Instruct your group to mimic and practise a series of three unique gestures representing: – Fox: hold slightly-cupped hands on top of head; – Trap: extend both arms in front with open/close action; and – Human: stand upright with hands on hips.
In the context of Rock-Paper-Scissors, explain that the trap is superior to the fox, the fox is superior to the human and the human is superior to the trap.
Form a circle, and nominate one person to stand in the centre as the Initiator.
Instruct the Initiator to stand directly in front of any person in the circle and quickly demonstrate one of the three gestures.
The Responder (standing in the circle) is challenged to immediately perform the superior gesture, eg if fox is initiated the Responder must perform a trap.
Explain that timing and accuracy are critical.
If the Responder performs the superior gesture quickly, the Initiator will try again with another person.
If the Responder reacts too slowly or with the same or inferior gesture, they are invited to swap roles with the Initiator.
Continue play for several minutes, and/or try a variation.
How To Play Narrative
You could just tell your group what to do, but it’s much more fun to tell a story. All you need is a story that features three levels of ‘superiority.’
I’ll share my favourite in a moment, but you can invent any story that appears to make sense and can accommodate a series of fun physical gestures.
I love to tell the story of the fox and how it was once considered sacred in Babylonia. To anchor the fox in the story, I will invite my group to mimic my actions, of holding my slightly-cupped hands atop of my head to depict fox ears.
Next, I explain that the only thing superior to the fox is a fox-trap, and will extend both of my arms out in front of me, one on top of the other, opening and closing as if they were the jaws of a very large trap. Again, I ask everyone to mimic my actions.
Continuing the story, I suggest that ‘human beings’ are superior to traps because we know to avoid them. For this character, I stand upright and quickly place my hands on my upper thighs.
To complete the circle, I explain that the only thing superior to a human being is the fox because it is sacred in Babylonia. Get it? Much like Ro-Sham-Bo or Rock-Paper-Scissors, one thing is always superior to another.
OK. Assemble your group into a circle, and invite one person (maybe you?) to start in the middle. Instruct this middle person (the Initiator) to directly approach someone standing in the circle (the Responder) and quickly demonstrate one of the three levels of superiority – the fox, the trap or the human.
Immediately, upon seeing this action, the Responder must demonstrate the superior action. For example, if the Initiator showed a fox, the Responder would have to rapidly show the trap.
Naturally, timing and accuracy are of the essence. If the Responder reacts rapidly with the correct superior reaction, the Initiator simply moves onto another person in the circle.
However, if the Responder is too slow to respond, or demonstrates the inferior or identical action, they are invited to have some fun in the centre and swap roles with the Initiator.
As your group starts to grasp what needs to happen, you can be assured of plenty of laughs.
Continue play for several minutes and/or try something new from the Variations tab
Practical Leadership Tips
How long is too long to respond? It always depends on the group, your purpose and of course the abilities of your group. But, in general, anything longer than a second does not pass muster. On most occasions, the group will be the ultimate arbiter to determine was or was not too slow.
As with many form-a-circle activities, if you have a really large group, describe the activity, split them into smaller groups and allow each to play independently. For interaction purposes, swap one half of a group into another group several times.
Having enjoyed any other activity involving the classic Rock-Paper-Scissors, Superiority is a fantastic choice to introduce a new challenge.
You could integrate Superiority 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:
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 and effort required to successfully respond to the Initiator may speak to the benefits of being adaptable because the game demands a series of accurate and rapid responses.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Superiority could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Multiple Initiator: Ramp up the action by introducing two, three or more Initiators.
Superiority Elimination 1: If the Responder acts too slowly or incorrectly, they are asked to leave the circle and watch the action continue until a ‘show-down’ occurs between the final two people.
Superiority Elimination 2: Allow your group to mix and mingle. As two people approach one another, the tallest person will be the Initiator and acts accordingly.
Sounds & Actions: Add particular sounds to the performance of each of the gestures. Naturally, if a sound is missing, late or incorrect, the same rules apply.
DIY Gestures: Create your own hierarchy of objects and gestures. To increase the challenge, nominate three objects that do not have any relationship, etc whale, comb and tree.