Ah So Ko Ice Breaker Activity

This is a fun and engaging circle game

 Ice Breakers
 Having Fun
1 – 5 minutes
1 – 8, 9 – 16, 17 – 30, 31+
Children, Youth, Adults

Step by Step Instructions to run Ah So Ko Ice Breaker

  • Get everybody to sit in a circle facing each other.
  • Inform everybody about the gestures and sounds that must be made during the game.
    i) Using your hand, with a quick motion tap under your chin and speak out loud “Ah”
    ii) Again, using your hand, with a quick motion tap on top of your head and speak out loud “So”
    iii) Lastly, hold out your arms in front of you and clap your hands together speaking out loud “Ko”
  • The words “Ah, So Ko” is spoken in order and sequence, but only one person speaks out a word at a time.
  • Each time a person in the circle makes a hand gesture and says a word, the next person signaled must continue.
  • When starting, one person in the circle begins by saying “Ah” and will indicate with their hand to the immediate left or right.
  • This next person will call out “So” and will then point to the person who is next to them, on the left or right.
  • The next person will then call out “Ko” and clap their hands in front of them, pointing towards somebody else within the circle.
  • This person will then start over beginning with “Ah” continuing to the next person “So” and the “Ko” until somebody makes a mistake.
  • Everybody in the circle then sticks their arms out into the circle and gives a thumbs down and then over their shoulders. While doing this they will shout out to the person who made the mistake, “You are out of the game”
  • This person who leaves the group will then go around the circle trying to distract everybody else within the circle, the aim being to cause somebody in the group to make a mistake.
  • To start the game again after an elimination, the circle can reform and the person who was to the left of the one eliminated can begin the game again. This must be done within three seconds.
  • The game carries on until there is only one player left.

How to Play Ah So Ko Ice Breaker

Whether you have a group of three or one hundred, it is important that when forming the circle, you make sure everybody can see each other clearly. You can start off by warming the group up, give them a story to imagine. For fun, ask everybody to think of cavemen, how they could communicate without language. They would go around grunting and gesturing to others, this would not be the most effective way to communicate, but it would get the job done.

Introduce the activity by getting everybody to feel what it would have been like, have them use their arms in chopping movements and making grunting sounds as they do so. I’m sure this will be a great ice-breaker as everybody makes these silly moves and noises. Now imagine the cavemen having a
conversation like this.
So, this is all the cavemen could do, they only had three moves to communicate with each other. This meant that the ‘conversations’ were very short and could only be directed to one caveman at a time. So, the ‘conversation’ would be started by one person and they would begin with grunting “Ah”. While saying “Ah”, you will notice in the demonstration, my hand lifting towards my throat and chin in a rapid motion. Remember to be fast, but gently tap under your chin, as you don’t want to smack yourself in the face. Everybody has now learned that “Ah” is the first step in the conversation. Everybody in the group can now practice this.

Great, now to have a conversation, you have to at least have another person involved. Notice how when raising a hand towards your chin, it should be pointing towards the person either to the left or right side of you. It would be easier to use your left hand or right hand to point to the person next to you. Now practice the whole movement while saying “Ah”. To make things more difficult, you could look in the opposite direction from where you are pointing, just to stir things up a bit.

Moving on, when completing the movement and word, this is an indication for the person next to you to follow on with the next step. This person now calls out the word “So” while taking their hand above their heads. Again, pointing to a person sitting either to the left or right. Have everybody in the group practice this part with one hand and then the other. Then have everybody start from the beginning with “Ah” and the with “So”.

The third and final part of the conversation, “Ko”. Say, while standing in the circle, a person points to another on their right-hand side with “Ah” and this person points back to the same person on the left with “So”, you don’t want people to go back and forth all the time, which is where the third part of the conversation comes in. The third person will hold their arms out, clap their hands together, point to another member within the circle further away while saying the word “Ko”. Again, allow the group to practice. Try to do this last “Ko” with eye contact and purpose, so that the person you are pointing at can pick up it’s them, preventing any confusion. Those whose turn it is to say “Ko” can also point to their neighbor if they want.

Have everybody practice all three parts of the conversation for a few times, making sure everybody understands what’s going to happen. After the practice rounds, the game is ready to officially start. Note that only one person speaks at a time, but this should easily flow to the next person who carries on. Concentrate and be aware of where each person is pointing. You begin with one person, saying “Ah” who gestures to their left, this person then says “So” and points to either side and then the next person does “Ko” who can point to anybody in the circle.

Keep the rhythm going, “Ah, So, Ko”, at some point, usually quite soon, somebody is too slow or makes a mistake. The conversation then comes to a standstill. The person who made the mistake might think they can get away with it, but then everyone else, knowing who made the mistake, sticks out their arms with thumbs down and looks at the person. Everybody then moves their arm over their shoulder and says on the count of three, “Your out of the game”

The person who was eliminated must then leave the circle, but their role hasn’t come to an end. This person now becomes a badger, one who tries to distract others still remaining within the circle. Their job is to try and get others eliminated, who then join the badger ranks, making the circle smaller and smaller.
Of course, there are rules,

  • the first one is you cannot touch anybody in the circle
  • you are not allowed to block the view of those in the circle

That’s it, almost anything else is allowed, some people will come up with unusual and funny ways to distract those still remaining in the circle.

Once the person who made the mistake leaves the circle, the game must resume within three seconds. The person who was standing to the left of the member eliminated now starts up the game again. Start at the beginning again with “Ah”. If this person fails to start within the time, then they
are also eliminated and so it goes on.

To make things easier, have a couple of rounds where nobody will actually be eliminated. Now it’s time to get serious and actually start the game for real. Choose the one who will start with opening the conversation, “Ah”.

The game can easily pick up some speed, so if you are too slow or do something that is out of sequence, guess what, you’re out, but still in as a badger. Have some fun irritating and distracting the others in the circle.

Let’s have a short recap:

  • To begin the game somebody volunteers to begin the conversation with “Ah”, this will then be followed in order, such as, “Ah, So, Ko”
  • When somebody makes a mistake that everybody notices, the game is halted
  • Everyone sticks their thumbs out and back and looking at the offender, shout out, “You are out of the game”
  • This person leaves the circle and the game resumes within three seconds, by the person who was on the left of the person eliminated.
  • The faster the game, the more interesting and fun
  • The game carries on until you have one person standing, the winner.

You can also add a number of different variations for this activity, for example:

  • You can add the fourth gesture, so it will be, “Ah, So, Ko, No”. The “No” gesture follows “Ko”, this person has an option, as the “No” gesture is optional. The person following on to “Ko” can either choose to move forward with “Ah” or they can say “No” while placing both hands in front of their faces. This means that the next person’s turn is the previous person who first said “Ko”. In other words, this is like a mirror, reflecting back to the previous person. This person must then carry on with “Ah” again and the game continues.
  • Come up with your very own words and gestures for the game.

Facilitating tips for Ah So Ko Ice Breaker

To make the whole process a little easier, try to make it not so obvious that this is a team building activity by creating a story, like the cavemen or some other type of civilization where there is no actual language spoken. People will be focusing on the story and won’t even realize that a game is underway. The more you add to the story, the better. Humour is also always a good way to get people
to respond.

Questions, Tips, and Reflections

Let’s have a look at some questions you can ask, as a facilitator. These will help members of the group to process the whole experience.

  • Did you enjoy the game and give reasons why?
  • What observations did you make while playing the game?
  • Does enthusiasm for something make a difference in our lives, be it at work, school or home?
  • How do think this game affected this group as a whole?