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Challenge your students in a game called “A what?”

This is an excerpt from Best New Games-Updated Edition by Dale LeFevre.

A What?

Number of Players

10 to 20, but make another circle for more players. This size of group is especially good for young players who may get bored easily. Slightly larger groups work for older players.

When to Play the Game

Not recommended as a starting game because of the slow pace. A good game for a breather and a laugh.

Description of Game

Ka-mu-ni-kay-shon. Even simple messages get confused and muddled in the best of times, and this game is one of the best examples of that.

The group is usually sitting in a close circle. An object such as a pencil is passed around the circle by the leader, who starts by showing it to the first person while saying, “This is a banana.” (Or anything else the leader chooses to say, as long as it is not “a pencil”!) The person replies in a startled manner, “A what?” “A banana,” says the leader. The first person takes the pencil (or other object), turns to the second person, and shows them the pencil, repeating, “This is a banana.” When the second person replies, “A what?” the first person turns back to the leader and asks again, “A what?” The leader once more informs the first person that it is “A banana,” which the first person repeats to the second and passes the pencil. The second person shows the pencil to the third person in the same “This is a banana” manner, with the “A what?” response; the pencil and “A what?” travels back to the leader, who gives the “A banana” response, which, along with the pencil, travels back to the last person to hold the pencil.

The banana proceeds around the circle in this back-and-forth fashion. After about the fifth person, the leader sends another object such as a ball in the other direction in the same way, announcing, “This is an apple.” The fun really begins when the two objects meet and cross. It is hysterical to watch people's expressions when they get confused about what to do and then completely lose it.

Safety Instructions

If someone other than you is designated the leader of this game, unless you know for sure it will not be a problem, remind that person that an object may not be called anything that will make others uncomfortable. Only good, clean fun is allowed. You don't need to worry much about physical danger—unless someone decides to use the pencil as a weapon! In that case, use something else. Also, if someone starts getting frustrated because he cannot say the right thing, tell them (1) it doesn't matter, or (2) to remember to pass only what the person next to him has told him. Do not try to think about what to say—it's dangerous!

Age Level

All. Making this game abstract, as in the original version, is confusing to youngsters. For younger players, only one object should be used to start, and it should be either the actual object or a picture of the object. This can be a great way to learn about objects they don't know about. For teens or adults, after they get the idea and have successfully passed two objects, try passing more than two objects to make it more challenging and interesting. If you want to increase the challenge still further, rather than passing the object back to the leader, pass just the question and answer, without having the object travel.

Equipment Needed

Some objects to pass around.

Location and Space Needed

Indoors or out, with enough room for a close circle of players, or more circles for more than 20 players.

Developmental Skills

Primary: self-control, verbal contact, adaptability, problem solving. Secondary: spontaneity, reaction, visual ability, cooperation.

Learn more about Best New Games, Updated Edition.

More Excerpts From Best New Games Updated Edition



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