In advance, tie a long length of bungee cord between two sturdy anchor points/posts.
By way of demonstration, place a rubber chicken in the middle of the cord.
Perform a series of pre-flight safety checks, eg no one is standing directly in front of the cord.
Pull the cord/chicken back towards you (stepping away from the anchor points), and then let go.
Challenge your group to propel the rubber chicken to achieve one or more objectives, eg distance, accuracy or both.
When ready, try one or more variations.
How To Play Narrative
In advance, tie a long length of (elasticated) bungee cord between two sturdy points that suit the length of the cord. To work well, the cord must be taut between the two anchor points. Two trees or goal posts or other rock-solid structures are all suitable.
In effect, you will have created a giant slingshot. We call it a Flungee. To this end, be sure to choose a large wide, open space in which to play.
You can be sure that gathering your group in front of the apparatus will immediately pique their interest. If not, you certainly will when you pull out one or more rubber chickens.
You almost don’t need to say anything more because most groups can put two and two together. But, seriously, you do need to adequately prep the exercise.
Depending on the number of participants, you may engage one large group at the same time or divide into smaller groups and challenge them to compete with one another on various challenges.
Either way, take a few moments to demonstrate the release and launch system. Place the rubber chicken in the middle of the bungee cord, pull it back towards you (stepping away from the anchor points) and then, ensuring that no one is standing directly in the flight path of the chicken, let go.
Twang wwwffffff… the chicken will be propelled forward at velocity.
There’s nothing graceful about a rubber chicken nor their flight. But it sure is fun watching it disappear over the horizon.
Responding to a chorus of Ooos and Ahhhs from your group, demonstrate a couple more times, pointing out a few of the pre-flight safety features (see Leadership Tips tab for more) and then step back to allow your group(s) to have a go.
Presented as an activity that will suck people into a connected and joyous frame of mind, this is a crowd pleaser. As to the deeper implications of this experience, well, we are still cogitating on that.
Dive into this exercise for the sheer joy it will bring your group, or leverage this fun to invite your group to collaborate and work together towards a goal, eg land the chicken inside a target. Check the Variations tab for lots of fun ideas.
Practical Leadership Tips
A few of the common pre-flight safety checks you may need to cover include:
No one is standing directly in front of the flungee, lest they get whacked by a rubber chicken,
Ensure that the anchor knots are well tied and taut, and
Sufficient space is allowed for the bungee cord to spring back after its initial release to not hit anyone.
To repeat, ensure the launch area in front of the bungee is clear of people. We have never had it happen, but getting hit with a rubber chicken at high velocity must surely not feel good.
This fun activity is ideally suited to teaching and practising full value behaviours. It was sourced from the book The Full Value School in which six foundational behavioural norms are discussed, including Being Here.
Invite students to pull back and release the bungee cord (on its own) before launching objects to allow them to get a feel for the mechanism and dynamic responses.
Connected to the full value behaviour of Being Here, be sure to discuss certain safety parameters to guide the release and launch mechanism of the bungee cord, ie to be safe, everyone must be present.
If it works for your program objectives, invite your group to tie the knots (instead of you.) Of course, check them before you start.
For the Flungee connoisseur, here’s some fun terminology to weave into your presentation:
Chicken Slip – occurs when a chicken, like a misaligned arrow, falls feebly off the slingshot after a mighty group pull.
Poultry Plant – a chicken that is mistakenly catapulted straight down and becomes embedded in the ground.
You could integrate Flungee as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Taking Other’s Perspectives
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Making Reasoned Judgements
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s well-being of engaing in an enthralling task.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to interact and engage physically with others may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of safety consciousness demonstrated during the activity and relate this to a set of observed impacts on others.
As noted in the Leadership Tips and Reflection Tips tabs, one powerful focus of this activity may be to examine how being present or Being Here increases the effectiveness of a group working together. In the framing, we have successfully encouraged students to co-create a metaphor that causes the Flungee activity to represent a classroom activity. Small group projects are a good example.
Suppose you frame this exercise as an opportunity for your group(s) to catapult the chicken into a basket or other target. In that case, you may consider inviting them to reflect on those elements that helped them achieve their goals. At the same time, you could explore the application (or otherwise) of adaptability and resilience skills. For example, success for most groups results from a long journey of trial and error, with much adaptation and patience.
Alternative Objects: You can challenge your group to launch all sorts of objects, such as rubber pigs, beanie toys, fleece balls, etc. To be successful, the object must have a modicum of ‘tossability’ (eg mass,) meaning that balloons just don’t cut it.
Chicken in a Basket Flungee: Challenge your group to catch the flying rubber chicken in a milk-crate, out-stretched tarp or another suitable receptacle.
Target Flungee: Challenge your group to direct and land their rubber chicken in the centre of a giant bull’s eye or another suitable target. Add several concentric circles (using rope) expanding out from the inner target and award a certain number of points when a team lands their object inside that circle.
Play Catch: Invite your group to position themselves in an area they think the chicken will land and try to catch it. For competitive purposes, ask small groups to record how many (launch and) catches they can achieve out of five attempts.
High Altitude Flungee: Keeping in mind the geometric formula used to measure the height of flagpoles and trees, launch a rubber chicken straight into the air and instruct your group to calculate the height of the chicken at the apogee of its flight.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Have you ever seen a catapult used to capture a castle in the middle ages? Have you ever made a slingshot out of rubber bands and sticks? We will build a giant catapult/slingshot together and see how far we can launch a rubber chicken. First, we will go for distance and then test our accuracy by trying to catch the chicken in a bucket and tarp. If this sounds like fun to you, it is…
In this next fun activity, we focus on exploring what Full Value elements of Being Here contribute to a small group experiencing success. I wonder what individual Be Here behaviours you may be willing to commit to? What specifically does that look like and sound like…?
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 fun group game:
What strategies did you use to make the chicken go the farthest?
Success was related to the timing of the release and catching mechanisms. How present was your group to these needs? Provide an example.
How effective was your communication as a group?
The releasing and catching of the chicken are synchronised events. How synchronised was your group? How well did we listen to each other’s suggestions, and how did that contribute to your success or failure? How does Being Here connect to doing this activity well?
What did you personally choose to do to Be Here (be present?)
What behaviours did you see in your classmates that supported Being Here?
The inspiration for Flungee, and many more wonderful full value activities, was sourced from the following publication: