Putting Your Class in the Right Place

Warm Ups and Introductions
These are the first games played in each workshop or class period. Some people would call them warm-ups, but they're designed to do much more than that.

Ideally these games serve to single-handedly unite the various energies that people bring into the room into one that is concentrated, and appropriate to the rest of the day's activities- whether it's more games or a discussion of the rise of fascism in Germany. See Can You Get Me Out of Here?


A great energizing game that heightens group function and also helps individuals enjoy the limelight is ZIP-ZAP-ZOP. The players stand in a circle. One player makes a zapper by placing his palms and extended fingers against each other. He points his zapper at another player, at the same time saying "Zip!" The receiving player points to another player, saying "Zap!" The third player then passes "Zop!" to a fourth player. Player number four then passes "Zip!" etc.

A player is out if he hesitates, says the wrong word, or speaks without pointing. Play continues until there's a champ. Don't let them "play safe"; keep them going a little faster than is comfortable.


This game is played exactly like Zip Zap Zop with the variation being that each word carries its own particular gesture. The gesture is used to pass the impulse around the circle.

For advanced playing, get the group to switch back and forth between "Zip" and "Donkey." Keep finding ways to increase the difficulty. Always play for high stakes.


Place a mark on the floor at one end of a cleared space. (A masking tape "x" works well.) At the other end of the room have the group form a line behind another tape mark. One at a time, the players take a "mental picture" of the opposite mark.

They then close their eyes and briskly walk up to where they think the mark is. When a player thinks that he is standing directly over it, he plunks his hand down on the spot and opens his eyes. Then he takes another "mental picture" of the distance between his hand and the real mark. He goes to the back of the line and waits for his second chance to repeat the procedure.

Each member of the group goes twice. The players are told not to count their steps or in any way calculate the distance. If they trust that their intuition will assist them, they will have made the adjustment already and will automatically get closer the second time.

All they need to focus on is "taking good pictures."


The entire group forms a circle. Any player may begin by saying the word "Zoom" and looking directly at another player. That player must pick up the pass in one of three ways:

If someone misses or does the wrong thing, which will probably happen often in this game, anyone and everyone in the circle may "Schnitzel" him by putting their fists on their shoulders and pointing their elbow at the culprit as they say "Schnitzel." He is then eliminated.

If no one "Schnitzels" the culprit before play continues, he is allowed to stay in the game.

The game will inevitably get to the point where 2 people are "Pafigliano"-ing each other (or dropping heads). The game ends when one of the two is "Pafigliano"-ed out.


Player 1 says his name and a one sentence personal fact (favorite food, earliest memory, address, etc.) Player 2 repeats the first player's name and sentence and adds his own name and sentence. The third player repeats the first two names and sentences and adds his own, etc.

Each player takes, in exact order, all that has gone before and adds his own name and sentence until the game goes around the entire circle. Players then change places within the circle and one volunteer attempts to give the names and sentences for everyone in this new order.


Divide the group into 2 equal teams. Each player on each team is numbered. The leader stands at one end of the room (at an equal distance from both teams), with a prepared list of objects*. One player from each team runs to the leader and receives the first object on the list and runs back to his team mates. He begins to draw the object as quickly and as specifically as possible.

*Emotions may be substituted for objects in a variation on the game. The Emotion Variation teaches the ability to go from the concrete into the abstract.

When the object is communicated so that the team guesses it exactly, the next player is sent to receive the next word. As each new person approaches the leader he calls off his number and and the leader whispers the word on the list that corresponds with his number. The race continues until one team has guessed the entire list.

Side Coaching Hints
Don't worry about drawing well! Communicate through your drawing! Keep drawing!


(Deaf Pointing)

This game originated in work with the National Theater of the Deaf.

The entire group stands in a circle. Any player begins by pointing to any other player in the group. The player pointed to must acknowledge the point by nodding. The first player may then walk across the circle toward the second player.

Before the first player reaches the spot, the second player must vacate the spot by pointing to a third player and receiving a nod. This structure of POINT-NOD-WALK is observed strictly for as long as possible. The round ends when the format breaks down (player walks before getting a nod) or 2 players collide into each other, or 2 players occupy the same space.

After pointing, a player may receive a nod (affirmative) or a shake (negative) from another player. If he receives a shake he must immediately find someone else until he gets the nod.

This heightens the risk factor of the game. But remember: the entire group should be working together to keep the game going for as long as possible.

Side Coaching Hints
Point, nod, walk! Point, nod, walk! Don't leave your spot until you have somewhere else to go!


1. Even if you're planning quiet activities for the day, a high energy warm-up may be useful to release unfocused energy letting everybody get down to business.
2. Don't be afraid of initial chaos. People have to go through this "scribble stage."
3. All introductory activities serve a purpose. They're not always interchangeable. The trick is finding out exactly what each one does and how to best serve your particular purpose.
4. You can stay with a game as long as it's working. Don't be afraid to play it over and over if people still enjoy it.

The Game Guide: [ Index ]
[ Preface | History | Summary | If You're New | Overview of Strategy ]
[ Trouble Shooting | Game Structure | Additional Reading | Evaluating the game work ]