Ask everyone in your group to stand to one side of a long line marked on the ground.
Encourage people to spread themselves evenly along the line, within 30cm of the line.
Identify one side of the line as ‘Salt’ and the other as ‘Pepper.’
Loudly announce a series of calls such as “SALT, PEPPER, SALT, SALT…”
Immediately upon each call, each person must jump to the correct side.
If an individual makes an error, eg jumps to the wrong side of the line, they are eliminated.
Each person aims to stay in the game for as long as possible.
The last person remaining wins.
Video Transcript for Salt & Pepper
presented by Mark Collard
This exercise is all about salt and pepper. Andrew, thank you very much. We’re going to play… we’re actually going to end up using these… this is simply creating… actually let’s maybe move down here a little more… create a line.
I’d like you to imagine there is a line between these two points. I’d like you all to stand single file line between these two boffers. In between the boffers. I may need to give you some more room. Alright. Excellent. Alright. That’s good.
Now, note that there’s a line that you’re presently standing on. I’d like you all to take a left hand step to this side. It just needs to be a small one, that’s fine. Okay. And now take a big jump so you end up on the other side of this imaginary line. Jump to your right. Alright. Perfect here, okay.
So your jumps don’t have to be quite so big, but your only exercise in this activity is moving just like you did. You’re either on the left-hand side or the right-hand side. Let me give them a name.
This side is ‘Salt’. So whenever I say ‘Salt’, you personally need to find yourself on this side of the line.
If I say ‘Pepper’, you’ll be where you exactly are right now. So it’s either ‘Salt’ or ‘Pepper’.
So let’s just test that for a second before I introduce what actually happens. Are you ready?
And the object is to get there as quickly as possible. Don’t hesitate. As soon as you hear it, you want to move. Are you ready for the next one?
Alright, now it gets more tricky.
There are only ever two commands, Salt and Pepper, but they don’t always come in the same order. I might say two Peppers in a row for example, or never say Salt for a minute. You need to be in the right spot at all times. Are you ready?
That’s Pepper and this is Salt. Okay? The object now… I might make this line a little bit bigger now so there’s room for everyone. Very good. Okay.
Salt! You want to move it quickly. Very good.
Pepper! Salt! Pepper! Pepper!
Alright. Okay. Notice there was a little bit of baulking there thinking I was going to say ‘salt’. So now we’re going to play just for a little longer, but when we get to the point when we officially start, if you baulk or move at the wrong time, we invite you to come out here and join me, have some fun by calling the next ‘Salt’ or ‘Pepper’.
Alright, we are now playing for sheep stations. Folks, this is the real thing. It’s the official start. If you happen to jump when you shouldn’t or baulk very obviously, I’ll invite you to come and join me.
Are you ready? Are you sure you know your Salt from your Pepper? It would be a disaster on your evening meal if you got these mixed up. Here we go. Pepper!
(kids playing Salt & Pepper)
Alright, back to me. We’re going to see how we go from here. Are you ready guys?
Salt! Salt! Salt! Salt! Sss… Pepper! Pepper! Sss… Salt! Salt! Any moves now will bring you out. Well done. Fantastic. Here we go. You can help me out here now.
(kids playing Salt & Pepper)
Bunch in a little closer, guys. Bunch in a little closer.
(kids playing Salt & Pepper)
If you moved you are out. You know if you’ve moved.
(kids playing Salt & Pepper)
I think you did. You were so good. I know it’s a hard part about the balance.
We’re down to the last two.
Pepper. Salt. Salt. Salt. Salt. Pepper. Pepper. Sss… I think you’re out. That’s good, Tommy. A hand. Well done.
Good job, Tommy.
How To Play Narrative
Ask your group to stand directly to one side of a long line marked on the ground, for example, a basketball court boundary, or a line scraped on the ground. From your perspective, the group will appear spread out in a single file formation within 30cm (1′) of the line.
Next, name the two distinct areas that will represent the two sides of the line, eg one side is the “Salt” and the other is the “Pepper.” It may just as well be ‘Pool’ and ‘Bleachers,’ or ‘Field’ and ‘Building’ reflecting the geography of the area you are playing within. It totally doesn’t matter, so long as the areas are named.
It’s pretty simple from here.
Once everyone is in position, you are ready to call out a series of commands to instruct your group to jump to one side of the line or the other. For example, your two calls are “SALT” or “PEPPER” and the group, one by one but at the same time, must jump to or remain on the side which represents the call.
It could sound something like this “….SALT…..PEPPER…. SALT….SALT…” When you are completely unpredictable – both in terms of pace and timing – the suspense is palpable. A little teasing doesn’t go astray either, such as “…SSSSSSSPEPPER…”
Here’s the rub. If someone jumps when they shouldn’t, or is too slow when they should have jumped, or – if you want to be completely ruthless – a person flinches slightly as if they were going to jump, then these folks are ‘out of the game.’ Now, you get to decide what that means of course.
Typically, those who make an error will be asked to leave the group, and the game will continue to determine a ‘winner.’ In these circumstances, I suggest inviting one of the ‘newly-eliminated’ to make the next calls.
Practical Leadership Tips
Although it may be tempting to use a rope laid on the ground or floor as the delineating line, I suggest avoiding this option to prevent the albeit slim chance someone may trip on it.
A quick game is a good game. Moving quickly between the calls makes it more challenging, and much more fun.
As described in the Narrative tab, this exercise works just as well with any two labels. To make it extra tricky, use two words which start with the same first letter, eg “SEA” and “SAND.” Or connect to your local geography so that you refer to two objects which appear to the left and right of the line, eg “TREE” and “WALL.”
Observe the different ways people manage their concentration during the game. Some will close their eyes to block out other distractions, some will wait for others to move just a nano-second before they make a move, etc. There would be value in conducting a brief conversation (debrief) at the end of the game to learn what helped people to focus on making the correct move, and applying these skills to other aspects of their workplace, classroom, sporting club, etc. See Reflection Tips tab for more information.
Three Lives: Give everyone three ‘lives’ before they have to say bye-bye.
Partner Challenge: Form into pairs, and instruct all moves must now be made with a partner (often partners face each other and hold hands.) If one or both partners make an error, then they are both eliminated.
Salt-Pepper-Vinegar: Mark two parallel lines on the ground (placed about 60cm or 2′ apart) to create three areas for your group to jump in and out of. To be fair, the caller can only call the name of a directly adjacent side for people to jump into.
Land-Sea-Air: Identify the two sides of the line as Sea and Land. Add a third command “AIR” which instructs everyone to jump into the air and land in exactly the same spot. Naturally, if they move from their spot, they are eliminated.
Call & Response: Take a look at Shipwreck and Walk & Stop for more call-and-response large group games.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
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For the basic variation, ask people to move to the extreme left of their screen (as viewed by their video thumbnail) for “SALT” and to the extreme right of their screen for “PEPPER.” Naturally, those who move when they shouldn’t are eliminated, in which case they are instructed to either (a) remain in the centre of their thumbnail, (b) place their hands on their head or (c) temporarily switch off video.
Useful Framing Ideas
How well can you respond when you hear a simple command? What if I said that you only had to respond to one of two commands, would this seem any easier?…
Do you find yourself completing the sentences of other people, or perhaps anticipating what they are about to say? If so, then you are well positioned for this next exercise…
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 game:
What did you notice about yourself or others as the activity progressed?
What did you say to yourself when you happened to make a wrong move?
What strategies did you employ to help you focus on making the right moves?
Where else in your life/work/school do you need to respond quickly and accurately?
The inspiration for Salt & Pepper, and many more energetic large group energisers, was sourced from the following publication: