The warm-up game “Ali Baba” is sort of a physical version of a song in the round, requiring concentration and focus from the participants.
Game Type: Warm-Up, Concentration
Age Range: 7+
Number of Participants: 8-25
Explanation: One person starts with a motion, and the next person comes in one line later with the first motion, while the first person is doing the next motion. The game stops when the first motion has successfully made it around the circle to the first person.
How to Play:
- Have participants sit in a circle.
- The leader introduces the only line in the game, which is “Ali Baba and the forty thieves.”
- The leader explains that she will say “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” while doing a motion.
- The leader tells the group that each time she repeats “Ali Baba and the forty thieves,” she will start a new motion.
- The second person in the “round” has to keep an eye on the leader, and repeat each motion after the leader does it.
- When the leader says “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” for a second time with a new motion, the person to the leader’s left repeats “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” WHILE executing the first motion that the leader just did.
- On the third repeat, the participant to that person’s left repeats “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” while executing the (leader’s first) movement.
- The first movement travels around the circle in this fashion until the person to the leader’s right executes the first motion.
- The leader then stops repeating “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” and doing any motions.
- The silence and stillness also travel around the circle, until the person to the leader’s right has executed the last motion the leader did.
Same Directions, Different Format:
All participants sit in a circle. The leader begins, saying “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” while doing a repeatable motion (Clapping, snapping) with her hands. As soon as the phrase, “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” is finished, the second person (person to the right of the leader) picks up the leader’s first motion, saying the “Ali Baba” phrase. The leader is now saying “Ali Baba…” for the second time, with a new hand motion, so the second person must still keep an eye on the leader – he will have to duplicate every new motion as the leader finishes. The motions travel around the circle in this fashion, with the leader coming up with a new motion every time she says “Ali Baba…”, until the first motion reaches the leader. That is, the leader sees the person to her left making the first motion that she made, and so stops her action. Then the non-action follows through the circle until the last person has repeated the last motion.
- This game moves clockwise rather than the counterclockwise motion of many theatre games.
- With younger groups, there may be a few stops and starts when participants get confused. Frustrated kids may stop moving entirely, and that has a domino effect on the whole sequence.
- It is easier at first for the participants to keep their eyes on the person to their right, so that they can see each new motion clearly. Tell them to concentrate on that person only.
- As they get better at switching the motions as necessary, the participants can try following the motions without looking directly at the person to their left.
- The leader should make sure each motion she does is distinctly different from the ones before, as a repetition can cause confusion.
While there’s no event in the folk tale that parallels this game, it could be played in conjunction with a study of the story from One Thousand and One Nights (formerly known as The Arabian Nights). The woodcutter Ali Baba cleverly manages to discover the secret of the thieves’ cave, and this game requires good mental control.