5 Quick Brain Activities to Energise our Minds!

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5 Quick Brain Activities to Energise our Minds!

Richard Wise

With what should be exam season here, many of us would normally be spending our time revising in front of our text books or computers. Studying and memorising are quite stressful brain activities. This is especially true if we haven;t been in an educational setting for a couple of months. While we might feel like we need to use every minute of the day to cram in as much information as possible when we can, science has proven that it’s actually better for our brains if we take short breaks. 20 minutes is the ideal time frame. That’s enough to get a drink of water to re-hydrate or take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air. Getting back into studying however can be a problem.

Here are 5 of our favourite ways to re-energise your brain, ready for your next study session:

1. Months and Days

There’s lots you can do with these! Try arranging them into alphabetical order in your head. Now put them into reverse alphabetical order and say them out loud! This is great for training your brain to not only retain information in one order.

2. Assign Value

Give every letter of the alphabet a number value. A=1, B=2 etc. Subsequently add up the numbers of the letters of your name to get it’s value. Try the name of the subject you are studying, or your teacher’s name. There are so many brain activities you can do with numbers and letters!

3. Find 5 objects

Give yourself a couple of colours and find 5 objects from where you are sat that are those colours. For example, red and green. Looking around you encourages us to take in our surroundings. Next, try to expand on those categories, such as trying to find 5 red objects you could fit in your pencil case. Or find 5 green objects you can balance on your head.

4. Other uses

This is one of our favourite brain activities at WiseUp HQ! Grab a random object around you and find 10 uses for that object that do not include it’s actual use. A shoe for example. It could be used as a boat for mice, or as a fly swatter. Maybe it’s a beautiful object d’art? Or a vestibule to drink from (EW!)

 

5. Eat with Chopsticks

Our brains need fuel in order to retain all this vital information. Fish, blueberries and nuts all have awesome properties to stimulate our brains. Check out a great list of super foods here. For that added boost, try eating these with chopsticks! Coordinating these not only takes serious brain power, it also gives our hands some different exercise from holding pens or typing on a keyboard. This is another firm favourite amongst the WiseUp team, I wonder why…?

Team Building Brain Activities

Team Building Activities

These are brilliant for stimulating learners brains in so many ways. Figuring out logical challenges, such as building puzzles, increases our brains production of dopamine. This affects our memory and concentration, alongside improving our mood. Happy learners are more productive learners! People are much more likely to retain information if there is a positive connotation around it. Linked with this is being with others. When working in a team, our brain’s limbic system is stimulated. Therefore, this can have a huge impact on how we learn as this area controls how we feel.

Ask Us More

We could go on and on about how our events will help your students perform and feel better about getting back into school. If you’d like to hear us do just that, please send us an email, give us a call or use our easy enquiry form to get in touch.

Pictures courtesy of www.pexels.com, www.pixabay.com and L.Pollard

Social distance in Primary & Secondary schools with Outdoor Learning

Richard Wise

Learning outside the Classroom

With the recent government update mentioning the gradual re-opening of schools, teachers and staff will be trying to find ways of maintaining social distancing while getting students back into their learning. As the first ones to potentially re-open, primary schools will essentially be the testing ground for how to achieve this new normal. But how do you keep 30 odd children physically separated within the confines of a classroom? Can you really maintain social distance in schools? And how will this period of enforced separation have affected them?

Reception / Early Years and Year 1 Development

Kids starting Year 1 after Reception/Early Years are naturally at a stage in their development where friendships are important. They are learning to build strong relationships with others, while starting to consider feelings and boundaries. A large part of this is tactile play. Sharing toys, building small forts and playing games like tag (or tig, depending on where you are!) are important to help this development. These will all have been things children were doing, and indeed encouraged to do, before the UK went into lockdown. How do we now explain to them that they can no longer do these things with their friends when they see them again?

At this young age, they are also eager to please the adults in their lives. It was previously very normal for these students to hug their teachers. Some would hold their teachers hands as they moved around the school. Many youngsters have been taught to hug a friend to say sorry, or to “kiss it better” if they accidentally hurt someone. All of this hands-on interaction will almost now need to be un-taught.

This will be especially hard as around 6-7 years old is when kids naturally start to develop more of an awareness of the news around them. Disaster stories and depressing news can cause anxiety and fear in young children. Unfortunately, there has been plenty of that lately. As educators, we have a lot of work to do to help our young charges overcome these challenging new times.

Teaching social distancing to children

One way of teaching social distancing to young children, particularly in schools, is through new and adapted games. Including pieces of rope or string cut to 2 metre lengths will help them maintain distance. Students working in smaller groups spread apart from others is another tactic. Communication exercises and activities can aid them to still manage to problem solve together, while being physically apart. The key is maintaining that distance and outdoor learning is the perfect way to do this.

Year 6 transition: From primary to secondary

Year 6 pupils have been particularly affected with the coronavirus crisis. The abrupt closure of schools came at a time when they would normally have been focusing on transitioning into secondary school. Students have potentially missed out on vital inter-personal development, where they would usually be saying goodbye to some childhood friends and making new ones. Many 11 & 12 year old’s will be feeling incredibly anxious about the move to a different school. Studies have shown that helping young people as they make this transition will benefit them for the rest of their secondary school career. So we know this is incredibly important! But how can schools facilitate this while maintaining government advice?

Outdoor Learning for school children

Learning outside the classroom naturally gives learners what is needed to maintain social distancing – and that is space. Rather than sitting in cubicle style classrooms, embracing the space outside will be much more beneficial for students on so many levels.

How does learning outside the classroom help students going back to school?

  • Less risk of COVID-19 infection – The open nature of the outdoors means that droplets containing the coronavirus have a much larger area to disperse. They are therefore much less likely to come into contact with people.
  • Children can maintain social distancing – As mentioned previously, the outdoors offers the space needed for large numbers of school children to remain a safe distance away from one another.
  • Fresh air improves concentration – Studies have shown that the increased carbon dioxide levels that accumulate in classroom leads to poor concentration. Fresh air invigorates our bodies, and helps us learn better as a consequence.
  • It’s a novelty – With access to the outdoors limited during lockdown, it has become something children aren’t used to. School students tend to find new activities and environments stimulating. This is proving they have the support of people they know around them.
  • Sunshine helps learning – Science has proven that exposure to UV light from the sun activates a “molecular pathway” in the brain that heightens the ability to learn. Add to that the feeling of wellbeing we get from the increased levels of seratonin that gets released in our bodies as a result of being out in the sun, and the science is pretty conclusive.

Outdoor Learning & COVID-19

So now we know why it’s a great idea for school students to spend time learning outside when schools re-open. But what should they actually be learning? And, more importantly, how?

According to the Institute for Outdoor Learning “Outdoor Learning is a broad term that includes discovery, experimentation, learning about and connecting to the natural world, and engaging in environmental and adventure activities” Rather than focusing on traditional school curriculum subjects, outdoor learning focuses on the development of people as a whole. Through experiential activities, people learn and develop key personal and interpersonal skills. Resilience, communication, team work and problem solving are some of the elements outdoor learning nurtures.

School subjects can be integrated within outdoor activities for an all round educational experience. For example, maths workshops built into team building activities, and science incorprated with bushcraft sessions. Without the constraints of attainment targets, outdoor learning allows for a more fluid approach to learning. This makes it adaptable and inclusive for all.

How can schools incorporate outdoor learning?

Outdoor learning, like most industries, has a vast number of professionally trained facilitators. Throughout the development of this pandemic, the sector has been working incredibly hard to adapt our approach. Activities have been re-designed, equipment has been thoroughly cleaned and new challenges have been created. Visits to traditional outdoor centres may not be a viable safety option right now. However mobile providers are able to bring this vast wealth of knowledge and experience to your school site.

Get in Touch

WiseUp Team Building’s school activity days make a great way for students to interact with each other while learning. Our range of educational and fun activities adhere to the government scientific advice on hygiene levels and distancing. Please use our easy enquiry form to see how we can help your students kick-start their learning after the coronavirus pandemic.

Pictures courtesy of www.pexels.com, www.pixabay.com, L.Pollard and WiseUp Team Building

Praise vs Reprimand. Which is best for teachers?

Richard Wise

The praise to reprimand discussion is one that has been going on forever (or so it seems). Education in particular is a focus point for this. Teachers spend so many hours a day with children, it’s not surprising they have a big impact on young people’s wellbeing. But every person is different, and some respond better to certain techniques than others. So it very difficult for a teacher to cater for every student’s learning style. Is there an overall formula to help maximise young people’s potential in the classroom? Recent studies appear to say there is!

Teacher Reprimand

Reprimand

I’m sure many of us can remember a teacher from our own school days who always seemed to be telling students off.  Teachers often give out reprimands in front of the whole class. Generally more serious warnings are being given one-to one. Sometimes they are loud! Essentially, a reprimand is defined as any verbal attempt to decrease undesirable behaviour. Research has proven them to be successful if used correctly in the classroom environment. However, many educators fall into the trap of using them too often. One study found that teachers were issuing a reprimand on average every two minutes.

Teacher Praise

Praise

The total opposite to the teacher always telling students off, many of us will also have had teachers who loved to heap praise upon everyone. Even tasks as simple as watering the class plant garnered effusive ramblings of how well we had done. Yet scientific research has showed that using too much praise leads to students becoming lazy and demotivated. It basically cheapens it. Praise for praises sake isn’t enough. For learners to feel the benefit, praise needs to be specific and targeted feedback. Whether that is against learning goals or behavioural targets. Jamie Thom writes in The Guardian that “it is vital that teachers set behavioural expectations high, then recognise when students are striving to achieve them.

Praise and Reprimand

What is the Praise to Reprimand Ratio?

The Praise to Reprimand Ratio (PRR) works on an educator providing a certain number of “praises” for each reprimand. There has been much debate over the years about what the ideal number is, with recent research suggesting that a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio is best. So three or four praises for every one reprimand. Classrooms implementing this ratio were found to have a marked increase in good behaviour. Some reported up to 30% better behaviour, and improved classwork as a result. The figures vary for specific on-task behaviour and overall attitude. But what is clear is that specific positive re-enforcement works best when paired with selective targeted reprimands.

School Team Building Activity Days

How do school team building activity days help?

Problem solving and team building events offer teachers the chance to see their students in a different environment. This often results in positive changes of behaviour from usually disruptive pupils. Giving young people the opportunity to showcase their skills across a range of challenges means that staff can focus on how well the teams are doing. Whether it is by solving complicated tasks or even by simply staying focused, learners are in a situation that gives their teachers the chance to see them at their best.

Contact Us

Give the team at WiseUp a call or use our easy enquiry form to see what kind of team building activity days we can offer.

Easter Activities for Young People

Richard Wise

Getting Young People Outdoors over Easter

Entertaining young people over the Easter break with activities can be a challenge. Especially given the current situation due to coronavirus. But with Spring time finally here, the daffodils are out and the sun is shining bright! So it’s a great time to put the iPads down and get outdoors for some egg-citing activities! Here are some ideas to keep your young ones (and the not so young) having fun in the sun:

 1. Eco Egg Painting

This activity is wonderful for young people with an artistic streak. Painting eggs to look beautiful is a fun Easter tradition. Instead of regular shop bought paint, try making your own colours using natural ingredients. Berries can be crushed to make vibrant reds and purples whilst a combination of onion skins and daffodil petals give a glorious yellow hue. For grey, a bit of wood ash with water works well. And if you need an excuse to get a bit mucky, gather some dirt for a luscious brown.

Eggs can be painted as they come or hollowed out. It takes a bit of practise to learn how to create hollow eggs. Without the insides, the eggs are much more fragile, but they won’t go “off.”  They can also be kept for much longer as a result. The painted eggs can then be used for a whole range of different activities.

2. Easter Egg Hunt

A fairly classic no-brainer! Instead of hiding chocolate eggs though, why not try hiding challenge eggs outdoors? Start by writing some challenges on small slips of paper. These could be anything from “10 star jumps” to “Find something beginning with R.” Next, take a few of your hollow painted eggs, and very carefully slide one of the challenge slips into one of the holes.  Hide the eggs around your garden, a local park or green space and watch the fun! Or you could hide the eggs around the house but go outside to do the challenges! A fantastic way to encourage a bit of egg-cersise I’m sure you’ll agree.

 3. Egg and Spoon Obstacle Race

Instead of the age-old staple of a point to point race, throw in some hurdles to spice things up. Trees make wonderful natural outdoor obstacles, with branches to duck under and trunks to navigate around. For bonus points, try jumping over tree roots! For some egg-stra Easter activities, get the young people to wear bunny ears  or tails made out of materials they found outdoors, including leaves, twigs and vines.

 4. Egg Roll

The Easter version of a cheese roll, minus the cheese (and without the injury rate!). Firstly, you need to gather some of your painted Easter Eggs. Next, find a park or field with a big hill, and mark out and start point at the top with a finish point at the bottom. Line all racers up along the top (at a socially acceptable distance) with an egg ready. Then call “Go!” nice and loud! Participants may give their egg a starting nudge as it then rolls down the hill, racing against all the other eggs. The first egg to cross the finish point wins! Once they have stopped rolling, carefully walk down with the young people to collect any surviving eggs.

 

Get in Touch

These are just a few egg-samples of fun outdoor activities to play with young people over the holidays. We have more available on our constantly updating Free Activities page. If you are looking for some egg-cellent activities to get them outdoors when schools open again, please check out our range of team building challenges. Drop us an email or fill in our enquiry form and we will get back to you.

Coronavirus: What can schools do?

Richard Wise

With the current Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak affecting every element of our daily lives, schools are in a bit of a strange position. Remaining open with very few staff and students, as we all try to figure this out day by day. Working with schools is equally challenging in these times. With Coronavirus in schools, rather than activity providers, this adds to the strain on teachers. Here at WiseUp we want to do what we can to support all the hardworking staff who are going above and beyond their already extensive work load.

Staying Active

The benefits of an active lifestyle are never more important than now. Whilst we maybe can’t get out and about as much as we would usually like, there are still plenty of things we can all do to keep our bodies active.

The Body Coach Joe Wicks is running fantastic PE sessions live every morning. If you haven’t already checked them out, we can highly recommend them!

Join in the nationwide eye spy scavenger hunt! Every week, children are being encouraged to put drawings up in their windows as a way to spread joy and thank our amazing Key Workers. When you are out for your daily exercise, see how many you can count. Or mark them on a map! Teachers can encourage students to see how many they can spot from certain areas on the playground.

The category changes each week and they are as follows:

Rainbows – W/c 23 March
Sunshine – W/c 30 March
Easter – W/c 6 April
Animals – W/c 13 April
Flowers – W/c 20 April
Smiley Faces – W/c 27 April

Other Activity Ideas

We are putting together a free collection of super fun challenges that children of all ages can try. With videos and written description planned, these easy to follow activity ideas will keep everyone entertained. These are available on our website and will be updated frequently.

In the mean time, please check out some of our previous Blogs for quick and easy ideas of activities to do with children:

We also have more activity ideas to look forward to in our April Easter edition post.

Cancelled Exams

With all exams cancelled for the end of the academic year, many older students are especially worried about the impact this will have on their future. They may feel like they have worked very hard for a number of years, only for it to not matter now. But it DOES matter. All that hard work won’t have been wasted, as teachers follow the guidelines set out by the Department for Education.

This also means a substantially different approach for teachers. As a result of the changes, school staff have to make assessments based on physical evidence. This can be really difficult, as some teachers will know their students maybe hadn’t presented their best work previously but were headed for big improvements in the exams. The great news is that universities and colleges will also be adapting their intake approach as a result of all of this. The rules on conditional offers may well be adjusted, replaced or scrapped altogether.

Effects on Mental Health

It’s important to think about the effect that Coronavirus is having on everyone’s mental health, alongside our physical health. The anxiety of being in an unknown situation can be extremely overwhelming. Add to that the possible effects of loneliness during isolation phases and the government lockdown.

As a result of all of this, young people may be feeling like this is all too much. Used to seeing their friends every day at school, younger children especially may not understand the current restrictions. This could cause them to play up or act out. Some parents we have spoken to have reported an onset of panic attacks in children as young as 8, whilst others have told us about the return of bed wetting and nightmares.

Parents are under enormous pressure. Not just with having their children suddenly off school and needing lots of attention, but with the extraordinary ways of trying to complete basic day to day living tasks. Going to do the food shopping is a logistical nightmare! It’s important for us all to remember that if we are struggling, to ask for help. Community spirit is massively on the upswing, which is one fantastic positive to come out of all of this. We certainly have spoken to more of our neighbours recently (at an acceptable distance) than ever before.

Another positive to focus on is to remember that this will come to an end, even if we aren’t 100% sure quite when. We are all in this together!

School Trips Cancelled due to Coronavirus

With the UK (and indeed much of the world) in lockdown, schools are unable to take part in their normal school trips. This is a huge disappointment to students, staff and the activity providers themselves. Not only does it have an emotional impact, there are also the finances to consider.

This time of year is when the majority of businesses in the outdoor education sector make enough money to see them through the rest of the year. They rely on schools to be able to pay staff wages for their instructors, cleaners, maintenance staff, kitchen workers and office teams. There are also the other extensive out-goings that all businesses have, such as gas, water and electricity bills. Without this annual injection of cash, many outdoor companies run the risk of going out of business completely.

Schools can help keep this vital industry from collapse. If your school is going to be closed by the government on a date that you have a booking with an outdoor provider (or any other trip type), most schools will be able to claim the cost of this back from their school’s insurance under their trip cancellation policy. If for any reason this is not covered by your insurance, the Department of Education has said that they will reimburse schools for out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The information is buried in various bits of government paperwork, but for official clarification, please contact your local council DofE worker.

Schools following this route, rather than claiming the cost of the trip back from the activity provider, will help to ensure the survival of the outdoor industry.

Thinking to the Future

When schools are back fully open, a team building activity day would be a fantastic way to re-ignite student interactions in a fun and positive event. Our problem solving challenges are ideal for kick starting the brain, ready for going back into the classroom. Re-building relationships between students will help improve mental health. Even better, holding events outside has the added bonus of improving physical health, as we have already established. Being outside in the fresh air, enjoying the British Spring/Summer time can only be a positive thing. Above all, these events bring people back together after all the talk of distance.

Please contact us to discuss holding a team building activity day when schools re-open.

5 Fun Paper and Pen Games for Young People

Richard Wise

Simple Games for Young People

Remember back when playing a game with friends didn’t involve using technology, take forever or cost the earth…Those were the days! Even here at WiseUp HQ, our office team occasionally needs a brain break and lately, we’ve been enjoying our favourite paper based activities. These games are great for a quick pick me up, and are super easy for young people to do – all you need is a few pieces of paper and a pen/pencil and you’re good to go! With numerous studies recently noting the negative impact on kids of spending too much time looking at screens we think it’s time for a revival of the classic pen and paper game. These are 5 of our favourites:

 1. Dots and Squares

For this game, if you have paper that already has dots on it, that makes life easier, but it doesn’t take long to set up if not. Draw a square grid of dots on a page – 6 x 6 is a good number to start with, but if you’re in the mood for a longer game, try 10 x 10 or even 30 x 30. Once the square is created, players (2 or more) take turns with a different colour pen creating line segments between dots. When a player forms a square with their line, they may put their initial in that square and play again. The game continues until all the lines between the dots have been drawn.

Fun squares team game for kids

2. Battleships

Players begin by drawing two grids with ten vertical and ten horizontal lines on two separate sheets of paper. The horizontal side is lettered and the vertical side numbered. On one sheet, each player draws rectangles representing a fleet of ships without letting the other player see their location. On the other grid, hits are marked with an “X” and misses with an “O”. The ships must take adjacent squares vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Each player’s fleet consists of the following:

Aircraft carrier covering five squares x 1
Battleship covering four squares x 1
Cruiser covering three squares x 1
Destroyers covering two squares each x 2
Submarines covering one square each x 2

Players then take turns calling out a grid reference where they think their opponent’s ships may be, for example B5 or F9. If the guess is correct, the player who’s ship has been targeted must say “Hit” and put a cross through that square. The other player then gets another turn to call a location. If their guess is incorrect, the player who’s ships have been targeted says “Miss” and the first players turn is over. Once all of the squares of a particular vessel have been hit, the player must say “You sunk my battleship!” The winner is the player who sinks all of their opponents ships first.

Battleships team game example

3. Categories

These games can be played a few different ways by young people, but this is how we like to do it at WiseUp HQ.

First, come up with a list of categories. The more you have, the harder the game is. Some examples are:

  • Male Name
  • Female Name
  • Vehicle Brand
  • Fruit
  • Vegetable
  • Country
  • City
  • Famous Actor/Singer/Author
  • Animal
  • Sport

Once you have chosen your categories, ask someone at random to choose a letter (or pick one out of a hat!). Everyone playing then has 60 seconds to come up with an answer for each category. In the event of a disputed answer, try research it by looking in books, online or asking others. The person with the most points wins the round. Then choose another letter and repeat. The person who wins the most rounds wins the whole game!

Simple categories group game

4. Words of Wisdom

This is one that will really test your brain! All young people begin the games with a piece of paper with a grid drawn on it, 4 squares across and 4 squares down so it looks like this:

You then take it in turns to call out one letter until all the blocks are filled. When a letter is called, each player must write it in their grid and they can write it in which ever block they want to. There can only be one letter in each block, and once a letter is in a block, it cannot be moved to a different block. The aim is to make as many 4 letter words as you can, going across and down your grid, so careful letter placement is crucial!

 5. SOS/Shoji

This is a variation on the classic Noughts & Crosses (or Tic Tac Toe as it’s known by some) and starts with a 3×3 grid draw exactly the same. Players then take it in turns to draw either an “S” or an “O” into a box. Each player should use a different colour pen and can only write one letter on each turn. The aim is to complete the letter sequence SOS. If a player is successful, they draw a line through the letters in their colour to indicate it is theirs. Letters can be used multiple times, for example the same “S” can be used for an SOS going across and down.

Increase the size of the grid to increase the length of the game.

SOS paper game

 

These games are a fantastic way to enjoy a bit of fun away from a screen.

Get in Touch for Team Building Activities

If you are looking for other fun activities that don’t involve computers, phones or tablets for your students, please get in touch to see what WiseUp Team Building can offer.

The Snowflake Generation

Richard Wise

The weather outside has us thinking of a term normally reserved for this time of year, but that is now increasingly being used to describe young people – “ Millennial Snowflake.” These youngsters are “viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations.” Some take this view further. One reporter for The Spectator believes that “They are genuinely distressed by ideas that run contrary to their world view.”

Is this really the case? Or, as mental health experts argue, are Millennials just better at admitting their feelings than previous generations? The University of Birmingham conducted research into stress, anxiety and depression. Large numbers of 16 – 24 year old’s felt they had experienced these in the last year. This was compared with adults over the age of 25 in the same time period.

It is a very divided debate. What is clear however, is that young people need more tools in their mental toolbox to help them succeed in today’s fast paced world.

How do team building activities increase these skills?

Multiple studies have shown the numerous benefits of taking part in team building challenges, with some of the most relevant including:

INCREASED MOTIVATION:

Participants learn to approach challenges with a more positive mindset, making them want to try harder. Learning to remain resilient when something might take longer than expected is crucial. Re-starting a task is a good opportunity to do better.

FLEXIBILITY:

Inspiring creativity and rewarding new ideas to solve challenges. As a result, young people learn that there is often more than one way of completing something. Exposing them to more opportunities that encourage this way of thinking will lead to new strengths. They are then better able to cope with change and new developments as a result.

 

IMPROVED COLLABORATION:

One common belief regarding Millennials is that they are less receptive to the ideas of others. Consequently, by working in teams across a number of tasks, participants learn to appreciate the value of other people’s input. This is especially evident if they are struggling to complete something on their own. Logical puzzles, physical endurance – everyone has their strengths.

How can WiseUp help?

By building on these benefits, we give young people more strategies to deal with stressful situations. This helps them avoid developing anxiety and depression. While improving communication skills, productivity and prioritisation, they are also making important life connections.

Investing in the younger generations now will also have the additional benefit of taking some of the strain off mental health services. A “millennial snowflake” has a lot to offer the world, and we can help them shine!

To find out what activities will best suit the needs of the young people you engage with, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

5 NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS IDEAS

Richard Wise

New Years Resolutions to nudge us out of our comfort zones

As the clock struck midnight and signalled the start of 2020, many of us will have been filled with good intentions of grand plans. And some with changes we want to make and goals to achieve in the year ahead. Some of these may now be feeling a bit daunting. Some of us were unable to come up with any at all! So here are a few ideas to encourage everyone to try something different, meet new people and get out of that comfort zone! Bring on the New Years resolutions!

1. Try a new fruit or vegetable

Have a browse at a supermarket or, even better, fresh produce market for something you have never eaten before. Ever heard of a kiwi berry? They are a real thing (and very yummy!) How about a mangosteen, rambutan or dragon fruit? Ethnic shops are awesome places to find products not normally seen on the shelves of your local Tesco, and the shopkeepers are very helpful with information about how to prepare and eat these delicious items. As New Years resolutions go, this is a tasty one!

2. Volunteer

Even if it is just for an hour a week, supporting a cause that is close to your heart not only gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside, but is also a great way to meet some fascinating people. Whether it’s with animals, children, vulnerable adults or war veterans, find something that you can dedicate your skills to for the good of others. Answering phones, preparing and serving food, cleaning cages, reading books, helping at fairs, supervising an activity or simply talking to people – the list is endless so use what you’ve got!

3. Wake up 5 minutes earlier to stretch

This one may sound a bit silly, but for a lot of us, our bed is the epitome of our comfort zone. We all lead busy lives and either leap out of bed when the alarm goes off, or try to squeeze in a few extra zzzzzzz’s by hitting the snooze button before we start out daily To Do list. Giving ourselves just a couple of minutes to stretch in the morning has been proven to lead to more productive days.

And it’s not just stretching our arms, back and legs that has benefits – try stretching your mouth as well. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal to the brain which stimulates our reward system and releases endorphins to make us happy. Basically, when we smile, whether it’s real or not, our brain feels happier – Fake it till you make it and see how much more positive each day becomes!

4. Swap Club

Try swapping something of yours with a friend while you try theirs. It might be a book swap, a different shade of nail varnish, a recipe or even a gadget swap. Trying someone else’s technique of doing something can lead to us learning all sorts of new things and experiencing events we would never normally have done. This New Years resolution can lead to new conversations as an added bonus!

5. Travel somewhere new

It doesn’t have to be somewhere far flung, exotic and expensive. It could be as simple as catching a bus or train that you’ve never got before, or giving yourself a set budget and seeing what flights or coaches are available on your chosen dates. If you’re feeling really adventurous, why not try booking on the day, or for the really brave, try a 24 hour challenge with friends where you see how far from home you can get and back again in 24 hours?

Get in touch

To see what new skills and experiences we can offer, please use our easy enquiry form drop us an e-mail or give us a call.

5 Free Festive Fun-Time Activities

Richard Wise

The holiday season is in full swing and at our WiseUp Base in Kent, we are totally feeling the festive vibes. Embracing the spirit of giving, here are 5 festive activities that are guaranteed to be enjoyed by family and friends. These can be played individually or in teams, and there are lots of different variations of each game.

1. Christmas Tree of Cups

Each person is given 15 or 21 cups which they must race to stack in the shape of a Christmas tree, before collapsing them down into a single stack. The first person to do so wins!

2. Snowman Wrap

The aim of the game is to create the best human snowman! Use old jumpers, hoodies, scarves and shirts to bulk out someone to a snowman shape. Then wrap them in toilet paper until they resemble a jolly white snowman! This can be done as a race or competition to see which team creates the best looking. A variation is to create a human Christmas tree using tinsel, baubles and tissue paper.

3. Christmas Cookie Face Off

Each person has a cookie or biscuit placed on their forehead and they have to get it into their mouths without using their hands. If the biscuit falls off, they have to start again with it on their forehead.

4. Gift Wrap Grab

Begin with a tightly wrapped gift box on a table with players standing around it. One player starts wearing a pair of large oven mitts and attempts to unwrap the present while the person to the left of them rolls a dice. If a 6 is rolled, then the roller gets the mitts and present and tries to unwrap it while the dice moves one person to the left. The person who managed to completely unwrap and open the present gets to keep it!

5. Baulbal Blow Out

Place 3 cups filled right to the top with water near the edge of a table and put a round plastic bauble floating on top of each. About 5cm directly in front of each cup, closer to the middle of the table, place another identical cup, also filled to the top with water. Players have to race to blow the bauble from each cup across the 5cm gap onto the water filled cup in front of it one at a time. Variations include increasing the number of cups, increasing the distance between cups or swapping players between baubles.

Keep the fun going even after returning to school

WiseUp have a whole host of enjoyable activities to keep everyone engaged and active, especially in the winter months after the festive season has ended. Please take a look around our website for more information on events such as our Hub Challenge and Time Attack days.

Loneliness in Young People

Richard Wise

With the holiday season beginning to descend upon us, “Joy to the World” and festive cheer tends to have most people smiling as they spend time with their nearest and dearest. From large family Thanksgivings and close family Hanukkahs to rowdy Christmas events and New Years parties, this is a time for people to be together. Sadly, not everyone is able to feel the merriment of the next couple of months. Who can forget the tearjerker of an advert from John Lewis back in 2015 entitled The Man on the Moon, which highlighted loneliness amongst the older generations. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, according to a number of recent studies on the topic, the people who feel most lonely are young adults.

The biggest ever “Loneliness” study in the UK of 55,000 people found that two in five 16-24 year old’s reported feeling lonely often or very often, a figure which showed that they experienced this feeling more than any other age group. With these tech savvy youngsters using all the social media platforms, they are more connected than ever before. But having thousands of Facebook friends does not necessarily translate to real life. The report, which was conducted by BBC 4’s All In The Mind in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust, in fact found that those who report feeling more lonely had more Facebook friends than those who do not. This also manifests in physical problems, with the effect of the ”Loneliness Epidemic” said to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

How can young people tackle the problem?

Simply being outside is a great place to start. A study at the University of Essex found that just 5 minutes a day outdoors was enough to improve people mood and self-esteem. When outside, and especially if the sun is shining, our bodies release endorphins and other “happy hormones” such as serotonin which makes us feel good. When people feel good about themselves, they are more likely to interact with others. Even a short walk to the local shop and a quick chat with the cashier can raise a person’s mental state significantly.

Exploring the world outdoors naturally brings people into contact with one another. Walking along a path or trail, generally folk will say “Hello” or “Good Morning.” Dog walkers are especially known for this! Repeated often, this can lead to more meaningful interactions as people start to recognise each other. If you don’t have a dog of your own, why not volunteer to be a walker at a local refuge or shelter?

Camping overnight is another great way to spend time outdoors with people. Even going on your own, campsites are very social places, with communal washing up areas and pitches near others. Lots of local groups organise campouts, so why not try to find one in your local area?

If the idea of approaching others is off-putting, there are ways of attracting people to come to you. Taking something as small as a couple of balls  to a local park to try and teach yourself to juggle, or make some simple sock poi, or a simple slackline between two trees will act as a magnet. People will be curious as to what you are doing and will come over and ask, maybe giving you a chance to demonstrate your skills or even to share some of their own with you.

Joining a sports team or special interest group is a great way to meet a lot of new people. With local Facebook groups and sites such as MeetUp, it is easier than ever to find people with whom you share common ground or try something completely new and have people to laugh with. Interacting via digital platforms before and after taking part can help lessen the initial anxiety about meeting, and continue to build the relationships as time goes on.

How can a WiseUp Team Building day help?

By taking part in one of our bushcraft or archery events, thousands of students have the opportunity to try something they haven’t done before. This has led to many of them pursuing these new interests by joining archery clubs and scout groups.

Our range of team building and problem solving challenges are designed to be completed in teams. By ensuring that young people have to combine their skills in order to finish a task, this causes a release of the bonding hormone, Oxytocin. Participants realise the value of working with others rather than trying to do everything on their own. This is even further emphasised with tasks which involve people physically supporting one another (maybe over or around something) as oxytocin is stimulated by touch. Meaning that the physically closer people are to one another, the mentally closer they are as well.

Contact Us

Give our lovely office team a call on 01732 822753 or drop us an e-mail to find out what we can offer your students to help them make new friends and strengthen existing bonds.