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Quiet Warm-up Activities

"Activities.... help them (individuals with mental & emotional illness) reestablish constructive self-attitudes and restore self-confidence and a sense of security." (O'Morrow, The Whys of Recreation Activities for Psychiatric Patients, Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 3rd quarter, 1971).


bulletTwo truths One lie

Submitted by Tracie of Meridian Services on 10/11/11

Size of Group: Any

Equipment/Supplies Needed: People

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome: Learn more about the people in the group and to break the ice in a tense group situation

Description of the Activity:The idea is to have everyone in the group think of two truths and one lie to tell the entire group. Each person take turns telling a two truths and a lie in any ordr they choose. Instruct individual not to be so obvious when telling the lie (like stopping to think about it too long). Then the entire group has to try and guess which of the three is a lie. You get to learn something new about people and at times people do laugh.

Pass the Face
Submitted by Amy Davis of National Ability Center on August 30, 2004 at 16:50:48

Size: 5-15

Objective: get the group relaxed and allow them to feel ""silly"" with each other

Description: This game is just like the game ""telephone"" but instead of passing a word or phrase around you pass a facial expression. Get the group in a circle. Have everyone close their eyes except the person who wants to pass the ""face"". The passer will tap the shoulder of the person next to her, that person will open his eyes to receive the face. He will then tap the shoulder of the person next to him and pass the face along. Once you have passed the face you may keep your eyes open to watch it move around the group. At the end, the original passer receives the face from the last person in the group and then shows what the original face was! This game ALWAYS gets people laughing!

Newspaper in a Bag
Submitted by val ross on May 21, 2002

Size: 4-12

Equipment: bag filled with newspapers.

Objective: To stimulate imagination, curiosity and improvisation and to help break ice in group

Description: Bag is passed around group. They can guess what’s inside. Before its revealed they are told that they may think that its something very boring, however their challenge is to make it into something exciting. Group leader can begin. Newspaper can be crumpled, torn folded etc and transformed into something such as a hat. Participants can mime the new item and others in the group guess.

Modified Simon Says
submitted by Amanda L. Boley on March 23, 2004

Size: 8-12

Equipment: None

Objective: Group members learn the importance of paying attention when given instructions.

Description: Members sit in a circle. One member is selected to be the listener. A peer gives them instructions of something silly to do or say and the member follows the directions. Then another peer gives a direction to follow. The group member then completes the first instruction and then the second instruction. This continues until the member is unable to remember which direction is next. Then another member is selected and so on.

Relaxation Warm-Up
submitted by Melissa Cook of Center for the Disabled on December 31, 2003

Size: 2-8

Equipment: assortment of lotions, massagers (vibrating, hand-held, wooden, etc.), relaxing music

Objective: Lotion massage/sensory experience to help individuals become relaxed and focused prior to participating in a structured group.

Description: Working with the disabled population, I find many times that when entering into a therapy session, they are quite hyper-sensitive and unfocused. I find that these individuals need time to sit and relax and become focused so that they can successfully participate in a program. Prior to the structured activity, whether it be music, dance, etc., having individuals sit in a circle and experiment with a variety of lotions and/or massagers for relaxation. Working 1:1 with individuals giving them lotion to hands and arms while explaining to them what they will soon be doing with the upcoming activity. I find this relaxation/sensory period help individuals, especially the disabled, to become more focused and ready to participate in an activity as opposed to just jumping into movement, instrument play, etc. This activity can also be used as a closing to any session, allowing individuals to cool down and relax before leaving.

Circle Massage

Size of group: 6 to ? (if group size is smaller stand in single file)

FOCUS: relaxation, touch, trust

Description: Have the group form a circle and face one direction. Instruct each person to place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. Each person then gives the person in front of them a shoulder massage. Feedback to the massage giver (such as "that's perfect") is encouraged. After a few minutes, the group does an about-face so that they are now massaging the shoulders of the person who just gave them a massage.

This can be a lead up activity to discussions on relaxation, touch, and/or trust. This can also be an end-of-group activity

The Web Game

Number of participants: 10-20

Supplies needed: large ball of yarn

Have patients arranged in a circle. Give one patient the ball of yarn. Have him state his name, and state what goal he/she wants to accomplish in rehab. While they hold the end of the yarn with one hand, they then throw the ball of yarn to another participant. That person then states his/her name, states their goal and then holding the yarn in one hand, the other hand throws the ball of yarn to another. This continues until everyone has a piece of the yarn and a "web" forms.

While everyone is still holding their yarn, the therapist will mention that it takes teamwork to form this web. Then have 2-3 patients let go of their yarn, the web falls apart. The therapist then mentions, that everyone needs to work together, support and encourage one another to accomplish their goals.

Submitted by Kristen Pedersen CTRS, Methodist Hospital, Merrillville,IN


This is a family favorite. It also teaches connection making skills and can assist with the transfer of learning.

First the 'family' version:

1. The child comes up with three things (real or abstract) that they want in their story e.g. 'Father Christmas', 'me' and 'a huge present'. You instantly tell a story with these three things in it.

2. Each child (approximately 3!) comes up with a 'thing' that really challenges the story-teller e.g. 'the dirt in my finger-nail', 'spending £100 million in a minute' and 'a really, really, really funny ending'. You do your best! But when children get this 'clever' it's definitely time to turn the tables (and let them enjoy story-telling)...

3. You come up with 3 'things' for the child (or children) to tell you a story about.

Now the 'professional' version:

1. Ask each individual to choose three different 'things' from the course that they want to remember ('things' they valued directly, or 'things' they valued indirectly because of what they learned as a result). Ask each individual to describe these three different things to a partner in a way that brings out similarities or connections.

2. Ask each individual to choose one high(ish) point from the course and one low(ish) point from the course and then to imagine a situation six months ahead when they are facing a problem and have a 'flashback' to the course. Ask each individual to tell a story (to the group or to a partner) which brings these three 'things' together into one story. A more challenging variation is to ask each person to write a 'future problem' on a piece of paper and put the 'problem' into a hat.

Each person in turn, draws a (random) problem and incorporates it into a story with the high and low points they have already chosen.

submitted by

Roger Greenaway
Reviewing Skills Training
9 Drummond Place Lane
tel/fax +44 (0)1786 450968
email: rogg*

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