Bunch of small objects, eg eraser, bean-bag toy, etc
Distribute a small object, such as an eraser or bean-bag toy, to each person in your group.
Ask each person to balance the object on their head.
When ready, invite everyone to play a quick game of tag, ie each individual aims to tag as many people as possible, while at the same time, avoid being tagged.
A player is eliminated when they are tagged by another person provided that the tagger is successfully balancing an object on their head.
If a person’s object falls, or they touch their object to prevent it from falling, they are eliminated.
Game continues until one person remains.
How To Play Narrative
Good deportment teaches proper posture. So does this game of tag.
First, ask everyone to find a small inanimate object – such as an eraser, bean-bag toy, handkerchief, or to a lesser extent, a pen or pencil.
If possible, and to avoid nagging comments such as “That’s not fair, his is smaller/lighter/stickier than mine…” it works best if you can supply everyone with the same type of object.
Next, ask everyone to place and balance the object on top of their head, and say “GO” to get the action started. Much like the classic Everybody Is It, every person is ‘It’ and attempts to tag as many people as possible while, at the same time, trying to avoid being tagged.
Naturally, a player is eliminated when they are tagged by another, provided that the tagger has successfully negotiated the tag all the while balancing their object.
If at anytime someone feels the urge to touch their object to arrest its fall or their item does in fact fall, this player is invited to cheer from the sidelines too.
Game continues until one perfectly postured player remains. If the action evaporates too quickly, consider playing several rounds, or try a variation (see Variations tab) below.
Practical Leadership Tips
There is no doubt that the ‘stickier’ the object – for example, a bean-bag toy or eraser – the easier it is to keep one’s object atop of one’s head. So, consider the dexterity and coordination skills of your group before launching into this exercise.
Watch for people sticking the object within or underneath their (long, curly, etc) hair. Objects must rest on top of one’s head/hair.
You could integrate Deportment Tag as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Controlling One’s Emotions
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Understanding & Expressing Gratitude
Making Reasoned Judgements
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
With so much interaction and the potential for quick ‘fails,’ this exercise is a wonderful portal into the way the members of your group look after one another and themselves. For example, how do their behaviours reconcile to their full value agreement, or what types of behaviours assisted or detracted from the enjoyment of the game, and finally, what sorts of behaviours demonstrated a fixed and/or growth mindset?
It’s hard to walk with something sitting atop your head, so patience and practice are the keys to the success of Deportment Tag. To this end, connecting these competencies to building resiliency is an obvious choice. For example, you could frame your reflection activities around some of these questions:
What was the most critical skill you needed to keep the object on your head?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy was it to give up?
After many failed attempts, what kept you trying? Or what stopped you?
What did you observe in your environment that may have made a difference to your results?
Did you get better (at balancing the object) as the activity progressed? How does this connect to building resilience?
Three Lives: To give the game longevity, introduce the rule that everyone has three lives before they are eliminated.
Backwards: When a person is ‘tagged,’ they are required to move backwards for the rest of the game (either with or without the object sitting atop of one’s head.)
Steal The Bacon: To effect a successful tag, a person must ‘steal’ the object on his or her opponent’s head. This will cause all manner of avoidance strategies which invariably end up with an item on the ground.
Have you ever been told to sit or stand up straight? Well, guess what? You’re about to be asked to do this again, but all in the name of some fun…
It was once believed that in order to be truly sophisticated, one must exhibit a certain air or deportment which reflected a particular form or posture. You know, shoulders back, chin high, walking as if hanging from a thread attached to the crown of one’s head. Few deportment schools or finishing schools exist anymore, but even when these classes were popular, I doubt any of them played this next 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 variation of a tag game:
How difficult was it to keep the object on your head?
What strategies did you use to keep the object from falling off your head?
How did it feel to walk with such rigid postures, and purpose?
Can you think of a time in which you influenced the outcome of someone else?
The inspiration for Deportment Tag, and many more fun tag games, was sourced in the following publication: