primary Forms of Learning (Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic)

17. Multiple Intelligences

18. Additional Hints, Suggestions, Ideas, Methods, Models, References, and Tools

19. H.A.L.T.

20. Squeeze the Lemon

1. Ancora Imparo

Ancora imparo: Yet I am learning.

—Michelangelo Buonarroti

This is a suitable wake-up call for the start of this book; the contents are designed to help you learn more, understand more, and do more.

If you begin with the premise that there is still more you can learn, you form the foundation for a life of discovery To be a lifelong learner is to continue the process of learning, which continues to build new pathways in the brain, challenging old assumptions, considering new possibilities, and growing, always growing. The element of growth is so essential that it forms the first of the three critical elements of a high-performing organization.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

—Alvin Toffler

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

—Charles Darwin

2. The Power of Friendship and Positive Relationships

In this section on best practices, we explore the powerful combination of a worthy task, the opportunity for continual growth, and the power of positive relationships. The graphic illustrating these three components follows. Organizations that occupy the central region of this triple Venn diagram illustration maintain an excellent balance of all three components and achieve the highest quality of work environment as a result. And this visual model is also a road map for helping your organization move from where it is to where it would like to be. If you have too much task-oriented focus, try adding more growth and relationship opportunities. If you have plenty of work and a healthy balance of relationships, try adding some training or growth opportunities for your employees.

Not surprisingly, relationship building is the element most often viewed as critical but that is typically lacking in many organizations. Some of the most significant challenges in organizations around the world can be traced to relationship issues of trust, communication, familiarity, and teamwork. It is no mistake then that the following three scenarios are presented here. Armed with this information, you should be able to make a credible case for relationship building in your own organization, with even your most skeptical decision makers.

A colleague, friend, and fellow facilitator, Harvey Downey of Great Britain, once shared an experience that illustrates what some consider the most critical element of a high-performing organization: the ability to create and maintain positive relationships in the workplace.

When petty officers at the Royal Navy's basic training center HMS Raleigh near Cornwall were asked what significant factors made the difference between recruits passing or failing basic training, one drill instructor remarked, "If a recruit can make friends here, or even a borderline case can make even a single friend, they will probably make it through. If, however, they do not make friends, no matter how promising they are, they don't make it." Other instructors agreed.

The number one factor for successfully passing basic training was to make a friend during the process. Those who were successful built positive relationships during their basic training period. Many of those who were unsuccessful did not build friendships during this tremendously stressful period.

Ask yourself, "Where in my organization or even in my training program is there an opportunity for participants to make a friend?" If the answer is "Nowhere," you might want to reconsider the importance of this vital component and look for opportunities where you can help this happen.

To further expound on this idea (and to provide you with valuable ammunition that you might need to convince the decision makers in your organization's hierarchy), Tom Rath's book Vital Friends provides some very helpful numbers quantifying the effect that positive relationships have within an organization. Many of the training activities presented in this book will assist you in the process of forming relationships and building a positive culture in your workplace.

Of the significant statistics presented by Rath, three are unforgettable. First, that teenagers (including those in your workforce) spend nearly one-third of their time with friends, while the average for the rest of us is typically less than 10 percent. This number quantifies just how important relationships are to the youngest members of a workforce. Second, 96 percent of employees with at least three close friends at work reported that they were extremely satisfied with their lives and that the quality of their work life was outstanding! Again, the importance of relationships is statistically significant here. Finally and perhaps most importantly, from the Gallup poll that Rath cites throughout his book, the percentage of engaged employees in the general workforce is about 29 percent (with 54 percent disengaged and 17 percent actively disengaged). For employees without a friend at work, these numbers drop to 8 percent engaged, 63 percent disengaged, and 29 percent actively disengaged. But the good news is that for employees with a best friend at work, 56 percent are engaged! That is nearly double the average and a whopping eight times the engagement of those without friends in the workplace. More engaged workers and fewer disengaged workers sound like a win-win scenario to us.

By this point, we hope you are considering the idea that your organization can benefit by helping your employees create positive relationships within the workplace with their coworkers, supervisors, customers, vendors, and team members. Some may choose to call this teamwork, but it is as much team bonding as it is team building.

Let's consider one additional piece of ammunition before we leave this idea of the value of friendships and creating positive relationships in the workplace, one that directly relates to the financial savings of creating positive relationships.

The Theory of Group Development, as proposed by Bruce Tuckman of Ohio State University, can be expressed by naming the five stages of development as the forming, storming, norming, performing, and transforming stages. Suffice to say that most organizations would like to have their employees firmly within the performing stage of development. For every day their organization spends in the storming stage, inefficiencies abound, project deadlines are missed, and financial resources are drained without moving the corporation forward. Let's find out how to calculate what the storming stage costs an organization.

For most organizations, it is possible to calculate the salaries of all employees so that the cost of the entire organization can be known for any given day. As an example, let's consider an organization of 50 employees, all new to the organization and all working on the same project. As this group progresses through the stages of group development (from forming to storming to norming to performing to transforming), they require different skills for each stage. The storming stage can be one of the least cost-effective (and most frustrating) stages of group development. By spending a bit more time in the forming stage (where positive relationships begin), it is possible to actually shorten the amount of time required for the group to pass through the storming stage and move on to the norming and performing stages where real productivity and effort reside.

For every day your employees flounder in the storming stage, there is a cost to your organization. If you can shorten the total amount of time they stay in the storming process, you can save your organization some significant costs. If the cost of the 50 employees in our example above was $100,000 per day, then the savings of a single day of storming behavior for each employee during a calendar year would be worth the same. If you can avoid the cost of even one day of storming by providing the opportunity for building positive relationships in the forming stage (often at a cost much less than the salaries of your 50 employees), wouldn't it be worth it?

3. The SUCCES[s] Model

In the best-selling book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, the authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath suggest a powerful mnemonic for ensuring that the members of your audience retain the information you share with them. The SUCCES[s] model presented in their book suggests that if you make your information Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and involve Stories, you'll provide the kind of learning environment where your audience will not only retain the information you present, but be able to use it in the future!

4. Three Important Things

Tom Andrews of the training company Pro Image ( has a very simple but profound teaching model that should be part of every organization's training creed. Tom shares the following information with every participant at the very start of his training workshops:

1. I respect you.

2. Because I respect you, I am going to share the very best knowledge, tools, information, activities, and techniques that I know.

3. Because I respect you and share the best information that I know, I am going to hold you accountable to use this information to improve the world.

Tell this to your next group before you begin training, and they'll be more likely to listen carefully to the content you present. In fact, Tom's model above is a sure way to avoid what Clarke and Crossland call the four fatal assumptions of a leader, presented below.

5. The Four Fatal Assumptions of Leadership

While many of the theories, models, and instructional techniques shared in this section are built upon a positive theme to learning, education, and staff development, the following model is not. It concerns four fatal assumptions that can severely limit the effectiveness of your efforts to train and educate your staff. According to Boyd Clarke and Ron Crossland in their book The Leader's Voice: How Your Communication Can Inspire Action and Get Results!, effective leaders (including teachers, trainers, facilitators, directors, and managers) communicate using three distinct techniques: facts, emotions, and symbols. While these techniques are practical, useful, and generally effective, devotion to only a single technique can minimize the overall effectiveness of the message being presented. To be fully effective, the authors encourage leaders to communicate using all of these techniques. Clarke and Crossland further suggest that leaders often make the following (sometimes fatal) assumptions about their audiences.

1. That they understand the information being presented.

2. That they agree with the information being presented.

3. That they care about the information being presented.

4. That they will act accordingly using this information.

You could even make a case for adding an additional assumption prior to these four, namely that your audience is actually listening to you! In order to achieve the greatest return on the investment of your training dollars, it is important that you too avoid making these fatal assumptions during your next training program. How can you ensure that your audience is listening and that the information is getting through to them? How can you provide an open-door policy so that any staff member can voice his or her concern or agreement with a particular rule or regulation of your organization? How can you get your staff to care enough to act on the information they have received? How can you provide feedback during your training programs to ensure that your audience does not fall victim to these assumptions?

While the information contained in The Leader's Voice is now more than a decade old, it is fascinating that their fourth fatal assumption (that their audiences will act accordingly with the information they are presented) now ties in to some recent theories of brain function: namely that in addition to learning a specific skill, knowing where and when to apply this skill is essential to the training process. In other words, knowing how is one level, but knowing where is a higher-level skill.

6. Searching for the Right Book

With the dawn of electronic documents, audiobook recordings, and more recently electronic readers and tablet computers, there is an expanding variety of material to read. But finding the best documents, books, and resources to review can be problematic. There are almost too many resources out there, and with your limited time, you need to find the best resources quickly. So here are two recommendations for simplifying the task of finding web-based resources.

First, rather than searching using a single word (such as teamwork), try adding the letters PDF to any future search. In this way, instead of single hits to websites with information, you find documents filled with the information you need, in a whole and complete format. We recently used this technique to find (a repository of historically significant information and documents). At this website you can find entire books and documents, many that are over 100 years old. But the best news is that you can find a host of valuable group activities here, some of which date back hundreds of years.

Second, if you happen to be a person who enjoys visual information as well as text-based information, try switching from the text mode of most Internet search engines to the images mode. Now when you input a phrase, such as "team-building activities," instead of a long text list of websites, you'll receive images of groups in action. Clicking on a photograph or image of interest will take you to the website home of this image, with additional information.


Excerpted from Big Book of Low-Cost Training Games by Mary Scannell. Copyright © 2012 by Mary Scannell and Jim Cain. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

MARY SCANNELL has worked as a consultant, speaker, writer, and trainer for the past 20 years. She is coauthor of several books, including The Big Book of Brainstorming Games and The Big Book of Virtual Team-Building Games.
JIM CAIN is the author of nine books of team and community-building activities, including Teamwork & Teamplay and Essential Staff Training Activities.

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