Practicing Collaboration with Others

April 26, 2023

Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

Let’s play with some LEGOs!

Dear collaborative discussion friends,

This week we are highlighting an activity that uses tactile play to enhance collaboration. By engaging participants in a playful activity while discussing an important issue, it encourages them to listen from an open and collaborative frame of mind. This further enhances how participants work together to incorporate different ideas into a shared vision for implementing changes in their community, workplace, or on their campus.

This activity is contributed by Evan Weissman, Founder & Executive Director of Warm Cookies of the Revolution, and is one of the many activities in the Civic Collaboration Module.

If you missed last week’s newsletter, Seeing Communities as Partners, you can access it and our other weekly newsletters by subscribing below.


This week’s activity:

Activity 5.7 – Practicing Collaboration with Others

How to use tactile activities to enhance collaborative discussion

This activity uses play to make discussing serious topics more fun and interesting. It also improves collaboration by involving participants in collectively building a city out of LEGOs to create a synergetic and creative environment in which to explore initiatives related to a particular topic.

Activity 5.7 – Practicing Collaboration with Others

Prepare for the Activity

This is an in-person activity that can be done as part of a class, workshop, or community event. Use this Warm Cookies of the Revolution Event Checklist to help prepare for this activity. The main item needed for this activity is a set of LEGOs.

Set up a large table (or group together multiple desks) and lay out the LEGOs in the center of the table with chairs all around.

Select a Topic and Three Presenters

Select a topic that is important to your discussion group, something they are passionate about. Alternatively, you could discuss existing programs or new initiatives that they would like to introduce. As preparation for this activity, consider Activity 5.1 Identifying Your Civic Passion.

Also, select three participants who will be presenting pitches for keeping, getting rid of, or “flirting” with initiatives or programs. These might be initiatives or programs for the proposed city that groups are building together. Explain to them that they will have 5 minutes to describe what their proposal is and why they think it should be implemented. Pro tip: if possible, select these three participants in advance and encourage bold, divergent proposals.

Start Collaboratively Building a City out of LEGOs

Have participants sit around the table and invite them to start building their version of an ideal city together using the LEGOs. Explain to them that while they work on building this city, they will also listen to the three participants who were selected to present their pitches and then discuss the ideas as a full group.

Present Three Pitches

Invite the selected participants to present their pitches, giving them a heads up as they get close to the 5 minute mark.

Share Responses and Ideas in a Lightning Round

Next, invite the rest of the participants to share their own ideas or responses to the pitches in 2 minute elevator speeches. This round is meant to be fast, fun, and playful. Remind participants to keep working on building their LEGOs city together while listening to others share their ideas. Encourage participants to use “yes, and…” to build on each other’s ideas and collaboratively create a shared vision (Activity 2.6 Building on the Ideas of Others).


Reflect on the ideas shared and discuss:

  • What were some common themes that came up in the three main pitches and/or the lightning round?
  • What kinds of features did participants build in their ideal LEGO city?
  • What was surprising about the ideas that were proposed?

In addition to these debriefing questions, the full description of Activity 5.7 Practicing Collaboration with Others also includes reflection questions, a practice journal prompt and additional resources to help participants dive deeper.

If you try out this activity, please share with us what you think:

Rate Activity 5.7

We hope this toolkit activity helps participants approach serious topics from a creative and playful perspective, improving how they work together to incorporate different ideas and viewpoints into a shared vision for their campus, community, or workplace.

Upcoming Events

  • Mark your calendars! Our next community gathering is Friday, May 5th at 2 pm (EDT). All are welcome! Register here.
  • The Interactivity Foundation is organizing a 3-part interactive, small group conversation series, exploring dimensions of The Economy & Democracy. Join us for the second session on Wednesday, May 3 at 2pm (EDT). Invite your students! Register here.
  • We will have an Interactive Workshop tomorrow, April 27th at 12 pm (EDT). This workshop will be an introduction to the Collaborative Discussion Toolkit and Certificate Program. Share with your friends and colleagues who would like to learn more! Register here.
  • Warm Cookies of the Revolution is organizing many fun and unique events in April. These are in-person events that take place in and around Denver, Colorado. Check out their upcoming events here.
  • The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley is offering the Bridging Differences in Higher Education Learning Fellowship. This is a great opportunity for any leader in higher education — faculty, administrators, staff, or students — who wants to foster more constructive dialogue and understanding on US college campuses. Recipients will be be part of a 8-month facilitated virtual learning community from September 2023 to April 2024. The application deadline is May 22, 2023. Learn more and apply today!
  • The School of Public Affairs at American University is hosting an online conversation about dialogue and pedagogy, “Can We Talk? Defining, Practicing, and Protecting Dialogue in Higher Education” on June 13th and 14th from 1pm – 5pm (EDT). Over the two days, this event will have four 90-minute sessions, each beginning with a short keynote followed by an interactive facilitated discussion. All are welcome! Register here.
  • We are also accepting nominations for our Pilot Coach Training for Undergraduate Students. Space will be limited. You can learn more or nominate a student by emailing Shannon at [email protected]

Looking forward to collaborating,

Ritu Thomas & the Collaborative Discussion Team

Interested in working with us to bring better discussions to your classroom, community or workplace?

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