What it is: A noisier (and maybe sillier) variation of signs.
Best for: group of about 8ish.
What you need: Nothing other than people to play and a room with chairs for everyone to sit in.
How to play: Start by having all your players sit in a circle. Choose one player’s chair to be the head chair, then the chair to the right of the head chair to be the last-place chair.
Then each player gets to choose an animal, with a hand motion and sound effect to go with it. So, for example, if Phil were playing, he could choose an alligator as his animal, slap his hands together for the hand motion, and say “chomp!” for his sound effect. Each player needs his or her own animal. Other ideas are a lion roaring, a bird tweeting, anything. Don’t be afraid to get creative – I’ve played where someone chose a lemming, made the sign their hand fall over a cliff, and the sound effect saying “ahhh!”
Once everyone’s chosen their animal, sign, and sound effect, go around the circle a couple of times and give everyone a chance to repeat everyone else’s sign (you’ll need to remember these to play the game). When everyone feels like they’ve got each other’s signs down well enough, you can start the game.
The object, just like in the game signs, is to pass the “sign” around the circle. Players also try to work their way to the head chair by not messing up. The trick comes in keeping the rhythm and remembering who has what sign.
First set up the rhythm of the game by having all players clap along together: two pats on your lap, followed by one clap. (Think “we will rock you.”) Have everyone clap for a little bit to get the rhythm set. Start out slow so everyone can get used to the rhythm.
Once players have the rhythm down, the player in the head chair can start the game – we’ll say it’s Phil. Phil would start my making the sign and sound effect of his animal (the alligator) on a clap beat, then on the next clap beat making the sign and sound effect of another player’s animal (say Marianne’s fluttering butterfly). On the very next clap beat, Marianne would accept the sign by making her own butterfly sign, then she would pass the sign on to someone else by making someone else’s sign and sound effect.
If a player messes up, either by combining the wrong sign with the wrong sound effect, or accepting or passing a sign off-rhythm, or failing to accept the sign at all, the game stops and that player moves to the last seat in the circle, while other players move up a seat. The goal is to make it to the head chair and stay there, obviously proving that you’re the most hand-eye coordinated, animal sign-passer, sound-effect making, on-rhythm player there. How’s that for bragging rights?
Variations: If you want to make the game more challenging, you have a couple of options. First, you could just speed up the rhythm as you go, so everyone’s giving and receiving signs faster and faster. Second, either instead of (or in addition to) speeding the game up, you could make every sign “stick” to its original chair. So, say Marianne with the butterfly sign messed up and had to move to the end of the circle. She wouldn’t take her butterfly sign with her; instead, she would adopt the animal of whoever was in the last chair, while the player who moved up into Marianne’s chair would become the butterfly. This becomes challenging because you have to remember what your sign is, especially if there’s a lot of changing seats involved. It’s a lot of fun that way, too.