The last couple days have been incredibly fun for me as I traveled to several different high schools to facilitate workshops on a multitude of topics: social media awareness, goal setting, decision-making, group personalities, and even scholarships! Each group session started off generally the same…a tired group of high school students meandered into the room burnt out due to end-of-the-semester testing and Christmas-itis (you know…when you are itching to start Christmas activities). I decided to turn to one of my favorite energizer activities that lightens the mood and get the participants in the right frame of mind (a fun one) for the upcoming workshop…I played Wooshball with them!
If you are not familiar with Wooshball, it is a classic sequential activity that allows participants to warm up to the idea that they are playing a game with an imaginary ball. It is fun, enthusiastic, almost always full of laughter, regardless or their level of Christmas-itis.
I have two examples of Wooshball for different types of learners. I have a great video from the guys at campishere.com, and a written version that you can print out and share with your staff or team.
Circle up. The facilitator pulls an invisible Wooshball from their pocket or game bag. They explain that the Wooshball is very light and it just sort of floats there in their hand. When passing the Wooshball it actually makes the noise “Woosh.” So when passing, either to the right or left, it makes the Woosh sound. The person receiving the Wooshball has many options. I prefer to explain these options in sequential rounds, playing each for a minute or so, to allow the group to get the hang of Wooshball.
- Round 1: The Wooshball can travel right or left around the circle, as long as the participants enthusiastically say Woosh as it goes right or left.
- Round 2: The group can now say “Whoa” and put their hands up to refuse the Woosh. The person trying to pass the Wooshball turns to their other side to pass it. If there is a “Double Whoa,” which happens when a person gets “Whoa’d” on both sides, the group passes the Wooshball around the circle as quickly as possible.
- Round 3: Sometimes, a participant wants to skip the Whooshball across the circle to another participant. When this happens, a group member will point straight across the circle and “Zing” the Wooshball to another participant. (It is important to make good eye contact and point the Zing directly at the other participant so the Wooshball doesn’t float into outer space. I also like adding Zing followed by another participant’s name to reinforce names.) Also note that you cannot “Whoa” a Zing, of course.
- Round 4: If a participant catches the Wooshball they can now add a “boingee.” When a participant boingees, they put their hands together above their head and bend at the knees and say, “boingee!” During a boing-ee, all of the other participants will mimic the boingee-er. After a boingee, the boingee-er will woosh or zing the boingee to another group member.
- Round 5: If a participant wants to move to another spot in the circle while Wooshballing, they can “Mega-Boingee.” When Mega-Boingee-ing, a participant will yell, Mega-Boingee – pogo stick style. Then the entire group will hop on their imaginary pogo stick to another point in the circle (use any variation of the Mega-Boingee you desire – examples are: slow motion style, giraffe style, or even the popular Gangham Style).
- This activity is best when the facilitator (this means you!) gets as silly and as fun as anyone in the group. They will follow your example, I promise.
- Be patient with participants as they learn the game. It is not life or death if they get it wrong. You can play this game where participants are removed from the group if they mess up, but I think this activity is best suited when everyone is involved and engaged.
- If it is not working, and the participants are either not understanding the game or have somehow disengaged, feel free to stop the game short. You can always resume when the time is right.
- If you want to have some craziness, add another Wooshball to the group.
- This game is generally just for FUNN…you know when Functional Understanding (is) Not Necessary! Have FUNN, play around and enjoy that you get to play games like this with participants who love them.
I hope you enjoy Wooshball as much as I do, and let me know if you have any questions about this activity or how to implement it into your program’s curriculum.
Founder, Paradigm Shift