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Play with Purpose Workshop!

January 26th, 2015

Love the idea of play with purpose, but want to know more?  Check out this wildly popular workshop:

Title: Great Group Games: Building Relationships and Teams

Description: Learn games to build solid relationships and create a safe space that invites youth to play and learn! Based on the best-selling book Great Group Games, each game connects to group development stages and back to the assets. Participants will learn how to “play with purpose” having fun AND implementing best practices at the same time.

Audience: advisory groups, clubs/teams, classrooms

Time:  2 hours

Schedule by contacting us at 615-262-9676 or

Connect Well with Youth

January 19th, 2015

You’ve seen adults that know how to really connect with young people – engaging their hearts and minds in such a natural, yet powerful way.  But many well-intentioned youth professionals and educators struggle (if they are honest) with connecting with you on a transparent, authentic and rich level.  We have a workshop to help adults build this skill set:

Title: Connect with Them

Description: To create an environment of trust and support where youth can thrive, you have to take time to connect with them. This workshop will give you practical ideas to welcome youth, check in, learn names and develop common ground – all critical pieces for helping youth learn and thrive. The two hours is packed with activities and strategies to enhance your connection with youth.

Time: 2 hours

Schedule:  615-262-9676 or


How Culturally Savvy are You about Your Group?

January 7th, 2015

This quiz is excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Ragsdale and Saylor.  Take it yourself to see how up you are on your young people’s heritage and youth culture.


How well do you . . . know them?

Do you know what name they want to go by—their given name or a nickname?

Do you know how to pronounce it correctly?

Do you know their skills and interests?

Do you know whether they have food allergies? Are any sick with a critical illness? Are any on medications?

Do you know whether they have experienced a personal trauma?

Do you know whether they have a learning difference?

Do you know their MI bent?


How well do you . . . know their world?

Do you know what their primary, first language is?

Do you know the current trends in youth dress?

Do you know the cultural requirements of their dress (dresses, covering faces . . .)?

Do you know their rituals and traditions?

What’s the popular manner for greeting each other? Knuckle bump? Something else?

Do you know their music? What are the top five songs/bands/groups your group is listening to?

Do you know the social media venues they use to keep up with each other?

Do you keep up with the books, movies, and art interests that appeal to your age group?


How well do you . . . know their family life?

Have you met their parents?

Do you know what the family rules are—the ones that might impact rules you set in your program or classroom?

Have you asked about their family traditions?

Do you know whether the family is going through something serious such as a divorce, loss of a loved one, or other major trauma?


How well do you . . . know their spiritual and cultural practices?

Do you know whether they must pray at a certain time each day?

Do you know whether they must avoid certain foods?

Do you know whether they are allowed to touch (shake hands, do a high five) a member of the opposite sex?

Do you know how they approach holidays? (What holidays do they celebrate? Are any holidays taboo?)

Do they have meaningful holidays that you should know about?


Young people are so amazingly diverse and it takes time to get to know them and their cultures.  Want to find simple strategies for discovering and embracing their diversity? Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Workshop Highlight: Understanding How Youth are Wired

December 6th, 2014

We’ve been doing a lot of research to understand more about how youth are wired – spending time with youth, studying personalities and researching brain development.  We’re fascinated by what we’ve learned and we’re having a blast sharing the info and practical strategies with schools and youth organizations.  Check out this workshop that we’ve designed:

Understanding How Youth are Wired

Each child is wired with unique personality, interests, skills, attitudes and capacities. Each one has individual needs, desires, dreams and wants. There ARE, however, important, general aspects and facts that can help us better understand their psyches and developmental needs. This workshop shares some key insights on the “science” and “wisdom” of human development that will help you in establishing helpful practices and attitudes to maximize your time with your group. Explore brain development, the multiple intelligences, active reflection, and the various learning styles that allow young people to learn well.  Strategies to maximize learning opportunities while actively engaging youth are presented.

Length of time: 3 – 4 hours

Contact us if you want to bring this workshop to your organization – 615-262-9676 or

Relationships – the Cornerstone of Education and Youth Work

November 19th, 2014

Connecting with youth is phenomenal progress, but it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positive youth development. In this chapter, we’re going to go beyond connecting with youth and cover what it means to really know youth. What it means to be in a relationship with your youth. The time you spend getting to know your youth as individuals—their personalities, quirks, cultures, strengths, and needs—is the most important time you will ever spend in your program.

Think about it: What will your youth remember most about you? Will it be the clothes you wore or how you combed your hair? In all likelihood, youth will remember the kind of relationship you had with them. More than math equations learned, knots tied, and zip-lines crossed, they will remember whether you cared about them. The best way to show you care about people is to get to know them.

Relationships are the cornerstone of your program or classroom. Relationships are built on a culmination of experiences, words, actions, body language, and time.  Never underestimate the power and influence you have on youth.

Looking for practical ideas for connecting with youth in your classroom or program? Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

The Importance of One-on-One Time with Youth

November 12th, 2014

“The larger our society gets, the more vague and less personal . . . I find it more and more appealing to kids to attain one-on-one time with the leaders and/or adults. Only then will you find out any issues that they may be struggling with and/or be able to successfully grow a healthy relationship with them after spending this quality time together. The activity does not necessarily have to be specific here, but the efforts must be intentional.”   Valorie Buck, youth worker and mother

We believe Valorie is spot on!  That’s why we spend so much time talking about CONNECTING with youth in our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Wise Words on Flexibility in Education and Youth Work

November 5th, 2014

“You have to be aware of where your group is and be ready and willing to throw the plans and curriculum out the window when there are issues to be dealt with today. Forging ahead with your plans without acknowledging their issues simply shows that you are unaware, or worse, don’t really care. Adapting plans and being present builds trust and commitment for tomorrow when it is time to get back to work. Being present and being flexible are crucial.”

– Anderson Williams, entrepreneur, artist, and educational consultant

13 Ways to Enhance Your Brain

October 15th, 2014

Scientists have been doing such much work with the brain.  In our latest book,  Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, we combined the best of the best in research with our experience in classrooms, teams and youth organizations to create 13 ways to enhance the brain.

1. Get Moving

2. Include Novelty and Exploration

3. Challenge the Brain

4. Talk to One Another

5. Smile, Laugh, and Develop a Sense of Humor

6.  Incorporate Music

7.  Take Time for Meditation

8.  Make Time for Feedback and Reflection

9.  Reduce Stress

10. Drink Water and Lots of it!

11. Practice Focusing and Keeping Attention

12. Feed Short- and Long-Term Memory

13. Yawn and Yawn Often

In the book, we explain more about the science behind each brain enhancer and give you concrete strategies to integrate into your program/classroom/club to enhance youth brains.  Check it out!

Core Beliefs about the Rights of Young People

October 1st, 2014
  • Every young person, despite deficits or challenges, has strengths, resources, and gifts, even if obscured. They have the right to discover those strengths and who they are.
  • Youth are capable and competent. They have the responsibility and the right to give of themselves to others and to make a difference.
  • Youth need the transformational power of hope. When youth believe there is hope for a better future, they are able to envision, face, and strive for that future. They have the right to dream big, aspire to greatness, and have meaningful opportunities.
  • Youth need safe places to grow and explore. They have the right to be safe.
  • Every youth needs caring adults to surround them with support and opportunities to encourage their growth. They have the right to have adults who believe in them and tell them so. Repeatedly.

Adults who are able to say yes to these core beliefs exercise a final, unswerving commitment.  They never abandon a faith in the inner power, giftedness, and greatness of young people. They look for even the minutest indicator of greatness as confirmation. They listen to the dreams of youth, encourage them, expect greatness, believe in them, vocalize that belief, and continuously call forth the strengths youth have within themselves. They actively work to help youth realize their potential, recognize it, and live fully from it.

Wanna learn more about supporting young people?  Check out our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!


Three Dynamite Ways to Power Up Your Work with Youth – Webinar Invitation

September 16th, 2014
Join us for a Webinar on September 24
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Are you curious about what it means to truly share power with young people? Then join us for a free webinar presented by youth development experts Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor. This webinar will feature highlights from these bestselling authors’ new book, “Groups, Troops, Clubs, & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.” This webinar will discuss
• understanding what a strength-based approach means  • activating young people’s sense of power and putting their strengths into action • sustaining your own sense of power through self-care
Webinar participants will discover motivational activities that young people love and practices that can transform a program or classroom.
Title: Three Dynamite Ways to Power Up Your Work with Youth
Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements         PC-based attendees         Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees         Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees         Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Sneak Peek into our New Book: Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth”

September 8th, 2014

We are so excited about our new book which should come in the mail any day!!  It’s called “Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth“.

This inspiring guide is for teachers, volunteers, group leaders, youth counselors, coaches, and anyone who works with young people. Readers will learn about how young people are wired, how to create inviting classrooms and meeting spaces, and how to connect with students in meaningful, lasting ways. Find dozens of strategies to help young people discover their inner strengths and passions. Dozens of games, activities, icebreakers, and quizzes will keep you and your young people engaged and motivated.

We thought you might like a sneak peek into the content, so here are the section titles and chapter titles.  More to come…

Part One: Youth, Strength, and Power

Chapter One: A Strength-Based Approach to Positive Youth Development

Chapter Two: Putting Positive Youth Development to Work

Chapter Three: Understanding How Young People Are Wired

Chapter Four: How Young People Think and See the World


Part Two: Activating Power

Chapter Five: Preparation: The Work before the Work

Chapter Six: Connect with Them

Chapter Seven: Know Them

Chapter Eight: Engage Them

Chapter Nine: Stretch Them

Chapter Ten: Challenge Them

Chapter Eleven: Power Up


Part Three:  Sustaining Power

Chapter Twelve: The Practice of Self-Mastery

Chapter Thirteen: The Practice of Gratitude

Chapter Fourteen: The Practice of Recharging

Financial Literacy: Let’s Hear It For The Girls

August 28th, 2014

According to singer Beyonce’s hit song, girls run the world. If that’s the case, they are going to need a strong grasp of finances in order to remain in charge. Fortunately, a number of options exist to help girls learn financial literacy.

Click here to read the whole article.

Kelso’s Choice Wheel – Solving Conflicts

August 26th, 2014

According to the Kelso website, “Kelso the frog teaches students how to solve “small” problems on their own. “Small” problems include conflicts that cause “small” feelings of annoyance, embarrassment, boredom, etc. “BIG problems” always need to be taken to an adult. These are situations that are scary, dangerous, illegal, etc.”  Here’s a picture of the wheel, but check out the site to learn more.


Resource for Substitute Teachers

August 9th, 2014

One of our educator friends emailed us this note about our best-selling books Great Group Games.   It made us smile, and we thought it might give you an idea to encourage youthworkers and educators in your life:

“I led the Human Treasure Hunt with a 2nd grade class last week and they had a blast!!  Susan and Ann – you girls have made my substituting days SOooo much easier and so much fun!”

Find out more about the book here or at your favorite online reseller.

Inspire My Kids

August 6th, 2014

“Kids can change the world. All they need is a little inspiration!”  That’s the tagline for InspireMyKids.  They provide ideas and resources to inspire parents and educators to inspire children.  The site is full of easy to navigate stories, quotes and other cool stuff.

You can sort by values:

Or topics:

And you can even sort by subject or age.  So cool!  Check it out and see how you can inspire kids around you at: