Each team nominates one person to volunteer as the ‘communicator.’
Position each team at least 5 to 10 metres away from their ‘communicator’ with all teams assembled on one side of your playing space.
Before starting, tell each ‘communicator’ a unique four- or five-letter word, eg HAND.
Each communicator will attempt to spell the word to their team one letter at a time, using only their buttocks as the writing instrument, ie imagine there is a pen pinned between their cheeks.
The goal for each team is to correctly identify as many words as possible in the allotted time, eg 5 minutes.
Once the word has been correctly identified, a new person from the team swaps roles with the ‘communicator’ and receives a new word to spell.
Repeat this process until the allotted time expires, or your list of words is finished.
The team which identifies the most number of words, wins.
Video Transcript for Butt Charades
presented by Mark Collard
We have set ourselves up so we have four groups. There’s a group of mostly three on this side and one of your team members have come over here. You are going to rely on these four people, this one person from your team to communicate to you a four-letter word.
I am secretly going to give each of these four people what that word is. Only they will know it. And then by turning their back to you they are then going to write those letters one letter at a time in the way in which that word would be spelled.
So if it was “PATH”, P-A-T-H, they are going to write that letter imagining they have placed a writing instrument between the cheeks of their bottom, and they are going to write that letter imagining they’re going to move their bottom in the path of that letter.
As soon as your group has worked out that letter you move on to the next letter. As soon as your group has identified the four-letter word, swap off. You come back here, a new person comes out.
In the space of the next three minutes the group that manages to guess as many four-letter words correctly shall win.
Alright, you got the basic idea? Okay. There’s no other communication other than you folks trying to guess the letters.
(Do we yell out each letter that we guess?)
Yes, so that way they know they’ve got it. So they’re going to yell out the letter one at a time.
(And then we just go up when they’ve got it right?)
Exactly. You’ll put the letters together. You’ll know the word. Okay?
Incidentally, each of the groups is working on a different word, so it’s not going to help you listening to any other group.
Alright, everybody ready? Okay.
(people playing Butt Charades)
How To Play Narrative
Butt Charades is still new to me, but I’m sensing it will soon become a crowd favourite. However, as you will quickly discern, you need to pick your moment and sequence this activity well in your program.
To start, break your gathering into a number of smaller teams, of say 3 to 5 people. Invite one volunteer from each group to nominate themselves as the first ‘communicator.’
Ask each team to stand at least 5 to 10 metres (16′ to 33′) away from their newly appointed ‘communicator’ and spaced far enough away from other groups so as to not interfere with one another. At a glance, all teams will be assembled on one side of your playing space, facing a line of designated ‘communicators’ on the other side.
Next, whisper or otherwise tell each of the ‘communicators’ a four (or five) letter word, eg HAND. You could prepare a list in advance, or just make them up on the spot – it’s up to you. Give each communicator (team) a different word.
On your signal, each of the ‘communicators’ will imagine that there is a writing instrument pinned between their glutes (aka their butt cheeks), and with their backs to each of their their teams, begin writing the letters (corresponding to the word you gave them) in the air.
Please note, I said ‘imagine’ – there are no pens mentioned on the equipment list!
Explain that the object for each ‘communicator’ is to relay this word as effectively and as quickly as possible to their team. Once gotten, the communicator switches position with someone new in their team. At which point, you need to give them the next word on your list.
This process of communicating and guessing continues for an allotted time period, say, five minutes, or for as many rounds as you have words on your list.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, encourage each team to solve any problems as they occur. For example, there is often a lot of confusion in regards the particular orientation or direction of the letter as it is being written.
In a competitive world, the team that identifies the most number of words in the allotted time, wins.
However, in my brief experience presenting this very entertaining show, I have found that simply watching the folly and fumbling of the various communicators, not to mention the fits of laughter from their teams, is reward enough.
Practical Leadership Tips
May I reiterate the necessity to have properly prepared your group – across all dimensions – before introducing this group initiative. Some people can be very sensitive about focusing on their buttocks, so consider your activity sequence and the needs of your group very carefully.
You could form teams of six or more people, but more teams equals more energy.
In advance, you could develop a long list of useful four- or five-letter words, printed on small pieces of card or paper. Then, all you’d have to do is distribute these cards to each new ‘communicator.’
You could issue the same series of words to every ‘communicator’ but some teams catch onto this pretty quickly, and often look to other teams for the answer they are searching for. Not so much fun.
It really does help to put some distance between each team and their communicator. The further away one is, the easier it is to get a big picture view of the potential letters and words.
You could integrate Butt Charades as part of a well-designed SEL program to focus on one’s own emotions, thoughts and values and how they influence behaviour in different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
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 Butt Charades other than promoting the benefits of working together as a team and having a good laugh.
In a small way, you could focus on the typically awkward focus of one’s bottom to communicate in the context of building essential emotional intelligence skills. For example, you could explore and discuss the presence of inhibitions and awkward social interactions and how these important social cues may be exhibited and thus, observed.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which this zany game could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Numerals: Substitute letters for numbers. That is, the communicator is given a series of numbers to write in the air, such as a phone number. This is a more difficult task because unlike the unfolding letters of a word, you cannot anticipate the next digit of a phone number.
Multiple Communicators: Form larger groups of 6 to 10 people. Ask a small number of these folk to assume the task of communicating a short sentence to the rest of the group, involving one person writing one letter at a time.
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Useful Framing Ideas
You’ve all heard about the impact of non-verbal behaviour in our ability to communicate a message. Well, here’s an exercise that truly uses body language to communicate…
There are some truly talented people out there, who – often because of circumstances – have learned to use their feet, their mouths and even their toes to write letters and create pieces of artwork. Today, I would like to invite you to use a very different part of your anatomy to communicate with others on your team…
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 hilarious group game:
Was this exercise fun? Why, or why not?
What made the task difficult?
Did your group solve any problems it encountered?
Did your team misconstrue any parts of the message?
What strategies did your team develop to help you communicate more successfully?
How might your most successful strategies help you to communicate more effectively in the real-world?
Butt Charades is one of those group activities that was inspired by my sometimes zany imagination. This one actually works!