This exercise will take some prep, but you can save yourself some work if you think ahead. I’ll explain the whole process and then how it can be streamlined. You will need many index cards – 78 if you do the whole exercise – less if you streamline. Select 26 index cards and write aspects of the family house and yard on them, one physical aspect per card. On the back, write the alphabet, one letter per card in any order. Select another 26 index cards and write family activities such as events, chores, entertainment, sports, etc., on them. Do the same with this deck, writing on the alphabet on the back. Keep the two decks separate. For the last deck, you will write topics of faith on them. Some examples might be prayer, forgiveness, worship, love, service, etc. The last prep for this activity is to write a list of 3 letter words. Aim for about 10 -12 words.
Start with the first word on the list. Select one letter from each pile. For example, your word might be God. You would choose the G from the first pile, the O from the second pile, and the D from the third pile. Turn the cards over and read the 3 items: a physical aspect, an activity, and a faith topic. Is there a way to combine these three things and develop a new way to do something or a completely new activity? Be Creative!!
Here is an example: The physical aspect is Living Room. The activity is Family Dinner. The faith topic is prayer. Could you combine these and come up with a monthly picnic dinner in the living room, and each person lists something for which to pray or play prayerful worship music or read scripture before, during, and after the meal. Be Creative as you can.
The suggestion may not be exactly the items on the cards, but those three in combination may spark an idea that is close. That counts! Maybe, if you ignore 1 of the three things, the remaining two can be combined. (Try not to drop the faith topic.) Sometimes, the three things chosen are impossible to creatively combine (bathtub, baseball, and mercy?????). That is okay. Replace the cards in their respective decks. (Using 3 different colors of index cards or the markers you use to write on them will help return the cards to their correct piles.) You can either move onto a new word, or you can rotate the piles and choose the same three letters, but from different stacks, so you are getting a new combination of cards. Continue until you have found a few new ideas to try or until your word list is exhausted. You could also pull random cards and see if you can generate a new activity that way.
Streamlined approach: Write your 3 letter word list first and only create cards for the letters used in the list. You may want to start with a little longer list, so you don’t run out of options. Be sure to write a card for all three decks for all of the letters used.
Option: If you have older children, you can assign them a job of writing one of the decks.
Digital Option: Use a spreadsheet!
After you finish the activity, process it with these or similar questions:
- Was it fun to come up with a creative idea using totally random groupings?
- Would you choose different things to put on the lists now that you have done the activity once?
- Did starting to think like this spark any ideas of other random things that could be combined?
- The next time you have to think about something creatively, will you think of the weird and good combinations of this activity?
How did this activity go when you used it with your group? Did you make any modifications that worked better for you? Share your experience below!