Arts Activities

Magic Word

A large group game that uses humor and light competition to foster focus and deep listening. It also gives a few participants the chance to tell a story in front of a large group.

time 10 mins
time 8 or more


  • Form a circle with one person standing in the center. Each person around the circle holds their right hand, palm up toward the person to their right. They place their left pointer finger down toward the open palm of the person to their left.
  • The group members call out words, and the person in the middle chooses one to be the magic word. The words can be anything: “ice cream,” “lemon,” “dog,” “rollercoaster.”
  • Once the person in the center has chosen the magic word, they begin to tell a story.
  • When they say the magic word, the people around the circle simultaneously try to grab the finger of the person to their right while pulling their left finger away from the person to their left.
  • The person in the center gets to continue their story until they’ve said the magic word a few times. They then pick a new person to be “it.” The new person gets a new magic word.

TIP: The game gets fun when the person in the center tricks participants by saying words that sound like the magic word. For example, if the magic word is applesauce, they might say, “I was in the grocery store and I decided to buy apples.” This game can be especially empowering for participants who are afraid of public speaking. When shy people are “it”, they get so involved in trying to trick the people in the circle, they find themselves telling a story to a large group of people without feeling self-conscious.

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