It went beautifully, which was a relief because Thursday's meeting in preparation for today was a behavioral nightmare of gigantic proportions such that we had to send a letter home to all of the parents about expectations, respect, and acceptable behavior.
Of course, we didn't play all of the games we'd practiced, but we had a lot of fun. And the girls demonstrated great sportsmanship (is there a gender-neutral version of that word?) and cooperation, thankfully!
We played Birthday Order, Hula Hoop, special-rules Tag, Word Wide Web, Sharks and Minnows, and had an obstacle course. Below are some of the games we practiced, as well as some of the others I'm keeping in my back pocket for next time (divided into Icebreakers, Cooperative, and "Wide"/outdoor games). You'll know some of them, perhaps not all, and no doubt rules vary.
- Birthday Order: Have students figure out how to line up in birth order, either by date or just by month, from oldest to youngest.
- Susie Spaghetti: Students sit in a circle. First student introduces herself, "My name is Jamie and I bought jam." They go around the circle recalling the students before them and then introducing themselves and what they bought (which must start with the first letter of their name.)
- Gestures: Everyone sits in a circle. The first person says her name and does a hand-motion. The next person has to repeat that person's name and gesture and then introduces herself and does an action. Continue around the whole circle.
- What You Don't Know About Me: Every person writes a fact about herself that is unusual or interesting and not well known. These are all put in a bowl. They are then pulled out one at a time and everyone writes down on a piece of paper who they think it is. (Someone needs to keep a master list or number the papers as they're pulled out.) Then they compare answers and each person reveals herself. The person with the most right answers wins.
- Post-It on My Back: Every person gets a post-it (or taped index card) with a name written on it (famous American, Disney character, etc.). Then they walk around the room asking each other yes-or-no questions until they figure out who they are.
- Story in a bag: Before meeting, leader collects a variety of household objects in a paper bag. At the meeting, the leader starts by removing an object and beginning a story. The bag is passed around the circle and each girl adds to the story based on the object she pulled out. Beware of some unusual twists--and be prepared to amend (one leader spoke of GS adding "and I stabbed her with the pencil.")
- Group Symphony: Sit in circle. One person starts making sound, next person adds to it. Everyone adds a sound--and must maintain it until everyone has added a sound. (This is loud!)
- Word Wide Web: Stand in a large circle with one person holding a ball of string. She tosses it, while holding on to one end, to another while calling out a single word. The catcher adds a connected word and throws it to the next person, also keeping hold of part of the string so as to make a web. (Think: red--apple--pie--crust--bread.) At the end, talk about interconnectivity of words, actions, and people.
- Funny bone: Twister with body parts. Before meeting, leader writes up several clues such as--touch elbows together, girl A puts hand on girl B's head etc. Divide group into pairs and have leader call out directions. See who can keep body contact the longest! Some suggest putting a pool noodle between them to avoid awkwardness--challenge is to keep pool noodle off the ground.
- I am Your Friend. One student sits in a chair with her eyes closed, with her classmates around her. One student from the group stands up in front and says, "I am your friend," and then sits back down. The student in the chair opens her eyes and has three guesses to figure out the speaker. If she guesses correctly, the speaker sits in the chair; if she can't figure it out, it is revealed, and she stays in the chair for another turn.
- I Can Do That With One Hand Tied Behind My Back: Students work in pairs, standing next to one another with inner hands tied together. They are then given a task--make a sandwich, tie their shoes, etc.--that they must complete using one untied hand only from each person. The team to finish first, having most accurately completed the task, wins.
- Marbles and Toes race: Gather marbles, a very large platter, and two smaller bowls. Students divide into two teams and remove their shoes and socks. Each team sends a representative to the bowl who, at the signal, will try to move as many marbles from the platter to their team bowl with their toes only. At the troop leader's signal, representatives tag off with another teammate until all students get a chance. Whichever team has the most marbles when the game is over wins.
- Chopsticks: Gather jelly beans and two medium-sized bowls for each team (3-4 students per team). Students divide into several teams. On the teacher's signal, everyone on each team tries to move as many jelly beans as possible from one bowl to the next. Whichever team has the most jelly beans when the game is over wins.
- Spot the Leader: Students gather in a cirlce; one person, who is it, leaves the area. A leader from within the circle is chosen; this leader will make motions that the rest of the circle is to follow. The "it" person returns and watches as the students in the circle make motions and tries to figure out who the leader is. The leader must change motions every few moments. When the "it" person finds the leader, the leader becomes "it" and a new leader is named.
- Popcorn: one person is caller who yells out an object and number. That number of people run together and pretend to be that object. For example "4 popcorn"--4 people must pair up quickly and pretend to be popcorn. Girls take turns as caller.
- Thumbs Up, 7 Up: This requires a large number of players. Seven students are chose as "it." When the teacher calls "heads down, thumbs up," the other students, preferably at desks, lay their heads down and raise their thumbs. The "its" walk around and press down one thumb. When all "its" have pressed a thumb, the teacher calls, "heads up, seven up" and the seven whose thumbs were pressed stand up. They each try to identify who pressed their thumbs. If they are right, they take that person's place. If not, they sit back down.
- Hot Potato: Students sit in a circle and pass an object around while music plays or until teacher signals stop. The person with the potato is out. Students play until one person is left.
- Islands Large sheets of paper/mats are distributed around an area. Music is played and students walk around until music stops (or adult signals end). All students find a piece of paper. For each successive round, a paper is removed so that all students have to try to fit on fewer sheets of paper. Students who fall off are out. Last person on paper wins.
- Musical Chairs: One fewer chairs than there are players are placed in a circle. Students walk around while music plays. When music stops, students sit. Whoever doesn't get a chair is out. Last person in chair wins.
- Statue, Come Alive!: Divide students into pairs. One person is the sculptor; the other is the sculpture. Sculptor gently positions limbs of sculpture. Then the statue comes alive and moves in accordance with position. Switch roles.
- Wave Stretching: Have students stand in a circle. One student strikes a pose or stretch and each student around the circle copies it in turn; when the stretch/pose gets all the way around the circle, the second person changes to a new pose or stretch. Continue until everyone has a turn.
- Giant Stick Figures: This works well with a big group. The group makes a stick figure, with a few girls for the head, a line of girls for the neck and body, with more for arms and legs. Then the leader asks them to perform an action, for example "scratch your head," "kick a ball," etc. and they must act as a group and performs it.
- Back to Back: Two people stand back to back with their elbows interlocked. Using each other for support, they must try to sit on the floor and stretch out their legs. Then, while keeping their elbows locked, the partners must now try to stand up without falling.
- Collective Sheet Ball: This works best with a big group. Gather two sheets and two balls. Divide the group in half, with each taking a sheet and spreading it out with the ball in the middle. Students can practice by tossing the ball up and down. Then, the groups pass the one ball back and forth. With practice, they can add the second ball.
- Group Art: Gather blank paper and markers. Divide students into several teams, who then sit in parallel lines to each other. Have the person in back draw a simple picture on a piece of paper without anyone seeing. Give more paper and a marker to the person in front. The person in back starts by tracing her picture with her hand on the back of the person in front of her. This person then recreates the picture on the person in front of her and so forth. When the picture reaches the back of the first person in line, she draws it on the paper. Now, compare the picture back to front. Whose is closest?
- Group Clap: The group stands in a circle with their arms outstretched to the side with their palms not quite touching. The goal is for the entire group to clap their hands all at the same time but without giving a verbal signal to start!
- Group Walk: Students line up side by side, with feet and shoulders touching. The line must "walk forward" one step at a time while keeping their feet touching!
- Hula Hoops: Gather hula hoops and form a circle. Break the handclasp of one pair and thread their hands through hula hoop, so that it rests on their handshake. .All participants join hands and form a circle. Two participants drop hands and put they arms through the hula hoops. Send the hula hoop around the circle without touching it with your hands or thumbs--yes, you climb through it! Start with one hula hoop and then use two going in opposite directions until they meet.
- Human Alphabet Soup: Best with a large group. Have girls quickly and cooperatively form letters of the alphabet by lying down on the ground and making the form with their bodies. Challenge: try it without talking!
- Turn the Circle Inside Out: Students form a circle and hold hands. Now, try to turn the circle inside out without letting go--or talking! (Hint: two players hold up their hands like London Bridge and everyone goes underneath.)
- Human Knot—divide into 2 groups of at least 4 people. Stand in a circle. Put all hands in middle and grab hands with two other people. Now untangle without letting go.
- 2-3-4: students dance around to music or just run around until teacher yells a small number, then they grab each other in groups of that number. Whoever does not join a group is out; continue until there are just two winners.
- Coke and Pepsi: one line is "Coke" and one is "Pepsi." Students dance around until the leader yells either "Coke" or "Pepsi," then that line runs to the other. Last one there eliminates that pair; anyone who jumps the gun or is on the wrong side, is also out. Last pair remaining wins.
- Freeze Dance: with music, students pause when music stops. Any movement eliminates that person until only one remains.
- Walking tag: no running. Walk. Apparently, it's quite exciting.
- Barnyard Bedlam: One person is the farmer )usually the leader) and all the rest are pairs of farm animals. In each pair of animals, one gets the paper bag. Farmer throws "feed" (like tootsie rolls or something) around the grass (best played outside) and the pair of animals run around the yard looking for it and make their animal noise when they find one so person with bag can pick it up. Pair with most feed in bag wins.
- Catch the Brownie: Girls line up front to back, with hands on each other's hips/around waist. The girl in the front of the line tries to maneuver so as to catch the girl at the end of the line, who tries to get away--without breaking the line or falling over! Change front and back to continue.
- Sharks and Minnows: Designate boundaries--the starting line and the finish line. Line all students, a.k.a. the minnows, except one "shark," on the starting line. The shark calls out a category, for example "all people with brown hair," and those people have to run across to the finish line without being tagged. Tagged minnows become sharks until only one person is left the winner.
- Octopus tag—two people start as octopus; they hold hands and tag people. Tagged people become part of octopus and help tag until everyone is tagged.
- Freeze Tag: One person is "it" and everyone runs. If a person is tagged, she freezes on the spot. Others can unfreeze the frozen people by crawling through their legs. When all people are frozen save one, that person becomes "it."
- Simon Says: One person is chosen to be "Simon" the others stand in a straight line. Simon then calls out an action for the others to follow. If Simon starts the action with "Simon Says," the others should do the action; however, if he does not say "Simon says," whoever does it is out. The last person becomes "Simon!"
- Mother, May I?: The "mother" faces a line of students. She addresses one child and gives an instruction, such as "Take 3 steps" or "Do 5 jumping jacks." Before doing the action, the student must ask "Mother, may I?" Then, mother tells each child whether they can or can't. First one to reach "mother" wins.
- Red Light, Green Light: The caller stands facing a line of students as far away as there is space. With her back to the line, she calls out "red light" or "green light." The goal is for the students to touch the caller. At "red light," the caller turns around and whoever is moving has to go back to the beginning. At "green light," the caller keeps her back to the line. "Lights" can be changed quickly or slowly. Whoever touches the caller first, becomes the caller.
- Red Rover: Students form two opposing lines of equal length by holding hands and attempt to "break through" the opposing team's line.One side starts by picking a person on the opposing team and shouting, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jamie on over." Jamie then tries to break through the handhold of the opposing team. If Jamie breaks through, she chooses one person from the opposing team to join her team. If she doesn't break through, she becomes part of the other team.Each team alternates calling people over until one team has all the people and is declared the winner.
- Television Tag: The is like regular tag, except at the beginning the "it" person calls out a category--tv shows, songs, movies, books--and a person almost tagged can only be safe if she can call out a title in that category without repeating previous titles. Tagged person becomes it.
- Duck Duck Goose: Students sit in a circle with one person "it." "It" walks around outside the circle patting people on the head and designating them duck or goose. Ducks stay still but the goose has to run around the circle chasing the "it." If the "it" gets back to the empty spot, she is safe and the goose is "it"; if the goose tags the "it" then the "it" person continues. Ad infinitum.
- Hide and Seek: One "it" and everyone else hides while she counts to ten or twenty--"ready or not, here I come." She then seeks those hidden. Some variants say first person found is it; other rules have found people have to run to a safe base--tagged people become it--and the game continues. "Olly, olly oxen free" tells the hidden to come out.