Form a circle in which everyone can see every other person.
One person starts by creating the antlers of a ‘moose,’ ie placing their open hands with out-stretched fingers up to the sides of their head, thumbs on temples.
Immediately, the two people left and right of the ‘moose’ respond by copying this ‘antler’ action, but only using that hand closest to the moose.
At any time they choose, the ‘moose’ (only) will bend their antlers forward on their head (keeping thumbs in position) while pointing with their two index fingers and looking directly at another person in the group.
The pointed-at person becomes the next ‘moose’ who will immediately sprout antlers together with his or her neighbours.
The previous moose trio relinquishes their antlers, as the new moose picks up the action.
Continue play for several minutes.
How To Play Narrative
Start by forming a circle whereby everyone can see every other person. Your group can be standing or sitting, and will work even around a dinner table while you wait for your meals to arrive (in fact, this is where I first learned this game.)
You kick-off by placing your open hands with out-stretched fingers up to the sides of your head, thumbs poking at your temples. These are your ‘antlers,’ such that if someone was to look at you with blurry eyes from a distance, they could mistake you for a moose or a deer! Well, perhaps, after a few beers.
Now, explain that as soon as the ‘moose’ (you) produces their antlers, the two people either side of you must immediately respond by copying this ‘antler’ action, but only using that hand closest to you.
For example, the person to the left of you will only use their right hand (closest to you) to create an antler off to the right-side of their head, and the person to the right of you will use their left hand. So, for every moose, there should only ever be four branches of ‘antler’ or whatever the singular form of antlers is.
The antlered people can hold their position for as long as they like, but a quick game is a good game.
So, at any time they choose, the ‘moose’ (only) will bend their antlers forward on their head (keeping thumbs in position) while pointing with their two index fingers and looking directly at another (random) person in the group.
As you may have guessed, the pointed-at person becomes the next moose, who will immediately sprout antlers alongside the two subsequently created by his or her neighbours. The old moose combo relinquishes their antlers, and the new moose continues the action.
You’ll probably squeeze a good three or so minutes out of this silliness, which is all it is. Its raison d’être is observed simply in the hilarity generated when someone makes a mistake. There’s no more serious consequence than a good laugh.
Practical Leadership Tips
This is quite obviously a silly game. Perfect for those times when your group is up for some nonsense. Or, you simply need to fill in some time.
Note, it’s only the moose who turns their antlers toward another person in the group.
Given the imprecise nature of antler pointing, ask the ‘moose’ to be quite deliberate in their looking at the next person.
The game is good for groups up to 20 to 25 people. After that, it gets very hard to know exactly if the moose is pointing at you, or your neighbour.
You could integrate Antlers into a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s abilities to demonstrate self-discipline as much as promote personal and collective well-being.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
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 successfully play Antlers speaks to the benefits of goal-setting and mindfulness.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Antlers could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Eliminations: Introduce eliminations for a slow or inaccurate moose and/or neighbours. Rather than remove people from the group as they are eliminated, ask the err-inclined people to fold their arms on their chest to present a further challenge for those still in the game to identify their neighbours.
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Fun, quick game to fill a couple of idle minutes.
Ah So Ko
Extremely engaging & playful circle game just for fun.
Playful & energetic circle game to fill-in two minutes.
Useful Framing Ideas
Hey, it’s gonna be a few minutes before our meal arrives, so try this out around the table…
In the world of charades, there are many animals that can be mimed by using just one or two physical gestures. For example, if I do this […raise hands above head and roar…], what am I? […allow a few moments for suggestions…] A lion or a bear, right? So, what if I do this […place hands with out-stretched fingers up to the sides of your head, thumbs poking at your temples…], what am I? That’s right, a moose or a deer. This game is all about them…
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:
How often did you make a mistake? Was this OK?
What was the response of the group when a mistake was made?
What impact does this response have on a person’s willingness to participate?
The inspiration for Antlers, and many more fun community-building games, was sourced in the following publication (now out of print:)