Invite one or more volunteers to stand in front of the rest of your group.
Allow 10 seconds, for the volunteer(s) to secretly choose one adverb, eg slowly, nervously, quietly.
To start, the rest of your group offers the first of a series of scenarios or situations.
Immediately, the volunteers will perform these scenarios (as a group) in the manner of the adverb.
Challenge your group to accurately predict the adverb the volunteers are performing as quickly as possible.
If the correct adverb has not been guessed within 10 to 15 seconds, your group will offer a new scenario.
Play continues, with a series of scenarios and acts until the adverb is identified.
Play several rounds, or try a variation.
How To Play Narrative
I warn you now – this exercise can be extremely fun, so be prepared for side-splitting laughter.
You need at least one volunteer to make this activity happen, but the more the merrier. So, if you ask for a volunteer and you get five hands, take them all.
Ask these volunteers to assemble at the front of the room or performance space and explain that they (as a group) need to secretly think of one adverb, you know, a word that often ends with ‘-ly.’
Any adverb is kosher, but encourage them to think of a fun adverb such as slowly, nervously, or eagerly.
OK, with these folks standing out in front, you are ready to go.
You now ask the rest of the group – the audience, so to speak – to offer a series of ‘situations’ for the volunteers to perform as a group, one at a time.
For example, the situation could be ‘brushing your teeth,’ or ‘flying a plane.’ Upon each suggestion, the volunteers perform the situation in the manner of the adverb they have chosen.
The goal is for the audience to correctly guess the adverb as quickly as possible.
If, after playing a particular situation for ten or more seconds, the audience has not correctly identified the adverb, ask your group to offer another situation. The situations and acts continue until the adverb is guessed.
If several minutes pass, feel free to ask the performers to offer a few clues.
Sometimes, I have a list of adverbs up my sleeve just in case the group runs out of ideas.
Given that adverbs are (generally) a senior linguistic skill, you may want to reserve this game for secondary-school aged children, and older.
If you’re flooded with volunteers in the beginning, and only wish to involve a couple of people, choose those whom you believe can think quickly on their feet and/or will express themselves the most dramatically. It’ll be worth the performance of acting in the manner of the word or words offered by the rest of the group.
On occasions, I offer the first couple of groups a few adverb options to choose from. Naturally, I do this in a way that the rest of the group cannot hear.
To be fair, an adverb is any word that modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb, and can include many words which do not feature this suffix, eg very, always and soon. However, to keep it simple, the list of adverbs provided in the Resources tab features only those which have the ‘ly’ suffix.
You could integrate In The Manner of the Word as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand the perspectives of and empathise with others including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Controlling One’s Emotions
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Taking Other’s Perspectives
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Understanding & Expressing Gratitude
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Demonstrate Cultural Competency
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Making Reasoned Judgements
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
Reading, navigating and learning from a variety of social cues is what this activity is all about, making it ideal for integrating into any program that wants to explore and develop emotional intelligence. And from the perspective of those who are demonstrating the actions, you could also focus on one’s adaptability too.
In advance, during or at end of the activity, invite your group to reflect on the impact of observing this wide array of social cues and discuss what they all mean. For example, what did you interpret a particular behaviour to mean and did everyone interpret this the same way? Or, why was a particular action so funny and should we always respond in this way when we observe this behaviour?
Non-Verbal Adverbs: The people acting can only mime their performance in the manner of the word/adverb.
In Reverse: One or more volunteers leave the room. The rest of the group decides which adverb they will perform. The volunteers return to the playing space and describe a series of ‘situations’ for the whole group to act out. Works best if the volunteers stand in the middle of the action.
Take a look at BF Skinner to explore another hilarious mix of human behaviours gone awry.
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Useful Framing Ideas
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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 extremely fun, interactive and educational game:
Did you know what an adverb was at first?
How difficult was it to think of an adverb?
What was one of the most difficult adverb scenarios to perform? Why?
How did the volunteers respond when the group clearly did not comprehend their actions?
What were the most significant social cues you responded to? Why?
Can you think of an action that perhaps confused the group? Why?
What are examples of social cues or behaviours that you sometimes get confused or wrong?
The inspiration for In The Manner of The Word, and many more fun, large group games, was sourced in the following publications: