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Facilitator’s Manual

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Consider each of these areas as you prepare and set up the logistics for your Building Blocks workshop.


This is a full-day workshop. If you’ll be providing a continental breakfast, start at 8 a.m. to allow time to meet and eat; otherwise, start at 8:30. These times can be adapted to a later start and ending, but there is a lot of information, and participants need time to interact with the materials and with each other.

Here’s a sample timeframe:


Continental Breakfast and Registration


Introductions and Icebreaker


Concept and Breakout: Risk and protective factors through case studies




Concept and Breakout: Building Blocks materials




Concept and Breakout: Building Blocks materials, cont’d


Concept and Breakout: Action plans




Concept and Breakout: Action plans, cont’d


Q & A


Evaluations and Goodbye


The ideal setup is 4 to 5 round tables with comfortable chairs for about 30 participants. Round tables make it easier for participants to work together and to angle chairs to face the facilitators, the screen, and the board.

It’s most important, however, to have tables of a proper shape and size so that participants can lay out their materials and work in small groups. Allow room between tables for ease of movement and easy access to and from the front of the room.


  • Screen, computer, and LCD projector or overhead projector
  • CD player and speaker (or you can use the computer and its speakers)
  • Chalkboard and chalk, a wipeboard with erasable pens, or chart paper and an easel with markers


  • Name tags or table cards and markers
  • PowerPoint presentation or overheads made from the slides
  • Building Blocks for a Healthy Future materials—enough for every participant and facilitator
  • Participant booklets (PDF)
  • Large springs—one that is very resilient and one that can be bent out of shape.
  • Arts and crafts materials depend on the activities selected, but should include:
    • Markers, crayons, and construction paper or poster board of different colors and sizes.
    • Scissors and glue or tape.
    • Buttons, pom-poms, felt, foam or fabric scraps, needle and thread, old socks, paper plates, or craft sticks

We’ve talked about the space and the stuff, but what about the people?


There should be 25 to 30 participants. Participants can be parents, caregivers, teachers, and administrators who deal with children ages 3 to 6. If participants are from different areas or facilities, it’s best to have them come in teams of two or three so that they can share the responsibility for disseminating Building Blocks and helping others learn to use it.

Remember, participants will come from many cultural backgrounds and have different abilities, interests, and educational experience. Be aware of:

  • Cultural values and traditions
  • Family composition
  • Geographic location


If there are 25–30 participants, 2–3 facilitators is ideal. In this way, there will be facilitators for small groups in breakout sessions and the whole group can be divided according to participant category—parent/caregiver, teacher/administrator.

Facilitation Techniques and Tips

  • Welcome each participant as he or she comes in. Introduce yourself and be sure participants get materials and name tags. Create a warm, friendly, and positive atmosphere.

    Tip: Enthusiasm is contagious.

  • Set the rules according to your facility. Talk about smoking, cell phone usage, etc. If participants are not familiar with the facility, be sure that everyone knows where restrooms, phones, and emergency exits are located.

  • Keep track of time. There is a lot of information and activities to get to, so it’s important to stay close to schedule.

    Tip: A kitchen timer can be great way to keep on track when you have a fixed amount of time for a given task.

  • Be organized, but be flexible. If discussion or activities are not going the way you planned, but are still on track to reach your goal, let them progress.

  • Brainstorming is a great way to stimulate new ideas and help people feel comfortable breaking away from the norm. Give everyone a chance to participate. Accept all answers and guide participants to discover and share their own ideas and build on the ideas of others. Always use the brainstormed ideas in some way—as a summation, as ideas for further exploration or as a compare-and-contrast list.

    Tip: If you record ideas on “Post-It” notes, you can stick the pages along the wall so that ideas are visible throughout the workshop.

  • Role-playing helps people understand how others may feel or think in a given situation. It’s a safe way to try out new ideas or responses.

    Tip: Be sensitive to cultural issues during role–play, and be sure to allow time for followup discussion.

  • Small or large group discussion gives everyone the chance to share opinions, feelings, and ideas. The facilitator’s role is to focus and record the discussion, summarize key issues to generate more ideas, point out similarities and differences in opinion to stimulate further clarification, and encourage everyone to participate.

    Tip: Be careful not to impose your own opinions. Remember, a good discussion does not look like a ping-pong game with the ball bouncing back and forth from the facilitator to the participants. The discussion should be more like a volleyball game, where multiple participants are involved on all sides and the facilitator simply facilitates.

  • Q & A is a great way to wrap up the workshop.

Please note—to view documents in PDF format, you must have Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader software. If you do not already have this software installed on your computer, please download it from Adobe's website.

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Updated on 3/22/2014