Ask for a volunteer, and invite everyone to gather around you and your partner to demonstrate the basic moves.
Introduce small pieces of the full routine one bit at a time – the start, the 1-2-3 build-up, the 3-2-1 break-down, and the re-start sequence.
Demonstrate one piece of the routine at a time, allowing for all other pairs to practice.
Once all of the pieces have been learned, attempt the full routine all at once.
Allow pairs to practice the routine at their own pace.
When appropriate, challenge the group to identify two people who can continue the routine in an un-broken pattern – up and down – for as long as possible.
Video Transcript for Clap Trap presented by Karl Rohnke
I want to show you something that I’ve used over the years. And whenever I have a really big group and I have a feeling they want some action… they want to be doing something, and they want to laugh.
Most of the time if you’ve got a group like that all you have to do is suggest something and get out of the way, and then just let them do their thing.
But for this one, I’ve just put a little bit of form around it, and I’ll show you something that has been pretty well received, as they say, over the years. But I need a volunteer.
Okay, now here’s where you need to come close, because you need to see what we’re doing. So, don’t hesitate to come right on in.
You and I are going to do something together that you’ve probably done before, and ladies this is kind of your thing. When I was growing up, this just, guys just didn’t do it. And so I practiced, I’m pretty good at this now, only because I practiced, but I think you’ll get right into it. Okay?
All you have to do is follow me and just do what I do. Hands at your side, okay then slap across your chest like that, then slap your legs, then clap then do hand here… clap, hand here, clap.
Okay basically that’s the type of movement.
So hands at your side, okay, hit… hit your legs. Clap. Cross. Clap cross. Okay now clap together, and then one.
Now twice, one two. One two, one two. Now three times. One two three. One two three. Now one two. One two, one two.
Now one. One, one. Clap cross, clap cross. That’s the whole thing right there.
It’s just, three two one… one two three, three two one, one two three. Watch it again. We got it now.
Okay. Legs. Now here we go. Now one… two… three. Two… one… clap cross, clap cross. Now one… two…
(Oh we do it again)
Two, yeah and then three… two… one. Clap cross, clap cross. And you just keep going. So the only time you do this is at the start and that’s just to impress people. It makes people thing you know what you’re doing when your’e doing this type of thing.
Okay one more time, and this time I want you to do it with a ghost partner. In other words, you don’t have a partner but just do it with whoever you think is in front of you. We’ll go slow. Don’t go away.
Okay, ready… Begin. Cross, legs… clap cross, clap. Okay, here comes one… two… three. Two… one. Clap cross, and then one… two… three. And then two one.
Okay now. Yeah, I think you got the basis of it. Whoever is next to you and whoever happens to be sneaking a peak at you while you’re looking at them…. That’s your partner for this. So get a partner, is basically what I’m saying.
What I’d like you to do is, since you’ve been doing this with your partner you’ve developed a level of expertise from doing it. I am going to set up something so that you can have a contest, but really you’re competing against yourself.
I’m going to ask you to do what we’ve been doing here and you can go as slow as you want, but if you make a mistake you’re immediately out of the competition. So we’re trying to see who the last couple in the group is who maintains this movement.
Now, wait wait… more, there’s more.
If you get knocked out of the competition…. If you get knocked out of the competition, this is honour system, I mean nobody’s really going to know or care for that matter whether you’re out or not.
But if you make a mistake and you’re out you become D.H.’s and that’s a designated harasser. And you’re allowed to go around and try to make this pair or whatever pair make a mistake.
And you can do that by saying something that you think is going to confuse them. Or you can try to bring out something you got in your pocket and make them look at it.
But try to make them make a mistake. So once you’ve made a mistake then you get to be a harasser and try to get other people to make a mistake.
The last couple that’s still doing this, are the world’s champions. But since we’ve got such a big group let’s say the last three couples that are still there, will be the champion. Okay you’ve got thirty seconds to practice with your partner.
Practice, just practice.
How To Play Narrative
Owing to the complexity of this exercise, forgive me if I simply direct you to the Clap Trap Video Tutorial to learn how to engage in this fun partnered activity.
The set-up, however, does require that you start by breaking your group into pairs. Then, inviting someone to be your volunteer, ask everyone to crowd around you and your hapless partner to learn the moves.
You are well-advised to break the moves down into smaller chunks – the start, the 1-2-3 build-up, the 3-2-1 break-down and finally the start again. Demonstrate this routine several times, perhaps stopping on occasion to allow the rest of your group to try it out, and then put all the smaller pieces together.
Allow your group the luxury of unhurried time to practice the basics. After a period during which you believe most people have grasped the highly refined skills of clap-trapping, issue a challenge to the group – to identify the partnership that can keep up the clap-trap routine without error for the longest possible time.
Either start all pairs at the same time, and see who makes it to the end, or time each partnership separately.
Practical Leadership Tips
Images of school children will quickly come to mind for many people when they see this exercise unfold. And yes, while it does involve serious levels of coordination, it’s not about getting it right. Introduced in the right way you will discover many other benefits, such as shared laughter and excitement, healthy competition and team-work.
This is yet another gem delivered by none other than Karl Rohnke, one of the original adventure educators, and all-round fun guy. Looking at Karl, you would never imagine him to be into this childish-sort of activity, but he’s a competitive animal, so his appetite was whetted with this one. It was also Karl’s idea to call it Clap Trap for the obvious entrapment issues halfway through the routine.
You could integrate Clap Trap as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships, not to mention, a lot of fun.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Recognising Strengths, Prejudices & Biases
Identifying & Managing Stress
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
Build Positive Relationships
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 this activity other than promoting the benefits of teamwork and enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the effort required to successfully complete this complex partner game speaks to the benefits of being mindful (focus on one thing at a time) and building resilience (the persistence to try and try again.)
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Clap Trap could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Whole Group: Having established the two-person routine, challenge your group to attempt the same routine in two straight lines facing one another. To set up, everyone will extend their left hand across to the left hand of a person who is a part of the other line of people, while their right hand will meet the right hand of a person in the other line situated just to their right. Did you get that?
Circle Trap: As above, but now everyone has a partner to their left and right to clap with.
Infectious copy-cat game to get your group's attention.
One of those frustrating, yet very fun rhythmic name-games.
Simple partner exercise to trigger bursts of laughter.
Useful Framing Ideas
Here’s an example of an exercise that’s simple to understand, but not easy to do. It’s a form of the classic clapping games that many school children learned when they were young. Regardless of how old you are now, or whether you were good at this skill or not, put all of those thoughts aside for one minute, team up with another person, and together we will learn the basic set-up…
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, clapping game:
When you first heard what this exercise involved, what did you think? Why?
What did it take to successfully follow the sequence of moves with your partner?
What challenged you the most?
Could this exercise teach anything as individuals and as a team?
The inspiration for Clap Trap was sourced from Karl Rohnke, who first demonstrated this exercise to me.