Form a circle, holding hands, facing in to the centre.
Announce that you want the group to – “SAY WHAT I SAY, AND DO WHAT I SAY.”
Practice this skill with one of four commands – “JUMP IN,” “JUMP OUT,” “JUMP LEFT” or “JUMP RIGHT.”
Call out a series of ‘Jump’ commands, one after another for 20 seconds.
Re-form the circle, and announce that you now want the group to – “SAY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAY, AND DO WHAT I SAY.”
Continue with a series of ‘jump’ commands, one after another for 20 seconds, or until the circle breaks up too much.
Video Transcript for Jump In Jump Out Game
This exercise, its history I learned a couple of years ago, it was in a big field. A hundred and twenty principals from around the world, all part of a thing called Harvard University Leadership Institute. Some of these Principals were actually from Australian schools, but generally from around the world.
Hundred and twenty of them formed a circle by holding hands first of all. So hold my hands in this position. Imagine hundred and twenty of them, big field.
So at this point you have probably recognised a category that you are in. It is that you are either feeling comfortable because of the way your hand is oriented or you’re not. Try it the other way so your palm faces the other direction.
What you have discovered is the stereotypical way of doing it. Stereotypically, men tend to be takers, which means, like Jamie’s left hand his palm is facing backwards. That is stereotypically the men’s position.
Alternatively, like my right hand I am now in the ladies position, where I am a giver, my palm is facing forward. So now you know which way works for you or not. It is difficult for me as I am between two guys. As we are going to fight over which way we are going to do this, but I’ll go this way. Is that good for you, how about you? Regardless of what the situation is.
Now let me give you a couple of things to do. First of all it is only going to involve jumping, and you are going to jump to you left, so its just a to jump to your left, or jump to your right, you’ll jump in, or you’ll jump out.
There is only four things that I invite you as a group to do whilst your holding hands. But in fact there is just two things, and that is I want you to say what I say and to do what I say. Say what I say, and do what I say.
For example, jump left (jump left). Good start, okay. Jump left (jump left). Jump out (jump out). Jump in (jump in). Jump right (jump right). Jump left (jump left). Jump in (jump in). Jump out (jump out). Jump out (jump out). Ah ha, ah ha. Alright, okay. You can do this for a second. That’s the first round. Lets move on to the next round.
Now I want you to say the opposite of what I say. Say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say. Say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say. Did I mention to you that this activity really messes with my head. So say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say. (Can you say that one more time?) Say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say.
Jump right (Jump left, lots of laughter). Say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say. Say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say.
Jump in (jump out). Jump left (jump right).
Alright, say what I say, but do the opposite of what I say. Say what I say, but do the opposite of what I say. Just whatever you have been doing Tom works. Alright, so say what I say, but do the opposite of what I say.
Jump in (jump in). Jump right (jump right). Jump in (jump in).
(people continue playing Jump In Jump Out game)
How To Play Narrative
This exercise is almost impossible not to mess-up – which is the whole point. I promise you, this Jump In Jump Out game WILL cause your group to laugh out loud.
Ask your group to form a circle, holding hands facing the centre, you included. You then explain that you want the group to …”SAY what I say, and DO what I say.”
Next, you practice a few rounds, by calling one of four commands – “JUMP IN,” “JUMP OUT,” “JUMP LEFT” or “JUMP RIGHT.”
The aim is for each person (the group) to repeat exactly what you say, at the same time they are copying what you have asked them to ‘do.’ Pretty simple, you’d think. Not! There is always a few people who move to their ‘other left’ (or right) or just simply get confused, causing the circle to crinkle.
After 20-30 seconds of this first ‘introductory’ level challenge, re-form the circle, and announce that you now want to move to the next (more interesting) level.
This time announce “SAY THE OPPOSITE of what I say, and DO what I say.” Get it?
For example, if I say “Jump In,” the group says “Jump Out” as they literally jump into the circle. Whoooahh… just typing this out is doing my head in! You may need to say this a few times for it to sink in.
OK, give it a go. Expect tons of mistakes, confusion and laughter galore – and that’s exactly what you want.
But wait, there’s more… try one of the fun ideas described in the Variations tab below.
Practical Leadership Tips
The larger the group the better. The more people, the more energy, and the more likely someone will make a ‘mistake’ sooner than later. And energy is infectious.
If you have a moment, ask your group to observe the position of their hands as they hold their partner’s hands for the first time. Clinical research indicates that stereotypically, men tend to hold hands with their palms facing backwards (taking position,) while women tend to position their hands with their palms facing forward (giving position.) It doesn’t mean anything, but… for just a few moments, you averted your group’s attention away from that awkward hand-holding position.
It’s no surprise that this fantastic energising Jump In Jump Out game has gone viral on YouTube – year after year it continues to attract the most number of views (more than 4 million as of 2021) of all activities hosted on playmeo’s activity database.
You could integrate Jump In Jump Out as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
This fun physical activity is a wonderful example of the impact of effective leadership. Take, for example, the issue of a leader who says one thing but does something else. The ramifications of these actions (even when non-intentional) are very clear in the physical context – ie bumping into others, stepping on other’s toes, etc – you may also wish to discuss the emotional and mental impacts of poor leadership. Questions such as:
What does it mean to you when a leader says one thing but does another?
What happens to group cohesion, trust and performance when this type of leadership is exposed?
What does good leadership look like and sound like?
How do you feel when you are in sync with your ‘leader?’
The variety of social interactions in this activity, not to mention the issues of communication, safety, leadership and trust, all feed perfectly into a conversation about how a group wants to look after itself. From the context of full value, an activity like Jump In Jump Out can highlight some significant issues about what your group values and how it wants to behave.
As with most adventure-based and experiential learning activities, how a group plays will often open a window into what it values and honours. In addition to the many social and emotional competencies (described in the Social-Emotional Learning tab,) you could invite your group to reflect on its level of safety consciousness, conformance to the rules and goal-setting abilities.
Do The Opposite: Re-form the circle, and announce that you want the group to “SAY what I say, and DO THE OPPOSITE of what I say.” For example, if I say “Jump Left” the group is invited to say “Jump Left” as they jump to the right.
New Commands: Add extra commands, such as “JUMP TWICE” or “JUMP HIGH” or “JUMP TWO TO THE LEFT/RIGHT.”
Jump Anywhere: Invite people to jump anywhere they choose (while still holding hands and keeping everyone around them safe) no matter what your command is – crazy, random fun.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
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Active circle name-game with lots of fun variations.
Ask your group to prep the space in front of their screens for a little bit of movement, ie they may wish to move back from their desks. Substitute each of the moves LEFT, RIGHT, IN and OUT for movements that are suitable for both their physical environments and abilities. For example, ask each person to shift their bodies to the left-hand side of their screen when you say “LEFT” and then quickly return to the centre for the next command. For IN and OUT, ask your group to move in towards their screens and a step back from their screens. To add to the chaos, instruct everyone to return to the centre position between each move.
Rather than IN and OUT, call UP and DOWN suggesting that they jump up on “UP” and bob down for the “DOWN” command. Naturally, when you move to the more challenging commands, the chaos and mayhem are hilarious.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Have you ever tried to pat your head and rub your tummy (in a circle) at the same time? Easier to say than do, right? Sometimes, even the simplest tasks to understand can be the most difficult to achieve. Welcome to this next task…
Have you ever worked with someone who says one thing but does something different themselves? Yep, me too. Well, this next exercise is a great example of what happens when this occurs in the realm of leadership…
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 energiser game:
What did you notice as the group moved with each instruction?
How much were you influenced by the movement of others in your group?
What was easier – to repeat what was said and do the opposite, or do what was said and say the opposite?
How did you respond when others made mistakes/missteps?
What might this exercise reflect about empathy and leadership? Does it teach us anything about effective leadership?