SPARKLERS / Managing emotions

Game Face

A fun activity to help tamariki overcome inhibitions and get to know each other better
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Why we love it

This activity combines some of the key skills used in improvisation e.g. fast thinking and acting, along with helping tamariki begin to understand and interpret non-verbal communication. It also provides an excuse to have a bit of a laugh at yourself and others, in a fun and positive way – it’s supposed to be funny!

Laughter is a great stress relief and relaxes the whole body, and when we do it with others, it helps us connect... a top positive wellbeing technique that helps us feel good.

Tikanga Tips

This game should have a rule around tamariki drawing on their own experiences – there’s no props and no need to touch anyone else.


Ask students to pair up – it’s best they do this with someone they know, just to help if they are feeling whakama (shy). But if you continue to play this game for 2 or 3 rounds, we recommend you pair them up with someone new!

Let tamariki know you’re going to call on their greatest acting skills, but there are no ‘lines’ or words to this play!

Ask them to stand back-to-back and when you call out the acting ‘instruction’, they both have to jump around to face each other acting out and showing their partner what that looks like. Tell them to draw on their own experiences!

What to do

When the tamariki are back-to-back, ask them to jump around to face each other and demonstrate how they look:

  • At 6am

Ensure they’ve understood the activity, making corrections as needed.

Then ask them to stand back-to-back again and this time to show each other how they look when:

  • You get a great mark on a maths test.
  • You find out I’m (you, their teacher!) away for the day!
  • Your pet wees on the carpet.
  • You’re off to a party!
  • You’ve stolen a biscuit before the guests have been served.

What now

  • You forgot your lunch…
  • But a family-member drops your lunch off just in time!
  • You have toothache.
  • You’ve been told to get off the iPad.
  • You’re about to present a speech to the school.
  • You’re about to leave on holiday.
  • You accidently snap your Mum’s Eftpos card in half
  • The Silver Ferns walk into the room to coach your class at netball.

And then you can always rely on the creativity of your students – you could ask them to call some out too!

What Next?

Now advise pairs to choose one person to show an emotion (their ‘game face’), and the other to react (again non-verbally).

E.g. If you give a scenario that elicits sadness, one person would show this while the other reassures them – an empathising look, a hand on their shoulder.

This is a great way for tamariki to develop appropriate responsive skills and build empathy and understanding.

Head to Show Off Your Game Face to extend this further and include NZ Sign Language

Thank you to...

We’d like to acknowledge the pocket book of great ideas ‘Brain Breaks’ created by the Institute of Positive Education and Geelong Grammar School.

Thank you for sharing!

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