Allocate each team one particular corner of your playing space.
Give each team a bucket filled with an equal number of soft tossable items.
The bucket may be placed anywhere within the team’s area.
Explain that over the course of several rounds, each team will be challenged to collect as many items in their buckets as possible.
Announce that people are permitted to ‘steal’ one item at a time from the buckets of other teams, and place them into their own bucket.
There is no limit to the number of people from each team who can be involved in stealing at the same time.
No one is permitted to guard their team’s bucket.
Play two or more rounds of 1 to 2 minutes, providing interim score tallies.
The team with the most number of items in their bucket at the end is declared the winner.
How To Play Narrative
Separate your group into four even teams (refer to Getting Into Teams for some fun ways to do this,) and allocate each team a particular corner area of your hall or playing field.
Hand each team a bucket filled with an equal number of soft tossable items, such as fleece-balls, squeaky toys, rolled-up socks, etc, and ask them to place them somewhere accessible within their area.
Announce that this game will occur over several rounds, and that each team is challenged to collect as many items in their buckets as possible, more than any other team.
Explain that each team does this by simply running to the area of any other small team and ‘stealing’ no more than one item at a time, and returning to place it into their own bucket, robbing the nest of others.
There is no limit to the number of people from a team who can be involved in stealing at the same time.
Not many rules, other than to alert people to the fact that there will be a lot of activity between the areas, so everyone needs to be aware of other people and be safety conscious.
Also, no one is permitted to guard the buckets. Every bucket is fair game.
Start when ready, and watch the frenzy. There are few activities that work harder at exhausting the participants.
Allow two minutes for the first round, do a count and announce the interim results.
Play two or more rounds (with short rests in between,) depending on your group’s level of energy and enthusiasm for the treasure, accumulate the results and congratulate the winning team.
Practical Leadership Tips
Don’t have enough buckets? Use a cardboard box, a hula-hoop, draw a chalk circle, etc.
Clearly, the more items you can get your hands on, the better.
If you really wish to wear-out your group, place each team and their buckets as far apart as possible.
Again, a reminder: There is a lot of activity involved in robbing the nest, with many people leaning down (to steal items) with their heads at approximately the same level as other people’s knees. Need I say more?
Some people baulk at the concept of sanctioning the practice of ‘stealing.’ If this sounds like an issue for your group, then my advice is – don’t play.
It is possible to introduce one or two people for each team to protect their treasure. Generally speaking, I do not like this option because this has, on occasions, inspired overly aggressive and/or enthusiastic protective behaviours which not only cause harm but run counter to the purpose of the game.
This game is also known as King’s Treasure.
You could integrate Robbing The Nest as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
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 a good laugh.
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. Or, the degree to which fair play was demonstrated during the game.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Robbing The Nest could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
One Big Nest: Start with all the items in the centre of the playing space. The objective is the same, for every team to grab as many items for their own (initially empty) bucket, no matter where they get them.
Limit Stealers: Limit each team to one or two people who can steal items at any point in time.
Elimination Rounds: At the end of each round, eliminate the team with the least number of balls. And then Play a second round, again eliminating the team with the least number of items. Continue until one final team remains.
Nest of Balloons: Use balloons instead of soft tossables. This makes for more careful robbing, if not more colourful.
Strategy Tags: Take a look at Monarch Tag and Blob Tag to enjoy two more strategically-prominent tag games.
Robbing Pegs: Take a look at Clothes-Peg Tag to enjoy another fast-paced, tag game that honours stealing.
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Useful Framing Ideas
We all know it is wrong, but for some people, they love the feeling of stealing something because it is exciting and thrilling. Let us be clear, stealing is wrong. But, for the purposes of this game, you are allowed to steal as often as you like…
It’s always a nice feeling to win. But, if winning comes at cost, what would you do, and how would you feel? Let us explore this ethical dilemma after we play 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 super-fun and energetic game:
How did it feel to steal from another team?
How did it feel to see someone steal from your own bucket?
Did your team develop a strategy to gain more items?
Did your team form an alliance with one or more teams? Why or why not?
How might this game reflect real life?
The inspiration for Robbing The Nest, and many more energetic, large group games, was sourced from the following publication: