The Emotion Mania Thumball seems to be limitless with opportunities! Toss the ball around the group and have participants share a time when they experienced the emotion listed under their thumb. Or invite participants to play a version of charades (individually or in small groups) and have the rest of the group guess the emotion being displayed.
As a debriefing tool, use it to inspire sharing around emotions rather than behaviors that were displayed during an activity or program.
In a recent workshop on using Improvisation as a Facilitation Tool, the participants came up with at least 5 different ideas on how to use it to practice listening and other communication skills. Many improv exercises that are designed to build communication, creativity, and trust skills among groups challenge 2 players to "act out" scenes inspired by a suggestion from the audience. After a minute or two, one of the 2 players is replaced by a new player and a new scene begins. In this particular workshop, we played a version of "Freeze Tag" which generally starts with 2 people "playing a scene" inspired by a suggestion from the audience. After 30 seconds to a minute of the scene, a third participant yells "freeze" which the 2 players do, and the participant 3 takes one of their places and starts a brand new scene. Instead of making it all up, we used the Emotion Mania Thumball in our version of Freeze Tag. We did ask the "audience" for a suggestion of a place where these two participants could be. Then, the thumball was tossed to Player 1 who looked under one of her thumbs at the emotion stated on the ball (she didn't tell anyone else what it said). She then had to "play" the scene with Player 2 as though she was experiencing the emotion. Player 2's challenge was to figure out the emotion while having a "real" conversation and then work it into the scene (as opposed to simply guessing the emotion). When Player 2 correctly identified the emotion (as in "That seems to have made you really JEALOUS, Mary"), Player 1 tossed the thumball to Player 2 and a new participant joined in the game.
Another improvisation exercise that would work well with the Emotion Mania Thumball is often called Machine. In general, one person at a time from the group becomes part of the larger machine, by adding a movement and a sound. As individuals "add" themselves to the machine, they may a connection with another individual who is already part of the machine. Everyone continues their own sounds and motions until all participants have the "well-oiled machine" completed and running.
One variation using the Emotion Mania Thumball is to toss the ball to each person and have them incorporate the emotion under their thumb into their own sound and motion. Or, have smaller groups create one machine that reflects one emotion from the ball, and have the rest of the participants guess.
~by Linda Williams