Spread group evenly throughout a wide, open space.
On the count of three, everyone will choose to place their hands on either their head or bottom.
This choice will determine the team they initially belong to.
Members of the heads team aim to tag those on the butts team, and vice versa.
When a tag is made, the person who is tagged immediately switches teams.
Game continues until everyone belongs to the same team.
Video Transcript for Head-Butt Tag
presented by Mark Collard
And we’re going to use all of this space here and again just keep inside the trees but effectively this is our playing field. The fun is in the centre… is I’ll invite you to do some running around but there will be an objective here, is I’m going to count to three… one, two, three, the standard variation, and your objective as soon as you hear three is to make a declaration.
You don’t say anything but you need to do this, put your hands on your head or put your hands on your butt, just your butt.
So it’s either hands on your head or hands on your butt.
This is referred to as Head-Butt Tag, but it’s Head-Butt because you get to choose between either being a head or a butt. So it’s one, two, three, you make a declaration. You don’t have to announce it. You just decide to do one or the other and the game has started.
Everyone who is on the same team, in this case if you’re a head is on the same team, you’re looking to tag all of the people with their hands on their butts, or the people with their hands on their butts are trying to tag all the people with their hands on their heads.
The game continues backwards and forwards, switching loyalty. So if I’m a butt for example and you’re a head, Tim, and you happen to tag me somewhere… you could actually use just your regular hand, so just any hand you take off your butt or your head. So you’ve made a tag. I immediately switch allegiance and I now become a head.
However if I then get tagged again, in this case I’ll be tagged by a person with a butt, I would then become a butt. So you may change teams…
(So do you keep your hands like that the whole time while you’re running except when you’re tagging?)
Except for when you’re tagging, otherwise we won’t know what you are. So most people look a bit like this or like this as they’re going, but basically you got your hands on your head or on your butt except for the time you make a tag. The game continues until everyone is on the same team, or after half an hour and we’re still running I’ll probably say stop.
Alright. Remember you get to three, you need to make a declaration of either hands on your head or hands on your butt. Are you ready?
One. Two. Three.
(people running and playing Head Butt Tag)
That’s good. Alright. Ready for the next round then? Hands out to your side. The butts win that one. Hands out to your side, rippling with adrenaline, waiting for the one, two, three…
(people running and playing Head Butt Tag)
How To Play Narrative
Instruct your group to spread themselves randomly about the playing field/space. Explain that there are two teams – heads and tails (or butts) – and everybody gets to choose which team they (initially) wish to belong.
Explain that to be on the ‘heads’ team, an individual must place both of their hands on top of their head, while everyone belonging to the ‘butts’ team will place their hands on their bottom, ie not somebody else’s!
From the centre of the playing space, announce that you will count to three quickly, at which point everyone must have demonstrated an affiliation with either the ‘heads’ or ‘butts’ team. On calling “ONE, TWO, THREE…” the chase begins.
Heads chase butts, and butts chase heads. When a tag is made of a member on an opposing team – by removing one hand from a head or butt to touch another – the person who is tagged automatically switches allegiance to the team that just tagged them.
Loyalties may swap many times in a game.
The action continues until everyone belongs to the same team, or it seems that most people are pooped!
Practical Leadership Tips
Like many of the tag games described in this database, boundaries are not really necessary. That is, the fun is over here, not over there.
Note, people must have declared their team membership before your call of “…THREE,” lest their decision is swayed by those around them.
Remind folks to keep at least one hand on their head or butt at all times, otherwise, it gets rather hard to know who’s on whose team.
Don’t run the risk of playing the game for too long if a ‘win’ does not occur within a couple of minutes. Halt the action, and either catch your collective breaths, or start over providing an opportunity for each person to adopt a new team allegiance.
You could integrate Head-Butt Tag as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Recognising Strengths In Others
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
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
Any tag game is a wonderful vessel for exploring the development of healthy and positive behavioural norms, but Head-Butt Tag goes one step further because of the goal-setting imperative each team is aiming to achieve. Typically, a group that is not socially engaged or connected may demonstrate a poor level of safety consciousness when it comes to tagging one another, ie one may aim to tag another at all costs. Added to this is the necessary conformance of enlisting everyone in the group to be on the same team. The switching back and forth between teams, not to mention the fact that the game requires everyone to be doing the same thing at the end to be successful plays well to a conversation about establishing common group norms.
For example, you could ask the question ‘Our tag game finished when everyone was either Heads or Tails. Do you think it is necessary for everyone in our group to agree that we all behave in a particular way, all the time?’
Coin Toss: Toss a coin in the middle of the space, and shout the heads or tails outcome. The team which is announced chases the other team. Play several quick rounds, the game continues until everyone is caught.
Just Like Me Tag: Individuals may place their hands on any part of their upper torso, eg tummy, shoulder, ears, back, etc. When a tag is made, the person will adopt the look of the person who just tagged them. Note, that as there are likely to be many more team variants, the game will continue for much longer.
Rock-Paper-Scissors: Create three even teams: Rock (place hands on head,) Paper (hands on hips) and Scissors (arms crossed on chest.) Once the game starts, Rocks can tag (beat) Scissors, Scissors can tag Papers and Papers can tag Rocks. Once tagged, that person switches teams. Game continues until everyone is on the same team.
Okay, everyone, we’re going to play head-butt tag now [observe the horrified looks on your group’s faces…]
In theory, if you were to toss a coin ten times, you would get five heads and five tails, right? Of course, in reality, this does not always happen. You might get only three or four heads and the rest tails, or vice versa. It is even possible that all ten of them will result in heads or tails. So, as much as we believe that we’ll start with even teams in this next activity, it is highly probable that we won’t…
How easy is it for you to give up a particular point of view, or a particular alliance? Can you embrace change quickly and easily? In a fun way, this next activity provides you with an opportunity to test this skill…
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 chaotic tag game:
What strategies did you employ to stay in the game as long as possible?
Did you work with others on your team to tag your opponents?
How did it feel to change teams when you got tagged? Did you resist, even a tiny bit?
Was the game fun, and if not, why not?
How might this game reflect our discussions about full value and establishing common group norms?