Clearly identify the boundaries of a wide, open playing space.
In beginning, every person belongs to the team of Monarchists.
Ask for one volunteer to become the first Republican.
The Republican aims to tag as many Monarchists as possible using a soft, tossable ball.
As the sole Republican, they may run with the ball.
When a Monarchist is successfully tagged (below their waist) they immediately join the Republican team.
From this point, Republicans are not permitted to move if they are holding the ball, but they may pass it.
Game continues until all members of the Monarchs team are tagged to join the Republican team.
How To Play Narrative
Having designated a particular playing space for this activity, I often refer to the appointed boundaries as the borders of some nebulous Monarchy in some far off land.
Then I ask everyone to step inside their ‘nation’ and subsequently christen them full-blooded Monarchists. Practicing a pompous royal wave is never out of place at this juncture.
Next, I invite one person to volunteer to become the nation’s first Republican (or whatever name you wish to give the opposing team.) They get to hold the (soft, tossable) ball, that I refer to as the Royal Sceptre, which they have stolen from the ruling Monarch.
The Republican’s goal? To convert all of the Monarchists to their cause.
From here on, it’s basically a simple tag game, but with just one unique rule. At the very beginning, the lone Republican is the only person who is permitted to run with the ball (otherwise, it could become a very long game.)
As soon as this sole Republican has tagged one of the fleeing Monarchists – by tossing the ball and hitting them anywhere below the waist – no member of the Republican team (including the initial President) is entitled to move with the ball.
That is, if a Republican has the ball in their hands, they can’t move their feet. But, happily, a Republican can pass the ball among their teammates. This is where strategy enters the scene.
Naturally, once a Monarchist is tagged, they immediately switch loyalty and assist their new Republican friends to tag the remaining Monarchists. The game continues until everyone is a staunch Republican.
Watch as strategies develop among the Republicans to score a tag.
Although clearly a tag game, you may find some value at the end of the activity to discuss and relate the team skills employed during the exercise to the real world. See the Reflection Tips tab for some starting points.
Practical Leadership Tips
If you, or your group, have issues with applying the names of Monarchists and Republicans to your teams, please adopt the names of any other two nebulous opposing entities. For example – Luddites v Geeks, Orange v Purple, Team A v Team B, etc. The names are less relevant than the energy and problem-solving skills this exercise generates.
In the beginning, you need to keep an eye on the tendency of Republicans to move with the ball. When spotted, just issue a friendly reminder not to do this.
Got a really large group? Introduce several ‘Republicans’ (perhaps one for every 20 to 30 people) each with their own ball.
You could integrate Monarch Tag as part of a well-designed SEL program to establish 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
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 engaging in a lengthy session of physical activity.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to interact and engage physically with others, not to mention, work together to tag the last remaining people, may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy full valuebehavioural 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 safety consciousness that was demonstrated during the tag game and relate this to a set of observed impacts on others. Or, help your group to explore what worked well (and what didn’t) when the group was organising themselves to trap the last few participants.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Monarch Tag could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Fixed Positions: To ramp up the value of strategy and teamwork, announce that as soon as five Monarchists have been tagged, a Republican is not entitled to move any more (except for retrieving errant balls). That is, all newly-anointed Republicans must remain standing in the spot where they were tagged, although a pivot of one foot is permitted.
Pre-Determined Result: Introduce the rule that the last two remaining Monarchists must be male and female (so that they can re-populate the Monarchist world, of course!)
Team-Based Tags: Take a look at Blob Tag and Triangle Tag to explore two more fun, team-based tag games involving lots of strategic and co-operative attributes.
Active circle game to generate lots of smiles & laughter.
Engaging & highly energetic tag game for all groups.
Do As I Say
Fun game of mind-boggling series of movements.
Useful Framing Ideas
Have you heard the term tipping point before? It’s a term used to describe the point at which a particular thing reaches a critical mass, after which the momentum builds exponentially. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a wonderful book about this principle in 2000 called The Tipping Point. This universal concept is illustrated well in this next exercise. We’ll start with just one solitary person versus everyone else. The odds seem insurmountable, but slowly, one by one, this person’s team will reach their tipping point…
At the start of a very large project or task or challenge, it can seem that you’re never going to reach your goals. Yet, step by step, with a little patience and passion, your momentum will begin to pick up steam. Something like this will occur for one volunteer in our next activity…
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, team-based tag game:
How did it feel to be a Monarchist in the beginning?
How did it feel to be one of the last couple of members of the Monarchy?
At what point do you think the Republicans reached a ‘tipping point’ in their momentum?
Can you think of moments in history in which a ‘tipping point’ was reached?
What beliefs and ideas do you have which you believe will reach a tipping point one day?
The inspiration for Monarch Tag, and many more team-based tag games, was sourced from the following publication: