Describe and Verify

I learned this game from students in a course I taught at Meiji University. This description game gives people a way to practice communication and verification of understanding.

Set up the room with four chairs facing away from the whiteboard. Leave space behind the chairs for people to stand.

Form four groups of four-seven people. One person from each group sits in a chair, the rest of the group lines up in a column, facing her (and facing the board).

Each of the people in the chairs (the Describer) is given an image (photos, paintings, etc).


What is our relationship to...?

I learned this from a Japanese popular educator whose name I can't recall. The combination of physicality with abstract thought produces interesting results.

The flow:

Put a disorderly pile of three or four chairs in the center of an open space, with all the participants around.

Announce that the chairs are the theme we want to discuss, for example, "English" or "Democracy" or "Equality".

Three Elements

I learned the game "Tree, Ground, Water" from students who taught a session of our English course at Meiji University.

The process is simple: the joker stands in the middle of a circle of people. S/he chooses one person and says, "Tree" (or one of the other elements). The person she chose then has ten seconds to come up with something that lives in a tree. If s/he can't, s/he becomes the new joker.

One line drawing

I learned this from Minami Yoshitaka, Yasuhara Kouhei, and Yamazaki Ryouta in an English class they taught at Meiji University. In this game people compete to create collaborative drawings that illustrate some thing or idea. It could lead very nicely into discussion, especially if the theme is one of relevance to people's lives.

The flow:

  • Form teams of three or four people.
  • The joker chooses a theme, for example, "job hunting" or "Freedom Rides."
  • One player from each team lines up before the whiteboard in a row, waiting for the signal.

One word to a hundred

Joker asks participants to write a sentence using just one word.

Compare results. (No need to split hairs over the definition of a sentence, the purpose is to play with language.)

Joker then asks for two-word sentences.

Compare results.

And so on, one, two three, five, ten words, then jump to twenty, fifty, one hundred-word sentences.

Have people find examples of each, feeling free to use poetry, lyrics, any text.

Play the same game additively, start with one word, add another, and another.

One Word At A Time

Another Kani Club game.

In pairs or trios, people take turns telling a story one word at a time, improvising as they go. Time limit should be relatively short: 2 minutes?

Person A: This
Person B: morning
Person C: when
Person A: I
Person B: opened
Person C: my

As with all Kani games, the key is to embrace others' ideas and add your own. (Yes, and...)

Joker can give everyone a word on which they have to end, e.g. "carnations" or "exploded."

Ten Second Objects

Adapted from "Ten Second Objects" on the Drama Resource website ( The original activity is great as is:

"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."