Announce an object from a list of objects (you have prepared in advance.)
Instruct your teams to produce or collect the stated object as quickly as possible.
The first person to present the object to you will earn a point for their team.
Announce the next item on your list, and repeat.
Continue until all of the items on your list have been announced and presented.
The team with the most points wins.
How To Play Narrative
Think of this game as a kind of urgent treasure hunt.
Split your group into two or more smaller teams of about 2 to 6 people. Ask each team to find a spot to sit together that is roughly an equal distance away from you (so no team feels disadvantaged.)
Next, explain that you will soon announce a series of random, yet generally common objects or things, and the first group to present these things to you will win that round. Pretty basic.
Of course, there is no limit (other than appropriateness) to what you could demand of your group.
To get you started, this list of ‘things’ seems to work pretty well:
8 shoes tied together
Someone with a filling in their teeth
Sock with a hole in it
3 belts hooked together
Stub of a movie ticket
Coin made in the 1980s
To avoid the inevitable crush of groups rushing at you from time to time, allow only one person from each team to approach you.
Also, I often place a rubber spot (or chalk circle) for each team at least 2 metres (7’) in front of me to represent their ‘show-and-tell’ area.
Practical Leadership Tips
It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway,) your list of things should feature only those objects your grandmother would be happy to handle and show you.
Depending on the actual object being retrieved and presented, you may need to specify or qualify the eligibility of certain items. For example, if you asked for a red shoe, you may stipulate that it must be presented without a foot inside it.
You could integrate Need A Shoelace as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
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 wellbeing of working productively with others in a small team.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to quickly and successfully locate a series of objects may speak to the adaptability and initiative of your group, but these would be considered minor attributes belonging to this particular game.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Need A Shoelace could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Everybody In: Instruct each team to ensure that every one of their members comes forward with at least one item during the game.
Team Challenge: Issue a list of objects to be retrieved all at the same time. You can either acknowledge the team that gathered the most number of items on the list as the winner or announce the team that collects all of the items first as the winner.
Be Prepared: Adding a more physical element to this exercise, take a look at Be Prepared. The ‘treasure’ in this instance would be a series of (often physical) tasks which need to be accomplished, for example, “FORM A LINE & LEAP-FROG EVERYONE IN YOUR GROUP.”
Take a look Treasure Hunt to explore the original format of this game.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Allocate all of the members of your larger group to smaller teams, but do not direct them to a breakout room, ie the key is that everyone knows which team they are on. Issue your series of treasures to be found, one at a time, and award points to the first team that produces the said item in front of their webcam.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Everyone loves a treasure hunt, and today, this is exactly what I have in store for you. But there’s a twist…
Have you ever lost your keys? Then you know how frustrating it can be to misplace them and have no idea where they might be hiding. I have a similar sort of challenge for you, but rather then search for your keys, I have a long list of ordinary and not-so-ordinary things to look for…
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 large group game:
How did your group decide to meet each challenge?
Did your group specialise in any way?
Was there a time when your group was creative?
How was your group challenged during the exercise?
What role did you (personally) play? Did you feel that your role was useful? Important?
The inspiration for Need A Shoelace and many more large group activities, was sourced in the following publication: