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close this bookStep by Step Group Development - A Trainer's handbook (DES, 218 p.)
close this folderAPPENDIX
Open this folder and view contentsGAMES


This chapter introduces the importance of games in group-work. After a short look at the aims and different possibilities for the use of games, a list of certain games for certain reasons in group-work is given.

First a few words concerning games:

Usually adults think of playing as something that they have grown out of, something that is not serious enough for a grown-up.

But is laughing, running around, dancing, singing or acting really something anyone is “too old” for? Are these not just ways of breaking out of old structures to find new and livelier ways of communicating and getting in touch with each other?

And don’t we often see children playing “seriously”, when they imitate adult behaviour in their games?


Games, songs and role-play can be seen as very helpful in any kind of group-work. In fact, they are a crucial method in working with groups:

- They help to bring people together in the beginning: communal activities, laughing and singing provide the necessary communication so that strangers can begin in a relaxed atmosphere.

- After sessions, games liven up worn out participants after they have sat and listened to a session.

- Role-play helps a lot by making a special topic visible to the audience and by finding solutions by “playing” with different ideas.

- Exercises are a way of introducing a topic or work on it in a playful way.

To make a good use of games, it is necessary that the animator

- likes playing her/himself

- is prepared and able to explain the game to the group

- cares for outsiders and tries to integrate all players into the game

- but also tries to play with the group as much as possible and not just stands outside and watches them play

- knows what (s)he wants to achieve with this game or exercise and can explain this to the group



A - Games for Introducing Each Other

B - Songs

C - Lively Games in a Circle

D - Games for Trust-Building in Groups

A - Games for Introducing/Games with Names:


The players sit in a circle except for the trainer, who has no chair, (s)he stands in the middle holding a bunch of keys (or something similar). (S)he greets one of the seated players: “Hallo, my name is...” and offers him/her a hand.


This player now introduces him/herself by name and follows the trainer, keeping one hand on the trainers shoulder. These two now greet a third person, each saying his/her name, then a fourth and so on.

After a while the trainer drops the keys and all players, sitting or standing, have to change seats. The one that doesn’t manage to get a chair, takes up the keys and starts again.


The players sit or stand in a circle, so that they can see each other.

The trainer starts to move into the circle and says: “My name is.. and this is my action.” Then (s)he makes a gesture or move that is typical for her/him. When (s)he moved back into the circle, the others follow her/his move saying: “This is... and this is her/his action”.

The game is finished, when all have said their names and shown their actions.


A variation is that everybody has to repeat all the actions of the others beforehand, and then can show his/her action.


The players sit in a circle, the trainer stands in the middle; (s)he has got no chair to sit on. (S)he is now asking the players for the names of their right-hand and left-hand neighbours. When (s)he says “tipp” to one player the name of the left neighbour has to be said, at “topp” that of the right neighbour, at “tipp-topp” the whole group has to change seats. If the name is wrong, or if the player takes too much time to remember the name (s)he has to go into the middle to ask. If the one in the middle is fed up with her/his role, (s)he can call “tipp-topp” and everybody has to change chairs. The one without a chair starts again.

This game is only funny, if the players didn’t know each other by name before.


The players sit in a circle. The trainer holds something (newspaper, key, ball...) in his/her hands and starts the game by saying to his/her right neighbour: “My name is.... anal say that this is a crocodile.” The neighbour takes the thing and says to his/her right neighbour: “This is... ‘s crocodile..., my name is... and I give this crocodile to you.” This goes on until all participants have repeated the names of the predecessors and had the “crocodile” in their hands.


The thing doesn’t stay a crocodile but changes from player to player: “This comes from Jane, who said it is a crocodile, Jennifer said it is an umbrella, Anna said it is a glass, my name is Mavis and I say that it is a cake.”


The players stand or sit in a circle. The trainer walks around in this circle imitating a train with loud “choo-choo”, then (s)he stops in front of another player with a “too-too and says: “My name is...(e.g. Joanne) and what is your name?”


The person asked stands up and says her/his name.:

“My name is Silas.” Now both are forming the train with Silas in front looking for the next to join them after the same procedure.

B - Songs:

B1: HA - HA - HA - HA

The players stand in a circle. They can join in immediately by imitating the trainer’s movements:

Count aloud:

“1,2,3,4” and stomp your feet with every number
“1,2,3,4” slap your thighs
“1,2,3,4” clap your hands
“1,2,3,4” laugh: “ha-ha-ha-ha”


When the players have exercised a bit as one group, they can be divided up into four small groups, which sing the canon. This means that they start one after the other and keep their rhythm. The trainer can help the groups to come in. Try to do it faster and faster!


“Jack was in the kitchen with Tina (3x)” and they were playing on the old banjo, and that was:

Fli - Fla - Fideliao (3x)

and they were playing on the old banjo, and that was:

“Jack was in the kitchen with Tina....”


The players sit in a close circle, their thighs almost touching. When the song starts, everybody has his/her hands on his/her thighs. In the rhythm of the song they now move their hands to the right, one thigh after the other:

“Jack (slap own thighs) was (left hand touches own right thigh, right hand touches left thigh of right neighbour) in (left hand touches right thigh of right neighbour, right hand touches left thigh of self) the (going back, thigh by thigh) kit - chen (now the same to the left) with Ti - na. Jack (back to own thigh now and start again)...... (3x)

(same movements:) and they were playing on the old banjo, and that was:

(change movements:)

Fli (move as if you are playing a flute),
Fla (like a recorder)
Fideliao (like playing a banjo/guitar) (3x)
and they were playing on the old banjo, and that was:
now start from the very beginning:
Jack was in the kitchen........


Start very slowly and get faster after a while.


“Aramsamsam aramsamsam, gulli gulli gulli gulli ramsamsam (2x)
Aravi aravi, gulli gulli gulli gulli gulli ramsamsam (2x)
Aramsamsam aramsamsam.......”

The players are sitting an a circle, the trainer shows the movements to the song:


slap your thighs


clap your hands


snip your fingers


twist your hands


bow down with arms crossed in front of the breast


Start slowly and get faster with time.


The players sit in a circle so that they can see the trainer. (S)he sings each line first and shows the movements that go with the singing, then the group follows.


“I am going to the lion land, gonna get a big one”

(slap your thighs)

“I’m not scared”

(point to oneself and shake the head)

“nice day”

(show the day to the others)


“look at all these flowers!”

(look for them)


there is a:

1. high, high grass

(show how high the grass is)


you can’t get over it, you can’t get under it, you can’t get around it

(again show with big movements)


you have to walk through

it (rub your hands against each other)

2. long, long bridge
walk over it

(fists against the breast)

3. deep, deep mud
walk through it

(make the noise according to mud with your lips)

4. long, long river
swim across it

(movements of swimming)


5. high, high mountain
climb up it

(fists on top of each other)

6. dark, dark cave
go into it

(rub hands on thighs)

Aaaaah....... - what’s that? Mmmmmmmmh - something smooth, something soft -....................?

... Oooooh - the lion!...-you have to run back!!!!!

(all movements fastly backwards)



1. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
(clap 2x)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
(clap 2x)
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
(clap 2x)

2. If you’re happy and you know it, slap your sides
(slap sides 2x)


3.... stamp your feet
4.... snap your fingers
5.... sniff your nose
6.... shout: “we are!”
7.... all of the above movements, one after the other

Song and Dance:


The dancers stand in pairs and hold each other’s right hands, forming two circles, an outer one and an inner one.

Now they start singing as they walk (slow or fast) in one direction:


There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name (2x)

B-I-N-G-O (3x)

and Bingo was his name.


Now the pairs stop and face each other:



bow to the partner


the inner circle moves to the partner on the right and bows to him/her







but now they don’t bow but fall into each others arms,
happy to have found another partner for the next round


Pairs hold each other and start once more.

C - Games in a Circle



This game represents a horse-race on turf. The players sit in a circle, so that they can all face the trainer and watch his/her movements, which express those of running horses.

The first lap is for warming up, the animator shows the movements once slowly.

before the start:
the horses are restless (slapping thighs with the hands)

getting ready for
the start: (become quiet)

start and race: “Go!” (fast slapping of thighs)


The Race:

single jump: the horses have to jump (stand up and jump once with both feet)

double jump: (jump twice)

water jump: (make the noise with your fingers moving your lips)

tunnel: (hold hands in front of eyes)

greeting the audience: (wave to them)

greeting the judges: (take off a hat)

wooden bridge: (fists against the breast)

curve to the left: (lean to the left)

curve to the right: (lean to the right)

finish: (become faster again, shout: “hurrah”!)


After the warm-up, the race can start. Use the movements in different variations and repeat them as often as wished.



The group sits in a circle, the trainer stands in the middle, (s)he has got no chair. According to the size of the group, the group is divided up into small groups of the same size e.g. (16 people = 4 groups of 4).

Each group is now named after a fruit (e.g. bananas, apples, mangos, lemons). The one in the middle now calls the bananas only for example, bananas and apples... or all fruits (= fruit-salad) at the same time which means, that the ones called have to stand up and change seats. Now the one in the middle has a chance to get a chair as well.

The one without a chair goes into the middle to call again.




Half of the players sit in a circle. Behind each chair stands another player. Only one player has got an empty chair in front of him/her, which (s)he wants to have occupied by one of the sitting players.

Therefore (s)he must blink to one of the seated persons inviting him/her to the empty chair.

But blinking has to be done quite discreetly so that the person standing behind the one who is blinked at doesn’t notice it, because (s)he can hold the sitting person back at the shoulders. If (s)he succeeds in running to the free chair, the one who now has an empty chair in front of her/him tries to find another player by blinking at him/her.

After some time the sitting and standing players change places, those sitting are now supposed to blink and vice versa.




The players stand, holding each other by the hands. Two volunteers are asked to come into the circle, where their eyes are blindfolded, so that they cannot see each other. Both get an instrument to make little noise (keys, rattle...).

Now they are told that they are two cobras, one hunting the other. As they cannot see they have to rely on their ears. If the hunter gives a noise, the hunted one has to respond. This can be done three times. The game is over when the hunter caught the “victim” or was unsuccessful after three times of asking for a noise.

The group meanwhile has to be very quiet to assist the two players, to locate one another better.



The players sit in the circle, except for one who has no chair. This one has to ask three of the others to form an animal together

Examples are:

1. Elephant.

- middle one brings left hand to nose, right arm hanging down through left (forming elephant’s trunk)

- right neighbour holds left hand to left ear (forming elephant’s right ear)

- left neighbour does same with right hand (left ear)


2. Rabbit:

- middle one holds hands at height of chin (rabbit’s paws)
- right-hand person holds left arm up (right ear)
- left-hand person holds right hand up (left ear)


3. Kangaroo:

- middle one forms a ring in front of belly (kangaroo’s ponch)
- right-hand and left-hand people jump up and down


4. Duck:

- middle person squats and waggles bottom
- right- and left-hand person flap arms like duck’s wings


5. Turkey:

All players bow into the circle with their arms hanging loose and shout: “guluh - guluh - guluh” (turkey’s cry...)

If one player of the “team” fails (s)he has to go into the circle and the former center takes over her/his position.

D - Games for Trust-building in Groups


The players form pairs. One of them is the robot, the other the robot’s controller. The robot can only move when the controller helps him/her by tapping on his back.

But this only allows the robot to walk straight. If there are obstacles in the way or walls, the robot has to be moved to the side - by tapping on the right shoulder to go right, on the left shoulder for left -.

To stop the robot, touch it gently on the head.

Now try to move your robots through the room without touching the others.

After some time robots and controllers change roles.


1. Try to move the robot to a special place in the room and back to the start.
2. One controller has to move two robots.
3. The robot is blind (closes the eyes) and therefore has to be moved very carefully.



Small groups of up to eight form a close circle. One of the players (only if (s)he wants to!) goes into the center, and stiffens her/his pelvis, with the rest of the body loose, hands at sides.

The others hold their hands in front of their bodies. When all are ready, the one in the center lets him/herself fall in one direction (eyes open or closed as preferred). The standing people catch him/her and try to move him/her gently along the circle and across, when they get more experienced.


When the center one has had enough, they stop, discuss briefly how (s)he liked it and then the next one can try.


An even number of players form a circle, holding each other by the hands. Now they count “1-2-1-...” to divide the group into two sub-groups.


At a special command the 1’s lean into the circle while the 2’s lean to the outside. Feet are placed firmly on the floor, arms help to balance. When the circle is stable, at another command they change directions, the 1’s lean slowly outwards and the 2’s lean towards the center. Don’t let go your neighbours’ hands! When the players are tired, the circle is finished on a mutual command.



The players stand in a close circle, stretching their arms to the center. On a certain command they close their eyes and try to find two other hands they can hold. When each hand is linked to another one, the players open their eyes.

Now try to unravel this human knot! It is not allowed to let hands go, the players have to move up and down, just as needed.

The game is finished, when the players are standing in a circle, holding their neighbours by the hand.