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Alternate Activity 2: A Round Robin Story - Minnows and Whales

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Writing paper and a pencil for one participant
  • Optional: Chalice bowl (or another shallow bowl, filled with water) and a stone or another small, heavy object

Description of Activity

Invite the group to explore "the minnow effect"-the Gather the Spirit version of "the butterfly effect," an idea, rooted in chaos theory, that the flapping of a butterfly's wings can influence weather thousands of miles away.

Introduce the activity by telling the group about both the butterfly effect and the ripple effect. You might use your chalice bowl to demonstrate the ripple effect: Drop a small object in and watching the ripples spread.

Then, introduce the minnow effect:

Can the swishing of a minnow's tail change the world? How? Take a moment to think about it. We will go around and ask everyone to create a story together, one sentence at a time. I will begin. Then the next person adds to it until everyone in the room has contributed. At the end we will read the story aloud.

Ask a volunteer to write all the sentences and provide paper and a pencil.

Begin by saying:

The minnow moved its little tail.

Invite the next person to continue; they might say, "A fish feels the water move and says, 'Aha, there's a minnow over there,' and goes after it." Then the third person adds a third sentence, and so on around the group. Eventually the story might involve the movement of a whale, and the whale might cause a wave big enough to move a boat, and the boat might crash to shore and... but that's all up to the group.

When all have contributed (if the group is small, you may wish to go around again), invite the volunteer to read the entire story aloud. You could post the story on the group's River Scene mural.

Including All Participants

Some people are quicker with verbal creation than others. You can allow people to pass, but it might be better for a co-leader to help out with a gentle suggestion a participant can use as their own. It's fine if the story suddenly veers off in an unlikely direction-that's part of the fun of round-robin story creation.

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