12 games you can use, maybe in the classroom, but especially in a youth group or camp setting to get to know participants, increase participation, encourage teamwork, and be active. Some of these you may recognize from your childhood, as a few are common US games, but I think a few will be new…
1. Pared, venado, rifle
This is played much like rock, paper, scissors, but with a teamwork twist. Two even teams make lines facing the other team. Each team decides what order they want to present the 3 options (pared, venado, rifle) and come back to the line. The game leader counts 1-2-3 and each team does the action for the sign they picked first (then second, then third). Deer beats wall, wall stops rifle, rifles kills deer. If one person on the team does the wrong action, the team looses.
Submarino is an active game for a larger group. Divide the group into various even teams (make sure you have at least 3 teams for good competition, but more is ok too). The first person in each team line is blindfolded and everyone else forms a line behind the first person, holding onto the shoulders of the one in front. Everyone in the line closes their eyes, except the last—the leader. The leader directs the group by tapping his/her hands on the shoulder in front of him (tapping the right hand to go right, left hand to go left). This is passed up the line to the first person who changes the group’s course.
Teams should have some activity they’re trying to accomplish (throwing a water balloon at another team, for example). When it’s time to throw (or whatever other action), the leader gives the signal by tapping the head instead of the shoulders.
3. Nudo humano
Who doesn’t love the human knot?!?! Have participants form a circle. Then everyone grabs the hand of someone else in the circle. Make sure no one grabs both hands of the same person. Then—undo the knot!
Variation: Make two human knots and have them compete to see who finishes first.
Games to increase participation/quitar la pena
1. ¿Que estás haciendo?
Talia (HE 58) shared this theater game at Camp GLOW and the girls got a kick out of it. It’s a little hard to explain, so bear with me. Have your group make two lines facing other (it’s ok if the lines aren’t exactly equal). The first person in Line A, Anna, begins to pantomime an action, for example—brushing your teeth. When the first person in Line B, Bill, asks Anna “¿Que estás haciendo?” Anna says something different than the action she’s doing, for example—climbing a tree. Anna goes to the back of the line and Bill pretends to climb a tree. Now the new 1st person in line A, Carla, asks Bill what he’s doing. Bill doesn’t say climbing a tree, he says sweeping the floor. Carla begins to the sweep the floor and Bill goes to the back of the line. The game continues until everyone has had a chance or you all get bored.
Note: Encourage the kids to be creative! They may get stuck on actions they’re used to (sweeping, cooking, studying, washing clothes, brushing teeth) but you can do anything—run, dance, climb a mountain, ride a horse, kill a pig, etc. Have fun!!
2. Palmas y pies
This is a rhythm game to get people thinking and moving. On a papelógrafo write a series of X’s and O’s (see photo below). The X’s stand for claps and the O’s stand for stomps. Practice different patterns and different speeds with your group. To increase interest you can split the group into two teams and see which team can do the rhythm faster or louder. For more difficulty, include some combined X and O marks so that they have to stomp and clap at the same time (harder than it sounds) or do try reading the rhythms backwards!
3. Traigo cartas para los/las que…
Another classic, this game can be played standing in a circle or seated in chairs with any number of people. One person stands in the middle of the circle and says “Traigo cartas para los que… llevan el color rojo.” Everyone wearing red must move and find a new place. The person in the middle steals a seat/spot and someone else is left in the middle. Characteristics can be physical or emotional (Traigo cartas para los que están felices!), can involve age, name, or anything you can come up with.
Getting to know you games
1. Canasta de fruta
Have participants make a circle and go around having everyone say their name (loudly!). The person in the middle asks for the name of 2 fruits. Sandia y mango. The person on your right becomes your ‘sandia’ and the person on your left becomes your ‘mango.’ Let’s say Carlos is on your right and María is on you left. If the person in the middle comes to you and says “Sandia!” you would respond “Carlos.” If they say “Mango,” you would respond “María.” If you get confused and say the wrong name or no name at all, you switch and become the person in the middle.
When the person in the middle yells ‘canasta de fruta’ everyone must move places, thus having to learn the names of a new ‘sandia’ and ‘mango.’
2. Juego de la alfombra
This game is best played with medium to smaller groups that already know each other’s names. Split the group into two teams. The game leader holds up a blanket (or sheet as long as you can’t see through it). The teams sit on each side of the sheet so that they can’t be seen on the other side. One person from each team moves to sit directly in front of the blanket/sheet. The leader drops the blanket and the two people now facing each other try to say the other person’s name as fast as possible. Whoever says the name first, wins. The loser crosses over to the other side. The object of the game is have the most people possible on your team.
3. Barcos y capitanes
Divide the group into sets of three. Two people hook hands to form the ‘barco.’ The third person stands in the middle of the hands as the captain. There is a game leader plus one extra person (not a ship or captain). When the game leader says ‘capitanes!’ the captains must dip out from under the boat and find another boat. When the game leader says ‘barcos’ the ships move (captains stay put) and go find another captain. Since there is always one extra person, one person will be left outside. You can ask that person any question—where they are from, their name, their favorite color, etc—or have them do a funny dance move. When the game leader says ‘huracán’ everyone switches places: captains can become ships and ships can switch to captains.
Games for RUNNING and activity!
1. Raton y queso
Have your group form pairs and space them out in the area you have (the bigger the space, the better). Pairs stand side-by-side (you can have them link arms). One pair breaks apart so one person can be the rat and the other be the cat. The cat chases the rat. But if the rat connects to a pair, the 3rd person now has to break off and become the rat. If the cat catches the rat, they switch roles (chaser becomes chasee).
2. Scream and run
The object of this game is so simple and ridiculous it sounds like it would never work, but as Kiron (HE 58) taught us at Camp GLOW, people get oddly into it. The point is to take one big breath and see how far you can run while screaming without taking another breath. That’s it. Do this as a group, in pairs, or however you want. Just run, scream, and enjoy.
3. El gusano
Similar to submarino, have your participants form various teams with an equal amount of people. Each team forms a line, hands hooked on the shoulder of the person in front. The last person has a handkerchief sticking out of their back pocket. The first person in the line leads, trying to grab the handkerchief from the pocket of another different. When a handkerchief is stolen, the two teams merge to form a bigger gusano. The game continues until there is only one huge gusano.