This exercise starts as simple word association, then transforms into a rhythm game. We use the rhythm to help us get out of our heads and not overthink, as well stir up some energy and fun.

Players are sitting in a circle.

We are going to warm up by practicing word association – saying the first word that comes to mind when you hear the previous word. I say the first word, the person to my left says what they thought of when they heard that word, the person next to them says what they thought of when they heard the second word and so on.

This is not a psychiatric exercise. We are not judging or evaluating what you say. We are practicing being in the moment and saying the first thing that comes to mind – even if it doesn’t make sense. There are no bad ideas and no wrong answers.

After a few rounds we check in. Are we truly saying the first thing that comes to mind? Do you believe me that there are no wrong answers? If so, please say your word with confidence. There’s no need to apologize for your answer because your answer is great! As we do a couple more practice rounds please remember that what you say is a “gift” to the next person. They need your word for their inspiration, so please turn and say it to them with confidence.

After a few more rounds of word association we are ready for Da-do Da-do.

I now invite participants to stand and start some rhythm – snap, pat or dance. Then I start with the last word that was said. I add a new word. We all say both words together, and then celebrate by saying “Da-do, da-do” The game goes like this:

(old word) (new word)

Everyone: (both words) Da-do, da-do

Sample of play:

Angela: Purple (beat) Rain (beat)
Everyone: Purple Rain Da-do, da-do
Rick: Rain (beat) Coat (beat)
Everyone: Rain Coat da-do, da-do
Lee: Coat (beat) Corner (beat)
Everyone: Coat corner da-do, da-do.

We may connect words that make sense like raincoat, or we may make up new compound words like Coat corner. Either way we celebrate with “Da-do, da-do!”

As the game gets faster participants end up having to quickly spit out the first word that came to mind. Having the extra pressure of the rhythm forces us not to overthink!