What is Simon Says?
Simon Says is a popular icebreaker game that is easy to understand and play. The purpose of this activity is to follow the instructions given by the leader, who is called “Simon.” Players must only perform an action when it is preceded by the phrase “Simon says.” If a player follows an instruction that doesn’t start with “Simon says,” they are eliminated from that round. The game continues until only one player remains or a designated time limit has been reached.
The beauty of Simon Says lies in its simplicity and versatility, making it suitable for people of all ages and group sizes. As the leader, you can get creative with your commands and strategies to keep players on their toes. The game encourages active listening, quick thinking, and a sense of humor, making it an enjoyable way to engage participants and build connections in various settings.
Rules for Simon Says
- One person is designated as “Simon” and stands in front of the group.
- Simon gives instructions to do various actions, sometimes beginning them with ‘Simon says’.
- Players must only imitate Simon’s actions when ‘Simon says’ is stated.
- If a player does something without ‘Simon says’, they are eliminated for that round.
- The goal is to follow Simon’s instructions correctly and avoid being eliminated.
- Simon can eliminate many players at the beginning by not saying “Simon says” when instructing to stand up.
- Simon should give commands quickly and try to catch players off guard by not always saying ‘Simon says’.
Materials needed for Simon Says
- Leader or facilitator: This person will act as “Simon” and instruct participants to do various actions. They should be comfortable speaking in front of a group and thinking on their feet.
- Participants: Any size group, including large groups, can play this game. Participants should be willing to follow instructions and have fun!
- Indoor space: While not strictly required, playing Simon Says indoors can help minimize distractions and ensure that participants can easily see and hear the leader.
Setting up for Simon Says
To set up for the Simon Says icebreaker activity, you only need to designate a space where the game will take place. Ideally, this should be indoors and in an area that is large enough to accommodate your group. You will also need to choose one person to be the first “Simon” who will lead the game by giving instructions and commands to the rest of the participants. It’s helpful if this person has some experience with facilitating games or leading groups, as they will need to be able to think on their feet and make quick decisions during the course of the activity.
Once you have chosen your Simon and designated a space for the game, you can begin explaining the rules and getting everyone ready to play. It’s important to ensure that all participants understand how to follow Simon’s commands and what will happen if they do something without being prompted by “Simon says.” With these preparations in place, you should be able to successfully set up for a fun and engaging round of Simon Says!
How to play Simon Says
- Designate a Simon: I begin by choosing someone to be the leader, also known as “Simon.” This person will instruct others on what actions to take.
- Gather participants: I invite anyone who wants to play to stand in front of Simon, facing him or her. There is no limit to the number of players that can participate.
- Explain the rules: I explain to the group that they must imitate Simon’s actions when he says “Simon says” followed by an action. If they do something without hearing those words, they will be eliminated from that round.
- Give commands: As Simon, I give various commands, sometimes beginning them with ‘Simon says,’ and other times not. Players must carefully listen to the instructions and follow them accordingly.
- Eliminate players: If a player performs an action without hearing “Simon says,” they are eliminated from that round. The game continues like this until only one person remains or until I decide to stop.
- Change leaders (optional): To keep the game interesting, participants can take turns being Simon, giving everyone a chance to lead the group and think creatively.
Benefits of Simon Says
- Builds attentiveness and focus: By playing Simon Says, participants are required to pay close attention to the instructions given by the leader, helping them improve their concentration and listening skills.
- Encourages quick thinking: The fast-paced nature of the game pushes players to react quickly to the commands given by the leader, promoting mental agility and responsiveness.
- Fosters a sense of fun and camaraderie: Simon Says is an engaging icebreaker that brings people together in a lighthearted atmosphere, creating opportunities for social interaction and bonding.
- Enhances group control skills for leaders: By facilitating the game, individuals can practice their leadership and communication abilities, learning how to effectively manage a group and give clear instructions.
- Develops self-control and impulse management: Players must resist the urge to perform actions when “Simon says” is not included in the command, teaching them self-discipline and the importance of following rules.
- Provides an accessible and adaptable activity for various ages and settings: The simplicity and versatility of Simon Says make it a suitable icebreaker for diverse groups, from young children to adults, in both informal and formal gatherings.
Skills built with Simon Says
- Active Listening: Playing Simon Says requires players to pay close attention to the instructions given by “Simon” and follow them accordingly. This helps build active listening skills as players must constantly monitor what is being said and act on it.
- Quick Decision Making: The game moves quickly, and players have to make split-second decisions about whether or not to perform an action based on if they hear the words “Simon says” or not. This helps build quick decision-making skills.
- Focus and Concentration: With the fast-paced nature of the game, players must maintain their focus and concentration in order to keep up with the commands given by Simon. This helps improve attention span and mental agility.
- Social Awareness: As a group activity, Simon Says encourages social interaction and awareness as players must pay attention not only to their own actions but also to those of others around them.
- Hand-Eye Coordination: Depending on the commands given by Simon, players may be required to perform physical movements that require hand-eye coordination, such as clapping or jumping. This helps improve fine motor skills and overall physical coordination.
Why I like Simon Says
As someone who enjoys bringing people together and facilitating group activities, I find the Simon Says icebreaker to be incredibly effective and engaging. Here are a few reasons why:
Firstly, it’s easy to understand and play, making it accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. The rules are simple and straightforward, yet there’s enough room for creativity and spontaneity to keep things interesting.
Secondly, Simon Says is highly adaptable and can be played in a variety of settings and contexts. Whether it’s at a family gathering, a school assembly, or a corporate training session, this icebreaker is sure to get people moving, laughing, and connecting with each other.
Thirdly, I appreciate the strategic element of playing the role of “Simon”. It requires a certain level of quick thinking, observation, and deception, which can be challenging yet rewarding. The ability to catch people off guard or create unexpected twists in the game adds an extra layer of excitement and unpredictability.
Lastly, Simon Says is a non-threatening and inclusive way to build rapport and community among a group of people. It encourages participation and engagement without putting too much pressure on individuals to perform or reveal personal information. This makes it a great option for icebreakers in settings where people may be hesitant or self-conscious about participating in more structured or vulnerable activities.
Overall, I find the Simon Says icebreaker to be a fun, versatile, and engaging way to bring people together and create positive energy and connection.
Tips for making Simon Says more inclusive
- Tip: Use inclusive language. Instead of using gendered language like “he” or “she,” use gender-neutral terms such as “they” or “the person playing Simon.” This makes the game more welcoming for all players, regardless of their gender identity.
- Tip: Provide visual cues. For individuals who are hard of hearing or have difficulty processing auditory information, consider using visual cues in addition to verbal commands. For example, you could hold up a sign with “Simon Says” written on it before giving an instruction that begins with those words.
- Tip: Offer non-physical actions. To accommodate individuals with physical disabilities or mobility limitations, ensure that some of the actions you call out do not require movement. For example, instead of saying “touch your toes,” you could say “imagine touching your toes.”
- Tip: Be mindful of cultural differences. Avoid using actions that may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable for players from different cultural backgrounds. If in doubt, stick to more universally recognized gestures like clapping or waving.
- Tip: Encourage participation from all. Make it clear that everyone is welcome and encouraged to play, regardless of their age, ability, or cultural background. By creating an inclusive environment, you can help ensure that everyone feels comfortable and engaged in the game.
Reflection questions for Simon Says
- What was your strategy for following Simon’s commands? This question can help participants reflect on their decision-making processes during the game and how they approached listening for “Simon says.”
- Did you find it challenging to only follow commands that began with ‘Simon says’? Why or why not? This question encourages self-reflection on the difficulty of following instructions selectively, which can be a valuable skill in various situations.
- How did you feel when others were eliminated from the game for not following the rules correctly? This question can help participants empathize with their peers and understand how their actions might affect others during group activities.
- What was your experience like as Simon? Did you find it difficult to come up with commands, or to remember whether you said ‘Simon says’ or not? Asking the person who played Simon about their perspective can help other participants gain insight into how group leaders or facilitators might feel during similar activities.
- Did you notice any patterns in which types of commands were more challenging to follow when ‘Simon says’ was not included? This question prompts reflection on specific challenges faced during the game and encourages critical thinking about potential strategies for future rounds.
- How might playing Simon Says help us in real-life situations where we need to pay close attention to instructions or follow rules carefully? This question connects the game to practical applications, emphasizing its relevance beyond a simple icebreaker.
- What did you learn about yourself as a participant in this activity? Were there any moments that surprised or challenged you? Encouraging self-reflection and personal growth can help participants develop self-awareness and become more mindful of their actions during group activities.
About the author
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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