Collect two to three times as many balloons than the number of people in your group.
Introduce the following unique terms of this game:
– Rabid Nugget – a balloon in motion.
– Hectic – a balloon not in motion, being held or touching the floor.
– Berserk – your full-throated scream, designating a penalty. One scream equals a Beserk.
– Frenzy – an elapsed time period measuring six Beserks.
Your group’s primary goal is to keep all of the Rabid Nuggets aloft for as long as possible.
Everyone starts with one fully-inflated Rabid Nugget.
When ready, everyone must knock their Rabid Nugget into the air as you start the stopwatch.
As soon as a Rabid Nugget hits the floor, or is held intentionally, you will issue a Beserk and point in the exact position of the infraction.
A Hectic must be put back into motion within five seconds, otherwise, a second Beserk will be issued.
Inform your group that every ten seconds that elapses, a new Rabid Nugget will be introduced randomly into the midst of the group.
As soon as three Berserks are issued, call out “STOP” and pause the stopwatch to record a Frenzy.
Your group may record as many Frenzies as possible within a specific time frame, allowing them the opportunity to improve their time with each round.
And go ahead and pick some nice big balloons. Just one for yourself.
In a moment I’m going to ask you to be seated on the floor, and indeed your butt, your posterior, should never leave the floor. So it needs to be, you’re basically seated. You could lie down if you want to, but you’re going to want to be able to move. So butt on the floor.
Each one of you will start with a balloon, okay. To begin I’m going to ask you to, we’re going to time this to try and find how long can you keep all of the balloons off the ground. So you have the whole group now to be able to do this. I think there’s sixteen of you.
So we’re going to enter that space immediately with sixteen balloons. I’ve chosen to do this because as a high performance group I believe you’re already at that point, but I could have actually started with just one or two or three and introduce more as we go. So we’ll just see. My guess is you’re up for the challenge of starting with one balloon each.
So it looks like this so far you’re on the floor, butts touching the ground, and then when I say start or GO you then need to start putting those balloons into play. They must constantly and never stop moving,. But importantly they can never ever touch the ground.
So anytime a balloon touches the ground this will be the way in which we measure your time, because as soon as the third balloon touches the ground that’ll be the end of your time.
But to add a little bit of colour to this, this is the activity in which there’s going to be a lot of frantic action and anytime a balloon makes it to the ground you’ll know because I will go “AAH!” That will be referred to as a berserk, and when you get three berserks, that is there’s three occasions in which a balloon has touched the ground, then that’s the end of your time. And that’s when we’ll record it.
At that point I’ll invite you as a group to come together and go okay let’s say you recorded 47 seconds, which would be pretty healthy for a group this size with sixteen balloons starting off.
Your objective of course on your next round is how can you do that for longer.
So you can chitty chat, problem solve, work out how you’re going to do that and then we go into your next one. Same thing though. We will time it according to how long it takes for three bezerks to be recorded. When you get that that’s the end of your time.
Oh and one more thing after every ten seconds I introduce a new balloon.
So you start with sixteen and after a minute, that is there’s six sets of ten seconds there, you will have at least six new balloons added. Every ten seconds, roughly, I’ll be introducing a new balloon. So you start with sixteen that you’re responsible for, but like most things in life as you show accomplishment, in that you are able, we add a little bit more to your responsibilities. How well do you manage that?
Alright, so here goes your first attempt recognising at anytime a balloon hits the ground I will call it a berserk. After three berserks that is your time. Are you ready? And go!
(Balloons go into the air to start Frantic)
All those balloons in play. Never touching the ground.
(Group continues to keep balloons in the air as part of Frantic)
Stop, time. Whew. Man. Aren’t you glad you’re sitting down?
Alright, two minutes fifty seconds. Blowing the initial world record out of the water. So as I had suggested, I pitched, this is a high performance team so I am glad I started with sixteen to begin. I have no clue if we work it out how many ten seconds are there in two minutes and fifty. Six, twelve, at least another sixteen balloons have been added. So we’ve doubled, we’ve actually doubled the number of balloons.
In a moment we are going to go back to one balloon person, but I’m going to give you a couple of minutes now as a group to chitty chat about how do we continue to solve this problem?
We are not going to be here through to five o’clock. That is it’s clear you can put some strategy in place that could just keep this going forever all you want to be able to do is improve on your record of 2:50.
Think about how it would be sustainable. Hands up those folks who were feeling a little bit tired. Okay, so consider that as part of your solution. How might you find a solution that is sustainable, but continues to solve the problem of added responsibilities every 10 seconds. Clear?
Alright, take a moment now and feel free to continue to work with the balloons, but once we restart let me know and we’ll remove the added sixteen.
Alright, so what’s the target?
(We are between five and three so maybe we should do four.)
Four minutes? Another minute and ten seconds. So we’re going to go for four. So I will alert you to when you get to four minutes. Then as a group it’ll be clear whether you want to keep on going or you’ve had enough and you just simply stop.
(Group attempts the Frantic activity again.)
AAH! AAH! AAH! Stop. Alright.
Whew. Oh my goodness. Alright. Nicely played. Take a breath for a second.
Now you passed four minutes so you achieved your target and beyond and the time was, and I don’t have exactly to the hundredth of a second, but it was if I just work it out 4:36 with all the full frantic had been, had occurred. So yeah congratulations. Well done, well done.
(group enjoys playing Frantic)
How To Play Narrative
In advance, grab two to three times as many balloons than the number of people in your group. The more the merrier, to be honest.
Then, upon gathering your group, explain that you are going to introduce a unique vocabulary to this game:
Rabid Nugget – a balloon in motion.
Hectic – a balloon not in motion, being held or touching the floor.
Berserk – your full-throated scream, designating a penalty. One scream equals a Beserk.
Frenzy – an elapsed time period measuring six Beserks.
Paranoia – an individual’s personal suspicion that you are Berserking unfairly.
Once you feel that your group has a good grasp of the terminology, you are ready to proceed.
Explain that the primary goal for your group is keep all of the Rabid Nuggets (balloons) aloft for as long as possible. Seems simple enough, but there’s more…
Everyone starts with one fully-inflated Rabid Nugget. When you call “GO,” everyone must knock their Rabid Nugget into the air and you start the stopwatch.
As soon as a Rabid Nugget hits the floor, or is held intentionally or unintentionally, explain that you will immediately despatch a loud Beserk and point in the exact position of the infraction.
A Hectic must be put back into motion within five seconds, otherwise, you are at liberty to issue another blood-curdling Beserk.
One last thing – tell your group that every ten seconds that elapses, you will introduce a new Rabid Nugget into the midst of the group from the sidelines directed at some random location, ie after one minute has elapsed, six new Rabid Nuggets will be in play.
Finally, announce that as soon as three (or whatever number you choose) Berserks are issued, you will call out “STOP” and pause the stopwatch to record a Frenzy.
Give your group as many Frenzies as they can record in a specified time frame, say 15 minutes. Naturally, between Frenzies, invite your group to huddle up to discuss and develop new strategies to improve their time.
This is such a fun, dynamic problem-solving activity, seriously consider debriefing your group’s experience at the end (see ReflectionTips tab below.) Topics for conversation include cooperation, goal-setting, creativity, continuous improvement and planning for contingencies.
Practical Leadership Tips
Be sure to have your camera ready – witnessing dozens of colourful balloons bobbing up and down in the air is something behold.
Depending on the abilities of your group, you may need more balloons than advised. If it’s not an issue, always opt for more.
Beware that some balloons may burst during play. Alert your group to this possibility. Why? Because some people do not like this aural experience, and may prefer to sit-out, or assume a position during the actual play.
Health & Wellness Programming
With a problem to solve and an opportunity to cooperate with one another, this is a perfect activity to explore the development of social and interpersonal skills. Throughout the planning, execution and review processes, guide your group to look at a range of competencies such as navigating setting goals, cooperating with others and working effectively as a team, resolving conflict and understanding other’s emotions and perspectives. In addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, the following questions could be valuable conversation starters:
What process did your group use to set its goals?
Was every idea or contribution acknowledged? If not, why not?
Were there any disagreements? How were they resolved, if at all?
Can you think of a time you observed behaviour that concerned you? Why?
Were you and your group entirely honest with each other?
Did you succeed?
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
You could frame this initiative as an opportunity for your group to explore how they interact with one another and the process through which they establish positive relationships. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the ways in which they keep the balloons aloft – is this controlled and measured or entirely chaotic. In some ways, this process could serve as a powerful metaphor about how your group establishes and maintains positive relationships.
Butts Down: Everyone must keep their buttocks on the ground at all times. If a pair of buttocks should elevate themselves off the floor, call a ‘Berserk.’
Tennis Frantic: Using a bunch of tennis balls, your group works hard to keep every ball in motion at all times. Any time a ball stops moving, you call a ‘Berserk.’ The vocabulary and other parameters are similar (or not.)