Tip #233: Debunking Myths About the Cost of Experiential Activities

Let’s first define what we mean. Interactive learning strategies engage learners by allowing them to actively participate and verbally respond within the learning environment. Group discussion, case studies, questionnaires, and crossword puzzles easily fall within this category, which is characterized by mental stimulation and verbal expression.


Experiential training methods engage learners physically, mentally and emotionally in a multisensory experience. Simulation, visualization, dramatization, role plays and physical movement easily fall within this category, which is characterized by emotional stimulation and physical expression.

There certainly are lots of lovely games and activities that can be purchased, sometimes at a high cost. However, let’s consider the variety of experiential and interactive training activities that are based on a simple piece of paper:

Flip chart: Large group brainstorming answers to a question or problem situation; gallery walk; relay race; process map; competitive group lists; etc.

8 1/2 x 11″paper: Worksheets; questionnaires; fill in the blanks; case study problem situations with questions; role play scenarios with roles and procedures to follow; crossword puzzles and word search puzzles [using free web resources]; mind mapping; scavenger hunts; mark ups; bingo ice breaker; art projects; picture and description of self as an animal, a vehicle or a food group; etc.

3 x 5 ” index card: role play information; individual or group brainstorming; self-directed group quiz; ice breaker to guess the name of a famous person taped on your back; etc.

The following activities do not even cost a thing: pop ups; shout outs; verbal relay; Jeopardy on PowerPoint (from free web resources); pair shares; paired groups; visualization; small groups; walk abouts; large group discussion; question and answer sessions; stump the trainer; triads; skits; etc.

Thiagi is a master of activities based on a deck of cards- see . Dave Meier facilitated an entire training in a vacant room with just duct tape! .

There are innumerable low-cost activities that involve the mental and/or emotional stimulation of learners and give them an opportunity for verbal and/or physical expression. The key point about experiential and interactive training activities is that it doesn’t really matter WHAT you use, it’s HOW you use it!!!

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