Appendix 3: Warm–Ups

Use warm–ups to help groups get to know each other, break down barriers, and to mark transitions between phases of a Jam. Warm-ups work best if they combine cognitive and physical (or spacial) challenges.

To break down barriers, use warm–ups which are fun, include physical contact—but not too much at first—and where it’s fun to fail, e.g. 3–Brain, Ninja,

To bond a group together, use warm–ups where we work in rhythm together and copy each other, e.g. Diamond Dancing, Indigenous,

3–Brain (Warm–Up)

Tags: extreme, energiser, equaliser, transition signal, alertness, mental, physical

Need: 10 minutes the first time (learning to do it), after that 4 minutes. For 4 to 4000 people.

  1. Make groups of four—’Leftover’ people form groups of 3 and watch a 4–group for the actions. In each group, the Subject stands in the middle. The Maths Professor stands behind the subject’s right shoulder, the Colour Caller behind the left shoulder; the Puppeteer stands in front of the subject, facing him.
  2. On “Go” the Maths Professor asks very simple maths questions (e.g., 2+2, or half of 6), … the Colour Caller asks the colours of things (e.g., the sun, the sky, your house, …), … and the Puppeteer makes VERY slow, precise movements. All this happens simultaneously. The Subject has to mirror the movements exactly, and answer all the questions correctly.

Important: The Maths Professor and Colour Caller are insistent, impatient, and never stop talking—not even for a second. For example: “2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 2 plus 2!” When they get the right answer, they change the question. It is fine to re–use old questions, for example: ““2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 3 plus 5! 3 plus 5! Half of 8! Half of 8! Half of 8! Half of 8! 2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 2 plus 2! 6 plus 1! 6 plus 1…”

How–to and in–action video…

Indigenous (Warm–Up)

Tags: bonding, energiser, physical

Need: 5 minutes. 6 people or more.

This is one of the many traditional indigenous dances of Brazil, and it’s very good for group bonding and re–energizing—make a round circle so everybody can see each other. Everybody holds hands and does a simple step (as seen on the video) while turning the circle anti–clockwise. During this dance everyone sings the vowels of their names in the same rythm, eg., Juliana will sing u–i–a–a, Harry will sing aa–ii. Start it slow, make it loud for a while and then cool–it down. Then make a second round with everybody singing the vowels e–a–a, as they are the vowels for Earth in Portuguese (“Terra”), the same way as the previous round.

Ninja (Warm–Up)

Tags: group energizer, alert, physical

Need: 5–10 minutes. 5 people or more.

Form a circle. Each participant chooses a Ninja scream, e.g. “yeah”, “huh”. The right hand will be your sword. You will have to attack the person on your right or left side, and hit them only on the hand. You must use your Ninja Scream every time you attack or defend. Each person has only one movement to attack or to defend. Hold the position you finish the attack in. One person starts and the warm up goes in rounds clockwise. If you get hit on your hand, you’re out of the game. The last Ninja standing is the winner.

Optional: “Dead” ninjas can become shadows, standing behind the person who “killed” them. Really deadly ninjas will soon have many shadows…

Diamond Dancing (Warm–Up) 

Tags: energizer, physical, group bonding

Need: Music (one song or more). 4 people or more.

Four people position themselves in a diamond shape, all facing the same direction. The person in the top of the diamond is the leader. All the others must copy the leader’s movements, looking like it was choreographed before. If the leader turns his/her body to one of the sides, another person becomes the top of the diamond and consequently the new leader, and the others should now follow his/her movements.

Tip: Experiment with movements that are easy to copy, and look cool. With more than 4 people, make the diamond bigger, or make many diamonds.

Group Catch (Warm–Up)

Tags: physical, energizer

Need: 6 or more, you need a safe physical space! About 3 minutes or more.

Participants hold their left hand open behind their back. With their right hand they try to clap the other players left hands. They try not to be clapped on their own left hand.

Focus: One evading and hunting.

Thanks to Jammer Caspar at

Human Knot (Warm–Up)

Tags: physical, communicative, spacial number of participants: 6 or more, ideally in groups of 9–12 people.

Time: A couple of minutes for each round. 3 to 5 rounds is fun.

Stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder. Close your eyes, reach into the circle and find 2 hands to hold. It should always be 2 hands holding together, not 3. Open your eyes, and—without losing contact—try to ‘untie the knot’.

You want to share more successful warm–up tools… share them please!


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