Student Engagement


Animal Roundup

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10 minutes
Group Size: 5-50
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Tell group members to silently think of their favorite animal.

  • Then tell group members that without talking, they need to arrange themselves from largest to smallest animals.

  • Group members can only make gestures and the noise of their animal.

  • After they have finished, have group members go around and say the animal they were supposed to be to see if it was accurate.

Balloon War

Material Needed: Different colored balloons, string, a large open area
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 8-50
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Divide participants up into even teams.

  • Give each team as many balloons of all the same color as there are members, and some string. Make sure you give each team a different color of balloons.

  • Have each team tie the string to their balloon and then to their ankle.

  • Explain that when you give the "go" signal each team must attempt to pop all of the balloons that are a different color than their own.

  • Participants must work in a team to pop other team's balloons without getting their own popped.

  • Once your balloon is popped you must step outside of the playing area.

  • Once only one color of balloon is still in the game, that team wins.

Note: A variation of this game is that after 5 or 10 minutes the team with the most members with balloons still attached wins.

Butt Head Tag

Material Needed: A large open area, a field or a room with few obstacles.
Time Required: 10-20 minutes
Group Size:  15-100
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Make sure everyone feels comfortable with either running or fast walking.

  • Set parameters for the playing field

  • Divide the group in half either by numbering off or another more creative way. (Example: asking who prefers chocolate ice cream to go to one side of the room and everyone who prefers vanilla to the other.) You can then even out the numbers by asking one or two people to join the other group. Also, numbers do not have to be exactly even for the start of this game.

  • Once you have two groups, ask all of one group to place their left hand on their head and the other group to place their left hand on their butt.

  • Explain that everyone is "it" in this game. Once the game begins all of the people with their hands on their head must attempt to tag the people with their hands on their butt and vice versa. You must tag people with your free hand, and may not remove your left hand from its respective location.

  • If you are tagged you must change your hand to be the opposite of which it had been. For example if your hand was on your head you need to move it to be on your butt.

  • You can change back and forth as many times as you are tagged.

  • The game ends once everyone has either their hand on their head or their hand on their butt.

Clothespin Samurai

Material Needed: Pool noodle, 5-10 clothespins, blindfold
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 10-30
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Arrange group members in a circle with one person in the middle who is blindfolded.

  • The blindfolded person in the middle has several clothespins attached to their clothing (back, arms, legs shoes, etc.)

  • The blindfolded person is handed a "sword" (inflatable or foam pool noodle).

  • The other group members must remove the pins without getting whacked by the "sword".

  • If you are whacked three times, you're out.

Note: You as the facilitator should not be participating, but monitoring safety for the participants and keeping track of how many times people have been hit by the "sword".

Contemplating the Universe

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size:  10-50
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Organize participants into a circle.

  • The facilitator should be standing in the middle of the circle explaining the game.

  • Explain that as someone on the outside of the circle, you must ask the person in the middle what they are doing. You do this by at any time saying, "Hey, {insert name of person in middle}!, What are you doing?!"

  • The game begins with the facilitator doing a continuous random action in the center of the circle (for example, pretending to juggle, dance, do yoga, go fishing, etc.).

  • Eventually someone on the outside of the circle will say, "Hey! What are you doing?!" The person in the middle will then make up something off the top of their head. For example: I am playing Ultimate Frisbee with alligators.

  • The person who asked, "What are you doing?!" must then come into the middle of the circle and pretend to pay Ultimate Frisbee with alligators until somebody else says, "Hey! What are you doing?!"

  • After someone else says, "What are you doing?" The person playing Frisbee with alligators must then need to make up something else for that person to be doing. (For example: I'm knitting little hats for my 74 cats.)

Note: It might be a good idea to make up the rule that everyone needs to ask "What are you doing?!" To the person in the middle at least once before anyone can be in the middle a second time.

Earthquake and Eviction

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 12-200
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • One group member stands alone to start, the rest of the group members need to join groups of three.

  • The groups of three have two people making a house with their hands and one person standing underneath.

  • The lone person calls either "Eviction!", in which everyone in a house must leave and find a new one.

  • Or the person may call "Earthquake!", in which all houses collapse and everyone must form a new threesome of house and resident.

  • Either way, the lone person tries to get into one of the threesome, so the person left becomes the new "caller."

Elbow Tag

Material Needed: A large field or room with no obstacles
Time Required: 15-20 minutes
Group Size: 15-100
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Make sure all participants are comfortable with either running or fast walking.

  • Set the parameters for the playing field.

  • Have all of the participants pair off and link arms at the elbow with their partner.

  • Have one of the pairs volunteer to begin the game as the chaser and the runner. (One person being the chaser and the other person being the runner).

  • Explain that as long as you are linked arms in a group of 2 with another person you are safe from the chaser and cannot be tagged.

  • The game begins with the chaser trying to tag the runner.

  • In order to avoid being tagged and become safe, the runner must link arms with one of the pairs forming a group of three. After they link arms, the third person at the end of the link must break off and become the runner.

  • If someone is tagged before they can successfully link arms with a group of two they then become the chaser, and must try to tag the person who just tagged them before they link arms with someone.

Note: After people have gotten the hang of the game, you may add another element by allowing the linked pairs to move about in the playing field.

Everybody's It Tag

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 6-200
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Make sure everyone is comfortable with either running or fast walking.

  • Tell participants the parameters of the playing field.

  • The game starts with everyone being "it" and trying to tag whoever they can.

  • If you are tagged you need to kneel down where you were tagged.

  • If tagged, you need to keep track of who tags you, because once they are tagged, you can get back up and get back in the game.

  • The game ends when there are only a few people left who haven't been tagged.

Look Up Look Down

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10 minutes
Group Size: 10-200
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Arrange participants into groups of 12-20 members.

  • Have participants stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder.

  • Explain that when you (the facilitator) says, "look down" everyone must look at the ground. And when you say, "Look up" everyone must look up and stare directly at the face of another person. If two people look up and stare at each other, they must scream and then step out of the circle. The rest of the participants who didn't make eye contact with another person will continue staring until the facilitator says, "Look down" again. Play continues until there are only 2-3 people left in the circle.

Variations: If you have more than one circle of Look Up Look Down going on, you will want a facilitator who knows the rules in each group. With a very large group, you may have several circles of Look Up Look Down going on at the same time. If that is the case, once group members stare at another person, and scream, they must then run clockwise to the next circle and join their game. Your circles keep fluctuating in size. The game continues until you run out of time.

Samurai Sword

Material Needed: 2 pool noodles about the length of swords
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 2-15
Purpose: Physical energizer

  • Organize participants into a circle with you (the facilitator) standing in the middle.

  • Put one of the pool noodles at your feet and hold the other like a sword.

  • The object of this activity is for the people in the circle to try and steal the sword at the feet of the person in the center.

  • The person in the middle needs to protect the sword by hitting anyone who tries to steal it with the pool noodle in their hand.

  • In addition to hitting people with the pool noodle, if the person in the middle spins around with the noodle above their head everyone on the circle needs to duck down, and if they spin around in a circle with the sword at their feet everyone on the circle needs to jump.

  • If someone successfully grabs the sword at the feet of the person in the middle, they have a duel and the first person to hit the other person with the sword gets to take over as the protector of the sword in the center of the circle.

Note: This is a high-energy activity, so it is very important to keep safety in mind. Yes, pool noodles are soft and generally won't hurt someone, but a pool noodle in the eye or mouth sucks. So, setting parameters on where you can hit someone with the pool noodle before the game starts is a good idea. Also, anyone who doesn't physically feel comfortable jumping or ducking should opt out of that part of the activity.


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