An awesome no prep and no supplies game! The explanation may seem abstract but the game is actually pretty simple. The best way to teach it is to do a sample round. Since I can’t do that here, I’m going to do my best to explain it with words. This game is, without a doubt, one of the biggest “go to” games we play in our group because it’s super fun and doesn’t require any prep.
Number of People: 8+
Age: 7th Grade and Up
Time: 20-30 Minutes
Set-up: Have everyone sit in a circle with empty space in the center.
- Everyone gets a seat in the circle.
- Everyone selects a “sign” which is a hand motion. Everyone’s sign remains the same throughout the game. Go around the circle and have everyone share with the group what their sign is. Signs should be unique enough that no one’s sign could be mistaken for someone else’s sign.
- Everyone should start by trying to remember at least a few of the signs and who they belong to. They will pick up the rest as they start playing.
- One person is selected as “it” and stands in the center.
- They stand in the middle and close their eyes while someone else in the circle is selected to start by “sending” the sign to someone else (explained below).
- “Sending the sign” is a bit abstract but is best explained like this: The sign is like a ball. The sign will be passed around the circle secretly as the person in the center tries to figure out who currently has the sign. In order to send the sign to someone else, the person who currently has it (PERSON A) does the motion of someone else in the circle (PERSON B). Once PERSON A has done the sign of their target, the sign is like a ball that is currently in the air. It is not “caught” until PERSON B repeats their own sign. Now PERSON B “has the sign.” Person B does Person C’s sign and “has the sign” until Person C repeats their own sign to “catch” it. If the person in the center figures out who has the sign at any point, the person who currently had the sign moves to the middle and the person who was previously in the middle moves to the circle.
- Once the sign is sent to start the round, someone in the circle notifies the person in the middle and the middle person may open their eyes.
- The person in the center may ask anyone in the circle if they have the sign at anytime. If they do, they are now in the middle.
- AN IMPORTANT RULE: If this rule isn’t followed, the game will break. When someone is attempting to send the sign they must stick with the first sign they decided to do. When the recipient isn’t paying attention, it’s very tempting to try to send the sign to someone else but YOU CANNOT DO THIS. It’s possible that the recipient IS paying attention but can’t receive yet because they are being watched. The sender can resend as many times as needed but CANNOT change their target. Doing so could create to signs and ruin the round.
- You may play as many rounds as you like.
- After each round, the player who was last in the center starts the next round.
- Example Gameplay: PERSON A goes into the center and closes their eyes. PERSON B was last in the center so starts this round. They give a thumbs up which is PERSON C’s sign. PERSON C sees the sign and repeats the thumbs up. PERSON B announces that the sign has been sent and received so PERSON A opens their eyes to begin looking for the sign. PERSON C makes antlers with their hands which is PERSON D’s sign. PERSON D sees the sign being made but waits until the PERSON A isn’t looking and then repeats their sign by making antlers. PERSON D does a salute which is PERSON E’s sign. PERSON E doesn’t see this so PERSON D salutes again. PERSON E sees it this time and waits until the person in the center is no longer looking and repeats the salute. They then pull on their ear which is PERSON F’s sign. The person in the center sees them do this and asks “PERSON E, do you have the sign?” Since PERSON F hasn’t “received” the sign yet, PERSON E does still have it and must move to the middle.
Nathan Ballard is the Director of Youth Ministry at Brookfield Lutheran Church in Brookfield, WI where he works with 5th-12th grade students and their families. Prior to that, he served for eight years as a volunteer youth worker in Milwaukee. Nathan loves spending time with his wife Erin and his son Grayson.