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If you ask my students about me, they’ll all say that I love Jenga. I kind of think it’s hilarious that they spread little rumors about how much I love playing Jenga. I have random kids come up to me in the hallway asking if they can come play Jenga with me! As you can guess, I don’t actually LOVE Jenga. I play a lot of Therapy Jenga though and it’s become my favorite “get to know you” activity.
Goals of Therapy Jenga
I have two goals when I play Therapy Jenga:
- I want to get to know the student, see if they talk about any sensitive topics or if I notice any red flags.
- I want them to feel more comfortable talking to me.
The entire time I play Therapy Jenga, I’m focused on my two goals. I’m listening to how they describe people in their lives, I’m making connections, and I’m learning about them. I’m also very purposeful in the answers I provide. For example, if the question asks about my summer, I may alter my answer based on the student. If I know the student’s family struggles financially, then I’m not going to tell them about my amazing summer travels. Instead, I’ll tell them that I hung with my friends and I cuddled my dog a lot. Both answers are true (I don’t lie to kids) but I’m careful in how I respond. I want them to think “oh cool I did that too.” By the end of Therapy Jenga I’ve typically established positive rapport with the student and we’re ready to move on to the “working phase” of counseling.
How do you make Therapy Jenga?
Obviously you’ll need to invest in a Jenga game with blank blocks to start off. I’ve made Therapy Jenga with the cheap Jenga blocks from Walmart but the cubes aren’t always symmetrical (just FYI).
I’ve pre-made some questions for you to download here, which you can edit as you see fit. Print the questions, cut them out, and then mod-podge them onto each block. Let the blocks dry overnight and then you’re ready to go!
How long does it take to play?
One of the great things about Therapy Jenga is that I can make the activity last as long as I want it too. We can play a 2nd round if we want to keep talking or I can even grab a “bad” block to end the game.
What’s a good age range for Therapy Jenga?
I would say as long as the students can read the prompts, then they’re old enough to play Therapy Jenga. It’s really a fun game for all ages! I’ve even played it with adults and they enjoyed it as well. You might want to adjust some of the questions depending on the age level you’re working with.
Can you use Therapy Jenga in group work?
Yes!! I’ve played Therapy Jenga a few different ways in my groups. One way I’ve done it is to have everyone answer the question that’s pulled. Another way I’ve done it is to have each person just answer their question. And the last way I’ve done this activity in group work is when I’m doing stations and I want certain individuals to bond a little more. I set up different stations for activities and then partner up the students at each station (so like in grief group I might pair up 2 kids who both lost their mom at the Therapy Jenga station).
Should you let the kids win?
No way! Personally I’m too competitive for that…hahaha. Middle and high school students aren’t stupid, they’ll know if you let them win. Besides I’ve never had a kid get upset if they lost. It’s really not about who won the game because the students are having fun talking about their interests.
I hope you love this activity as much as I do! It’s such a great tool to use as you’re getting to know your students!