By way of demonstration, begin by passing a wave, ie up and down movement of your arm, which will cause your neighbour’s arm to also move.
Encourage this ‘wave’ motion to be passed all the way around the circle, and then pass it in the opposite direction.
Next, the wave can be passed in any direction by any person when the wave reaches them (practice this for a few moments.)
Finally, any time the wave is passed, the person initiating the wave must voice a ridiculous dinosaur noise, without showing their teeth.
The goal is to make the person receiving the wave to laugh and show their teeth.
At any time, if the sender or receiver of the wave and dinosaur sound show their teeth, they are eliminated from the circle, and assume the role of a ‘distracter.’
Distractors are entitled to do whatever they can to distract others and possibly make them laugh, without touching or obscuring the view of anyone in the circle.
Play until all but one person has been eliminated.
How To Play Narrative
Gather your group into a circle and ask them to hold their neighbour’s hands. Include yourself, because this is too fun to not be a part of.
By way of demonstration, begin by passing a wave, that is, the undulating up and down movement of your arm, which will cause the wave to ripple down your neighbour’s arm.
Your neighbour will then continue this motion, and pass the wave to their opposite-side neighbour, encouraging it to ripple all the way around the circle in the same direction it started.
Once the wave has passed all the way around the circle and returns to you, pass it in the opposite direction.
Next, explain that now everyone has grasped the highly refined skill of the wave, it can now be passed to the right or the left at any time by any person.
For example, when a person receives a wave, they may choose to continue the wave in the same direction or pass it back to the person who gave it to them.
Now that your group is warmed up, announce the final phase of the game.
Invite everyone to voice a gut-wrenching dinosaur ‘sound’ as they pass along the wave to their neighbour, but… with the added challenge of covering their teeth with their lips.
That’s right, when making a dinosaur sound, each person must use their lips to cover their teeth, and give a giant, awkward stare to their neighbour at the same time. Consequently, the sound travels around the circle along with the wave.
The whole point is to try to make someone else laugh and show their teeth.
If someone happens to reveal their teeth during a laughing fit, they are invited to move outside of the circle to become a ‘distracter.’
Distracters can do whatever they can to distract others and possibly make them laugh, but they are not permitted to touch nor obscure the view of anyone in the circle.
Play until all dinosaurs have surrendered to the laughter.
Practical Leadership Tips
In case it is not already obvious, this is a ridiculously FUNN game that can be played for no apparent reason other than to enjoy a roaring good time.
Observe the awkwardness of some people when they hold another person’s hands because they often have a preference for the direction in which their palm faces. Stereotypically (which means absolutely nothing,) men tend to be ‘takers’ which means their palm faces backwards, whereas women tend to be ‘givers’ because their palms face forwards. As I said, this means nothing, but it does make for an interesting observation, and often diverts attention away from the socially awkward request to hold hands.
You could integrate Dinosaur Game as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships in your group.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of engaging in a short dose of silliness and enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully play this game speaks to the benefits of being mindful insofar as it requires a commitment from every member of the group to be present and concentrate. Also, it is possible that the nature and maturity of your group’s behavioural norms will be exposed in this game because it requires everyone to be comfortable being silly for a short time.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Dinosaur Game could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Three Dinosaur Lives: To involve more people for longer periods, a person is not eliminated until they have shown their teeth on three occasions. Generally, this will mean few people are ever eliminated, and there’s a lot more laughter and whole-group participation to enjoy.
Alternative Animals: Invite your group to add one or more fun variations to the game, eg assuming the voice and character of a dog instead of a dinosaur.
Active circle game to generate lots of smiles & laughter.
Whole group wave-like stretch with fun, quirky movements.
Useful Framing Ideas
Here is a game the dinosaurs in prehistoric times used to play to keep themselves busy, because let’s face it, without television, they must have gotten pretty bored a lot of the time…
We’ve all seen the Mexican Wave performed by thousands of people at large entertainment stadiums around the world. I’d like you to consider that with our hands joined, we have formed the structure of a stadium, and with the movement of our arms, we can create a wave-like action that looks like this…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun circle game:
Was this a fun exercise to spend a few minutes? Why?
What helped or hindered the game to be fun?
How did it feel to be silly? What was the reaction of the group?
Where else in your life can you be silly?
The inspiration for Dinosaur Game, and many more nonsensical group games, was sourced from the following publication: