Cover the Space
This strategy encourages participants to be present with the other participants and their own bodies by moving safely around a defined space. It is often used at the beginning of a series of activities as a warm up. Cover the Space develops participants’ skills in following side-coaching from the facilitator. It can be expanded to become a group categorization activity that uses analysis and synthesis skills.
Begin by designating a playing space with a very clear perimeter. Next, ask the group to walk around the space without talking or making contact with any of the other participants. During the silent walk participants can be asked to stretch their arms, reach for the ceiling, and/or shake out as they walk the space. Invite participants to notice their walking pace and to consider the pathways they are making on the floor; encourage participants to vary their pattern and their pace (while remaining respectful of other bodies in space). Next, invite participants to make eye contact with one another as they pass. A verbal or physical greeting can be added to eye contact if desired. Return to silent and individual walking or prepare for a transition to a variation listed below.
What did you notice about yourself in this exercise? What did you notice about the group?
How did you communicate with one another during tasks that required you to work silently?
- Why might it be important to take time to settle yourself into a space and group at the beginning of our work together?
What do you notice in your body as you walk around the space?
- Remember to keep yourself within the outside parameters of our walking space.
Sort Based on Observation: Invite students to silently form groups based on an observable characteristic. Make a group based on what you are wearing on your feet. Once groups are formed, ask each group to come up with a name for their group and have groups share their names. Dialogue about what types of properties were used to make groups (color, size, use, etc.).
Sort Based on Experience: Invite students to group based on an experience; they can talk. Make a group based on what you had for breakfast. Once groups are formed, ask each group to come up with a name for their group and have groups share their names. Dialogue about what the categories tell us about this group? Why?
Sort Based on Opinion: Invite students to think of their response to a prompt. To be successful as a class we should… Invite students to cover the space sharing their answers to the prompt with each other as they pass in space. Next, invite students to make groups based on their words/phrases. Once groups are formed, ask each group to come up with a name for their group and have groups share their names. Dialogue about what the categories tell us about this group. Why?
Groups can also be asked to make a physical gesture/movement, based on the title of their group, which they perform as they share their title. Have the rest of the group make meaning from each gesture and title as it is shared. Explore how physical gesture gives further meaning to the verbal title being offered.