Suspend the four blocks between the tips of each of their index fingers.
Invite each pair to play and creatively explore different ways of moving together while remaining connected through the blocks.
Introduce movement ideas and stunts as needed.
Video Transcript for Bust A Move presented by Nate Folan
So I’m going to invite you in just a minute with you and your partner to come out here and grab a minimum of two blocks per person, so a minimum of four per partnership. And once you get those four or more depending on your choice you’re going to connect them like this.
And let’s say… It’s Allie, right? Allie and I, we’re partners. You’re going to put out one index finger, just like that. We’re going to connect here.
In this moment you’ll have just a few minutes to be innovative, to be creative, to see how many different ways you can move with each other. So for example maybe we could walk, right? And clearly there might be a moment where the blocks fall, and what’ll happen if the blocks fall? Is that okay?
Alright with you. It’s okay. We’ll pick them up and we’ll keep moving. So we’re back and forth here. We might start dancing a little bit. I don’t know what happens there. I don’t even know if I’m doing an inappropriate dance move. So looks like it. From here maybe you jump. Can we jump?
One. Two. Three. Right? They like that. It’s good. There might be interactions among… You want to clap? Sorry. Very poor communication.
So as you go, picking up the blocks again, reconnecting with your partner, again about two minutes to try to demonstrate and discover as many moves as you can.
The activity is called Bust A Move, and if that song comes into your head… You might go there, you might not, but the goal is to play a bit, interact, see how many different movements you can make and challenge yourself. Got it? Go.
How To Play Narrative
Bust a Move gets people moving in ways they didn’t think possible. Better yet, it empowers them to playfully explore movement through a precarious connection of blocks.
Be it dancing, configuring a stunt, or playing with others, the movements – successful or not – are sure to be humorous and impressive.
Dump a bunch of wooden (or plastic) toy blocks in front of your group and invite each person to grab two blocks from the pile.
Next, ask everyone to find a partner who has at least one block that looks like his or hers. Now, there is lots of ways to interpret this. Whether it’s the same colour or having six sides, the goal is to quickly form pairs. Blocks with different colours, letters, numbers, and images will be most helpful.
Once everyone has found a partner, instruct each pair to suspend the now four blocks between the tips of one index finger of each person. Demonstrate this with a willing volunteer, typically your partner. You’re playing right? Of course you are, why wouldn’t you? Well, if there is an even number of participants, it makes you the odd one out, unless you get creative!
After the tenuous connection is established, invite each pair to play and creatively explore different ways of moving together while remaining connected through the blocks. This is where you might lead your partner in modelling different movements to hopefully inspire the creative juices of the others.
Remind everyone that failing (aka, blocks crashing to the floor) is part of the fun – and learning.
Your group should know what to do if their blocks fall – you got it, pick ‘em up, re-connect, and play on. And, if a dumbfounded duo looks puzzlingly at you about their failure, as if to say, “What do we do now?” simply grimace and raise your eyebrows, as if to respond, “Well…” then shake on by with your partner.
Invite partners to swap, and offer movement ideas or stunts as needed (see Variations tab below.)
Practical Leadership Tips
On “GO,” most pairs will waste little time trying an array of playful dance moves and impressive stunts without inhibition. Still, some will be a bit more reserved. Encourage movement by offering ideas, inviting pairs to mirror others, and reminding them that failing (aka, blocks crashing to the floor) is part of the fun – and learning.
Playing alongside your group and modelling different movements will go a long way to generating lots of energy and enthusiasm. So will stretching yourself to a dramatic block crashing failure. “Well…”
Beware your group taking too long to form pairs – getting this part right (ie correctly matching sides) is not the most important goal here.
While a relatively simple exercise, Bust A Move could work well in a program looking to focus and develop social and interpersonal skills. Beyond the obvious cooperative skills required for two people to keep the blocks off the ground, you could also invite your group to reflect on the creative process insofar as what is required to make this effective. For example and in addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you could pose the following questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest,) how creative were you and your partner? Share an example.
Describe the attitude you and your partner had towards the creative process.
What feelings were you aware of during the exercise? Dip deep.
If you felt that your performance was poor, what impact did this thinking have on you and your partner?
What social cues do you think you may have signalled to others about your feelings?
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
All You Can Take: Before partnering, invite everyone to take as many or as few blocks as they would like to start with. Require that they stick with this number of blocks until you invite the group to give or take a few more blocks. This enables creativity, humour, and a bit more competition.
Crossing Moves: Encourage pairs to step over or walk under the blocks of another pair.
Twirling: Demonstrate the ‘twirl’ (one person spinning below the blocks and hand of their partner) or the ‘twist’ (one person stepping over their own blocks) and watch others instantly give it a go!
Jump: Invite pairs to jump with their blocks, and stay connected.
What if I told you that you had to stay connected to another person and go anywhere they go? How would you feel about that? What if I told you that you had to do this while suspending four blocks between you and your partner, like this (demonstrate)? Fun, right? Let’s try it…
Have you ever found yourself in a precarious situation with a friend, colleague, or family member? Do you recall what your communication was like? As we play and explore movement through four little blocks, be aware of the communication between you and your partner…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this challenging partner exercise:
Did you discover a favourite move? Would you care to demonstrate it to everyone now?
How did you respond when the blocks fell to the floor?
Were there any challenges when moving with a partner?
What strategies did you employ to assist moving with your partner more successfully?
Could these strategies be applied elsewhere in your life?
The inspiration for Bust A Move, and many more simple, fun games, was sourced from the following publication: