So now that I’ve had my rant about balls, and you listened, I owe you some ways to operate without balls.
Trainers use balls as a way to get participants to “volunteer” to answer questions or otherwise interact. Here are some great substitutes that won’t injure, maim or otherwise result in a liability suit……..with the usual legal disclaimers applied here – I can’t be responsible for how you execute
Pass the Baton. Buy a cheap, decorated toy baton (think cheerleader) from a dollar store. Ask for a volunteer or choose someone and give him/her the baton. This person answers your first question and then passes the baton to another person who answers and repeats the process. Explaining that you cannot give the baton to the person sitting beside you, or establishing that the baton must be passed to someone at another table, can help you avoid mundane, linear baton passing.
Get Creative! Instead of a baton, peruse the dollar store and find large items that can be easily passed: sunglasses, toy shovel, spatula, tiki torch (Unlit. Now, you knew that!)
Use Balloons. Type questions on small pieces of paper and insert them into balloons. Blow up the balloons, place them in a large plastic bag and bring them out when the time is right. Direct everyone to stand up and keep the balloons in the air for one minute. Play some music, make it fun, get everyone moving. Then, have them form groups according to their balloon color, pop their balloons and find the questions. They can come up with answers as a team and share. If you want them to work individually, just skip the group formation.
Get Creative! Rather than creating questions prior to the session, pass out unfilled balloons and small slips of paper. Participants can write their own questions, blow up the balloons, bat the balloons around, pop and shout out the questions and answers. Offer to blow up the balloon for anyone who has a latex allergy. You can also offer a balloon-blower-upper device (check a party store).
Include a Secret Code. Prior to the session, number the backs of a handout or workbook or the inside of a name tent. Make sure that you mix up the numbers so that people are not sitting in numerical order. Direct participants to locate their secret code. Begin asking questions; the person with the number “1” answers the first question and so forth. You can always ask the questions out of numerical order for even more suspense.
Get Creative! Use colored dots, picture stickers, or drawn symbols, such as hearts, diamond, square, etc. A trip to an education store, or your local discount big box chain offers a plethora of options.
© 2011 Linda M. Farley