Randomly distribute one soft tossable item for every five or six people in your group.
When ready, instruct group members to start passing the items in any direction at any time.
Explain that an acceptable pass will require the item to be gently placed or dropped into the lap of one’s neighbour.
Challenge your group to pass the items as quickly as possible in an effort to avoid being caught with two or more items at any point in time.
When a person ends up holding two or more items, they are obligated to make a designated sound, eg “ARGHHH” or “EEEEK” before passing the items back into play.
Continue play for several minutes and/or try a variation.
How To Play Narrative
Looking to fill a few minutes? Perhaps your group’s energy is starting to flag? Try this one on for size.
Invite your group to sit in a tight circle. Sitting rather than standing works best because you need an obvious place to rest the bevy of items that are about to be liberated.
Distribute one soft tossable item for every five to six members of your group. Ask everyone to take a seat, if not already seated, and explain that on your signal you want all of the people holding an item to ‘pass’ it to one of their two neighbours.
Explain that an item can be passed in any direction by any person at any time.
Now, good passing protocol suggests that a successful pass is one that is placed gently onto the lap of a neighbour (not slammed,) perhaps even dropped.
If necessary, to avoid issues of inappropriate touching (even if not intended,) suggest a mandatory dropping of items onto laps instead.
The challenge for each person is to avoid having more than one item in their possession (including their lap) at any point in time.
However, to ramp up the fun, explain that when this event occurs, the person holding said multiple items is obliged to emit a sound of some kind to alert others to their plight, eg “ARGHHH” or “EEEEK.”
Once the obligatory sound has been emitted, the items will immediately return to being passed around the circle, in any direction, so resume the action.
Continue play for several minutes, and/or try something new from the Variations tab.
Practical Leadership Tips
If the prospect of inappropriate touching is a real issue for your group, or perhaps your school or organisation has a zero tolerance for any forms of touch, then consider designing the game so that all items are passed and placed in front of people. Sitting around a table or on the ground works well. To prevent conflicts, place a gym-spot or a sheet of paper in front of people to identify an acceptable drop zone.
On occasions, you may be called or drawn into an argument about whether one or more people had multiple items in their possession. If these events occur, then I’d say that the instance of multiple items is not the issue. Encourage your group to play the game in the spirit of which is it intended, to let go of petty grievances and enjoy a few moments of play. There are precious few of these in our lives today.
Note, I mention soft tossable items. Do not pass anything which could possibly cause harm to another. As innocuous as they may seem, even pens, cutlery and sticks should be avoided on account of their potential to puncture others.
You could integrate Quick Pass as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
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
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
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 to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully anticipate and then pass the items quickly may speak to the benefits of being mindful insofar as being present to what is going on will help people play.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Quick Pass could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
More & More: Randomly add more and more items to the group to ramp up the challenge, and the possibility of being caught with multiple items.
Diversity Challenge: Distribute a wide range of tossable items to vary the shape, size and weight of each item. This will make the task of passing and receiving a little tougher.
Elimination Round: Eliminate those who attract multiple items at the same time, making the circle progressively smaller.
Quick Pass Penalties: When someone is caught with multiple items, their penalty is to perform a quick physical gesture immediately after passing them along, such as quickly raising both hands in the air, or standing up down quickly, clapping three times, stand up and sit down, etc. Whatever, make it fun,
One Direction: Limit the number of tossables to one per six to eight people. Instruct that all items must travel in the same direction, with each object aiming to chase down and touch the one ahead of it.
Passing Initiative: Take a look at The Passing Game to explore a challenging initiative involving a prescribed number of passes.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Here’s a quick game that will test your reflexes. Like most skills, you’ll get better with practice, and I’ll even provide an incentive to do so…
As a kid, do you recall playing the circle game Hot Potato? There’ll be nothing hot about this exercise, but it will test your ability to pass quickly…
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 simple energising game:
Did you have fun? Why or why not?
Did you employ any strategies to pass the items?
What levels of stress did you experience during the game? Why?
What were the consequences you were working hard to avoid?
Did you feel that you were being set-up? Elaborate.
The inspiration for Quick Pass, and many more simple, energising group games, was sourced from the following publication: