Assemble group in front of you, with ample space to move about.
Explain that you would like them to listen closely to a story you are about to narrate.
Every time you say the word “LEFT” in the story, everyone must take a step to their left, and when you say “RIGHT,” they step to their right.
Narrate your story (see Resources tab for two samples.)
You may choose to eliminate people who mis-step or neglect to move when they should, or simply acknowledge the errors and continue with your story.
Video Transcript for Mr & Mrs Wright
presented by Mark Collard
This next exercise I need you all to not only be facing me, as you are mostly, but I’d like you to sort of gather in closer as a bunch. You’ll need a little bit of room around yourselves because in a moment I’m going to be sharing a story with you that’s going to invite you to move.
It’ll be really clear, I’ll make it very loud so that you can actually hear what I’m saying, but it is a particular story about a husband and wife in a particular situation. And as you hear parts of the story I want you to respond. It’s simple. You all have heard something like this before.
But any time you hear me say the word “LEFT” I want you to quickly step left. Now ideally we’ll actually see everyone move as one to the left. Whenever I say the word “RIGHT” you’ll all quickly step to the right as one unit.
Naturally you don’t want to make a mistake. There are no eliminations but that’s all you need to do. Listen carefully and respond accordingly to the story as you go. Alright, are you ready?
Alright, fantastic. So just shake out the tension you might be holding this point. Alright… Recognising the space you’re going to be working with…
I’d like to tell you a story about Mr & Mrs Wright.
Just in case anyone’s confused that would’ve been that direction.
One evening they were baking cookies and Mrs. Wright suddenly called out, “Oh no, there’s no flour left. You will need to go out to the store right now.”
“I can’t believe you forgot to check the pantry.” rumbled Mr. Wright.
(group moving as part of story Mr & Mrs Wright)
“Oh, it’ll only take twenty minutes. You can come right back. Go to the corner of 1st and 2nd Street then turn left at the stop sign, then go to 43rd Street and turn left and the shop will be on your left.” declared Mrs. Wright as her husband left the house.
Mr. Wright found the store and asked the assistant where he could find the flour. The assistant pointed and said, “Go to Aisle 4 and turn left. The flour and sugar will be on your left.”
(group moving as part of story Mr & Mrs Wright)
Mr. Wright made his purchase and walked right out the door. He turned left but he couldn’t remember where he had left his car. Suddenly he remembered that he had driven Mrs. Wright’s car and that his car was in the driveway at home right where he had left it. He finally found the right car, opened the boot, and put the flour right inside.
Eventually a weary Mr. Wright found his way home. Mrs. Wright had been waiting impatiently. “I thought you would be right back.” she said. “I left all the cooking ingredients on the kitchen counter and the cat’s got into the milk. You have just got to go right back to the shop again.”
(group moving as part of story Mr & Mrs Wright)
Mr. Wright sighed. He had no money left, no energy left. “I’m going right to bed.” he said and left Mrs. Wright standing in the kitchen.
Give yourselves a hand.
Click play below to watch this game presented to an online audience.
How To Play Narrative
Gather your group, and ask them to stand in front of you, finding a space with a little room about them. Explain that you would like them to listen closely to a story you are about to narrate.
If it’s your first time, it’s OK to read a pre-defined story right off the page, but as you gain more confidence, you’ll be able to make one up on the spot.
Go to the Resources tab to download one of two pre-prepared sample stories.
The key is, every time you say the word “LEFT” in the story, everyone is required to take a step to their left, and when you say “RIGHT,” they step to their right.
There are tons of variations of the Wright’s story. To give you a feel for what’s involved, here’s the opening stanzas of the story I can remember as a youngster…
“I’d like to tell you a story about Mr & Mrs WRIGHT.
One evening they were baking cookies and Mrs WRIGHT suddenly called out, “Oh, no, there is no flour LEFT! You will need to go out to the store RIGHT now.” “I can’t believe you forgot to check the pantry,” grumbled MR WRIGHT.
“It will only take twenty minutes if you come RIGHT back. Go to the corner of First & Second Streets, and turn LEFT at the stop sign. Then go to Forty-Third Street and turn RIGHT, and the shop will be on your LEFT,” declared Mrs WRIGHT as her husband LEFT the house…”
… and so the story continues.
Naturally, there will be people who either misstep or neglect to move quickly enough when they should. You may ask, what is the penalty? It’s up to you. You could choose to eliminate these folk, but there is often more fun had simply acknowledging these mistakes with good-natured laughter.
The exercise is clearly silly, highly energetic and extremely fun.
Expect lots of laughter, especially during those moments when people step the wrong way or forget to move at all.
Practical Leadership Tips
You do need lots of space. Cramping your group in a tight space might make for a nice challenge, but on those occasions when feet get stood on, the fun is often lost on people.
Imagine you are a professional narrator. Add a little flourish and character to your telling of the story, and you’ll be sure to attract a great deal more enthusiasm for the necessary moves.
You may need to clarify that the moves are to your group’s left and their right. Or yours, it doesn’t matter, so long as everyone is in the know.
You could spice up the fun by eliminating those people who either mis-step or don’t move at all when they should. If you tread this path, be prepared to have a long story up your sleeve.
You could integrate Mr & Mrs Wright as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours in different situations and to achieve goals.
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 short dose of physical activity and a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to accurately and responsively follow the directions of the story may speak to the benefits of being mindful, but this would certainly not be its primary purpose.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Mr & Mrs Wright could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Circle Story: Tell the story with your group standing in a circle (perhaps even holding hands.) People often misstep, so the consequences of being in a circle are immediate and hilarious.
All Directions: Tell a story that also involves the words “UP” and “DOWN” (bob up and down), or “FRONT” and “BACK” (step forward and back.)
Passing Objects 1: Form a circle, and give every person a small (safe) object to hold, eg coin, playing card, paper-clip, button, etc. When the word “LEFT” is called, every item is passed to the left (hand person) and vice-versa. Each person aims to have one and only one item in their hand at any point in time.
Passing Objects 2: As above but create a story that intentionally returns the objects back to where they started, ie the story features an equal number of lefts and rights. In this case, start everyone with a unique item or perhaps an index card with their name on it.
Memory Test: At the conclusion of the story, ask a series of questions to check for comprehension. A nice twist to what is otherwise an energetic minute or two.
Pavlov’s Dog: Connect any number of zany actions to particular words in your story. For example, every time the word ‘AND’ is used, your group must do a star-jump, or if they hear a girl’s name they need to do a curtsy, etc.
Sing & Dance: Play any popular song, and instruct your group to perform one or more energetic moves when they hear/sing certain words. For example, play Jingle Bells and instruct your group to perform a star-jump every time they hear the word ‘Jingle.’
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Ask the participants of your virtual gathering to shift their entire body to the extreme left or right of their screens with each move as you tell the Mr & Mrs Wright story. Challenge each person to tally the number of times they made an ‘error’ or responded too slow.
As above, but invite each person to press their palms together directly in front of themselves. Without moving their arms, ask your participants to turn their hands (still pressed together) to the left and right on cue to the story.
Perform with eyes closed. Of course, yours will be open, because you do not want to miss the hilarious antics of certain group members when they move the wrong way.
If competition is your thing, ask each person who makes a ‘mistake’ to switch off their video (so that their avatar shows only.) You could enlist the support of one or more volunteers to check for compliance, but an honour system works and is easier to manage. Continue until the last one or more people remain, the winners!
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Useful Framing Ideas
Everyone loves having a story read to them, no matter how old they are. But here’s a story with a difference…
I’d like you to imagine that you have all been hypnotised, so that when I say the word ‘LEFT’ you immediately jump to your left, and when you hear the word ‘RIGHT’ you will immediately jump to your right. This sounds simple enough, but let’s see how well you have been hypnotised…
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, large group energising game:
What was so difficult about this story?
How much of the story can you remember? Why?
What was more important – remembering the story, or getting the movements right?
Fun Large Group ‘Evening’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 60 mins, Mr & Mrs Wright story (Print+Play), pens & paper, roll of masking tape