Simon Says as a Teaching Tool

Simon Says as a Teaching Tool
Simon Says as a Teaching Tool
Item# SimonSays

Product Description

There is a free instructional video on the Training Wheels website and on YouTube of Michelle Cummings and Scott Gurst leading this version of Simon Says. Please watch it as many times as needed to become a confident Simon!

YouTube Link:



1. No one is out, if you make a mistake just give yourself a point. Everyone will keep track of their own points in their head. 2. Simon will give commands, only follow the commands if the statement is prefaced by ‘Simon Says….’ 3. Flinching totally counts as a point. 4. The game begins when “Simon says the game has officially begun” and ends when “Simon says the game is officially over.” The game will continue the entire time between those two statements. • Terms (demonstrate the commands/positions you will do in the game, like put your left hand up, etc) • Make sure everyone in the room knows the basic rules to Simon Says. • Questions from participants

“Simon says the game has officially begun.”

Phase #1: BREAK THE ICE - Keep movements easy

Start movement before you say motion. [Your hands are moving as you start to say “Put your left hand up. Simon Says put your left hand up.”]

Usually, I try not to throw any ‘tricks’ in Phase #1. Phase 1 is the ‘warm up phase’. It gets people used to the motions and the actions of the game. Be an encouraging Simon.

Example commands:

Example: “OK, let’s get started. Both hands up! (usually there is at least one person that will make this first mistake.) Not yet, that’s OK. It’s early in the game. Let’s try that again. Both hands up! (if no one makes the mistake again, say ‘Good job! That’s called learning.) Simon says put both hands up. Both hands down. Simon Says put both hands down….It’s okay, you’re not out. Keep playing. Simon says put your right hand up. Simon says put your right hand down….”

In Phase 1, don’t attack. Let them succeed. This phase is where you set up sequences and patterns that will be used later.


The Distraction Phases are the two small pauses you do between Phase 1, 2, and 3. It’s kind of a ‘rest period’. This is a place where people usually let their guard down and you can catch them with a few points. These distraction periods can be fun, but remember the main goal of this version of Simon Says is to use it as a teaching tool, not to humiliate people for making a mistake. Here are a few examples of what you can say during the distraction phase:

Do a few commands and then stop (it will appear that you are stepping out of role as leader and stopping the game.)

Stop and say, “Ok, that’s end of Phase 1, great job everyone! I always like to do a quick check in to see how people are doing. Raise your hand if you still have 0 points? [while raising your hand to indicate they should do so too, usually there are a few people who will fall for this.] Not anymore! Simon says raise your hand if you still have 0 points?”

You “get” people because it feels to them like the game is on “hold.”

Other ways to ‘trick’ people: Talk about the day, throw in a random question. Tie the game to a workshop, or goal. Take a deep breath. Shake out your arms.

Example: “Today we’ll be learning some good Listening skills. Most of us aren’t as good listeners as we think we are because we’re usually anticipating what we’re going to say after the other person stops talking. Does anyone here do that? Anticipate? [raise hand to indicate they should do so too] Simon says… Does anyone here anticipate?”

Some of you look kind of crowded out there. Why don’t you spread out a bit…. Simon SAYS why don’t you spread out a bit.”

PHASE II Actions Don’t Match Words, Adding in fakes

I always like to warn people that Phase 2 is HARD. I frontload this phase by telling them I am going to throw several tricks at them, so they should be very good listeners during this phase. Here are some examples of how to use fakes:

FAKE TYPE I (Emphasis is on the WORDS: saying Simon Says) Establish a pattern, and then break it. Don’t go faster. The slower you go, the more you will “get” people.

Example: “Put your arms up. Simon says put your arms up. Put your arms down. SS put your arms down. Put your Right hand up. SS put your right hand up. Put your left hand up. SS put your left hand up. It’s okay, you haven’t done this in a while. Shake it out. SS shake it out.”

FAKE TYPE II (Emphasis is on the MOTION: right vs. left, up vs. down)

Note: Change emphasis so that when you say “up” your voice goes up, and when you say “down” your voice goes down – until the “fake.”

Example: SS put your right hand up (as you put your right hand up) SS put your left hand up (as you put your left hand up) SS put your right hand down (as you put your right hand down) SS put your left hand down (as you put your right hand up) SS put your left hand down (as you put your left hand UP and say the word “down” with the “up” emphasis). Hold a second or two until they “get it.”

After you finish Phase 2, I like to say something like this, “OK, I’ll quit torturing you, that’s the end of Phase 2. Great job everyone! Go ahead and shake that out (while you demonstrate shaking it out) Simon says go ahead and shake that one out. (pause for the giggles. Once it’s quiet again, continue…) It’s really hard to follow a leader who’s actions don’t match their words, huh?! (usually someone says “Ooooooh” Once you hear that say, “Oooooh, did you hear that? Simon says everyone say “Oooooh.” Then continue with a mini-debrief of what ‘teachable moment’ you want them to hang onto around leadership and having their actions match their words.


Set up a pattern and keep it going longer. Add a move (eg, clapping, marching)

Tips: Go slowly Be sympathetic Fall back on comfortable sequence to re-center yourself Give thumbs up when someone (or all) starts to “get it.”

Basic Motions Hands up/down (right/left) Hands out (right/left) Clap once Clapping position Turn a quarter turn Right/Left Marching in place Marching forward Foot up/down (right/left)

Chanting (good to do while marching in place) “SS somebody say Ho!” “Somebody say Ho Ho! SS somebody say Ho Ho”

Changing back to front “SS turn a quarter turn to the left” “SS turn a quarter turn to the left” “SS turn a quarter turn to the left” Now the people who were in back are in front. Simon moves to the new front of the group.

Debriefing Topics • Assumptions when listening • Anticipating what someone will say • Learning styles • Communication styles • Leadership • What’s so complicated about “Simon says put your hands down” when Simon puts his up? How often do managers and leaders say one thing and do another? • What happens when you don’t do what you say? Walk the talk? Integrity – Do what you say • Why is something so simple and basic so difficult? • Lose focus, Anxiety • Keeping score – distracts people, adds to confusion, it’s really not important. But are you making improvements?

Go Play!