So we’re now going to take those highly refined skills of walking and stopping again in the same space that we’ve been working with, but let’s just recap what you’ve already known.
So I’m going to now return to having the responsibility to saying STOP and WALK. So for your purposes it can remain silent other than for the sounds in the air and the rustling of leaves under your feet. So it’s walk, and stop, walk, and stop. And again you’re going to continue to freeze.
(people walking as part of Walk & Stop)
(people stop walking, and so on…)
Okay. Now while you are still stopped, let’s ramp up the value of this exercise. I’m now going to swap those commands. When you hear me say WALK I want you to stop, freeze. And when I say STOP I want you to walk. Remembering when you’re walking you’re not touching anyone, you’re not saying anything to anyone. So they are now exactly the opposite.
(people walking as part of Walk & Stop)
(people stopping, and so on…)
Alright, let’s add some more to this. I’m now going to give you two more commands. In addition to WALK and STOP as you now know them, I’m going to ask you to respond to two new commands.
One is NAME. When I say NAME you just simply call out your own name. That works much better. Does anyone need time to practise? And the other command, the fourth command is CLAP. The key to CLAP is that it sounds like just one person clapping. So synchronicity is like everyone clapping at the same time.
So the new commands are NAME, you call out your name, and when I say CLAP it sounds like one giant clap. Of course we continue to stop and walk as you now understand them to be. Let’s just practise that for a second.
(people calling out their names as as they play Walk & Stop)
(people clapping, and so on…)
So if you were able to do any one of the commands while another command is being performed, please do that.
(people following the commands)
Alright, are you ready for more? Swap those last two commands around. So when I say NAME we’re going to hear a giant clap. And when I say CLAP we’re going to hear you all say your own names out loudly. STOP and WALK continue as you already know. Got the basics. Are you ready? You’re lying if you said yes.
(people calling out their names)
(people stopping as part of playing Walk & Stop)
(people walking, and so on…)
Jump… So now we’re introducing a new set, final two commands. When I say JUMP it is as you say I invite you to jump. And then if I ask you to DANCE I want you to boogie on the spot. So you now have two new commands, the fifth and sixth command. It is now JUMP and DANCE in addition to what you already know about WALK and STOP, NAME and CLAP. Let’s just practise that for a moment.
So, Jump. Jump.
Boogie, or dance. Dance.
(people dancing, and so on…)
Alright, the final version folks to bring it all home. You can guess what’s about to happen. When I say JUMP I want you to boogie or dance. When I say DANCE I want you to jump.
How To Play Narrative
As soon as I saw this activity, I knew it was going to become a quick favourite.
First, locate a large open space in which you can ask your group to spread themselves.
Then, explain that you will issue a series of commands that will require the group to move or stop as quickly as possible. That is, when you say “WALK” you would like everyone to start walking, and when you say “STOP” you need everyone to immediately stop.
Practice this highly-developed set of skills for 20 to 30 seconds.
Already, you can expect a lot of laughter, because on many occasions, some members of your group will move or not move at the wrong time. And this is good.
Now, it gets interesting.
When ready, pause the action and explain that you would now like to swap the meaning of each of the two commands. For example, when you say “STOP” you want the group to walk. And, when you say “WALK” you want your group to stop.
I can hear the groans from here.
There’s nothing that can prepare for this moment, you just have to dive into it. Once again, you can expect lots of laughter and creeping amounts of frustration as some people get physically and audibly agitated when they make a mistake.
Ordinarily, I suggest that people simply tally the number of times they make a mistake. You could, of course, eliminate these people, which is a useful variation. But I prefer to keep everyone playing because this option keeps the energy higher.
Depending on the abilities of your group, you may now choose to issue your next challenge – two new commands:
“NAME” you want everyone to call out their name loudly; and
“CLAP” you want everyone to clap once simultaneously, so that it sounds like one loud clap.
So, to summarise – the group is still walking when you say “STOP” and stopping when you say “WALK” and now, will need to call out their own name when you say “NAME” and clap together when you say “CLAP.”
Got it? But wait, there’s more…
After 30 or more seconds of responding to these four commands, you ramp up the challenge once more.
Yep, you guessed it. Explain that when you say “NAME” you want the group to perform one simultaneous clap, and when you say “CLAP” you want everyone to call out their (own) name.
Phew. This is easy to say or to read off the screen, but very difficult to respond to quickly and accurately – which is the whole point.
Once again, encourage group to keep a count of how many times they may make a mistake.
As an energiser, Walk & Stop is guaranteed to do just that.
However, like many activities featured within this activity database, there are many more teachable moments that can be squeezed from this experience (take a look at the Reflection tab for some starting points.)
Practical Leadership Tips
Don’t dwell too long on any one round. This is a very difficult, and mentally challenging exercise. Consider your purpose before diving into it. If it’s to have fun, a series of 20-30 second rounds will certainly inspire a lot of laughter and good energy. If you’re treating this more like a group initiative, then fewer but longer rounds may suffice.
As I said, expect frustration. Unless this is your purpose, to explore how individuals or the group as a whole manage these feelings, you are best to encourage your group to keep trying and keep focused.
In my experience, the larger the group the better. Naturally you could do this with a small group, but generally small groups lack that certain level of contagion to make this activity super-fun.
Walk & Stop can be as powerful as a teaching tool as it is fun. With careful consideration, you can engage your group with the fun built into the exercise, and later discuss many pertinent issues such as integrity, quality control, self-control, language, comprehension, culture, etc.
Walk & Stop Plus: Add two more commands – “JUMP” which means everyone must jump on the spot, and “DANCE” which invites everyone to dance a little boogie for a few seconds. Then, of course, swap their meanings. Utter chaos, but oh so much fun.
Musical Moves: Replace your verbal commands with a variety of distinct musical sounds, eg car horn, drum beat, flute, etc. Thus, when your group hears a particular sound, they react accordingly.
Jump Where? Take a look at Jump In Jump Out to enjoy another equally challenging mental energiser.
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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 dynamic energising game:
When the first switch of the commands occurred, what did you experience?
How did you react when you made an error?
How did others react, and what did you make this mean?
What strategies did you employ to respond as quickly and accurately as possible?
In what other areas of your life do you need to respond quickly and/or accurately?