Introduce and practice three different gestures with your group, each involving two fingers being extended and placed:
– Above one’s eyes (eyebrows)
– Above one’s mouth / below the nose (moustache)
– Under one’s chin / on neck (bowtie)
By way of demonstration, initiate a consistent beat by patting your thighs twice, then clapping twice, patting your thighs twice again before (randomly) displaying one of these two-finger gestures.
Practice and repeat this slapping and clapping rhythm with your group for 10-20 seconds featuring the random display of any of the three gestures at the same time.
When ready, announce that you are ‘It’ which means that you will start the rhythm of the beat encouraging everyone to follow with you.
Explain that on each occasion when you display your two-finger gesture, everyone who matches it (with their own two-finger gesture) will be eliminated from the game and be invited to step out of the circle.
As quickly as possible, resume the beat and continue to feature a series of random two-finger gestures eliminating more people with each round.
Challenge each person to stay in the game for as long as possible.
Game continues until everyone is eliminated.
Play several rounds and/or invite a new person to be ‘It.’
How To Play Narrative
Having formed a circle, your next task is to invite your group to mimic a series of three unique physical gestures, all of which involve extending two fingers (middle and pointer) on one of your hands in one of three places:
Above one’s eyes (eyebrows;)
Above one’s mouth / below the nose (moustache;) and
Under one’s chin / on neck (bowtie.)
Practice these gestures a couple of times by calling each one randomly in a row, eg “MOUSTACHE. EYEBROWS. MOUSTACHE. EYEBROWS. BOWTIE…” You get the idea.
Next, announce that you want to establish a particular rhythm that will punctuate each of these three gestures. Any beat will do, but I have found this to be the most simple to teach and perform – slap thighs x 2, clap x 2, slap thighs x 2 and then show (any) one of the three gestures.
For example, it will sound and look like this – SLAP, SLAP, CLAP, CLAP, SLAP, SLAP, [gesture.]
Practice this rhythm a few times by immediately resuming your beat as soon as one of the gestures has been performed. When you feel that your group has got it, you are ready to move on.
It’s now time to explain the purpose of the two-finger gesture.
Announce that as the beat progresses, each time the group performs the two-finger gesture, every person who reveals the exact same gesture as you (let’s call you ‘It’) will be eliminated and invited to take a big step out of the circle.
This means if you happen to show a moustache, every other person in the circle who also reveals a moustache is out of the game.
As soon as possible, you will resume the beat encouraging your group to keep up and mimic the beat with you. In quick time, you will have (randomly) performed another of the three gestures and once again, everyone who happens to match your gesture will be eliminated from the game.
If it’s not already clear, the ultimate objective for each person is to stay in the game for as long as possible.
Play a couple of dummy rounds before playing for real, ie all those who match your gesture will now be eliminated. ie asked to step out of the circle. My advice is to start with a slow beat and as your group becomes more familiar with it, pick up the pace.
On average each round will eliminate about one-third of your group, so it won’t take long to get down to the last couple of people. Play continues until everyone is out of the game.
Introduce several rounds, or invite a new person to be ‘It’ or try something new from the Variations tab.
Practical Leadership Tips
As they say, a fast game is a good game. As your group becomes more familiar with the rhythm and the process, the beat can be maintained almost without stopping, ie those who are eliminated simply pull out of the circle as the game (and beat) continues.
Some people feel pretty strongly about not using elimination games in their repertoire. While I do understand their concern, if you’re not sure what the pro’s and con’s are of eliminating folks from a game, take a look at Episode 29 of the Facilitator Tips video series for some helpful advice.
Beware the boredom factor when people have nothing to do after they have been eliminated and await a new round to begin. If necessary, consider introducing the role of a heckler (see Ah So Ko for a useful description of this role.)
Take the time to help players figure out what parts of the instructions are getting in the way of them being successful.
Take time to practice slowly if the participants feel that this would be helpful.
You could integrate Match & Out as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers 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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a fun game.
In a small way, you could argue that the motivation required to keep playing when, perhaps, one is frequently eliminated may speak to the resilient characteristics of a person, but this would not be considered the primary purpose of this game.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Match & Out could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Passing Play: Every time a gesture is displayed (and eliminations are processed) the role of ‘It’ passes to the person on the left of the most recent ‘It.’ Challenge your group to maintain the beat as best as they can as the role of ‘It’ is passed from person to person. Beware, sometimes the next person to the left is suddenly eliminated so the role of ‘It’ migrates to the next eligible player.
Progressive Play: All those who are eliminated are invited to re-join the circle between It and the person to their immediate left. The idea is that the longer one can continue in the game (ie not match It) the closer they will come to standing on the right-hand side of It. If a person can stand there for, say, three rounds, they are entitled to become the new It.
Ultimate Match & Out: If the person playing “It’ (who eliminated you) is later eliminated, you are entitled to come back into play.
Quick Game: Reverse the odds and invite all those who match to stay in the game.
Non-Elimination: Invite every person to keep score, earning a point every time they match It’s gesture, ie there are no eliminations.
Abe Lincoln Style: Adopt a variety of different gestures, such as top hat, beard and bowtie reflecting the iconic style of Abraham Lincoln.
Add Gestures: Invite your group to create up to 5 of their own gestures.
Take a look at ESP which is a fun partner-matching exercise involving three more active gestures.
Take a look at Ah So Ko to play a similar game of three gestures with the added complexity of directions.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Provided you have fast internet speeds, this game works well in a virtual setting. Start with everyone switching to gallery view on their video screen, nominate an It and play as normal. When someone is eliminated, ask them to switch off their webcam.
Note, switching off a webcam can be problematic for some groups. If this sounds like your group, simply ask those who are eliminated to cross their arms on their chests for the rest of the game, ie keeping their webcam on.
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Useful Framing Ideas
One of the core components of our conversation about developing healthy behavioural group norms is the skill of letting go and moving on. This can be a hard thing to do when what you are letting go of is really important to you. So, let’s start with something quite simple and silly…
How do you make plans when there are many variables you just can’t plan in advance for? Sometimes, life throws you a curveball or something else quite random. Let’s practice the finely attuned skill of dealing with random events in this next activity…
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 group game:
What did you notice during the activity?
In what ways did this activity challenge you?
If you were eliminated early and often, what did you make this mean? Why?
How do you make sense of random events, eg those things you can’t control in your life? What’s an example?
How do you cope in a rapidly changing environment?
The inspiration for Match & Out was sourced from Floyd Hinman who learned this crazy group game many years ago and has loved it ever since.