Point at a random person in the circle, saying one of four words – “LEFT,” “RIGHT,” “YOU” or “ME.”
Each is an instruction for the person being pointed at to accurately name the person to their left or right, their own name or yours (person in the middle.)
The name must be uttered quicker than you (middle person) can say the words “BUMPITY BUMP BUMP BUMP.”
If the correct name is called quickly enough, this person survives another round.
If they are too slow, or make a mistake, they are invited to swap roles with the person in the middle.
Play a couple of ‘test’ rounds to help your group practice.
After a few minutes, introduce one or more new people into the middle of the circle.
Video Transcript for Bumpity Bump Bump Bump presented by Mark Collard
This next exercise celebrates how much fun it can be to forget a name.
Let’s see what happens. I am going to stand in the centre of the circle so you can close this up there for me a little bit gentlemen.
And so from this starting position in the circle I will have one of four things to say. It will either be left, or right, you, or me. Left, right, you or me.
Okay so I am simply going to point to one person quite obviously, and if I point to you you need to give me the name of the person to your left or your right. If I say you it is clearly your name and if I say me it is the person in the centre’s name.
So for a quick, yeah this is a good time to go what is your name again. So go to your left and right and consider who your names are.
(Group saying their names) Very good, very good. Excellent!
Recognising of course that you won’t always be in the same place in the circle, so don’t get too comfortable. So where you are now is good, but it could change.
So let’s just quickly see what that might look like.
For example, left! (Christine) Good, that’s good.
And right! (Christine)
(Laughing) Alright, that’s okay. We are celebrating the fact…
(He really identified with you.) That’s right.
Well you did come a long way as well and so have I today. So well done.
So okay that’s basically it. There is just one ingredient missing from this point, and that is you could take all day to survey and work out what the name is.
So we are now going to add a little competitive element to it, and that is I am going to introduce what I call the Bumpity Bump Bump Bumps.
It is my level of measurement where I call right and then I say then Bumpity Bump Bump Bump. Not quite as slow as that let me say. And you need to get out the correct name before I get to the last bump.
For example it may look a little like this.
Right! Bumpity bump bump (Says name) Ooh nice I got to the second bump and you already shot it out.
You! Bumpity bump bump (Says name)
Me! Bumpity Bump Bump Bump. (Laughter)
Okay you are still studying that aren’t you? Mark just in case those people have forgotten.
(I was just demonstrating what happens when you don’t do it.)
And we celebrate that. So well done, let’s give everybody a hand.
So quickly recap. You might want to say your name to yourself a couple of times because it has been known that people forget their own name. Tim!
Okay, let’s do a couple of quick mulligan rounds. Which means we go through the motion, but you don’t actually get to swap. Because what would ordinarily happen if you happen to get it wrong or are not quick enough, it’s your turn to have some fun in the centre and I’ll swap with you if you choose into the bigger circle.
So here we go. Take a deep breath everybody. (Breaths) Loosen it out.
And left! Bumpity bump bump (Tim) Hoo
You! Bumpity bump bump (Says name) Mmm.
Right! Bumpity bump bump (Says name) Eee.
Me! Bumpity bump bump. You have had lots of time Kristen. (Laughing)
Well done. That’s our mulligan.
(Ugh left. Bumpity bump) (Nate)
(Rrrrrrr left. Bumpity bump bump) No a, no a okay.
Right! Bumpity bump bump. (Other person enters the centre)
Now we have two people in the centre folks. It may get a little difficult to do the applause at this point we now what happens when they get to the middle. Twice the chance of being called upon, so beware.
Left! Bumpity bump bump. Thank you very much. (Other person enters the circle)
(Group continues the exercise)
(Mark added people to the centre.)
You noticed that? He hopped in and people are like there’s three and four, what happened? You might notice hopefully the energy shifted a little bit, it is a little bit more playful. It just builds up to it.
Imagine if we threw out Roger and Larry. So Roger would have been two people to your right. Larry would have been two people to you left. So if someone pointed at me from the centre and said Roger. I need to say Kristen. If someone said Larry to me I would need to say Tim.
How To Play Narrative
This is one of my all-time favourite name-games. Too much is never enough.
Having formed your group into a circle, ask them to repeat after you the words “BUMPITY BUMP BUMP BUMP.” I tend to give it a bit of a groove as I say it to impress on my groups that this is very serious stuff – not!
Next, explain that the person standing in the middle of the circle (in this case, you) will approach anyone in the circle, look them straight in the eye, point to them and exclaim the words “LEFT,” “RIGHT,” “YOU” or “ME.”
This is an instruction to whom the finger is pointed to call out the name of the person to their left or right, or their name, or the name of the person doing the pointing.
At this juncture, I typically suggest that everyone should review the names of their neighbours, not to mention mine (the pointer) and of course their own – you’ll be surprised by how few people actually choose to practice saying their own name; and they wonder why they stumble with it later!!
Anyway, to this point, the game works fine as a name-reminder activity, but it’s not exciting. So this is where the bumps come in…
Explain that the person being pointed to must attempt to (correctly) name the left-right-you-or-me person as quickly as possible, indeed, before the pointer can say the words “BUMPITY BUMP BUMP BUMP.”
So, it looks like this – the pointer points and calls out “LEFT,” and immediately will follow with the groove of “BUMPITY BUMP BUMP BUMP.” Meanwhile, the pointee will attempt to blurt out a name before the pointer gleefully gets to the final bump.
If the pointee manages to shout out (note, that most people confuse volume with speed in this activity) the correct name before the last bump, the pointer hangs their head low and moves onto another target.
However, if the pointee is too slow, gives the wrong name, or simply looks like a doe in headlights, everyone has a good laugh, and the pointer and pointee are invited to swap positions.
Play a couple of ‘test’ rounds to help your group practice these highly refined name-knowing skills. Then, after a few minutes of playing the ‘real’ thing, introduce one or more new people into the middle of the circle to ramp up the energy and fun.
Practical Leadership Tips
Your group will need some level of name-knowingness to get started.
Like many games of this nature, a quick game is a good game. Encourage the ‘pointer’ to move quickly around the circle, not waiting too long between attempts to catch someone off guard.
Note, I referred to the elimination as “invited to swap positions.” This is a deliberate approach, so as to positively frame the consequence of ‘going out.’ It’s always an invitation to play, and honouring Challenge by Choice, if someone would prefer not to be in the centre, there will always, always, always be someone else willing to assume this role.
You could integrate Bumpity Bump Bump Bump as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts & behaviours, especially as these relate to the socially awkward task of learning names.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying & Managing Stress
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Recognising Strengths In Others
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Build Positive Relationships
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 of, perhaps, learning a few names, and enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could connect this fun name-game with the social responsibility of learning names and the way that it is often associated with a certain degree of social pressure, ie we expect we should be able to remember names better than we do.
Playing Bumpity Bump Bump Bump could be a useful way to buffer these individual or social pressures because the game is purposefully fun and difficult to ‘get right’ every time. For example, you could take a few moments at the end of the game to reflect on strategies that develop good memory skills and emotional intelligence, ie when one becomes more mindful of the present, stress is more likely to evaporate.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Bumpity Bump Bump Bump could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Less Commands: For younger groups, or those with lesser name-retention abilities, limit the pointer to asking for the names of “LEFT” and “RIGHT” neighbours.
Double Challenge: Add, or substitute the command with “TWO TO YOUR LEFT,” or “THREE TO YOUR RIGHT,” to really challenge your group.
Elimination 1: Introduce the activity as an elimination, whereby the person in the centre remains there all the time, and continues pointing until the final two people are left standing.
Elimination 2: Further to the above variation, ask those folks who are ‘eliminated’ to remain in the circle, but crouched down. The game continues as if they were not there, but the gap between people who are still ‘in’ will cause some of them to overlook who their neighbours truly are, ie their neighbour could be standing halfway around the other side of the circle.
Zippity Bump: Challenge the group to play Zip Zap and Bumpity Bump Bump Bump at the same time. This means that the person in the middle of the circle may call out “LEFT,” “RIGHT, “YOU,” “ME” or “ZIP.”
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Useful Framing Ideas
So, you think you know everyone in the group, hey? Well, I’m betting that in a few moments, you may even forget your own name. You may want to practice saying it to yourself a few times just to prepare 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 circle name-game:
Under pressure, how easy was it to recall the correct name?
Did you perform better under pressure or not? Why?
What strategies did you employ to be successful?
Where else in your life or work does pressure make an impact?
The inspiration for Bumpity Bump Bump Bump, and many more fun name-games, was sourced from the following publications: