Standing in the middle of an open space, the members of each team stand in a straight line to represent one (or four) sides of a square.
Position yourself in the middle of this square.
Facing towards one of the teams, ask each team to acknowledge their position relative to you, eg front, back, left or right.
When you shift your position, every team must re-orient themselves, so that they return to their original orientation relative to you.
On the call “QUICK LINE-UP” each team must re-orient themselves, re-form their line, hold hands and say “WE’RE HERE” as quickly as possible.
The team which re-positions itself the quickest, wins that round.
Play for several rounds, during which you shift your position progressively further away from your group.
How To Play Narrative
Divide your group into four teams of roughly even numbers. To achieve a random mix, take a look at Getting Into Teams.
To start, stand in the middle of a square which is formed by the members of each team standing next to each other on one side of the square. Choose a space that has ample room for movement.
To reinforce who is on what team, ask the members of each side of the square to hold hands (ie the corner people don’t hold,) and when you point to their team, ask them to raise their arms high in the air, and scream “WE’RE ALL HERE” Dispense bonus points for whoever is the loudest.
Deliberately face towards one of the teams. Nominate this team as “NORTH” and the team behind you as “SOUTH,” on your left is “WEST” and on your right is “EAST.” Pretty simple. You could just as easily nominate them as front, back, left and right too.
Then, shift your position, say a full 90 degrees to your right, so that you are now facing directly at the ‘East’ team.
Explain that as soon as you say “QUICK LINE UP” (which is like saying “GO,”) every team has to release their hands, and move as quickly as possible back into their original positions relative to you, ie ‘North’ will always end up facing you, ‘South’ will always be looking at your butt, etc, etc.
The first team to return to their original positions, raise their re-coupled hands and shout “WE’RE ALL HERE” wins.
Have fun teasing people, and move outside the initial boundaries of the square. In fact, I make it a point to make it look like I’m ready to have them move, and then I move again.
Just be sure that no one moves an inch, until you say “QUICK LINE UP.”
Practical Leadership Tips
For safety purposes, I reiterate – ensure that people release their hands before they move to re-position themselves. Otherwise, chaos will ensue not to mention, the potential for harm.
If you would like to really raise the heart rates of your group, move yourself a long way from the teams before you yell “QUICK LINE UP!”
In case someone asks, it’s not necessary for a team to re-align themselves in exactly the same sequence of members – left to right – as their original formation. However, if you wish to make the task more challenging, go right ahead and make this part of the rules.
You could integrate Quick Line-Up 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 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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying short bursts of physical activity and working together in a team.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to interact and engage physically with others may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of safety consciousness that was demonstrated during the activity and relate this to a set of observed impacts on others.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Quick Line-Up could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Stacks on the Mill: Just for fun, lie down facing up, down or on your side and see what happens. But be prepared for people to lie on you, aka stacks on the mill.
Hula-Hoop Pass: Distribute a hula-hoop to every team. Before a team can line-up, they must all pass their bodies through the hoop (one at a time) – it doesn’t matter when they perform this task, before, during or after they have re-aligned themselves.
Multiple Line-Ups: Ask 2 to 4 people to stand evenly throughout the space with responsibility for randomly calling “QUICK LINE-UP,” although only one at a time. The first team to re-position themselves correctly around the caller wins that round.
Perfect Line-Up: Take a look at Perfect Circle to enjoy another fun, return-to-your-original-positions group activity.
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Useful Framing Ideas
This next activity will require the rapid response of teams of [enter number…] people. Each of these teams will be instructed to perform the same task every time, as quickly as possible in an attempt to be the quickest team. There will be opportunities for your team to consider how you can perform your task as efficiently and effectively as possible…
Most military organisations use a series of commands to cause their troops to react in a particular way. For example, when the command “ATTENTION” is called, everyone is expected to snap to the position in which they are standing straight, looking forward, feet together and not move an inch. This next exercise is based on the command of ‘FALL IN” in which you will be required to rapidly form a line at the position of attention….
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, large group energiser:
Did you take any short-cuts to achieve a rapid line-up? In what way?
What was the most challenging part of this exercise?
What helped your group successfully line-up?
The inspiration for Quick Line-Up, and many more large group energisers, was sourced from the following publication: