Activity Description

When I Say Walk and Stop is a challenging game requiring good listening skills

Benefits of When I Say Walk and Stop

  • Simple to understand but difficult to execute
  • Improves communication
  • Develops listening skills
  • No props needed

How To Play When I Say Walk and Stop Energizer Group Activity 

Make sure to play this game in a large space, so that everyone can spread out. Explain what you would like the group to do. First, you are going to give a few commands, the group must walk when you say “Walk” and must stop when you say “Stop”. Everyone must immediately perform these commands when you say them.

Allow the group to practice this for a few seconds before moving on to the next step. Already, everyone will be trying hard and laughing at themselves if they do something wrong. This is great and it is what you want. Continue with the next step…

Get everyone’s attention and now mix up the commands. Tell them that they must turn all the original commands around. For example, everyone must walk if you say “Stop” and everyone must stop when you say “Walk”. It seems simple enough, actually doing it may be a bit more challenging. This time there should be a lot more laughter and even frustration coming from the group, as they try to follow the instructions.

You can suggest that each person in the group adds up for themselves, how many times they have made mistakes. Another suggestion is to eliminate those who make mistakes. The best way to go is to keep everyone constantly playing, so the energy in the group remains high.

Wait, this is not the end, there’s more. Continue with a further two commands.

  • Everyone must shout out their name when you say “Name”
  • Everyone must clap their hands, all together, when you say “Clap”

Overview, the group begins by walking when you say “Stop” and stop when you say “Walk”. Add in the further two commands, everyone must shout out their name when you say “Name” and clap their hands together at the same time when you say “Clap”.

Allow the group to respond to these commands for about a minute, then add in another twist. Can you guess what it is? Instruct everyone they must now clap when you say “Name” and say their name when you say “Clap”.

Everyone will discover that the game is easy in theory, but to follow all the commands correctly, all the time is a challenge. This is where everyone’s listening skills come into play.

As before, have each person count how many times they made mistakes. This is a great energizer and can also be used as a way to learn about various life skills.

Contextual Framing Ideas for When I Say Walk and Stop

Language is something we grow up with, learn and is woven into each specific culture. You may find that a word here might have a completely different meaning somewhere else. If you don’t find yourself exploring and experiencing new cultures, this might be something that doesn’t quite affect you. Let’s explore this with the following exercise…

A good example would be, having a friendly conversation with somebody and they inexplicably take it up the wrong way.

For many years there has been those researching the subject of how our brains function. The conclusion researchers have come to, is that our brains and thoughts can be changed. The name for this type of research is called neuroplasticity, a scientific word describing how we can re-train our brains. It takes about 21 days to change our habits, and it takes some hard work to do so. The game of ‘When I say’ is a simple way to find out how difficult it is to re-train our brains.

Step-by-Step Instructions to facilitate When I Say Walk and Stop Group Activity 

  • Have the group spread out in a large playing area.
  • Give the group some commands: they must walk when you say “Walk” and stop when you say “Stop.”
  • Shout out these commands for about 30 seconds, as a warm-up.
  • Get everyone’ attention and issue further commands: This time the original commands are swapped over. This means everyone must stop when you say “Walk” and walk when you say “Stop.”
  • Encourage the group to follow the commands as fast and accurate as possible.
  • Continue with more commands, along with the above:
  • They must shout out their names when you say “Name”
  • Everyone must clap their hands when you say “Clap”
  • These new commands must be done along with the previous ones.
  • Increase the challenge by reversing the new commands: For example, the group must clap their hands when you say “Name” and shout out their names when you say “Clap”
  • Play the game for a few minutes or try out one of the variations.

Facilitators and Leaders Tips for When I Say Walk and Stop

To keep the energy up and everyone interested, make sure to limit rounds to about 30 seconds. The game is mentally challenging, and you want to keep everyone’s attention, fun and enthusiasm going. You could also try fewer longer rounds if this game is aimed at producing more in-depth discussions.

Inevitably, many of those in the group will get frustrated, simply encourage everyone to keep going and try to get it right. You can use this in follow up discussions about how to manage these types of emotions. Larger groups are also more fun, as laughter is contagious. Smaller groups just don’t provide the same amount of fun.

Some of the follow-up discussions can include topic such as:

  • Quality control, since everyone had to count their own mistakes.
  • Self-control/managing emotions
  • Language
  • Integrity
  • Listening skills and understanding etc.

Debriefing and Reflection Strategies of When I Say Walk and Stop

Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their experience of playing the game ‘When I say’

  • When the commands were reversed, how did you feel?
  • When you made a mistake, how did you respond?
  • What reactions did others have when they made mistakes?
  • Did you have a plan that helped you perform the task quickly and accurately?
  • Name other areas in life where you would need to respond quickly and accurately.

Variations of When I Say Walk and Stop

  • Extra Extra: Include more commands, such as “Dance” or “Jump”. Then, of course, reverse the commands, as above.
  • Move with the music: Instead of shouting out commands, use music or sounds. For example, trumpet sound, drums, car hooter etc. The group listens for the sound and then acts out the proper action.
  • Another mentally challenging exercise is ‘Jump in Jump out’

Basic Details
Property Type : Energizers
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Energisers
Focus On : Communication, Collaboration, Having Fun
Outcome Based : Yes
Facilities : Indoor, Outdoor
Props Required : None
Duration : 1 - 5 minutes
Exertion Level : Medium
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Children, Youth, Adults