As teens move towards adulthood they tend to want to exercise some independence from their family relationships and, instead, look to peers for the emotional support and guidance previously provided by family members. They seek to spend time with like-minded individuals who share similar interests and values. When teens are gathered together in new group situations, playing games will help them get to know each other, build respect and trust, communicate effectively and find new friends.
Have each teen provide a photograph of himself as a baby. Pin these randomly on a board, assigning a number to each baby photo. Have each teen write on a postcard the funniest thing that has ever happened to her. Pin these to the board, too. Provide each group member with a piece of paper containing a table with three columns. In the first column, write the names of each group member. Leave the second and third columns empty, so that everyone can have a go at pairing up the baby photos and funniest things with group members. When everyone has made their guesses, have the teens go to the board, one at a time, and reveal their baby photo and funniest experience. This should provide lots of laughs.
Divide the teens into groups of at least four members. To do this, put everyone's name in a hat, then draw the names at random. Tie pieces of string around 30-feet in length to the ends of pairs of sticks of different lengths. Take the sticks outside to a piece of grass and make a short course using your string and sticks as hurdles to be crawled under or stepped over. One member from each team will line up and be blindfolded, and his team members will guide him over the course with simple directions. Each time someone touches a string, he must return to the start of the course. The first person to complete the course wins each heat. The order of the strings is changed between each heat, so that participants do not know the course they will navigate.
Randomly divide your group into teams of three. In the style of BBC America's "Dragons' Den" television show, each team will form a company and invent a new product. To seek investors for their product they must work together to develop a five-minute sales and marketing pitch, which they will present to a team of potential investors, comprised of the members of the other teams. Each potential investor has $100,000 to invest. He may give the entire amount to one company or divide it up between two or more companies, once he has heard all the pitches. He may not invest in his own company and he must make his decision based on presentation, innovation and likelihood of the product succeeding. The winning company will be the one that gets the most amount of money invested in their product.
At the start of the day, pair off the teens and have them get the answers to a list of questions they must ask each other. There should be some lively debate as they discuss their choices. Questions might include favorite movie, favorite pizza topping and how many siblings they have. Have them write the answers down, then take their notes away from them. Do not tell them why you are doing this, but, at the end of the day, have a quiz to find out who remembers the most about the person they interviewed.
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Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
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