Form a tight circle, asking your group to place their arms on the shoulders of their neighbours.
When you say “LOOK UP” everyone looks straight up into the air.
When you say “LOOK DOWN” everyone casts their eyes down and directly at the eyes of one specific person in the circle.
When two people happen to look directly at each other, they immediately let out a scream and leave the circle.
The circle rejoins, and continues the looking up and down routine.
Those who leave the circle form a second circle, and restart the looking up and down process.
People move between the two circles with each round.
Continue play for 1 to 2 minutes.
Video Transcript for Look Up Look Down
presented by Mark Collard
From this position I’m going to ask you do is just to take your own hands and place them on the shoulders of the people next to you.
From this position you’d be familiar with the concept, you know we’re walking down the street and in the middle of the street of, you know Sydney or whatever, you don’t know anybody, but you just happen as you… I’ll just come out of this for a second.
You’re walking past someone and you catch someone’s eye for just a brief second. What do you do immediately do having caught their eye?
You look away. That’s the safe thing to do. It’s like whoa that’s a little too much, and then immediately, and then immediately, what do you then do?
(You look back to see if they’re still looking at you.)
Exactly, you look back to see if they’re still looking at you. This game is all about that social phenomenon, about basically looking at people’s eyes.
So from this position here’s what’s going to happen.
I’m going to ask you to do two things. It’ll either be look up, which means you’ll look straight up towards the roof, and then when I say look down you only look down as far as eye level of someone else in the circle.
So we’ll just practice that for a second.
So look up! Look down! And you look directly at them.
Now is there anybody looking at each other?
Fantastic! Okay here’s what’s going to happen that’s going to create a trigger of energy that when you happen to look down and you are both looking, like Ann Marie and I are both looking at each other she gives me the eye, you then with a powerful force break out of the circle and form and new circle. We’ll do it in the space behind Ann Marie.
So as we look up, and then we look down at each other, so Ann Marie if could you just look back to me for just a second, and we go Whaa… and you pull out of the room, out of the circle, and you go form a new circle.
So four people pulled out, you go form a new circle and start there. Someone will just start it with look up, then look down, you just keep going. Look up, Look down, as often as you can over the next minute or two.
Each time you move from a circle go back to the other circle. Leave this one go back to the other circle, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.
There’s two circles. Right now there’s only one though. Okay, got the idea?
Good luck. Are you ready?
Remember to look directly at them so there’s absolutely no doubts.
So look up! Look down.
(Some form a new circle as part of Look Up. Look Down)
Good now reform a circle. We reform a circle. Keep it going quick. Lookup! look down.
(Some go to the other circle as part of Look Up. Look Down)
Okay, look up. Look down.
(Mark joins the circle.)
Look up. Look down.
Look up. Look down.
(People are moving circles.)
Look up. Look down.
(People continue to move to different circles.)
Look up. Look down.
How To Play Narrative
Form a circle facing inwards inviting people to place their arms on the shoulders of their neighbours, kind of like a loose huddle.
Explain to your group that you will soon give a series of commands to “LOOK UP” and “LOOK DOWN” one after the other.
On the command “LOOK UP,” everyone is asked to cast their eyes directly up above them.
And then, on your command to “LOOK DOWN,” everyone is obliged to cast their eyes no lower than, and directly at the eye level of other group members. Indeed, everyone should attempt to look directly at one person, often across the circle to them.
Now, if two people happen to look at each other (ie by chance) at the same time, they instantaneously implode (arms fly madly into the air with exclamations of joy,) break away from their neighbours, and depart the circle.
This implosion will take a few seconds to settle, at which point the circle rejoins, and the next call of “LOOK UP” is issued.
Typically, the dearly departed members of the group are invited to form a new circle, and continue the looking up and down routine ad nauseam.
Your group can continue to form new circles, or choose to re-join an existing one – it doesn’t matter. After a minute or two, the excitement should have peaked, and you can happily move on.
Practical Leadership Tips
Note, if you are outside, warn people not to look directly up into the sun.
Removing sunglasses or large hats which shade the face is a good idea too, especially in large groups.
The larger your group, the more circles you may wish to introduce. Works best with no more than 30 in a circle, otherwise it gets hard to see who is looking at who.
You could integrate Look Up Look Down as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to make caring and constructive choices about their personal behaviour and social interactions.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits of enjoying a burst of positive social interaction and a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that this fun name game could focus your group’s attention on a variety of social interactions which could have both positive and negative implications. For example, speaking from the realm of emotional intelligence, most people would understand that, on one hand, maintaining eye contact is a respectful social cue when engaged in a conversation. However, on the other hand, staring at someone not engaged in conversation could be regarded as rude or disturbing.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Look Up Look Down could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Random Partners: Use this game to generate random partners, ie comprising the two people who look at each other. Mutual pairs depart the circle, the circle rejoins and the pairing process continues until everyone has a partner.
Twin Circles: Start with two circles, and as mutual looking partners implode, they simply join the other circle, back and forth, back and forth.
Matching Sighs: Invite matching pairs to sigh like a bored, disinterested teenager as they move between circles. Ideal for locations where you can’t make too much noise.
Distant Circles: Adding to the above variation, start with two circles positioned far apart, and require pairs who depart one circle to run to the other. Brilliant for raising heart rates.
Who’s In The Middle: Ask all pairs who lock eyes with each other to congregate in the centre of the circle, shake hands and greet one another by name audibly. When ready, the facilitator (you?) calls “WHO’S IN THE MIDDLE?” which will signal the rest of the group to call out the names of all of the people in the centre. These folk then move to a new spot in the circle and the game continues.
Switch: Invite matching pairs to swap positions within the circle as quickly as possible. Call the next “LOOK UP” command quickly to motivate those swapping spots to move speedily. Make your group aware that on occasions there will be several pairs moving (inside the circle,) so encourage all movers to be aware of others.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Have you ever been walking along the street, and stolen a quick glance in someone’s direction only to discover that they were looking at you, too? After turning away, did you glance back again quickly to see if they were still looking at you? They often are! These spooky encounters are what this next game is all about…