Each person thinks of a vegetable and shares it with the rest of the group (to ensure there are no duplicates.)
Once started, all talking must occur with one’s lips curled over their teeth (so no teeth can be seen.)
When ready, one person will call out the name of their vegetable twice, and then follow it up with the name of someone else’s vegetable twice, eg “PUMPKIN-PUMPKIN, TOMATO-TOMATO.”
The person who chose the second-named vegetable, must quickly respond by saying the name of their vegetable twice, and then follow immediately with the name of another person’s vegetable, and so on.
This process continues randomly among members of your group.
Your group aims to maintain an accurate and steady beat for as long as possible.
When an individual shows their teeth or takes too long to respond when it’s their turn to talk, the action stops.
Once the laughter subsides, the neighbour to the left of the person who made the ‘mistake’ will start a new round.
Continue play for several minutes.
How To Play Narrative
Ever feel that you have trouble keeping your teeth in as you speak? Well, this game has your name written all over it.
Move your group into an obligatory circle, and ask everyone to think of a vegetable, favourite or not. Each person needs to nominate a different vegetable to all others, so whip around the circle and invite everyone to announce their veggie. Any repeats, simply request a quick change.
Now, explain that everyone left their teeth in the glass by their bed-side table this morning, causing everyone from now on to speak with their lips curled over their teeth. Whip around the circle open more time, this time announcing each vegetable with lips curled over teeth.
Now, to start the game. Ask one volunteer to call out the name of their vegetable twice, and then follow it up by saying the name of someone else’s veggie, also twice in a row. For example, it could sound like this “PUMPKIN-PUMPKIN, TOMATO-TOMATO.”
Next, the person who chose tomatoes as their vegetable must respond immediately by, first, saying their own veggie twice, and then the name of another person’s veggie, twice, and so on, eg “TOMATO-TOMATO, LETTUCE-LETTUCE,” and then the lettuce-lover says “LETTUCE-LETTUCE, CUCUMBER-CUCUMBER,” etc.
Naturally, as a purely nonsensical game, it gets harder and harder for people not to show their teeth. So, at any time someone shows their teeth when they are talking, or stumbles to respond quickly enough, the action will stop momentarily to allow everyone to enjoy a hearty laugh (teeth are permitted at this juncture.)
Whenever a pause occurs in the action, the game resumes with the left-hand neighbour of the person who made the ‘mistake’ announcing their vegetable, etc. Play continues for several minutes, or until your group has enjoyed enough silliness.
Clearly, this is one of those fine examples of FUNN – if you see any intrinsic value here, let me know! Enjoy it for the pure pleasure it brings.
Practical Leadership Tips
This game relies heavily on the level of enthusiasm you inject into your presentation. The more zany the better.
In the beginning, encourage your group to be a little lenient on slow responses. But with each successful round, the tolerance for imperfection should diminish. As I say, a quick game’s a good game.
Yes, it is totally possible for someone to volley back to the person who triggered their response, eg POTATO-POTATO, BROCOLLI-BROCOLLI … BROCOLLI-BROCOLLI, POTATO-POTATO – unless you choose to outlaw this rather clever practice.
Often, I instruct people to speak with their lips curled over their teeth first, before asking them to announce their favourite vegetable. Even before the game has started, this is sure to generate a lot of laughter in your group.
You could integrate Veggie Veggie 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 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 well-being of enjoying a good belly laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to successfully play this silly game speaks to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of comfort within which the game was played insofar as it invites individuals to look and sound silly in front of others, a behaviour that may or may not be considered ‘safe.’
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Veggie Veggie could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Elimination Rounds: Whenever an individual makes a mistake (shows their teeth, responds too slowly, etc) they are eliminated from the circle. Play continues once the circle re-joins until two people remain.
Alternate Categories: Introduce any category you choose, such as fruits, motor vehicles, countries, people’s names, etc.
Animals: Take a look at King Frog to enjoy a similar ‘me-me-you-you’ routine baked into an equally outrageous, fun group game.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Invite your group to switch to gallery view to see the video thumbnails of everyone in the group. Clearly, there is no circle, but a memory of each person’s vegetable will still be necessary.
Beware that owing to the variability of internet connection speeds, the reaction of some of your participants may appear delayed.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Do you know of a task that appears very easy to achieve on paper, but once started, is a lot harder to do in practice? Remember the first time you learned to ride a bike, or drive a car. There’s a reason why you have to do more than sit a written test to get your driver’s license, otherwise, you would be a reckless maniac as soon as you stepped inside your car for the first time. But, with plenty of practice, the task usually gets a lot easier. Such is true of this next activity…
On paper, this next task seems so easy, but I promise, some of you will quickly mess up. But, don’t worry, this is exactly what is supposed to happen…
You don’t have to be a vegetarian, or indeed, even like vegetables to enjoy this next activity. To start, I want every one of you to pick a vegetable… a favourite or not, it doesn’t matter…
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 wonderfully nonsensical, fun group game:
How did you feel when you first had to speak with your lips curled over your teeth?
Did your comprehension improve with practice?
What other difficult task have you accomplished in your life that improved with practice?
The inspiration for Veggie Veggie, and many more nonsensical group games, was sourced from the following publication: