Okay. I’d like you all to stand inside this space now please, imagining that there is a square. Alright.
Now remember who your last partner was. You may wish to stand next to them if you want to just remind yourself who that partner is. I remember my partner’s over here.
Here’s how this next exercise works. Without stepping outside this square, your object is to have all participation, all activity occur within this space, this imaginary square space.
And everyone’s going be doing the same thing as everyone else, but you’re only focused on one other person, your partner. Okay?
So when I say go, whoever says “I’m not It” first isn’t. So Go.
(people saying “I’m not It.”)
Alright. So got the idea? So whoever was slow enough now will be the ‘It’. That person will be doing the chasing. As soon as I say Go, all of those ‘Its’, the people doing the chasing, need to turn 360… 720 degrees. They’re going to go around twice in spot.
That’s giving their partner a time or a chance to get away from their partner so they don’t get tagged, because the whole point of the exercise is to be tagged in this space. Of course they want to get away from you.
All activity though occurs at a walk’s pace. In fact I’m going to ask you with your elbows in, palms facing forward, what I call the ‘Bumpers Up’ position. This is in a situation where if someone should come close enough and should actually make contact with you, that they’re going to bounce off you rather than hopefully no elbows meet with noses, for example.
The games continues, you start chasing after your partner. When a particular tag is made, note that it’s just simply a tag, although my partner thought I was going to say a high-five. You could high-five with him, that would be considered a tag as well.
But when you make a tag, notice I said tag, not rugby-tackle drag ’em to the ground, when a tag is being made, roles reverse. They are now the ‘It’. They turn around twice in a circle, giving me a chance to walk away and get away from them.
So basically it goes backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, as often as possible. But here’s the kicker. All activity must occur without touching anyone else. The whole point of having your Bumpers Up is the last resort. The only time you make a touch is when you accomplish a tag. All other opportunities of touching must be avoided.
Now, if someone should come close, remembering they’re all focused on their own partner, they may not be aware that you’re behind them and they’re going to back into you, feel free to issue an appropriate warning, such as “Don’t touch me!” or something of that nature so that they don’t touch you. Okay? Got the basic idea?
Let’s start in the Bumpers Up position. You already know who’s going to be ‘It’ first. And Go!
(people playing Walk Tag)
Okay, hold it. Very good. Hands up those that felt they got… they managed to tag more often than they got tagged. No hands went up. Fantastic.
Alright. Next level. Can I ask you to bring those little witches hats in about a metre. Bring the circle in nice and close, or rather square I should say. Perhaps that’s a little too far. Okay. Alright, step inside this square please.
Alright. Same exercise, as much as possible avoid all contact with any other person other than the time you make contact with your partner to make a tag. Naturally whoever says “I’m not It” first isn’t.
(people saying “I’m not It.”)
Alright. Okay. You should be pretty clear about who got that right or not. So remember anytime someone gets too close to you, feel free to issue them with an appropriate warning such as “Don’t touch me” or something of that nature.
So avoid all other contact with people, keep inside the square, still try to tag your partner as often as possible. Got the idea? Remember all of the ‘Its’ will turn 720 degrees in the beginning. And Go!
(people playing Walk Tag)
Nicely played. Bring the little cones in just a little bit more, except now we change it a little bit. So bring this one a little bit closer for us. That’s maybe a little too close. That one there. Okay. Step inside the square. Now…
It is very cosy. As much as possible, keeping your Bumpers Up. Whoever says “I’m not It” isn’t.
(people saying “I’m not It.”)
Great. Excellent. Collette is going to change with me in just a second. So in a moment you’re going to be chasing Collette.
Oh no? Excuse me, you had a different swap. So in this occasion, it’s so small, it’s practically impossible to not come in contact with anybody else at the same time. So now yes, we want to avoid that contact, but it’s actually no penalty anymore.
Your object is still make a tag of your partner as often as possible. All Its will turn 720 degrees around before they start making an attempt to chase their partner, but naturally now we’re dispensing with the issue of not touching anyone else in the process. Got the idea?
(Can we go outside the square?)
You can think all you like outside the square, but all activities occurring inside the square. Alright, bumpers up, and Go!
(people playing Walk Tag)
How To Play Narrative
Invite everyone to enter the boundaries of a small designated area (say 5m x 5m 0 17′ x 17′ for a group of 15 – 20 people) with a partner. Use lines marked on the ground/floor, or place gym-spots or cones to mark the corners.
Next, request that each partnership works out quickly who is going to be “It’ first. A great way to do this is to suggest that the first person who says “I’m not it” won’t be.
On “GO” the object of this tag is for each ‘It’ to tag their partner, who of course is working feverishly to keep from being tagged. If a tag is made, they switch roles, at which point the new ‘It’ must spin 720 degrees (two full rotations) on the spot to allow time for their partner to escape.
Taken as is, this could be a very boring game. Except for two very important elements:
All movements are at walking pace; and
Every other pair is playing the same game in the same area at the same time.
Naturally, for safety’s sake I also recommend that everyone should avoid touching anybody else in the pursuit of, or escape from their partner, as much as is possible.
As the game proceeds, and tags get harder to come by, most people do come into contact with others. That’s expected. For this reason, it’s a good idea to instruct your group at the start to assume the bumpers up position. Everyone keeps this ‘I’m ready’ position throughout the game.
Practical Leadership Tips
A gentle reminder – each time a tag a made, the new ‘It’ needs to spin 720 degrees on the spot before they can resume the chase. Ideally, all taggers should spin around twice when the game starts, too.
For a bit of fun, ask people to issue an appropriate warning such as “DON’T TOUCH ME!” when it appears likely that someone is about to collide with them and cause contact.
Keep a sharp eye on the level of safety consciousness shortly after the game starts. If you see significant and/or intentional physical contact that could cause harm, stop the activity and debrief these behaviours.
Does it matter if people step outside the boundaries? Generally, no. But flagrantly flouting the perimeter by a long way should be discouraged.
Similarly, what should happen if contact is made between two people (other than a tag of course?) Nothing. The point of the ‘rule’ is to heighten your group’s awareness of other people, which typically fosters a higher level of safety consciousness.
You could integrate Walk Tag as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers ample 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
As discussed above, presenting this tag game in the beginning with the ‘don’t touch me’ provisions is a great way to develop an awareness and safety consciousness of others. You start with a very large boundary and with each round, you gradually shrink the boundary until it is nigh impossible to not touch others in the pursuit of one’s partner. The logic predicts that having raised awareness of others from the start, it is more likely that your group will modify their behaviours as the game becomes more challenging.
The focus and effort required for your group to interact and engage physically with others may speak 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 safety consciousness that was demonstrated during the activity and relate this to a set of observed impacts on others.
Random Switch: Announce “SWITCH” at random intervals which will instruct everyone to switch roles at the same time, ie regardless of whether a tag has been made or not.
Pairs Tag: Ask partners to physically connect with each other – by way of hands or linked arms – and chase another nominated coupled-pair. Note, partners may only travel around others, and not under or over people’s arms.
Tighter & Tighter: Make the boundaries very close, but still permitting movement and drop the rule regarding ‘no contact with any other person.’ If a heightened level of safety consciousness has been developed in the earlier rounds, you will note that fewer ‘safety issues’ will arise despite such close quarters.
Team Tag: Take a look at Blob Tag for another fun, paired-team tag game.
Seated Tag: Take a look at Cat On Yer Head to enjoy another restricted-space tag game.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Imagine that the very small area that we are all standing within was in fact a deserted island and the water which surrounds us is infested with people-eating sharks. A rescue team is on its way, but it will be a while. So, how about we have some fun while we wait? Let’s play a tag game…
Have you ever tried to get somewhere quickly while trapped inside a large scrum of people. It’s nigh impossible at times, especially if everyone else is trying to move in different directions to you. This next exercise will demonstrate how difficult that task can be…
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, whole-group tag game:
How often were you able to tag your partner? Is this less or more often than you expected?
What helped you to make a successful tag, or avoid being tagged?
As the space got smaller, were you less or more successful?
What did you notice about the level of safety-consciousness during the exercise?
The inspiration for Walk Tag, and many more simple, no-prop style tag games, was sourced from the following publication: