Break Up Your Lecture with Candy, Conversation, and Connection! A Fun and Easy Activity to Try in Your Course
Here's a fun and easy activity you can use to break up your lecture, promote conversation, and encourage connection in your course!
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Sometimes, you just need a lighthearted and fun activity to break up a lecture. Not everything has to be so serious all of the time. Students need a break. You need a break. And, we can all benefit from a break in the usual routine, especially if it’s a challenging or stressful part of the semester.
In this article, I want to share a fun activity you can use in any class to encourage students to share ideas and connect with each other. For those of you who lead workshops or training sessions, you can adapt this activity and use it any of your programs and events.
When I was in graduate school, a friend shared this activity with me. She used it in her undergraduate courses, and I’ve been using it in classes and workshops for many years. I hope you try it, enjoy it, and have a little fun!
Break up your lecture with candy, conversation, and connection!
You will need:
- Candy that is available in different colors (or packaged in different colors). Think plain M&Ms (get the party-size fun packs), Starburst, Skittles, etc.
- Access to a printer (color printer preferred, but not required).
- A list of questions to prompt curiosity and conversation. Use the questions I’ve provided in the template (attached) or mix in a few questions related to the course material.
- A willingness to laugh and have a little fun in class!
- Download the template, adapt the questions to your audience, add your own questions, and/or mix in course-related questions. You can use the template as-is if you want to.
- Print one page for each pair or small group. (It’s fun to print in color, but you can still do this activity without a color printer). The colors of the squares on the page should match the color of the candy you are using for this activity.
Plain M&Ms in the small party-size fun packs are available in red, yellow, orange, green, brown, and blue. Make sure you have one square for each color. These are the colors I’ve used in the template.
In Class: (I will use plain M&Ms as my example.)
When students arrive in class, give each one a small pack of M&Ms. Ask them to sit in small groups of 3-4. Then, when you say “start,” each person will introduce themselves and randomly pull out one candy from their pack.
Whatever color candy they draw corresponds to the color of the box on their handout. Then, they choose any question from that box to answer and discuss with their group members.
(And of course, they can eat that piece of candy if they want to! Feel free to demonstrate this part of the activity!) Repeat as many times as you want to (or until the candy runs out!).
If you want to, you can debrief this activity with your students. Ask questions such as:
- How did they feel before the activity began?
- How did they decide which question(s) to answer?
- Did they avoid some questions (and why?)?
- What did they do if they didn’t like the candy or the color?
- What were some of the funniest responses (if they don’t mind sharing)?
- What questions did they not know the answer to (if you are using course content-related questions)?
- How did their background/culture/experience influence their response?
- How did this activity help “break the ice” or ease the tension in today’s class and why does it matter?
Debriefing can be an excellent way to help students see the value of an activity like this beyond “getting to know each other” so they can connect it to other skills, learning outcomes, or assignments.
What kinds of fun activities do you use in class to encourage connection and conversation? Share your ideas below, on Twitter @barbihoneycutt, or send me an email. Or post them in the Lecture Breakers Facebook group and encourage others to do the same!