Select an order and sequence for the game, ie who goes first, then in a clockwise direction.
The first person starts by saying any one word, eg “BALL.”
The next person must say a word that either rhymes with or is related to this word.
For example, in the case of “BALL” the words “BOUNCE,” “ROUND,” “THROW,” “TALL” and “FALL” are all acceptable.
When someone hesitates, repeats a word from that round, says more than one word, says a word that does not rhyme or is not related, they are eliminated.
Encourage each person to respond quickly, lest they are eliminated, ie each person is expected to respond within 1 to 3 seconds.
Allow the group to determine if a word is related or not.
Play continues until one person is remaining and is declared the winner.
How To Play Narrative
Words games are fun for some and not for others, so make an appropriate choice for your group. When framed appropriately, I think you’ll find most groups will enjoy the challenge of this literary exercise.
Assemble your group and seat them in a circle. If you like, use a random assignment to appoint the first person, such as someone who is born in October.
Invite this person to say any word to the group. For example, “BALL.”
Adopting a clockwise motion, the person to their left must now respond by saying one word (only) that either rhymes with ball or is related to the word ball. Acceptable words may include BOUNCE, ROUND, THROW, TALL and FALL.
Let’s suggest that the second person says “CATCH” which is obviously related. The third person must now say another word that rhymes with or is related to catch. They might say “LATCH” and so on the game continues around the circle.
Naturally, there are a few guidelines to keep the game fun and fair:
All responses must be one word only;
A person must aim to respond in less than 3 seconds (because a quick game is a good game;)
You are not permitted to repeat a word that has been used in an earlier round; and
The group is the final arbiter of whether a word is related or not.
While I had all the time in the world to write this next string of words, here’s an example of what the game could sound like:
BALL – CATCH – LATCH – GATE – LATE – TIME – DINNER – WINNER – SINNER – DEVIL
If people are too slow to respond, or neglect to adhere to the ‘rules,’ they are eliminated and invited to sit or stand outside of the ever-diminishing circle of players.
The game continues until you are left with two people, who compete until a winner is announced.
Practical Leadership Tips
There is always a little bit of conjecture about the relevance of some words. For example, there was once an individual who argued that SHIP was related to BALL because you can’t play ball games on a ship. Some agreed, but thankfully my vote counted for many more votes, and the argument was lost 🙂 The point is, beware of the impact of stopping too often to settle arguments like this. No matter who is right, these stoppages will always deflate the momentum of the game (which is never ideal.)
Obviously, your group will need a good level of literacy skills before they could attempt this game, lest it will be no fun for anyone.
You could integrate Rhyme or Reason 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 ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
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 dose of lateral thinking and fun.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully respond to the newly uttered (and unexpected) word may speak to the benefits of being adaptable because one must think on their feet quickly in order to keep the game moving forward.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Rhyme or Reason could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Four Letter Word: Challenge your group to only use words that are four (or five or six) letters long or no more (or no less) than four letters long. Way more challenging.
Alpha & Omega: The initial of the word offered in response to the one before it must match the last letter of the word before it, eg BALL – LAP – PEAR – RASCAL – LIMA – APPLE – ENORMOUS, etc.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Your only challenge here is to establish an order for the sequence of responses. There are many systems, but make it easy such as alphabetical by first name. Relying on the order in which your participants appear on the video thumbnail gallery is risky because this often differs for each person. Regardless of your system, all that matters to any one person is to know (and remember) who the person before them is.
You could ask your group to write their responses in the chat room. In this case, you will need to allow a little more time (for typing,) maybe up to 5 seconds between responses.
Useful Framing Ideas
I often marvel at the ability of some people to be able to think very quickly on their feet. To this end, I’m curious to know if your group has the ability to think on its feet in a literary sense…
This next exercise has, in theory, no end so it could conceivably go on forever. It won’t, but it is possible. So, the challenge for your group is to see how long you can keep up the momentum and stay in the game…
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 word game:
When you learned that this was a literacy exercise, what did you say to yourself?
Was it as hard as you thought it would be?
What strategies did you employ to help you respond quickly?
Did you notice a change in your performance as the game progressed?
The inspiration for Rhyme or Reason was sourced from PlayWorks and their wonderful resource Work-Play-Balance.