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July 2014 
Vol. 44 No. 6 
As we are preparing for the new school year, this edition of Cooperatively Speaking includes:  Some great icebreakers for your parent meeting and information about the insurance that we offer all PCPI member coops.  Read on as you sip your iced tea by the pool....
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 This is Cooperatively Speaking's
 Fun Team Building Activities for Member Orientation and Board Training
As we approach the threshold of another new school year, no doubt meetings with parents, staff, and students are bound to be a part of your immediate future.  We asked trainers, directors and teachers for some of their favorite ice breakers and team builders.  These activities will help get your parents and staff chatting and working together to solve problems while getting acquainted in the process.


  • Human Scavenger Hunt From parent information survey, write a list of 20 interesting things that parents do, and put them on a sheet of paper with a blank line next to it.  Give each parent a copy and ask them to go around the room and find one person in the room that can do each thing on the sheet. Give them 10 minutes to complete.  Raise hands for people who filled all, 20, 15 or 10 questions.  Highlight some interesting ones to let families know about each other.  Samples of questions: Has a set of twins, Is an alumni family as well as a current family, Has a pet iguana, Speaks Dutch in their home, Is a writer for the Washington Post, Has been a firefighter, Can sing the ABCs backwards, Knows at least 3 ways to cook kale.
  • Stand If  (this is a great one for coop trainings) Stand if...

...You grew up in Washington, D.C.

...You have a daughter

...This is your first year at the school

...you belong to another coop

...you know where the toilet paper is kept at school

...you have ever changed a diaper while the child is standing up

...you have ever built a catapult from recycled materials


From Marcy Mistrett, trainer and former director of Amazing Life Games Preschool in Washington, D.C.


Two Truths and a Lie  Each person writes down two little known facts about their lives, funny, mundane, obscure, whatever.  Then write down one untrue fact and when you turn to share them with someone next to you, they try to figure out the untruth.

I Remember When...Keeping the group in mind, choose a year and share things that prove you were born before that date. If the date is 1980, for instance, you might remember when you didn't have to wear a seatbelt, what a rotary phone looks like, what an LP is, or riding a bike helmet free.

From Jen Hinrichs, a meeting facilitator in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.


  • Life Map  Supplies Needed: poster board or easel/flipchart pad sheet (one for each participant), crayons, colored markers and masking tape.

Take top half of a poster board and ask people to draw a map of their life up to this point in time.  Use pictures and symbols. On the bottom half, divide into 2 parts, left side-list skills you can teach someone else; right side-list expectations for your program. Each person then interprets their map for the whole group.

  • They're Only Jellybeans  Using a large selection of jellybeans, ask each person to take the one that is their favorite color, not necessarily the flavor they prefer. Ask them not to eat the jellybean. Begin the activity by eliciting from the group how the jellybean color they have chosen tells us something about them as people. This activity is geared toward stressing the issue of diversity NOT true personality traits.

White or Black

This person is highly structured and organized

Surroundings are neat

If given an assignment, wants to know how many pages, exact requirements

Always wants to know the rules

Memorizes well

Can't stand sloppy, unorganized people

Deliberates before making decisions


Not usually outspoken

Always in a state of transition

Usually smart and innovative, often artistic

Sometimes confused in making decisions, not sure where they're supposed to be

Hard workers

Exciting to be with and will try anything as long as it's safe

Spiritual aspects usually important to them

They look at things with perspective and respect other's opinions


Cheerful and good natured

Have the ability to get along with almost anyone

They are friendly and have a ready smile

Usually have a quick wit

Fluent, often eloquent and profound in speech

Do not like to be alone

Enjoy life and inspire others to reach their highest potential

Red and Pink:

Are courageous and their energy seems boundless

Smile much of the time

If they see someone not smiling, will ask what the problem is

Genuinely care about people and become involved in other's problems

Highly influenced by others, share their sadness or grief

Make their decisions with feelings, act on impulses of the heart

Spend a great deal of time on the phone, usually listening to others

Sensitive, enthusiastic friends and lovers

Violet and Dark Blue:

Flirty and passionate

Highly creative and highly excitable

Have new ideas and are visionaries

Short attention spans...can't stay put for a long length of time

Set high standards for themselves and those who work for them

Disorganized, often choosing to close doors rather than deal with the organization

Procrastinators who thrive on chaos, enjoy the challenges of different problems

Have a problem dealing with highly structured time

Questioning...when given an assignment, asks why it must be done a certain way, want to do it differently

Green (ask these people to stand while traits are read) 

We always ask green to stand because they love recognition

These people are leaders, usually in highly visible positions

They are respecters of authority and tradition

They are decisive, directed, and focused

They love the black and white jellybeans people to organize their projects for them

Reiterate points made at the beginning. If appropriate, emphasize the following:

No one is just one color, but one color is predominate.

All of us have some of the traits associated with each color.

This is important to consider while dealing with others.


From Beth Englehardt of Ohio who also recommends the book Early Childhood Workshops that Work: The Essential Guide to Successful Training and Workshops by Nancy Alexander.


Toilet Paper Teaser  When people enter the room, they are greeted by someone holding a roll of toilet paper. They are invited to take as much as they need. If they ask what it is for, only repeat to take what they need. Once the session begins, ask them to find someone they don't know.  Once they have done that, they are instructed to tell this stranger something about themselves for each square they have taken.  Each time they tell something, they tear off a square and hand it over.

From Brenda Gavloski, a Reggio inspired educator 


 Play Talk  I love it when parents and educators are encouraged to write about their favorite play experiences as children. These are then displayed so the adults can bond over the play they enjoyed as children and also used to promote the value of a play based curriculum. 

 From Tobie Dos   


Speed Networking Either give everyone a prompt or just allow them to pick a partner and tell about themselves and ask about their partner in a short time frame.  Ring a bell and ask them to choose a new partner and repeat.


Anonymous Musings  Everyone writes down the thing they most love about the school community and then crumple up their paper and toss it across the room like a snowball.  Someone else picks it up and shares what was written with the group.


From Janice Simsohn Shaw, alum of Silver Spring Nursery School, and a meeting organizer in the DC area.


We wish you well on your new school year and hope these ideas will bring a fresh approach to your orentations, trainings and staff meetings.

One of the member services of Parent Cooperative Preschools International is a group student accident insurance policy.

Our 2014-15 policy will be with the US Fire Insurance Co. through Slater and Associates agency.  Coverage is Primary Coverage - this insurance will pay before the student's personal health insurance - with a $100 deductible.  The maximum coverage is $25,000 

The cost of the new policy is $3.70 per child.

One additional benefit available is to cover the Parent Helpers in addition to the students.  The school would need to pay for each person who parent helps regularly.  Coverage of Parent Helpers is completely optional.

Student Accident Insurance is an important component of a preschool's insurance coverage.  When a student is injured, emotions run high.  With primary coverage the medical bills are paid without needing to determine fault.  The family can attend to their child's needs knowing their expenses will be paid.

If you are not already on the PCPI Group Accident Insurance Policy, or have other insurance needs, please contact Slater and Associates at sean@slaterinsurance.com or lisa@slaterinsurance.com 

For those schools already participating in the group coverage, invoices will be sent out in August.


Stay Connected...Stay Tuned for August Newsletter:  How To Plan For The Start of School
To submit an article on this topic, please email pcpinewsletter@gmail.com
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