Form into pairs, preferably with someone of the same size.
Each pair sits facing one another, the balls of their feet touching, knees bent and hands tightly grasping their partner in front of them.
From this seated position, invite each pair to simultaneously lift themselves into an upright standing position.
Next, ask two successful pairs to join hands and attempt the same task as a group of four people.
Then challenge two groups of four people to become a group of eight people, etc.
Finally, the whole group connects with one another, and attempts to lift themselves off the ground simultaneously.
Video Transcript for Everybody Up
presented by Mark Collard
To begin, starting with your partner you’ll be facing them, butts on the ground, feet towards the centre, and possibly your feet up against your partner’s feet. As John is ably demonstrating here.
This is referred to as Everybody’s Up. Your object here is, having clasped hands somehow with your partner, is to find a way to be able to get from this position with their feet not moving to the standing position.
So if you are willing to give it a go to begin with folks, give it a go.
Ah beautifully done. And having got up of course you may choose to go down.
(Partners completing Everybody Up activity)
So if you’ve got up did you work yourself back down again? Try that if you haven’t already tried that.
(Partners completing Everybody Up activity.)
Try and do it where your feet don’t move.
Now your pair joins with another pair. It becomes a group of four or there might be one group of six, and the same objective. Starting with your butts on the ground, hands together, feet somewhere planted on the ground find your way back up. So we might end up with a group of six.
(Groups try the Everybody Up activity.)
Yeah you want to have so your feet don’t move.
(Groups try the Everybody Up activity.)
Starting in your three smaller groups same exercise, but this time you have your backs to each other. So to this point you’ve been facing one another. You’ll still need to find some sort of comfortable but firm grasp with your partners. It could be hands, elbows, or otherwise, but with your backs to each other can you create the same result. Up and then of course back down.
(Groups try the Everybody Up activity.)
The next task, the ultimate challenge of this level, is involving what is it we got? Six, eight, fourteen people now. All fourteen, now you may choose as a group in fact you may choose two different techniques, one where you are facing in, another one facing out. You can choose which one you want to start with.
This time every single person needs to be connected to your group, and the object is same thing. Start with your butts on the ground, find some form of connection, work your way up, and then back down. If that was faced in I invite you then to do it back to back, or with your back in.
(Do we have to do it in a circle?)
No, it is completely up to you as a group how you want to solve that problem. So I’ll step out, over to you.
(Large group tries to do the Everybody Up activity different ways)
How To Play Narrative
Ask your group to split into pairs, preferably seeking partners of approximately the same size/height.
Invite each person to sit facing their partner, the balls of their feet touching, knees bent and hands tightly grasping their partner in front of them.
From this seated position, each person will leverage the weight of their partner to pull themselves into an upright standing position. A little give and take will be required, and possibly several attempts to get it right.
Upon a successful attempt, ask them next to join with another pair and embark on a four-person assault, and then another, and then another and so on. Until everyone in your group is physically connected to one another, and are challenged to work together to simultaneously lift themselves off the ground.
Something that begins as a simple co-operative stunt between two people soon becomes an initiative problem for your entire group as the configuration becomes more and more illogical and hilarious.
Encourage your group to remain focused and persist, and with time available at the end, invite your group to reflect back on what they learned from solving the problem – see Reflection tab for more.
Practical Leadership Tips
This is a fantastic exercise to introduce the concept of group cooperation. It builds slowly, and with each successful attempt, the challenge increases. A great discussion topic to process when the activity is complete is the relationship between accomplishing this task and the work of a team. For example, it’s often easier to work with one other person, but it always gets more difficult when new people are introduced into the team. Questions such as What becomes more difficult? and Why is it more difficult? are really valuable to ask your group.
Seeking a partner of similar size and/or height is nice, but not critical. The task can still be accomplished, but it may take a little more understanding of give-and-take engineering and the basic laws of physics to achieve success.
If your group succeeds too quickly in raising itself, ie you’re not quite ready to move on, or you believe some better ideas were not attempted, suggest that the exercise is performed again but using a new technique.
Note, your group does not need to complete the task starting in a circle. You may observe that some groups make this assumption, and this will seriously hamper their efforts to succeed. A common solution is to fold the larger group in half whereby each person is seated opposite another person.
Your group does need a relatively flat space upon which to work. Any steep slopes will only fuel the fall of any unbalanced movements.
Health & Wellness Programming
The competitive and physical attributes of this activity may provide you with a valuable lens through which to view the ways in which group members look after one another during the exercise. For example, if their behaviours demonstrate no regard for other people’s safety in the way they attempt to achieve success could be an indicator of other undesirable behaviours within the life of the group. Also, observe and monitor their default communication and decision-making abilities. Often, when time is of the essence, other desirable SEL skills such as listening, empathy and a range of subtle social cues get neglected. Refer to the Reflection Tips tab for some useful questions to help your group reflect on these behaviours.
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
As they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. As a challenging partner and whole-of-group exercise, Everybody Up is ideal for exploring strategies and practices that build resilience. In particular, the preponderance for pairs or groups to keep trying the same techniques (that fail) expecting that they will bring a different result. Consider embedding this exercise into a conversation about what resilience looks like, the benefits of a growth mindset and trying something new.
Back to Back: Pairs start sitting back to back with their partner. With each success, add a further twosome, etc. Beware, interlocking arms in this position may dislocate shoulders and should be used with care
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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 simple, yet challenging group problem-solving exercise:
What did you learn as pairs that helped you as you formed larger groups?
Did you make any interesting observations about your decision-making or problem-solving processes?
Did you always make responsible decisions?
Did you need to adapt your strategies to accommodate the needs of your partner(s?) How?
Was this primarily a physical or mental challenge? Why?
In what ways did you demonstrate resilience? Share some examples.
How did you cope with ‘failure?’ What helped or hindered you?
What might this exercise teach us about building powerful and positive relationships?
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