Boppity Bop Bop Bop
In this game, one person stands in the middle of the circle. They can then turn to anyone in the circle and say either “Bop” or “Boppity Bop Bop Bop.” If they say Bop, you do nothing. If they say “Boppity Bop Bop Bop,” you must say “Bop” back to them before they can finish the phrase, otherwise you must take their place. If you say “Bop” back when they are only saying “Bop” to you, you must take their place. Once participants become proficient at this, other tasks can be added in i.e. Gingerbread House: now in addition to Boppity Bop Bop Bop, the leader has the option of saying “Gingerbread House” to you, in which case you must kneel down and say “Come in, Come in, Come in” and the people to your left and right must make a house around you using their arms before the leader can count to five. The person who fails to complete their task in time becomes the new leader. There are many other motions involving three people that can be added to make this game more complicated. Feel free to create movements related to the theme of the day or the final production.
Blowing a Bubble
In this game, the leader has everyone take out a piece of bubble gum, unwrap it, chew it up, and then together they blow a big bubble. The bubble can get bigger and bigger, and sometimes it will pop; other times you can seal it off and then step inside of the bubble and use your arms to make it even bigger. Again this is useful in working with imaginary objects.
This game helps teach imitation. In Chase, a leader starts by making a movement and an associated noise. The person to their left then imitates this, and it passed around the circle until it gets back to where it started. The originator performs their movement again, but then the person to their left must now pick their own movement and sound. This too is passed around until it returns to them, at which point the person to their left creates a new noise and movement. This pattern continues. Alternatively, the game is based on imitating exactly what the person before you does; thus if they giggle or otherwise slightly change the movement or sound, you imitate what they do and that passes around the circles, being incrementally changed as it moves on. In Evolution, the leader starts with their own movement and sound, and the next person can choose to imitate that one or create their own. This moves around the circle and stories start to emerge. *This is also a great technique for learning names at the beginning of getting to know the students. Have everyone pick a movement to accompany their name, which they demonstrate to the group. The group then imitates the movement and repeats the name out loud.
Flea Fly Flew
This game of imitation teaches kids to mimic the leader’s voice level and intonation, as well as work on projection. The following rhyme is called back to a leader across the room:
Flea Fly Flew
Cumalatta cumalatta, cumalatta, vista
Oh no no no no not a vista
Eenie meenie decimeenie oh wa a walameenie
Eenie meenie decimeenie oh wa oh wa
Beat bidile ote and dote and be bo be dit an dat and shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
This is a great game that gives the kids a chance to express themselves creatively both physically and vocally. A leader begins by making some sort of noise and motion repeatedly (such as pushing their hand forward and honking), and participants join in one at a time, interacting with those already in play to create a human machine that moves and makes sound. This game can be used to encourage members to leave their inhibitions behind and collaborate in a silly game. This game is also useful in learning to play with different height levels, collaborating with other members, and repeating a motion/sound over and over. For more advanced/older kids, the machine can be made to actually accomplish a task, such as making a pizza.
In this game, participants pair up and stand facing each other, and one is picked to lead a movement sequence. The other then tries to follow the leader’s movement, as if they were a mirror image of the leader. The pair then switches, giving them each a chance to fulfill both roles. For more advanced students, try slowing it down so that for an outside viewer it would be hard to distinguish who is leading who; alternatively try having neither be the leader and have them spontaneously lead each other at the same time.
This is a twist on the traditional game of passing a phrase around a circle and watching it change subtly as it moves from person to person. We generally start with a few rounds of traditional Telephone, and then switch into Movement Telephone. This works best in groups of about 4-6 people, so if possible break into smaller groups. Stand group members in a line with their eyes closed. The person at the back of the line chooses something to act out, be it brushing their teeth, playing a sport, or whatever else they can think of. They then tap the person in front of them on the shoulder, who turns around and watches as the leader acts this out for them. They then act it out for the next person, and thus pass it down the line. When it reaches the last person, they get to guess what the original act was. For more advanced kids, try acting out emotions or scenes from movies and books.
Pass the Ball
This game helps members learn to work with imaginary objects. The leader starts by passing an imaginary ball around the circle. As the ball moves from person to person, the leader calls out that the ball is getting larger or smaller or hotter or colder (or any other adjective, i.e. heavier, lighter), and participants handle it as such when passing it to the next person.
Rain is a great activity to bring the focus back after some of the more creative and active games. It has also become a tradition to do rain backstage immediately before the final performance. Everyone sits or stands together in a circle and together they create a rainstorm. A leader begins by snapping their fingers. The person to their left picks up this motion, and the movement continues around the circle, with participants joining in once the person to their right has picked up the movement. Once it makes its way around the circle, the leader is free to change to the next movement, rubbing their hands together. Again, this sound passes around the circle and the leader then changes to slapping their hands against their thighs. This then leads into either stomping feet or slapping hands against the ground, the height of the rainstorm. Once this motion has passed around the circle, the rainstorm starts to recede and the leader switches back to slapping their hands against their thighs, then rubbing their hands together, then snapping their fingers, and finally standing completely silently.
This game helps participants to practice diction. Start by breaking down longer tongue twisters into shorter phrases, and then try reciting the whole twister all together. Once mastery of the words is attained, try speeding up incrementally. Watch out for those meant to make the speaker curse.
- Unique New York (repeat shorter ones five times in a row)
- Red Leather, Yellow Leather
- Aluminum Linoleum
- The big black bug bit the big black bear,
And the big black bear bled black blood.
- The skunk sat on the stump,
The stump thought the skunk stunk,
The skunk thought the stump stunk,
Which stunk, the stump or the skunk?
- The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue.
- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
- How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck would chuck as much wood
As a woodchuck could chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.
- She sells seashells by the seashore.
What Are You Doing?
In this game someone begins by acting out a task. The person to their left then turns to them and asks, “What are you doing?” The person must then respond by saying, “I am …” doing some other task that they aren’t doing. The person to their left then starts acting out this new task, and the person to their left will ask them “What are you doing?” They again answer incorrectly, and the questioner now acts out their task. And so it continues around the circle.