Sit in a circle, including yourself, whereby everyone can see everyone else.
Each person thinks of a unique action and sound which mimics an animal, eg gorilla beating its chest.
In turn, rotate around the circle to introduce everyone’s gesture and sound, starting with you.
As leader, introduce yourself as King Frog, as you move one palm swiftly over the palm of your other hand away from you (as if a frog was jumping off a lily pad.)
Mimic the gesture and sound of each animal as they are introduced around the circle, one at a time.
Each round starts with King Frog performing their action, followed immediately with the gesture and sound of another animal.
This will instruct the person who is represented by that (second) animal to respond by quickly doing their action and follow it with the actions of another animal, and so on.
Encourage your group to maintain the rhythm of the gestures and sounds as quick and accurate as possible.
If someone makes a mistake, or is too slow to respond, they must leave their seat and sit directly to the left of King Frog, meaning everyone in between moves to the empty seat on their left.
Importantly, when someone moves into a new seat, they will assume the animal that originated in that seat, ie players do not take their animal with them.
Each individual aims to move steadily around the circle until they arrive in the King Frog’s seat.
Play as many rounds as your group has the energy.
How To Play Narrative
Everybody needs to be sitting down in a circle, positioned so that they can see everybody else from where they sit. Then, invite each person to think of a unique action and sound which mimics an animal.
For example, someone may choose to be a gorilla by beating their pumped-up chest vigorously with their clenched fists, and making gorilla-like noises. Or, flapping their arms like a bird and tweeting.
After a little thinking time, introduce yourself as ‘King Frog’ or ‘Queen Frog’ as the case may be. The action can be up to you, but try moving one palm swiftly across the palm of your other hand away from you to give the impression that the frog has jumped off his/her lily pad.
Allow your group an opportunity to repeat your actions before continuing around the circle to learn all of the other animal actions and sounds, one at a time. Ensure that all actions are unique, ie it’s OK to have three types of birds, as long as they all have distinct gestures and sounds.
Explain that each round will start with King Frog. That person (you, to begin) will perform their gesture and sound, and then, perform the gesture and sound of another animal in the group. This is a signal to this next ‘animal’ that it is their turn.
They must respond by quickly doing their action and follow it with the actions of another animal, and so on.
A slow start will help people get the idea of what is going on. Then the pace, and the fun, will pick up. But wait, there is more…
If someone is too slow, or mucks up the actions, performs them in the wrong sequence, or forgets to make the appropriate sound, everything stops. This person is obliged to leave their seat, and sit to the left of King Frog in the circle.
This causes everyone sitting between King Frog and this person, to move along one seat (clockwise direction) to fill the gaps.
Now, get ready for the clincher – the animal does not move with the person – the actions and sounds belong to the seat.
So when a person sits in a new seat, they will assume the actions and sounds of the animal belonging to that seat (which is likely new to them.) Oh, I can hear the groans from here!
The object of the game is to move steadily around the circle until you arrive in the royal throne, King Frog’s seat. Only then, do you have control.
So, each time King Frog makes a mistake (that’s a hint,) everyone moves one seat to their left and closer to the throne. Hooray!
Practical Leadership Tips
This has got to be one of my all-time favourite games, appearing somewhere in my top-sixty activities!
Sitting is suggested, only because your group may be standing in a circle for a long while. By all means, invite people to create an animal gesture that involves some form of movement, eg standing up to represent a tall giraffe. Attracting a wide variety of gestures and movements will make the game even more fun to play.
King Frog works best with groups of up to 20 players – any more, and it gets difficult to remember all of the animals. So, if you have a large group, divide into smaller groups of 10 to 15 people.
You could just invite people to create a gesture to match their animal, but it is MUCH more fun when you require a sound to accompany it.
Strictly speaking, King Frog may resume play at any time they wish, ie moments after people have sat down in their new seat (which is typically characterised by a lot of “What animal sits here?”) This would be ruthless play, and even more reason for the group to gang-up on him/her, by constantly initiating King Frog’s gesture.
In the beginning, encourage the group to be a little lenient on slow responses. But with each successful round, the tolerance for imperfection should diminish. As I say, a quick game’s a good game.
You could integrate King Frog as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships, not to mention, enjoy an outrageously fun time together.
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 a round of King Frog for as long as possible speaks to the benefits of being mindful, ie one must continually be present for their turn to react.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which King Frog could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Missing Animals: Introduce an elimination format, so that when someone makes a mistake, they leave the circle. King Frog starts the first round, after which, the person to the left of whoever was just eliminated, resumes the action within five seconds. No one moves seats, it’s simply a matter of survival of the fittest.
People’s Names: Use people’s names, similar to the ice-breaker game of Concentration. So, Jimmy starts with “Jimmy-Jimmy, Jane-Jane,” and then Jane replies with “Jane-Jane, Sanchez-Sanchez,” and so on.
King Vegies: Take a look at Veggie Veggie to enjoy a similar ‘me-you, you-them’ routine baked into an equally outrageous, fun group game.
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Useful Framing Ideas
One of my most favourite things to do when I was a kid was to visit the zoo. Every visit was special, because the animals and exhibits changed all the time. So, I’m wondering what animals are here today? I’m going to be a King Frog, and this is what I look and sound like…
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 creatively fun, community-building game:
What strategies did you employ to avoid making a mistake?
What distracted you at times? How did you block them out, if at all?
Which were the most difficult animals to remember or perform? Why?
Was it worth the effort to become King Frog?
Fun ‘Community-Building’ Session
What You Need:
8+ people, 60 mins, two sticks or pens