by Sharon L. Bowman, M.A.

Want a 5-minute game that takes no preparation beforehand? Want a game that engages learners in a fun yet memorable way, without a lot of time wasted in setting it up? Want a game that helps learners review information they heard, that increases retention, and that can be played a number of different ways?

Enter Grab that Spoon! It's a quick, five-minute game with a dash of friendly competition. It's a game in which everyone participates regardless of the size of the group (5 or 500, it still works!). It's a game that allows the learners to generate the review information, to participate in it, and to discuss their own understanding of the material learned. In other words, it's a game in which the participants learn a lot in a little time!

Here are the instructions for the game followed by a number of variations. Feel free to experiment with the game until it works easily for you and your learners.

3x5" index cards (one per person)
pens or pencils (one per person)
plastic spoons (one for each group of 4-6 people)
Room Setup
Learners sit in groups of 4 to 6 people, either at tables or clustered together in chairs.

Game Instructions
1. Each learner writes a review question and answer on a 3x5" index card. She also writes a point value for the question on the card (points between 1-5; 1 = easy question; 5 = difficult question).

2. One spoon is placed where each learner in the group can reach it (in the middle of the table, in the middle of the group on someone's knee, binder, or on the floor, etc.)

3. One person volunteers to be the first reader. The reader may not grab the spoon.

4. The reader reads aloud her question. The first group member to grab the spoon answers the question. If correct, the answerer gets those points. If incorrect, the answerer loses those points or stays at zero points.

5. Group members take turns being the reader and reading their question cards.

6. All groups play the game for 5 minutes (or longer, if time permits). At the end of the time limit, each person adds up her points. The person with the most points wins applause and high-fives from the group. Or there can be small token prizes.

Game Variations
1. Play the game using an object related to the training—something easy to grab that also has to do with the training topic or theme. Examples: Grab That Mouse for a computer class, Grab That Ear (with plastic ears) for a communication course, Grab That Key for keys to customer service, Grab That Number with dice for financial training, and Grab That Whistle for safety training. You can use items found in your home or office. You can also purchase small, inexpensive, training-related items from Kipp Brothers http://www.kippbro.com/ or Oriental Trading Company http://www.orientaltrading.com/. Get their free catalogs and spend a few minutes looking for possible game items and token prizes.

2. Give each learner 2 to 4 index cards. At different times during the training, have them write on each card a new question and answer pertaining to what they just learned. Then, as an overall review, allow about 10 minutes near the end of the training to play the game.

3. Play one round (one question asked and answered) at a time and spaced throughout the training to make the game a short, high-energy, ongoing break from the lecture.

4. Instead of points, learners can play for chips or other small tokens. Each group gets a small pile of chips or tokens to use for the game. Or they can play for a card from a card deck and the person with the best poker hand at the end of the game wins.

5. If you, as the trainer, want to do the work, you can make up the questions and print them out, one set per group. Then each group plays the game with your questions and answers.

6. If you have time and choose to debrief the game afterwards, you can ask open-ended questions like:

What was the most important thing you learned from the game?
What was a question that your group discussed or debated the answer to?
Was there a question with more than one right answer?
What is a question you still have after playing the game?
Final Thoughts: A game is only as useful as its purpose and its content. As an activity that reviews crucial information in a quick, relevant, high-energy way that involves all learners, Grab that Spoon! fits the bowl, uh, bill. Use it and enjoy watching your learners take an active part in their own learning.