A great activity for everyone

Dead Cow

A lively and humorous game where participants act as 'dead cows' trying not to laugh at a 'farmer's' antics!

Dead Cow
By Jon Zajac

What is Dead Cow?

The Dead Cow icebreaker is a fun and engaging group game designed to encourage laughter and lightheartedness within a medium to large-sized group. Suitable for school-aged children and adults, this active and skill-based game requires no materials or preparation, making it a convenient choice for indoor events.

The objective of the game is for a designated “farmer” to make all other players, who are acting as “dead cows,” laugh without touching them. The dead cows must remain still and expressionless, while the farmer can use jokes, funny faces, or gestures to provoke laughter. If a dead cow laughs or moves, they become a farmer in the next round.

This icebreaker is an excellent way to break the tension within a class or group, promote team building, and enhance communication skills. The game’s variation, where two teams compete against each other, adds a strategic element that can further engage participants and foster healthy competition. Overall, the Dead Cow icebreaker provides a memorable and enjoyable experience for all involved.

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Rules for Dead Cow

  1. The game master will assign a “farmer” from the group, while the rest of the players will act as “dead cows” lying on the floor.
  2. The farmer cannot touch or tickle the dead cows, but can crack jokes, make funny faces, or do funny gestures to make them laugh.
  3. Players assigned as dead cows must play dead and cannot move, smile, or laugh. If they do, they will be tagged as a farmer.
  4. The last dead cow to laugh becomes the farmer in the next round.
  5. No touching or tickling allowed.
  6. Dead cows must literally play dead and not move, smile, or laugh.
  7. The game continues until all players have had a chance to be the farmer.

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Materials needed for Dead Cow

  • Indoor space: You will need enough indoor space for all players to participate in the game.
  • Game master: This person will be responsible for starting and overseeing the game, including assigning roles and giving instructions.
  • Farmer(s): One or more players will take on the role of the farmer, whose goal is to make the dead cows laugh.
  • Dead cow(s): The remaining players will act as dead cows, lying on the floor and trying not to laugh at the farmer’s attempts to make them laugh.

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Setting up for Dead Cow

To set up for the Dead Cow icebreaker activity, you will need to gather enough indoor space for the group to participate. There should be enough room for all players to lie down on the floor, simulating the role of “dead cows.” Additionally, you will need to designate a game master who will oversee the game and assign roles to the participants. The game master will also start and stop the game by instructing the “farmer” to begin and end the harvest.

It is important to note that there are no materials needed for this icebreaker activity, and no advance preparation is required beyond securing a suitable indoor space and designating a game master. Once you have these elements in place, you are ready to start playing the Dead Cow group game!

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How to play Dead Cow

  1. Choose the Farmer: I will choose one player to be the farmer and the rest will act as dead cows. The farmer’s goal is to make all players laugh without touching them.
  2. Act as Dead Cows: All players, except for the game master and the farmer, will lie down on the floor, acting as dead cows. They must remain still and expressionless throughout the game.
  3. Start the Game: The game master will signal the start of the game by saying “Farmer, you may begin your harvest.” The farmer cannot touch or tickle the dead cows but can make funny faces, gestures or tell jokes to make them laugh.
  4. Follow the Rules: Dead cows must remain still and expressionless. They cannot move, smile, or laugh. If they do, they become a farmer.
  5. Last One Laughing Wins: The last dead cow to laugh becomes the farmer in the next round. The game continues until everyone has had a turn as the farmer.
  6. Team Variation (Optional): For larger groups, divide players into two teams. One team will be farmers and the other team will act as dead cows. The team who makes all the opposing team’s dead cows laugh first wins the round.

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Benefits of Dead Cow

  • Encourages Creativity: The Dead Cow icebreaker requires players to come up with creative ways to make their teammates laugh without physically touching them. This can help improve their ability to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions.
  • Fosters Social Interaction: As an indoor group game, Dead Cow encourages social interaction among participants. By working together and sharing laughter, players can build stronger relationships and improve their teamwork skills.
  • Improves Communication: The game requires players to communicate effectively with each other in order to achieve the goal of making their teammates laugh. This can help improve their overall communication skills and increase their confidence when speaking in front of others.
  • Enhances Emotional Intelligence: Dead Cow also helps players develop their emotional intelligence by requiring them to read the emotions of their teammates and respond appropriately. By recognizing and responding to the emotions of others, players can build stronger relationships and improve their interpersonal skills.
  • Promotes Active Listening: During the game, players must actively listen to each other in order to understand what makes their teammates laugh. This can help improve their active listening skills and increase their ability to focus on the needs and wants of others.
  • Provides Stress Relief: Laughter is a natural stress reliever, and Dead Cow provides ample opportunities for players to let loose and have fun. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, the game can help improve overall mental health and well-being.
  • Boosts Confidence: The game requires players to perform in front of others, which can help boost their confidence and self-esteem. By successfully making their teammates laugh, players can feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their abilities.

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Skills built with Dead Cow

  • Communication skills: Players need to effectively convey humor through jokes, facial expressions, or gestures to make the “dead cows” laugh.
  • Creativity: The farmer must come up with creative and original ways to make the dead cows laugh without touching them.
  • Teamwork: In the team variation, farmers need to work together to strategize and make the opposing team’s dead cows laugh as quickly as possible.
  • Impulse control: Players acting as dead cows must resist the urge to laugh or move while being entertained by the farmer.
  • Self-confidence: Performing in front of a group, whether as the farmer or a dead cow, can help build self-confidence and public speaking skills.
  • Body awareness: The dead cows must maintain their “dead” poses, which requires body awareness and control.
  • Active listening: The farmers need to pay attention to the reactions of the dead cows to determine what is working and adjust their approach accordingly.

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Why I like Dead Cow

I enjoy the Dead Cow icebreaker because it is a fun and engaging game that can be played by people of all ages. The aim of the game, which is to make others laugh without physically touching them, is both challenging and entertaining. It allows players to showcase their sense of humor, creativity, and acting skills, making it an excellent way to build connections and break the ice within a group.

What I particularly like about this game is that it requires no preparation or materials, making it easy to organize and play anytime, anywhere. Additionally, the rules are simple and straightforward, allowing everyone to quickly understand and participate in the game. The variation of dividing the group into two teams adds an element of competition, which can further motivate players and make the game more exciting.

The Dead Cow icebreaker is also a great way to promote laughter and positivity within a group, as it encourages people to focus on having fun and making others laugh rather than on their differences or conflicts. This can help create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that fosters social connections and communication.

Overall, I find the Dead Cow icebreaker to be a simple yet effective way to bring people together and have a good time. Its emphasis on humor, creativity, and social interaction makes it an enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone involved.

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Tips for making Dead Cow more inclusive

  • Tip: Clearly explain the rules and objectives of the game to all participants before starting. This will ensure that everyone understands how to play and can actively participate.
  • Tip: Encourage players to use age-appropriate humor and avoid making jokes that could be offensive or hurtful to others. This will help create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all players.
  • Tip: Consider setting up some ground rules for the game, such as no physical contact or inappropriate language, to ensure that all participants feel comfortable and safe.
  • Tip: If some players are having difficulty understanding the instructions or participating in the game, offer additional support and guidance to help them fully engage with the activity.
  • Tip: Consider modifying the rules of the game to better accommodate the needs and abilities of all players. For example, you could allow players to sit or stand during the game, or provide visual aids to help those with hearing impairments understand the instructions.
  • Tip: Encourage players to be respectful and considerate of each other’s differences, and to celebrate the unique perspectives and contributions that each person brings to the game. By fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment, you can help ensure that everyone has a fun and enjoyable experience playing Dead Cow.

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Reflection questions for Dead Cow

  1. What was your experience playing dead cow? This question can help participants reflect on their overall experience playing the game and how it made them feel.
  2. How did you react when you were tagged as a farmer? By asking this question, facilitators can gain insight into how participants handled being in a position of leadership and coming up with creative ways to make others laugh.
  3. What strategies did you use to make the dead cows laugh? This question can help participants think about their communication and humor skills, as well as their ability to read social cues.
  4. How did it feel to play dead and not be able to move or react when someone was trying to make you laugh? This question can help participants reflect on the importance of being a good listener and observer, as well as their ability to resist temptation and maintain self-control.
  5. Did you notice any patterns in what made people laugh? By asking this question, facilitators can encourage participants to think about commonalities in humor and how they can use these insights to build stronger connections with others.
  6. How did this game help break the ice or build connections within the group? This question can help participants reflect on the social dynamics of the game and how it contributed to a positive group atmosphere.
  7. What other games or activities would you like to see us do in the future? By asking this question, facilitators can get feedback from participants on their preferences and ideas for future icebreakers.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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