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Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Fun

Here are some OM spontaneous practice problems (mostly original). Some we have tried already, some we haven't. I hope they work well for your team!

Copy a few page from a children's book of riddles, then cut the copies into pieces with one riddle each. Have each team member ask a riddle of the rest of the team, using any style (e.g., acting out the riddle, accents, whatever) that they can. Go in turn, for 3 or 4 riddles per team member. This started out slowly for our Div. 2 team, but they quickly got into the spirit and had fun with it. And, you can do it several times during the year.

In Jail
"You have been sent to the local jail for a crime you did not commit. You have a friend Jane who is very clever at getting things in to you, past the guards. What would you ask Jane to bring you, and how would it help you get out of jail?"

Story Line
"I will start a story. Each person adds one sentence, then on to the next person. Continue for two minutes." [coach starts a story, such as "Elbert the flea thought he had it made..."]

Egg Drop Challenge
Each team (or 2 or 3 people) is given a fresh egg, 25 straws, one meter of masking tape, and miscellaneous other stuff. "Your task is to drop the egg from the height of 8 feet and have it reach the floor without breaking. You have 8 minutes to prepare." [none of our Div. 2 teams succeeded, but a team of adults did]

Double-Letter Delight
"I'm looking for words with double letters, like aa, bb, cc, etc. As one big team, tell me a word that contains aa, then a word with bb, then a word with cc, etc. You can skip jj and qq."

Riddles for the Entire Team
From 19, how can you take away 1 and leave 20?
Given a circle, divide it into 8 areas by drawing 3 lines.
Change IX into 6 by drawing one line.

52-Story Building
You can use a pack of cards to aid in the creation of a story. Have team members sit in a circle and place a full deck of cards face down in the middle of the circle. Team members take turns telling one sentence of a story. Before each member talks they flip over the top card of the deck and in their sentence they must say the suit, number, or figure of the card. After they finish they place their card on the bottom of the pile.
Contributed by Patrick Thompson, pthompso@erols.com

[An] interesting spontaneous exercise I dreamed up is to have a tape of instrumental music where the same three or four notes are played over and over again. Their problem is to sing any phrases that match the notes. Gets them to think creatively in an entirely different realm.
Bob, Igou@ma.ultranet.com via CAOM list

I think I am going to try a pairing technique I thought of...one kid gives a common response and the partner turns it into creative.
Rogsling @ AOL.COM (Rosanne Slingsby) via CAOM list

Hot Potato
"Name things that..." played with a tossed object. Kids can toss it to anyone, whoever receives it has to answer next. (designed to build speed and team spirit)

Puzzle Jumble
This is overly simple, but is a good team building exercise. Team Instructions: The team will have ten minutes to complete the problem. Points will be awarded for teamwork. Dump a 1000 piece puzzle on the table and begin timing. Judge's instructions: Award 1 point for "common" team work; 5 points for creative or significant teamwork; 10 points for exemplary behavior that carries the team way ahead. Examples of "Common" teamwork include "process" oriented help; a better way to work. Examples of "Creative" teamwork include encouragement and support to other team members. Make note of the behaviors observed and discuss with team after time is called.
E-Mail: Igou@ma.ultranet.com

Peanut Butter and Jelly
The team's problem is to build a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The scoring is 10 points for the technical aspects and 100 points for presentation of the solution. Presentation time will be 8 minutes.

Obviously this could be a very short, dry, unexciting demonstration about how to make a simple sandwich. And 8 minutes is way too long to devote to it.

Style would add: a restaurant patron, a waiter, a chef, a menu, costumes for the participants, a setting (table, chairs), atmosphere (lighting, candles, music, scenery), sophistication (fine china, 12 piece dinnerware, wine), dialogue ( accents, different languages between waiter and chef), drama (happens during a murder mystery), additional participants, etc., etc., etc. And this is just a common solution elaborated. Credit for this goes to last year's NHOM Coach's Cafe where this was their explanation on style.
E-Mail: Igou@ma.ultranet.com

Water We Going to Do?
A fun one I made up for younger kids: 2 containers on a table, one straw, one small napkin or kleenex, and a small spoon. There is approximately one cup of water in the container with a smaller mouth and the other container is empty. Before beginning, mark with a crayon where the water in the one container will reach in the other container. The object is to move the water from the one container to the other losing as little water as possible. The container with water initially cannot be lifted from the table. If they do not think to siphon initially, have someone demonstrate and then let all try.
Laura Bowker (llb@STUARTLAW.COM) via CAOM

Change of Focus
An exercise that you might want to try would be to set up a verbal spontaneous (use flip cards or not at your option) and ask the team to solve the following problem:

Your problem is to build on the idea of a team member...each team member must use a part of the idea given in the previous answer. For example Team member 1 says "the sky is blue," team member 2 might say "Grapejuice is blue" and team member number 3 might say "Grapes grow on vines" etc.

Give one point for the same basic idea, example "the sky is blue" followed by "grapejuice is blue" and three points for changing the focus of the statement as in "Grapejuice is blue" and "Grapes grow on vines"...what I mean by this is that one answer simply names another item which is blue, while the second opens the door for answers to the question what grows on vines? Go through this exercise once at every meeting and you will see them get the idea....then when they are stuck during a "regular" spontaneous practice ask them how the work they have done in this exercise might help them to get unstuck.....it worked for me!
Dee Urban, nysoma18@MORAN.COM

Equipment: Materials to make a structure (paper, index cards, tape, string, spaghetti, marshmallows, etc.), ruler. Also, a test weight (roughly 4 ounces or 100 grams) tied to a string and paper clip hook.
Problem: Build a structure that extends off the end of the table and supports the test weight. The structure may be taped to the table.
Timing: You have eight minutes to build your structure. During construction you may test it with the weight.
Scoring: For each inch (2 cm) the structure extends off the table, earn 10 points. All lengths are measured in the horizontal plane of the table, so if the structure sags, a loss of length is incurred.
Adapted from an idea by Lee Semel

The Bridge
Give the team a stack of index cards and some adhesive materials (Avery dots, address labels, tape, hot glue and/or other glue). They also have access to a book and some carpenter's nails. The task is to build a bridge that is tall and wide enough to span the book lying on the table. At the end of eight minutes see how much weight (e.g., carpenter's nails) their bridge can support without collapsing or sagging (in the middle) enough to touch the table.

Squeeze Is On
From 1997 World Finals, courtesy of Lindsay (NJOM, Double Trouble Div 2):
There were two bricks on the floor and the sides facing each other were both black. Your problem was to design a "structure" that squeezed between the bricks and went as high as possible.. without touching anything but the black sides of the bricks. They started measuring from the ground, but your "structure" didn't have to start there. We were given spaghetti, straws, toothpicks, mailing labels, raisins, & a raisin box.

Squash Anyone?
From Sam Wilson:
If fruits and vegetables could be in an Olympic competition, what events or sports would they participate in?

Too Heavy
From the Turner Family:
The first person says something light. The next person has to say something heavier. This goes on until someone can't get any higher and they say restart and say something light. You may present consecutive things (1 feather, 2 feathers, 3 feathers, 4 feathers) no more than 3 times. You get one minute to think and two minutes to respond. Common answers are worth 1 point, creative ones are worth 5 points.

Example: feather, wet feather, 2 wet feathers, 100 strands of hair, one hundred strands of wet hair, an elephant, restart-paper, etc., etc., etc.

Create 'Em Yourselfs
From Sue Robbins, Holly Tree Elementary School, Wilmington NC:
I always have my team members make up their own problems, present to the team and judge.

The Self-Inflicted Spontaneous Problem
From Tony Rongey, Jenks, OK:
Tell the team that there is a bag in front of them (It's an imaginary bag). Have each member name something that is in the bag. If size or quantity is important then have them include that as well. Write each item on a piece of paper as it is described. Once everyone has contributed then give them the problem that they have to solve with the items they made up.

I found that this was a good problem for a team that loved to dig everything out of the box or bag and start messing around with it before they even discussed the problem. It also is handy for those times when you don't have any real stuff on hand.

The Human Knot
From Carl Spruill , spruills@bellsouth.net
Warm teams up with the "human knot". Tell team to stand in a circle facing each other. Reach across with your right hand and grab the right hand of someone who is not standing right beside you. Reach across with your left hand and grasp the left hand of another team member but not of the same person whose right hand you are holding (confused yet?). Tell the team, "You are now in a human knot. Your challenge is to untangle yourselves by stepping over or over someone else without letting go of hands." This takes lots of teamwork and cooperation and also gets both sides of the brain thinking. Kid's love it!

The Stolen Cow
From Rosie, rosie868@aol.com
I am a member of a Division 3 Odyssey of the Mind team, and sometimes my fellow team members and I like to come up with Spontaneous problems. One of my favourites is a verbal that is a little silly, but if the team and I are off track, this one is easy to be silly with. the scenario is: "You will have one minute to think, two minutes to respond, going around in a circle. Your problem is: You have been caught stealing a rather large plastic cow from K-Mart. Your task is to explain to the store manager why you are carrying a large cow that is obviously stolen. The objective is to get out of the store with the cow and, of course, not get into trouble!!!" If the kids ask any questions, the cow is five feet long, three feet tall, and pretty heavy, too!!


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