Build it, Break it
Groups of 4 or 5 work well, but this can also be done with smaller groups if necessary. Students are given a prompt to build a whole group statue (it can be frozen as in a tableau, or it can move a bit as needed--generally the fewer directions the better as you might be surprised by their inventiveness). I start off with things that are concrete, or tangible and gradually building in complexity: chair, table, bridge, bicycle and traffic were ones I used today successfully. Students have a set period of time (one minute works well) to create their sculpture. I then call out "build it" and each group, simultaneously, builds their version of "chair". Have them hold it for a 5 - 10 seconds and call, "break it" and they return to actors neutral. Repeat so they have it in their bodies. Then add another object for them to do, with the same process, but now they have two to create: Chair--build it....break it. Bridge--build it break it...
After you have 5 objects and the students have rehearsed we do a gallery walk type performance with one group performing all of them (with the teacher/leader calling build, it break it).
Then, move to the abstract ideas.
Here's a list of some that I have done:
In the coming weeks I'm going to experiment with using this activity for the students to build physical embodiments of some school-wide concepts that we will be using in all of out subjects:
Cause and effect