Randomly distribute one dice (or die) to each person.
Form two or more teams of at least six people gathered in a circle.
When ready, instruct everyone to roll their own dice (in the middle of their group) on the floor or a table.
As soon as an individual rolls a ‘1’ they may stop rolling (leaving their dice in front of them) and wait for the rest of their group to roll a ‘1.’
When everyone has rolled a ‘1’ instruct each person to stand up and spin around ‘one’ time on the spot.
Next, each person rolls their dice attempting to throw a ‘2.’
When everyone has rolled a ‘2’ each person in the group will stand up and spin around ‘two’ times.
This process continues with everyone in the group rolling a 3, 4, 5 and 6, and spinning the required number of times.
Thus, the final round will require everyone to roll a ‘6’ and then spin around ‘six’ times on the spot.
The first group to complete this task wins.
How To Play Narrative
This game, based on the commercial game of Tenzi, is as simple as it is entertaining.
To start, you’ll need a lot of dice. The more people you have, the more dice you’ll need.
Distribute one dice (or die) to each person in your group, then using a random methodology (see Getting into Teams for ideas) create two more teams. The game works best with groups of at least six people.
Feel free to make your groups as large as 20 or 30 if you choose (your only limits will be your supply of dice and space.)
Ask each group to stand or kneel in a circle. Sitting or standing around a table works fine, too.
When ready, explain that there will be a series of six rounds for each group to complete. A group may only proceed to the next round when everyone has completed their task for each round.
Explain that to complete the first round, every person (in a group) must roll a ‘1.’
On your signal, instruct everyone to start rolling their dice, typically in the middle of the circle in which they have formed. When an individual has rolled a ‘1’ they may stop rolling and leave their dice in front of them while they wait for others in the group.
When every member of a group has rolled a ‘1’ they must all stand and rapidly perform ‘one’ spin of their bodies (on the spot) to complete the first round.
The second round starts with everyone attempting to roll a ‘2.’ As soon as every group member has rolled a ‘2’ everyone stands up again and performs ‘two’ spins of their body… and you probably get the idea from here.
Each group continues this process, rolling a ‘3’ and then spinning ‘three’ times, rolling a ‘4’ and spinning ‘four’ time, etc.
The first group to have all of its members roll a ‘6’ and spin around ‘six’ times shall be declared the winner. At which point, you can invite them to sit down on account of dizziness.
Practical Leadership Tips
Depending on the size of your group, you will require a LOT of dice. Large sets can be ordered online, eg Amazon.
If possible, use multi-coloured sets of dice. This opens up many opportunities for mixing and interaction prior to the introduction of Tenzi, eg instruct all red dice to gather as a team, or form a group representing all eight coloured dice.
You can adjust the length of the game by how large your groups are, ie smaller groups will complete each round faster.
If your intention is to simply build energy, do not feel that you have to complete all six rounds, nor stop when one team has crossed the finish line, ie continue to play to record 2nd, 3rd and 4th places.
In case you’re wondering, the odds of getting all ten dice to land on one number in one roll are 10,077,697 to 1.
For the record, the Oxford dictionary permits the use of dice or die when referring to a single item. Historically, dice was the plural of die, but in modern English, it is used to describe both singular and plural. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered about how to describe one or more of these props. As such, when I say things like “Roll your die…” still sounds weird.
You could integrate Tenzi 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 fun team-based challenge.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to successfully play the game may speak to the benefits of developing a resilient mindset because sometimes it can take a long time for participants to roll the desired number. Of course, every roll of the dice is random, but if your group can approach the game with patience and empathy (for self and others) it will make the whole experience more enjoyable.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Tenzi could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Individual Tenzi: Form small groups of 3 to 5 people. Equip every person with ten dice. The first team to have all group members roll 10 x the same number wins.
Tenzi Tower: Rather than shift aside the dice which have been successfully rolled, stack them one on top of another. First person to get all ten dice stacked wins.
Ring A Rosy: As soon as every group member has rolled the required number, they all stand, hold hands and then spin as a group clockwise around their dice. Upon returning to the spot they started spinning, they may commence the next round.
Double Trouble: Supply each person with two dice. An individual may stand only after they have rolled a ‘double’ in a single roll such as two x 1s or two x 5s. Obviously, this task is more challenging and will take a lot more time to complete (which may prove counter-productive for the purpose of presenting a quick and energetic game.)
Fun partner exercise that develops trust & listening skills.
Useful Framing Ideas
Rolling dice is a great game of chance. It is even more fun when you are doing it with others on a team as fast as you can…
The theory of probability would suggest that it may only take six rolls of a dice to produce each of the six different sides of the dice. As you can imagine, in reality, this is highly unlikely to occur, as demonstrated in this next exercise…
You may have heard the saying, your group is only as fast as your slowest member. Let’s explore what this immutable principle of teamwork looks 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 fast-paced dice game:
How did it feel to roll the required number before most others in your group?
Was it easy to be patient? What impulses did you have?
How did it feel to be one of the last in your group to roll the required number?
In either case, if this experience happened a few times, what did you say to yourself?
Was it possible to control the outcome of the game? Why?
What might this quick game teach us about working with others?
The inspiration for Tenzi was sourced from Pete Larson, one of playmeo’s enthusiastic members who wanted to share what he knows with others all over the world.