Using A Classic to Bring to Life Group Norms
How many of you had your mind absolutely boggle the first time you played Helium Hoop. Ii know mine was. I was convinced the instructor was playing some sort of cheap parlor trick on us. There was no reasonable explanation for the rising hoop when by all accounts it should be lowering towards the ground... but is was rising as if it were filled with helium. If you haven't experienced the Helium hoop, you're in for a treat.
In any case, the activity remains a powerful tool in the back pocket of the facilitator looking to shake things up. Because of the impact it's had on recent groups, I've began using Helium Hoop with a little more intention. I've found it wonderfully effective in breathing life into the group's self-generated behavioral norms or full value contract. It's easy for a group to discuss expected behaviors like being respectful, patient and committed, but living them in the mist of sudden shared disequilibrium is an entirely different challenge. That's where the Full Value Hoop can help.
Full Value Hoop
Props: Hula Hoop, Large Sheet of Paper, Markers
How to Play:
Create a group contract with your group in any way desired. Invite participants to discuss and record norms that promote a safe and effective learning environment. After the group has successfully completed their contract on paper, attach the sheet of paper to the center of a hula hoop, or in this case, a helium hoop...
The objective is for the group to lower the horizontal hula hoop from about 4 ft. to the ground, sounds simple. The group will support the hoop using only one straight, out stretched finger each. During the entire lowering each participant MUST remain connected to the hoop at all times. This rule is important because in conjunction with the lightweight properties of a hula hoop and act of trying to stay connected create the magical rising hoop effect. Anyhow, this is where you can draw connections between them and their connection to the group contract, especially during challenging moments. I often remind the group before they begin that if things get challenging to simply look at their work in the center of the hoop and to keep in mind that it was created to help them navigate challenging moments. The group, having no idea how difficult their task will be, usually looks at me like I'm crazy.
Remember, this activity is powerful and more challenging with larger groups. Although you may be able to fit 12+ people around one hoop try to sequence the activity building from smaller groups of 3-4 towards 8-10. You may have more success.
If you are working with larger groups, divide your group into smaller groups of 6-8 participants. Each small group works with their own hoop but, attach all the hoops together with long pieces of yarn or string.