I know many families go shopping or head to the movies after opening presents Christmas morning. My family’s tradition is to go for a hike in a nearby regional park. This year I want to play three interactive games I recently learned at my improv comedy class. They are great if you want to have fun but not spend money, and have a wide range of ages. Young kids are especially good at the Colored Balls game!
Colored Balls – Stand in a circle with 5-10 people a little closer than arm’s distance apart. Chose one person as your leader who will introduce the colored balls. Start with one ball until everyone gets the hang of it. Note, you do not need any real balls as in this game the balls are imaginary! The leader starts with a Red Ball. S/he looks someone else in the eye, makes eye contact, then says “red ball” and tosses the imaginary ball to them. When they catch it, they say “red ball” then look for another person to make eye contact with. When they do make eye contact, they repeat the color of the ball (“red ball”) as they throw it to the person with whom they have eye contact. Keep passing the Red Ball around until everyone has had it at least once. Remember, you say the color of the ball when you catch it, and repeat it again when you throw it. You can introduce as many colors as you like, but make sure not to repeat any colors. Play for a few minutes and then stop. Who has each ball? It is surprising how much concentration this game requires!
Tip: the key is to make strong eye contact. Stare at a person until they look back at you, then pass them the ball.
Assassin – The object of this game is to be the last person standing. Have 5-10 people stand in a tight circle so that everyone’s shoulders are almost touching. One person is the assassin who starts the game by saying the name of another person in the circle. The person whose name is called touches another person in the circle. The person who was touched says the name of another person in the circle, and so on. The pattern is always say a name – touch – say a name – touch.
People are eliminated one at a time for making a mistake, including not responding when they were called or touched, or by responding in the wrong way. So if someone says my name and I say another person’s name, I am out because I should have touched someone. If you wait too long to respond – more than a few seconds – you get eliminated. After a person is eliminated, tighten the circle so your shoulders are almost touching. The assassin starts the new round. This game forces you to learn everyone’s name quickly!
Tip: some people find they can concentrate best if they look at the ground but this is not required.
Big Booty – This is my favorite game of all I learned in improv class. You can substitute the word booty for another word. No one gets eliminated from this game so it is very inclusive. Stand in a circle a bit closer than arms distance apart. You can play this game with 5-10 people. One person is designated as “Big Booty.” The person to Big Booty’s left is number one, the second person to Big Booty’s left is number two, and so on in consecutive order until everyone has a number but Big Booty. So if you have seven players, there should be one Big Booty and numbers 1-6. Everyone keeps time together by slapping their hands on their legs. Start slowly until you get the hang of it, slap…slap…slap…slap.
Start the round by singing the intro together, with the beat falling on the capital letters. “Big Booty Aww YeaH. big Booty, big Booty, big Booty.” So the phrase “big Booty, big Booty, big Booty” is syncopated because YeaH gets two beats. After everyone sings the intro together, Big Booty says “Big Booty number one” or any other number in the circle. The person whose number was called repeats their number and calls another number or Big Booty. So a round could go:
Everyone: “Big Booty Aww YeaH. big Booty, big Booty, big Booty” [SILENT BEAT]
BB: “big Booty number Five”
N5: “number Five, number Three”
N3: “number Three, number Four”
N4: “number Four, big Booty”
BB: “big Booty, number One”
And so on until someone makes a mistake by not responding in time or by flubbing it. When someone makes a mistake, they become the highest number and everyone with a number above them shifts down one. Make sure to shift in the circle so that your position corresponds to your number. If the game has a Big Booty and numbers 1-6 and number 4 makes a mistake, here is how the numbers are reassigned:
N6 – > B5
N5 – > N4
N4 – > N6
N3 – > N3
N2 – > N2
N1 – > N1
BB -> BB
As soon as a person makes a mistake they move to the spot that corresponds to their new number and everyone sings the intro again. Speed up the temp of hand slaps as folks get comfortable and want more of a challenge.
Tip: the trick is to remember your number, listen for it, and respond with the beat.