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The Balloon Game

A very simple game that can illustrate the relationships and roles in a group. You could try playing it at your next inset/staff training day.

Stand class in circles of about 15 people in each circle you could play two simultaneous games or have some observers commenting on the dynamic.

The idea is to keep the balloon from touching the floor. Using your head, hands, feet, nose, back, whatever (you can vary rules to suit group or space).

Play for a few minutes:

  • Did every one hit the balloon at least once?
  • Who were the people who hit it most?
  • Who chose to stand back?

This indicates preferred roles in the group and may not necessarily imply good or bad behaviour.

Play again, encouraging the dominant ones to step back (“make someone else do the work for a change!”) and the more passive ones to be more active. Ask how it feels to be more or less active in the game.

What if you can nominate the next person to hit the balloon by calling their name? You can make life awkward by making people dash across the circle or you can make it easy by naming the person nearest to the balloon trusting they will keep the game going.

Try playing it again without names but see what happens if one person tries to get the balloon every time (i.e. you).

In which set of circumstances is the task maintained most successfully?

You will need an inflated balloon (and some spares in case of accidents!!) and big room (hall or gym).

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