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How to Play the "Names of ..." Game

Follow these easy instructions to learn how to play the "Names of..." game.

How to Play the "Names of ..." Game

Names of … is a game you may have played at camp or in Girl or Boy Scouts when you were a kid. Your kids are probably well versed in the game and could teach you a thing or two. It's a clapping game that requires a certain amount of hand and brain coordination. I was always terrible at the game because I have no rhythm. It does take a little bit of practice and skill.

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You may want to have a few practice rounds of Names of … before the game officially begins because it takes a little while to get everyone up to speed.

All the players sit in a circle with their legs crossed. The more players you have the better. One person is picked to be the leader and is responsible for getting the rhythm in motion. The rhythm is a slap on thighs, a clap, and two snaps of the fingers (first with the right then with the left). So the rhythm sounds like this: slap, clap, snap, snap. When everyone is slap-clap-snapping at the same time, the leader thinks of a category and starts when he or she has an idea. Players can speak, one at a time, in turn, on the rhythmic snap of the fingers. Play can go counterclockwise or clockwise—it's up to you.

The play goes like this:

    Player 1: Slap, clap … then on the snap, snap: “Names of.”

    Slap, clap … then on the snap, snap: “Animals” (the word “animals” said to the snapping beat).

    Player 2: Slap, clap … then on the snap, snap: “Mon-keys.”

    Player 3: Slap, clap … then on the snap, snap: “Elephants.”

    Player 4: Slap, clap … then on the snap, snap: “Birds” (note the one long as it's said in rhythm, on the snap, you're okay).

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Other fun categories for Names of … are bathroom objects, Chinese food dishes, car parts, types of dogs, countries, and girls' names.

As people make mistakes and say a word out of rhythm, or miss a beat and don't say something quickly enough, they are out, and the next person in line picks up the rhythm again.

Names of … is a concentration game, so it's really easy to mess up! I used to mess up because I'd be anticipating my turn and then find myself speechless and laughing when it finally came to me. You have to pick your word, and then focus on the rhythm as best you can. The people who go out can stay in the circle and not slap, clap, and snap—or they can leave the circle and the remaining players tighten up the circle.

You can make your own rules as you go. You can either change the category whenever a player wants to, or you can make the rule that only the leader is allowed to change the category.

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