This activity is originally written up as a fun time-filler as Bing-Bang-Buzz in Quicksilver by Karl Rohnke and Steve Butler in 1995. The variation presented here takes this activity from time-filler/icebreaker status to jumping off point to some great conversations!
No props for the actual activity but it is important to have a large writing space (i.e. whiteboard or flip chart) and marker, especially for the debrief.
The Set Up:
Have the group seated and arranged in a circle (squares and other closed shapes are good too!). Inform the group that they will be attempting to count to 100 or as close to 100 as they can get within a given time limit (I usually use 3 to 5 minutes). Easy enough, right? There are a few caveats. The counting is done sequentially. One person begins with “one” and the next person will say “two,” the next “three” and so on. When the number is either 7, any number containing a 7 (17, 27, 37…) or a multiple of 7 (i.e. 21, 28, 35…), the person whose turn it is must clap once instead of saying the number.
Inform the group that you will be watching for three things:
1. How they react to success
2. How they react to messing up
3. How they react to other participants messing up
Once the rules are explained, get your timer ready! Start! Any errors within the time limit result in starting over again at “one.” I have the person who made the error restart. Continue until the time limit is up. Note the highest number the group counted to.
The debrief process for this activity can take several different (yet somewhat interconnected) directions.
Have the group discuss their observations in response to: response to success, messing up and others’ messing up.
Explain that this activity may be seen as a “challenging situation” which could result in stress. How do we respond to challenges or stress in our lives? Write responses on the board. Depending on the brainstormed list, you may want to help the group identify which of the responses they listed are: Emotions, Behaviors or Physiological Responses and write an E, B or P next to them. You could engage in a discussion about how our emotions, behaviors and physiological responses are connected.
Identify that the behaviors listed are part of what is called Coping Strategies. Discuss positive and negative coping strategies and list these on the board.
Relate this to Defense Mechanisms. You can click HERE to access an article I wrote about this topic. Reading this article can be a follow up to this activity.
A great follow up to this is the TEDx talk by John Foppe found HERE
1 For lower functioning groups, instead of beginning with the number 7, start with 5.
2. For groups who may struggle with multiplication facts, you can post the multiples of 7 on a board.