Category Archives: exercise

Courage of Your Convictions (EXERCISE)


This exercise challenges participants to make decisions and defend them to their peers.  They will go through several stages of defending their decisions and then coming to consensus.  At the end, they will be able to score themselves based on how well they defended each of the decisions.


  • Print copies of “Courage of Your Convictions – Worksheets” (one per participant).  You can download it on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at  There are eight different worksheets to choose from.  Each one will take up to an hour to complete through all four stages, so you will probably only want to use a few during any given workshop.
  • Hand out colored markers (one set per participant of blue, red, yellow, green and purple markers).  You can use anything colored – paper or posterboard squares, colored paperclips, manipulatives used for teaching young children, colored dots, etc.



Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes.

Stage 1: 20 minutes

Stage 2: 10 minutes

Stage 3: 10 minutes

Stage 4: 10 minutes

Debrief: 15 minutes (Save the debrief until you have done all worksheets that you are doing to do.)


  • Read through the instructions on the first page of the “Courage of Your Convictions – Worksheets” document, and then let them start discussions.  (It may be best to read just Stage 1 and Stage 2 at first.  Once those are completed, share Stage 3, and when that is completed, share Stage 4.  When all four Stages are complete, pass out another worksheet or (if you are done) have them answer the Debrief Questions at the bottom of the first page of their worksheets document.)
  • The process is as follows:
    • Participants will review different scenarios and choose a response.
    • Then, they will reveal their response to their peers and defend their choice.
    • The group must then work toward consensus.
    • Once that is achieved, groups will be mixed, and each team member must then defend the group’s decision to the new group.  However, in the end, they must come to consensus.
    • Participants then return to their original groups and explain what happened – adding new information and rationale to the discussion.  In the end, they must come to consensus again.
    • Finally, participants will grade themselves based on the number of times they changed their decisions.  A high number of changes is not desirable, because it show that they were too easily influenced by the groups (and did not have the “courage of their convictions”).
    • The debrief is saved until the completion of all worksheets.

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Behavioral Change – Latrine Usage (EXERCISE)


This activity explores the root causes behind why it is often difficult to create lasting behavioral change.  It focuses on efforts to encourage the adoption of latrines for sanitary reasons in developing nations.  Participants will understand some common root causes that prevent behavioral change and be able to apply this method of root cause analysis to other changes they would like to help bring about.


  • Give each group a sheet of flipchart paper and some markers.
  • Have one flipchart and stand available at the front so that you can write down “KNOW, GROW, WHOA and MO” as you describe them.
  • You might want to have a prize available for the team with the most unique ideas. (OPTIONAL)



Explaining the Exercise and the Background: 5 minutes.

Activity: 10 minutes

Debrief: 15 minutes.


Use the following script, or modify it to meet your needs:

  • “Each year, two million children die of diarrheal diseases (WHO 1998).”
  • “The main source of diarrheal infection is contact with human excrement (Caincross, 1999), so improving hygiene practices in this area will have a significant impact in increasing child survival rates.”
  • “Unfortunately, 40% of the world’s population still doesn’t have adequate sanitation.  80% of this group lives in rural areas (WHO 2000).”
  • “Promotion of improved sanitation practices has had very little impact over the past 20 years.”
  • “There are many reasons for this, but it’s important to know the right reason for each context before we try to implement a solution.”
  • “There are four types of root causes for why people don’t implement changes.  These are Know, Grow, Whoa and Mo causes.
  • KNOW – they don’t know what is expected, why it would be good for them or how to do it. For example,
  • GROW – they lack the skills necessary to do it and need to grow and develop.
  • WHOA – there is something out of their control that stops them (“whoa” means stop).
  • MO – they don’t want to. They lack the MOtivation.
  • “In your groups, I would like you to create a flipchart with four quadrants.  Label them Know (top-left), Grow (top-right), Whoa (bottom-right), Mo (bottom-left).”
  • “Brainstorm reasons that fit into each of the four types of root causes for why a community might not install sanitary latrines and use them regularly.”  (Allow ten minutes for brainstorming.  There are some examples below for each category if you need them to help the groups get started.  When they have finished their brainstorm, have each team present. (If you want to increase the energy level of the brainstorm, give a prize for the team with the most unique ideas.)  After the presentations, have them discuss the debrief questions below.)



  • They don’t know how to install latrines.
  • Concepts of dirt and clean are different in different cultures.  In some places, children’s feces are considered harmless, so there seems to be no need to dispose of them properly.
  • Latrines are sometimes viewed as dirty and even evil places.


  • They don’t have the skills to install latrines.
  • Latrines may be seen as difficult to operate and maintain (especially when it comes to emptying them).



  • They cannot afford to install latrines.
  • There may not be enough space to construct one.
  • Community leaders may be hostile to foreigners, pocket funds or sabotage efforts, because they fear loss of authority or face or see an opportunity to profit. (This is Mo for the community leaders, but it’s a Whoa for the rest of the community.



  • Religious beliefs influence adoption of new practices. For example, in India, latrines we’re installed in the northeast corner of a lot. In Hindu beliefs, this is an inauspicious place to put the latrine, so no one used them.
  • Women may feel they don’t have enough privacy in a public latrine.
  • The community may be distrustful or afraid of foreigners’ strange ideas.
  • Men may not want to use a latrine because it becomes “unclean” after a menstruating woman uses it.

(The source document for this information is “How to Promote the Use of Latrines in Developing Countries,” by Jennifer McConville in April 2003 at Michigan Technological University.


  • How important do you think it is to know the true root cause that someone (or a group) isn’t implementing a behavioral change?
  • How can you use the four types of root causes (Know, Grow, Whoa, Mo) to plan implementing changes better?
  • How will you apply what you’ve learned in your work?

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Filed under Change, exercise, Performance, Root Cause Analysis

Perfect Day at Work (EXERCISE)


This activity helps participants to understand their personalities by describing a perfect day at work and getting feedback from a peer or group about what they heard.  It also helps the peer or group to improve their skills at recognizing different personality types.  This activity is for use with the Insights Discovery ® personality assessment tool.  You can find more information at



  • Give each participant something in the four Insights Discovery ® colors (Blue, Red, Yellow, Green) that they can stack.  Colored paper clips, Legos, blocks, or colored paper squares work well.
  • Teach about the Insights Discovery ® personality types.



Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes.

Activity: 10 minutes for pairs; 20-30 minutes for groups

Debrief: 15 minutes.



  • Tell participants that you would like for them to pair up (or work in groups).
  • Each person should take turns describing his or her perfect day at work.
  • The partner (or group) should listen carefully for indications of color preferences in the description and arrange their colored items in the order they think represents the preference for the person describing their perfect day.  The most important preference should go on top, followed by the second-most important preference and so on.
  • When the person describing their perfect day is finished, their partner (or group) should reveal their stack of colored items and explain why they put them in that order.
  • The person who described their perfect day can challenge the color arrangement, in which case, they should discuss their different opinions and come to an agreement.
  • When feedback is finished for one person, the other person (or next person in a group) should share their perfect day, and the process should be repeated.
  • If you have time, have them then do the same exercise with a perfect vacation.



  • How easy or difficult was this activity?
  • What did you learn about yourself through this activity?
  • What did you learn about the different personality types through this activity?


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Filed under Assessment, Diagnostic Tool, exercise, Personality

Joseph’s Journey

For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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Learning Transfer (EXERCISE)

Children, Teens or Adults

30 minutes

This activity helps teachers, presenters, facilitators and trainers recognize the inherent challenges in teaching as we compete against our audiences’ or participants’ mental barriers to learning transfer.  This exercise can be presented as a “game,” but it is more of a “gotcha” in which participants are set up to fail in order to emphasize the learning point.

•    Notecards (approximately 30 for every two people)
•    Marker or pen (one for every two people)
•    Article (There is one at the end of this lesson.  You may want to choose a different article better suited to your participants’ level of knowledge.  It should be written with unfamiliar vocabulary in order to provide a challenge in understanding the message.)
•    Quiz with 10-15 questions and answers (There is one at the end of this lesson, or you can prepare your own based on the article that you choose.)
•    Prizes (optional)

•    Read through the article to make sure you are familiar with it.
•    Create your quiz if you are using a different article than the one provided.
•    Divide the group into pairs, and give each pair a marker/pen and a stack of the notecards.
•    Ask someone to be your ‘Distractor’ – the person who will steal ideas from Short-Term Memory

Use the following script, or modify to suit your needs:
•    “Brain research shows that the short-term memory is only able to hold seven pieces of information at any one time and that it can only hold each piece of information for about 20 seconds.”
•    “In that 20 seconds, your short-term memory is doing three things:

1.    Trying to understand (“decode”) the message
2.    Dealing with distractions
3.    Learning and transferring the information to long-term memory”

•    “In order to learn new things, you have to overcome challenges in understanding the message and dealing with distractions, and you only have 20 seconds to do it with each piece of information.”
•    “If you don’t learn that information and transfer it to long-term memory in 20 seconds, your brain dumps it and replaces it with something else.”
•    “If more than seven pieces of new information are presented to you at one time, your short-term memory will dump new information even faster as new information replaces ‘old’ information.”
•    “It’s amazing that we ever learn anything, right?”
•    “For teachers, presenters, facilitators and trainers, this is a challenge to how we typically present things we want people to learn.”
•    “If we cover the information too quickly, they won’t get it.”
•    “If we don’t make it simple enough for them to quickly understand it, they won’t get it.”
•    “If they are distracted by fellow students, personal problems, discomfort, irritating habits that the trainer has, etc…, they won’t get it.”
•    “Let’s play a game that will demonstrate how tough this really is.”
•    “I’ve divided you into pairs and given each pair a stack of notecards and a pen/marker.”
•    “In your pairs, select one person to be ‘Short-Term Memory (STM)’ and one person to be ‘Long-Term Memory (LTM).’” (Allow time for them to select roles.)
•    “I’m going to read an article out loud.”
•    “As I read, STM will use the pen/marker and the notecards to write down the most important ideas from the article.”
•    “I won’t tell you what those ideas are.  You have to decide for yourself.”
•    “Once STM has written the idea down, he/she will hand it to LTM.”
•    “LTM will take the idea, read it and place it face-down in front of him/her.”
•    “It doesn’t matter how LTM chooses to organize the ideas.  That’s up to him/her.”
•    “When STM writes down an idea, that represents understanding the information (decoding).”
•    “When STM hands the idea to LTM, that represents learning transfer.”
•    “That alone will be challenging, but there’s one additional challenge you will have to deal with.”
•    “I’ve asked ______ to be our ‘Distractor.’”
•    “His/her job is to walk around the room and steal ideas away from STM.”
•    “Distractor can take the idea when it’s being written or when it’s being passed.”
•    “The idea isn’t safe until it is face-down in front of LTM.”
•    “If Distractor tries to steal an idea, you have to give it to him/her – he/she is much too powerful for you!”
•    “If Distractor steals and idea, STM can rewrite it if he/she wants to, or he/she can skip it and move on to the next idea.”
•    “At the end of the game, you will be given a test.”
•    “After I ask each question about the article, LTM will have three chances to find the card that has that information on it.”
•    “STM is not allowed to help.”
•    “It’s possible that LTM won’t even have the answer, since LTM was dependent on STM to write down the correct ideas.”
•    “If LTM picks up the wrong card, he/she should return it face-down to the table.”
•    “If
•    LTM picks up the right card, he/she can put it to the side.  It counts as one point.”
•    “The team with the most points at the end of the test wins.”
•    “What questions do you have?”  (Answer any questions.)
•    “Okay, let’s play!”  (Read the article at a normal pace as the STMs write down the most important parts.  ‘Distractor’ should roam around the pairs stealing ideas when possible but not taking so many that it completely discourages the participants.  When you are done, give the test.  After the test, find out which team has the most points, and award a prize if you wish.  Then, have the participants discuss the following debrief questions in their original groups or in their pairs.  Debrief as a large group.)

o    What made that difficult?
o    How was that like the challenge a learner faces when he/she hears new information?
o    What could we do to help more information move successfully between STM and LTM?

1)    What do shadow puppet craftsmen typically use to smooth out the puppets? (a glass bottle)
2)    What is the Indonesian term for ‘shadow puppets?’ (wayang kulit)
3)    Less expensive puppets that are sold to children during shows are typically made of what? (cardboard)
4)    The Punakawan is a family of characters in Javanese shadow puppets, and they are often referred to as what?  (clown-servants)
5)    What are three sources for the shadow puppet stories? (the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Serat Menak)
6)    What tools did shadow puppet theater traditionally use to project and display the image of the puppets? (cotton screen and an oil lamp)
7)    What is the most common light sources used today to project the shadow puppets’ images in Java? (halogen electric lights)
8)    What is the Indonesian word for ‘skin?’  (kulit)
9)    Which city in Central Java is most famous for its style of puppets? (Surakarta or Solo)
10)    Which parts on the shadow puppet typically move? (upper and lower arms)
11)    How long does it take a crew of craftsmen to make ten shadow puppets? (one week)
12)    Puppets are supported with carefully shaped __________ and control rods. (buffalo horn handles)

ARTICLE – “Wayang Kulit”
(Source – Wikipedia)

Wayang kulit, shadow puppets prevalent in Java and Bali in Indonesia, are without a doubt the best known of the Indonesian wayang. Kulit means skin, and refers to the leather construction of the puppets that are carefully chiselled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods.

The stories are usually drawn from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Serat Menak.

There is a family of characters in Javanese wayang called Punakawan; they are sometimes referred to as “clown-servants” because they normally are associated with the story’s hero, and provide humorous and philosophical interludes. Semar is the father of Gareng (oldest son), Petruk, and Bagong (youngest son). These characters did not originate in the Hindu epics, but were added later, possibly to introduce mystical aspects of Islam into the Hindu-Javanese stories. They provide something akin to a political cabaret, dealing with gossip and contemporary affairs.

The puppet figures themselves vary from place to place. In Central Java the city of Surakarta (Solo) is most famous and is the most commonly imitated style of puppets. Regional styles of shadow puppets can also be found in West Java, Banyumas, Cirebon, Semarang, and East Java. Bali produces more compact and naturalistic figures, and Lombok has figures representing real people. Often modern-world objects as bicycles, automobiles, airplanes and ships will be added for comic effect, but for the most part the traditional puppet designs have changed little in the last 300 years.

Historically, the performance consisted of shadows cast on a cotton screen and an oil lamp. Today, the source of light used in wayang performance in Java is most often a halogen electric light. Some modern forms of wayang such as Wayang Sandosa created in the Art Academy at Surakarta (STSI) has employed spotlights, colored lights and other innovations.

The handwork involved in making a wayang kulit figure that is suitable for a performance takes several weeks, with the artists working together in groups. They start from master models (typically on paper) which are traced out onto kulit (skin or parchment), providing the figures with an outline and with indications of any holes that will need to be cut (such as for the mouth or eyes). The figures are then smoothed, usually with a glass bottle, and primed. The structure is inspected and eventually the details are worked through. A further smoothing follows before individual painting, which is undertaken by yet another craftsman. Finally, the movable parts (upper arms, lower arms with hands and the associated sticks for manipulation) mounted on the body, which has a central staff by which it is held. A crew makes up to ten figures at a time, typically completing that number over the course of a week.

The painting of less expensive puppets is handled expediently with a spray technique, using templates, and with a different person handling each color. Less expensive puppets, often sold to children during performances, are sometimes made on cardboard instead of leather.

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