Tell the Truth!

Tell the Truth!

This is an improvisation based exercise.  It is good for beginners, and only needs to last a few minutes.  This exercise will be done in pairs.  When a pair is doing the exercise the other participants will be observers.  To begin the exercise get from the observers or have prepared characters, a place, and an activity.

Let participants begin the scene.  At moments you feel appropriate, shout out “Tell the truth!”  The person that just said a line must change to something new without hesitation.  Do this several times for both participants.

In reverence, talk about what the truth was or is.  What was more truthful, what you said first or your other options?  Was it hard to remember what “truth” you told?

Adapted from:

McKnight, Katherine S., and Mary Scruggs. The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.


Great for the themes of: Truth, evil, insight, change, and Memory and Hope.

Wisdom Mirror

Wisdom Mirror

To begin this exercise break the group up into pairs.  Give the pairs a topic of conversation that you have decided on.  One person in the pair begins to talk about the topic that you have given.  They are the initiator.  The other person in the pair, the follower, mirrors the words that the first partner exactly out loud.  Their goal is to speak the words that the initiator is saying exactly.  After a short time the sidecoach will say “Change” and the follower will now start to be the initator, picking up where the two just left off.  The first speaker will now become the follower and begin to mirror the words of the new initator.  The goal is to have no break in the flow of the conversation.  For example:

Sidecoach:  Ok the topic is meditation.  First speaker begin!

1st Speaker (initiator): Meditation is something that you can do anytime and anywhere…

2nd Speaker (follower): mirroring speech simultaneously Meditation is something that you can do anytime and anywhere…

After a period of time

Sidecoach: Change!  Try not to stop the flow.

Change the initiator and follower several more times throughout the conversation.

In reverence, talk about what it was like sharing the conversation.  Was it hard to keep the flow?  Did it get easier as you went along?  Did you begin to know what the other person was going to say?  Did you share some wisdom or learn something new?

Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.


Great for the themes of: The Sources, Wisdom.  This could work with any theme if you provide it as the topic of conversation.

Changing Three

Changing Three

To begin this exercise, have the group divide up into pairs.  All the pairs will do the exercise simultaneously.  Have the partners choose who will go first and who will go second.  Once that is decided, the person going second will observe their partner noting their dress, accessories, shoes, etc.  Then the second person will turn around and close their eyes.  The first person will now make three changes to their appearance.  Untie a shoe, move their watch, move a beret, take off their glasses, etc.  When they are ready, they will have their partner turn back around and see if they can find the three changes.

Once the first pair has switched so both people could guess, have the pairs mix up and try it with a new person.

In reverence, talk about noticing changes.  Were big changes or little ones harder to see?  Did you find you got better at observing as the exercise went on?  How are you at noticing changes in your life?

Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.


Great for the themes of: Change, transcendence/transformation, and insight.

Writing For Three

Writing For Three

For this exercise you will need a piece of paper for each group.  The paper should be divided into three columns with a number 1, 2 or 3 and a word or subject at the top of each column.  Begin by dividing participants in to groups of three.  Then you can explain how the game will work.  The participants will sit in a circle and will always pass the paper to their right.  You can either say “pass” or “switch.”  Practice passing the paper so participants get in the habit of just passing to the right.  Now explain that after you tell them to pass, you will say a number of one of the columns.  When they hear the number they should start writing about the word or topic immediately.  Between the three people, they will all write about the topics.  For example:

Writing for 3

Sidecoach: Ok first person ready.  Two!  Write!  (Wait 45 seconds or so) Ok Switch next person!  One! Write! (Wait 45 seconds or so) Ok Switch next person!  Three!  Write! 

You should continue around at least twice and randomly say the numbers.  At the end you should have paper filled with three different people’s writing on the three subjects.  Have the groups read together what they wrote.

In reverence, talk about what it was like writing in a community.  Did they just write their own or did they try to read and add to what was there?  Was one person’s idea of the topic the same or different?

Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.


Great for the themes of: Community, scripture, grace, the sources, learning and growth, common ground.  This would be a good exercise for any of the themes.  Just change the topics to fit that theme.

Heartbeat of Humanity

Heartbeat of Humanity

To begin this exercise, break the group into smaller groups of about 8-10.  Once the groups are separated explain that they are going to explore oneness through a rhythmic movement.  One group at a time, with the others as observers, participants will sit or stand in the movement area.  Explain that in a moment you will call an object and each person in the group will, without thinking begin a repetitive movement that relates to that object.   Once they have the rhythm, you will change the setting and they will change their movement to match that new place.

You can use every day items like washing machine, bike, etc.  Or perhaps an object that relates to your purpose like chalice, protest sign, etc.

You should use music if available.  Need some?  Click HERE.

For example:

Sidecoach: Ready.  Protest sign.

Participants: Begin to do their movement.

Sidecoach: I see that you have the rhythm, now forget your object and feel the rhythm!

Participants: Continue doing their movement in rhythm together.

You will now quickly change the setting for the participants.  Try to go somewhere that suits your needs, but is very different from where your first object might have been.  You could take them to a homeless shelter, a refugee camp, a village in drought, etc. For example:

Sidecoach:  Alright, while still moving in rhythm, transform your movement to someone in a homeless shelter!  Transform!

Participants: Develop a person that is moving in rhythm that might be in that setting.

If some participants have trouble you may need to step into the exercise and help them individually.

The goal here is to keep the rhythm as a group while transforming.  Make sure each group has a chance and they all have different objects and settings.

In reverence, talk about what if felt like to be different people with different movements, but all have the same rhythm.  Isn’t this like the unity that makes us one?  A heartbeat of all humankind.


 Adapted from:

Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher’s Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1986. Print.


Great for the themes of: Grace, Transcendence/Transformation, Justice and Change.

A Young UU

The Ministers Cat/A Young UU

This is an alphabet based rhythm game to get participants thinking about inspiring adjectives for a young UU. To begin this game you will want to split the larger group into smaller groups of about 5-10.  Now teach the rhythm for the game.  At a fairly slow tempo, pat your legs then clap.  The rhythm is:

Pat, clap, pat, clap, pat, clap, and so on.

I like to keep doing the rhythm as I explain the rest of the game.  You can just stop if you would like once you think they have the rhythm.  Explain that they will always use the words:

A Young (pat on young) UU is ______ (Pat on the word in the blank.)

Practice this a few times.

Now explain that they will be using each letter of the alphabet to create a word in the blank.  Then the next person in the circle will use the next letter of the alphabet to create their adjective.  For example:

1st person: A Young UU is Awesome

2nd person: A Young UU is Bold

3rd person: A Young UU is Caring

And so on.  “Ex” words can be used for “X.”  When you get to “Z” start at the beginning of the alphabet once again.

If the rhythm gets in the way of the words drop it.  It is much more important that the words are said.


Great for the themes of: Change, Common Ground, Community, Preparation, and Vocation.