The First Steps’ facilitator training was one of the most profound professional educational experiences of my life. Rob created a true learning community amongst the participants – we learned the concepts, we developed teamwork, and I reconnected with myself. I learned how to effectively guide group discussions towards real learning. Rob is a consummate Master Trainer, able to simplify the complex and make it accessible. That being said, this was not a beginner’s training, but one that stretched me. I give Rob and First Steps my highest recommendation.
What: A classic activity popularized by Karl Rohnke in several activity books. Can be used as an initial icebreaker, an energizer between classroom sessions, or a focused problem-solving initiative.
Group Size: From 4 - 40.
Space Required: a large, relatively flat open space with a high ceiling (e.g., a gym) or no ceiling (e.g., a football field).
Time Required: 20 to 40 minutes.
Props Required: one 16" inflatable ball.
Objective: for the group to hit the ball aloft as many times as possible (or to a predetermined goal) before the ball touches the ground.
Each hit equals one point.
You may hit it with any body part.
No player may hit the ball twice in succession.
Two points for kicks.
The team scores one point when everyone on the team has touched the ball before it hits the ground. With a large group, a score of one is excellent, a score of two is world class!
It's hard to describe the value of this game on paper (or electronic medium, ... pixels?). The task and rules are easy to understand so a new group, or one that has never participated in experience-based training, can easily begin. The play itself is engrossing, the individual task -- hitting an inflated beach ball up -- is doable by even the most non-athletic participants, the center of attention is the ball rather than the players ... Despite its non-threatening nature, the activity can provide the basis for intense team development in the areas of goal setting, individual roles, and work processes. It's a gem. TRY IT.
I was asked today why the activity was called "Moonball" when I use a beach ball with the map of the earth on it; why wasn't it called "Earthball?" I'm guessing (but it's plausible, anyway) that the creators of this version were also well-versed in the New Games movement of the 1970s -- one of their signature games involved an inflatable ball that was 6' (that's six feet) in diameter and was named "Earthball." Perhaps a similar game with a smaller ball might rightly be called "Moonball?"
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