No matter the occasion, getting a group of adolescents to interact might seem like a lost cause. After all, cliques, shyness and short attention spans are formidable adversaries. However, by gearing your activities at parties or other group events toward lively games, you can foster their ability to interact and communicate without them even realizing it.
To organize this game, first split the group into reporters and interviewees. Give the reporters an “assignment,” which includes the name, the hometown and an unusual fact about the specified interviewee. After a short period, switch the roles and assignments. Call the group back together after everyone's played both roles and have the teens reveal their findings. This game works because it balances control and freedom. The questions can be detailed or vague depending on the group's enthusiasm level. Many times, the best questions open the door for humor. A good example of this is the “two truths and one lie" scenario. Here, the interviewee gets to tell two truths about her life and one lie, which can be as outrageous -- or sneaky -- as she wants.
Obstacle Course Races
Teens are parties often have too much energy to sit still. If this is the case, consider an obstacle course race. Instead of lining them up and saying, “go,”organize them into smaller teams and turn the event into a communication game. Blindfold one team member and require the others to guide her around the course without physical contact. Step up the complexity by making certain words such as “turn” or “go” off-limits. Create stations where the group has to complete a puzzle or word game before moving on. Before the race starts, ensure that the teams understand parameters such as “no shouting" and “no running." If space is limited or you're worried about the distraction of too many teams racing at once, have each team go individually and time the results.
The communication value of the trivia game hangs on the quality of the questions. With today's technology, teens can come up with facts, figures and pictures as fast as you can display the question. Even if you disallow technological devices, little is stopping the more enthusiastic members from answering all the questions while the shier members retreat. The trick is to make the questions participatory. By focusing less on concrete answers and more on the group members' lives, you can get them talking. For instance, “whose face is printed on a dollar bill?" has one answer. On the other hand, each group member will have to contribute to answer a question such as, “Who traveled to the most distant location over the summer?" To make the game even livelier, reward detail and creativity with prizes and treats.
Beach Ball Game
A simple beach ball can get your teens engaged, listening and speaking. Write a question onto every section of an inflated ball. The questions can range from simple to outrageously difficult. Then, have the group sit in a circle and bat the ball around. When the ball hits the floor, the person nearest to it has to state her name and answer the first question she reads. Stop the game after four answers and ask a different group member to recite the name, question and answer given. Speed is the key element to a successful game; it creates energy and will make the ball drop more times. A point system can also make the game more interesting: a correct answer gets five points, an incorrect one gets minus two points and a perfect recitation earns 20. Offering a reward such as cookies or extra party favors for a 75-point total might inspire event-wide enthusiasm.