Discover the ‘Key’
Think out the box for this activity, great for small to large groups
Step by Step Instructions:
- Have everyone gather together in a circle
- The aim of the game is to discover the key, which then unlocks a secret that solves a puzzle.
- To begin the game, point to a random person and shout out, “Bang your dead’
- Wait a few moments and then ask the group who they think got eliminated.
- Let about two people give their answers
- The key is: After the last word was spoken, which would be ‘Dead’, the very first person who speaks up, is the person who is eliminated.
- Each person should then have a turn to say who they think was eliminated.
- As you go around the circle, encourage those who don’t get it and acknowledge those who get it right.
- Offer up some more clues until everyone gets the correct answer and key.
- This game should take about 10-15 minutes to complete and can be done with anything from 16 to 30 people.
How To play Discover the ‘Key’ in more detail
This is a wonderful game that helps people think outside the box. This type of exercise involves the host casually doing something while coming up with a distraction that diverts everyone’s attention. This whole process will eventually lead to everybody in the group catching on in the end. The group has to ultimately discover the key that unlocks the puzzle.
Begin by getting everyone in the group to sit in a circle so that they can all see each other. The person leading the game will randomly point to somebody and say “Bang you’re dead’”. Make it dramatic as possible, getting everyone’s attention. Wiggle your finger and draw out the words “Bang, You’re”. Then suddenly focus on a random but specific person, pointing at them while saying “Dead”
Let a few moments pass and then ask the group to identify the person they think was eliminated. The answer is not obvious and therefore does not involve the person you first pointed at. The key can be a lot of things, but the easiest option would be to make it the first person who speaks up after ending off with the word “Dead”
Therefore it is a good idea to allow a few moments to pass after saying “Bang your dead’”. There will definitely be somebody who will inevitably speak up first, providing you with the person who is eliminated. Now everybody else just must figure this out as the key.
You can also add several different variations for this activity, for example:
- Change Keywords: If you or anyone else doesn’t like the above phrase, you can substitute it with other more suitable or acceptable statements.
- Using your foot as the key: Whoever is leading and seated with the group, must sit in a position with either their left or right foot pointing to a specific person in the group. This person their foot is pointing at is the “Dead” or eliminated individual. So, each time says the words “Discover the ‘Key’” or any other chosen phrase, while sitting in the chosen position. Change your position and foot each time, in other words, point your foot at somebody each time. Have everybody guess until the individual is identified.
- Different types of keys: You could use many different keys, here is another alternative idea. Use a different phrase like, “Okay, who’s OUT of here” and then use the key, which is the name of each person in the group, starting alphabetically. So, for instance, Abigail would be first then Andrew and so on. You could also use people who have blond hair, wearing a specific color clothing item, people who have long hair etc.
- Encourage participation: have everyone who thinks they have the correct key to have a turn themselves.
Facilitating Tips for Discover the ‘Key’
Some people love puzzle games while others do not, so try not to use this technique too often during a program. In some cases, a few people might not enjoy it because they felt they were a bit slow in coming up with the correct answer or have always been the last one to get it. Use the activity sparingly and make sure the entire game only lasts for a short time.
In some situations, as the leader and facilitator, when it comes to knowing who actually spoke first (the key), because of a disturbance or noise, do it over. When this occurs, try to keep the game in play by saying something like, “Oh no, I missed and need to take the shot again.”
During the game, you could make subtle hints as to what the key is. Maybe informing the group to ‘Listen Closely’ after the chosen phrase is said. You could even mention how odd it is that each time somebody guesses, they get eliminated. Introduce easier clues until everybody can solve the puzzle.
The puzzle should not be too difficult to solve, this will just lead to the entire group becoming frustrated. The game should be fun and completed in a short amount of time. Speak to the group before and ask them to try and not to share the ‘key’ with others who still need to figure it out. Everybody in the group must get a chance to figure it out, it is more empowering that way. Figuring something out by yourself always feels better than having the answer simply given to you.
There might be those in the group that shy away from this type of puzzle game. Maybe they have had a bad experience involving this type of activity in the past. In this case, you might find these people will want to back out of this type of exercise. Before the game begins, make sure the group understands:
- Be aware of what you say when describing the activity. Make sure everybody understand that the aim of the game is to find the key and to mimic or model what I am doing. The activity focuses on improving observation and listening skills. It’s not a difficult mathematical equation that needs solving.
- Inform everyone that everybody in the group will get to the answer in a short time. The activity is not going to last long.
- When presenting these activities in a program, only do about one or two and never after each other. You want everybody to remain interested and active.
Questions, tips, and reflections
Certain questions can help groups to process their experiences. Here are a few simple questions to ask after playing this puzzle game.
- Being the last person to figure it out, how did this make you feel?
- Have you felt like this before and did you reach a positive outcome?
- How fast did you figure out the puzzle?
- Can this type of activity teach us something about inclusion and diversity?
Benefits of Discover the ‘Key’
- Helps to improve observation and listening skills
- You don’t require any special equipment or props
- It is a short activity, therefore great for those times when you need to fill up a bit of space in a program.
- The game is a great way to develop critical and ‘out of the box’ thinking