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:

Table                                          Art

Bridge                                        connection

Traffic                                        important

Bicycle                                       Analysis

Chair                                           Routine

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:

Analyze

Collaborate

Demonstrate

Cause and effect

Characteristic

Perspective

evidence

Interpret

Specific

Elaborate

inquire

Claim