Warm-up games and exercises

1. Names

Each person to say their name and add a voice and a movement. Everyone to copy. 2nd time around each person to add a word describing them that starts with the same letter as their name.  Keep voice and movement and copy again.

Tell us how you are feeling i.e., sad, happy, angry, hungry, etc.

Find someone you would like to play with and attract their attention. When you do swap places and then it’s that person’s turn.

2. Trust exercise

Set chairs, etc up as obstacles and get blindfold. Put people into pairs. Take it in turns at being the guide. You can put it into context e.g., pretend you are in the jungle or a busy shopping centre and even use sound effects.

3. Pig, Cow, Sheep

All get into a circle and everyone choose an animal, preferably with one syllable. One volunteer to go into middle. Pig in middle has to say an animal 3 times. The person who is that animal must say their animal once before Pig says it 3 times. If he/she does then Pig stays in middle. If he/she doesn’t then they go into the middle and become Pig.

4. Grandma’s Footsteps

Although this is a traditional children’s game, in my experience it is also great fun for grown-ups! One person is Grandma – he/she faces a wall. The others in the group start at the other end of the room, then try to creep up to Grandma and tap her on the shoulder. However, at any moment, Grandma can turn around suddenly. If she sees anyone moving, she points at them and that person must return to the start. No-one is allowed to move while she is watching them.

Whoever manages to tap her on the shoulder becomes Grandma (male or female) and the game starts again. It’s a good activity for cultivating concentration and patience – not to mention lots of cheating!

This can also be played as ‘Weeping Angels’ where people can pose dramatically and look scary.

5. 10 second objects

This is a very popular drama game and a useful technique which can be developed easily towards improvisation or physical theatre. It’s also highly accessible and great fun!

Divide everyone into small groups (4-6). Call out the name of an object and all the groups have to make the shape of that object out of their own bodies, joining together in different ways while you count down slowly from ten to zero. Usually every group will find a different way of forming the object. Examples could be: a car, a fried breakfast, a clock, a washing machine, a fire.

6. Kitty in the corner

This is a classic children’s game.  Four players sit on chairs at the corners of the playing area, with one player (Kitty) in the middle.  Two people at any of the corners try to swap places by making eye contact with each other and then moving as quickly as possible, before Kitty can capture one of the corners.  Whoever doesn’t manage to sit down becomes (or remains) Kitty in the middle.  You are not allowed to return to your seat once you have left it.  With a larger group you can make a circle of chairs.  However, you should ensure eye contact is used clearly to avoid collisions.

7. 1, 2, 3

This is a fun introductory warm-up and concentration game. You can begin sitting down or standing up. In pairs, face each other. Start counting from one to three between yourselves, over and over. Once you get the hang of that part you are ready for the next stage. Instead of saying the number “one”, you should clap your hands – but you would still say “two” and “three” aloud.

Once everyone has mastered that, the next step is that instead of saying “three”, that person should bend their knees. You should still clap your hands for the number “one”. This is a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time – in fact, you could try that afterwards!

A: “One” (Claps hands)
B: “Two”
A: “Three” (Bends knees)
B: “One” (Claps hands)
A: “Two”
B: “Three” (Bends knees)

Tip: Make sure you allow time to encourage pairs to show everybody else how they are doing after each step. It’s fun watching people trying to concentrate, especially if it goes a bit wrong!

If you have extra time, pairs could make up their own movement and/or sound for the number “two” or work in a group and go up to 5 or even 10 to form a group routine.