In a first-day name game, participants use gestures to learn classmates’ names.

Special thanks to Mary Kay Everett for teaching me this one!


The Basics: 

Game Type: Warm-Up; Group Cohesion

Age Range: 8+

Number of Participants: 8-30

Materials: None

Explanation: Participants invent a personal gesture, and then learn each other’s names and gestures. After an initial introduction, the names and gestures move around the circle in a stationary version of tag. This is a great game for the first day of class, and it encompasses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic inputs naturally. It also establishes that there’s no hiding in theatre class!

 How to Play: 

  1. Participants stand in a circle.
  2. The leader explains that each person needs to come up with a gesture that communicates something about the individual. The gesture might show a favorite hobby, sport, activity, or be symbolic – of a personality trait, something of significance to the person.
  3. The leader demonstrates his gesture, and then gives the group a few moments to think of their own gestures.
  4. “Introductions” – Each person in turn says their name, at the same time executing her gesture. The group repeats each person’s name and gesture back.
  5. After everyone has shared their name and gesture, the participants play “tag” with the names and gestures. The leader states her name and does her gesture, then says the name and does the gesture of another group member.
  6. That group member who’s now “it” does the same: says his name while completing his gesture, then tags any other member by saying her name and doing her gesture.
  7. The group tries to get through everyone in this fashion without repeats, so participants should keep track of whose name and gesture hasn’t been called yet.
  8. The leader can bring the game to a close when she’s sure of everyone’s names and gesture, or just as the frustration/boredom level starts to rise, or after a set amount of time.


  • It may be helpful for the leader to explain why she chose the gesture she did; it isn’t necessary for any other participants to share reasons, however.
  • Remind the participants to keep the gestures simple enough that everyone in the class can do them – dancers, gymnasts, and cheerleaders can often do things classmates can’t – and keep the gesture to ONE thing (no sequences of movements).
  • At the beginning of a semester, the “tag” portion can be repeated during the first few class sessions to help cement everyone’s name in every class member’s brain.


  • SUPER FUN CHALLENGE QUIZ!: Someone volunteers to be “IT” and stands in the middle of the circle. The circle rotates around the person, then stops. “IT” has to demonstrate the name and gesture of whoever’s facing her.

AFTER the game, you can use the gestures for the rest of the course! 

  • Use the name and gesture, or just the gesture, to call on students in structured situations.
  • Use the gesture without the name to get the attention of a student who needs a subtle reminder…
  • The gestures without the names can become an element in other theatre games where participants select who’s next.