Sound and Action Pass

The Basics:

Players sit in a circle.  Each player creates a sound and action that will represent him or her throughout the game.  (For example, The first player might wave his arms from side to side and say "WOOOO", the next might put her hand against her forehead and say "bong" and so on)  The first round is for each player in the circle to create a sound and action, then the whole circle will imitate it to make sure they have it right.  

Once this happens and each player has a sound and action, the next step is to play catch with them!  Here is how this works: player one chooses to 'pass' the focus to another player by doing that player's sound and action.  This player then 'catches' the focus by doing the sound and action of the player who passed it to them, and then 'passes' it on to another player by doing her sound and action.  So each player who is "it" continues play by doing two things: (1.) performing the sound and action of the player who passed the focus to them, and (2.) performing the sound and action of someone else in the circle.  Play continues as the focus is passed back and forth across the circle.  

In The Classroom:

  • This game works best when it is high energy and silly! In this form it is used as a 'shared experience/getting to know you' game. It also allows each individual student to include something into the game. For many kids, the idea that they invented something, and that thing was imitated by the whole class and then became part of a game, is very powerful!

  • Encourage Speed! The faster the better!

  • Know that some kids will remember everyone's sound and action, while others will have a hard time. Make sure that is okay! Celebrate how our minds work differently! Some kids can remember others', but have a hard time creating one! Our minds work differently and that is why team work is so important!

  • Some kids are better than others at coming up with actions to fit their word. Encourage the group to seek out help or test out their ideas on their friends during that part of the game. Having a solid action that makes sense is more important that they do it alone.

  • Avoid sign language as much as possible. I stopped letting kids look up definitions on the computer because a few of them would just look up the American Sign Language word instead. It is much more fun and educational if students come up with their own interpretation of the word. Also, ASL words introduce the idea that we might be doing it wrong, and there should be an atmosphere during this game where there is no wrong way, as long as it makes sense. If a student can sign fluently, make that part of the sharing process after the game. Let him or her share how close some of the invented movements were to the ASL word, but ask that they not share during it.

Curriculum Connections:

Vocabulary:  Give each student a card with a different vocabulary word on it.  ( Maybe they are words from an upcoming reading assignment or a general review of "word wall" words...) Give students time to become experts for their one word--definition, pronunciation, how it is used in a sentence, etc.-- then have them create an action that represents the word.  Encourage kids to try out their actions, or check their pronunciations with other students nearby. Then sit them down in the circle and have them do the game with those words and actions!  In part one have each student present the word with the definition, and then share the action, and explain their thinking if needed.  Then have kids pass the words around.  Its a great way to increase the comfort level with new vocabulary.  Having the kids fold a piece of paper in half and write out their words in big bold letters, then placing the words at their feet like a tent so everyone can see them makes the game go faster, and has the kids get a look at the words as they play!  

In my 8th grade social studies class I do this for the Declaration of Independence.  Each kid gets a word from the document ("Necessary", "Self-Evident", "Rights", "Unalienable" etc.)  They come up with actions, make a placard, play the game, then I project the document on the wall and we do a "first read" of the first half of the document together while they are standing.  Each time we reach one of the words from the game they do the action.  It resembles a sort of dance, and it makes the document much less intimidating.  


I've been playing this game with kids for about twenty years.  I honestly don't remember where I first came across it, but the way I play it has morphed and changed so much over the years, I don't think that game bares much resemblance to this one...