Simon Says

If you haven’t played the NEW version of Simon Says yet then you are in for a treat!  Our dear friend and fellow facilitator Scott Gurst came up with a few brilliant rule tweaks to this classic game.  These tweaks took this activity from an elimination game to a teaching tool. 


To adapt it for a virtual audience, make sure participants ‘Pin’ your video so they can see you well.  They can participate sitting down or standing up, but we recommend standing.  Follow the directions on the following few pages.  Enjoy!


New rule tweaks created by Scott Gurst


Activity Directions:

  • Have the participants stand in the middle of the room with at least an arm’s length away from other participants. Stand at the front of the room facing the group.
  • Ensure you are in a place where everyone will be able to see you and hear you, this is very important.
  • First ask the group if there is anyone who does not know how to play the game of Simon Says.
  • Simon will give commands, only follow the commands if the statement is prefaced by ‘Simon Says….’ Ensure that everyone understands this basic principle.
  • Explain that there are a few new rules.
  • New Rule #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.  In the old game of Simon Says, if you made a mistake you were out and you didn’t have an opportunity to learn from your mistake.  Flinching counts as a point.
  • New Rule #2: The game begins when you say, “The game of Simon Says has officially begun.” and ends when you say, “The game of Simon Says is officially over.”  The game will continue the entire time between those two statements. This is a very important rule to remember.
  • Before you start the game, demonstrate the commands/positions you will do in the game, like put your left hand up, etc.

Basic Motions:

Both hands Up

Right hand up/Right hand down

Left hand up/Left hand down

Clapping Position

  • Start movement before you say motion. [Your hands are moving as you start to say “Left hand up.  Simon Says put your left hand up.”]
  • Be an encouraging Simon.
  • Example commands:

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 both hands down….It’s okay, you’re not out.  Keep playing.

Right hand up. 

Simon says right hand up.

Right hand down.

SS right hand down.

Left hand up.

SS left hand up.

Left hand down.

SS Left hand down.

(Then start over with both hands up.)

Don’t attack or single one participant out.  Let them succeed. 

  • Play for around 8 minutes mixing up your commands. Watch the video for ideas for different phases.
  • Don’t forget to end the game with the statement, “The game of Simon Says is officially over.”

Facilitator script:  “Please come and stand in the center of the room to hear the directions for our first game.  You need to be at least an arm’s length away from the person standing next to you.  We’re going to play a game called Simon Says.  Is there anyone here who has not played the game of Simon Says?  (Wait for a response, give basic rules if someone hasn’t played before.)  Well this is going to be a NEW version of Simon Says.  The same basic principles still apply, but there are a few new rules.  For example, if I say ‘Left Hand Up!’ you wouldn’t do that, you would wait until you hear me say, ‘Simon Says Left hand up.’  So those basic rules are still the same.  In the old version of Simon Says, what happened if you made a mistake?  (Wait for a response.)  You were out, right?!  And then you had to take the walk of shame and you had to leave the game.  Well in the old version, it didn’t allow you to try and learn from your mistake and then try not to make the same mistake again.  Well in the new version of Simon Says, we have changed to rules to help with that.  Here is new rule #1.  Nobody gets out, even if you make a mistake.  What I want you to do though, is give yourself a point for every mistake that you make.  Please be honest, no one really cares how many points you get.  Everyone will keep track of their own points in their own mind.  And flinching counts as a point.  For example, if I say ‘Right hand up!’ and you flinch a little bit with your right hand, that counts as a point.  Does anyone have any questions on New Rule #1?  (Wait for responses.)  OK, here is Rule #2:  In a minute I’m going to start the game and I’m going to say, ‘The game of Simon Says has officially begun.’  The game will continue until you hear me say, ‘The game of Simon Says is officially over.’  The game will play the entire time in between those two statements.  This is a very important rule to remember.  Here is what I’m going to ask you to do during the game.  (Demonstrate this.)  ‘Both hands up, both hands down, right hand up, right hand down, left hand up, left hand down.’  Are there any questions before we begin?”


Sample Debriefing Topics/Questions:

  • What did you like about this version of Simon Says compared to the old version?
  • If you made a mistake, did you try and learn from it and then try not to make it again?
  • Did anyone make a mistake because someone near you flinched or put their hand up when they shouldn’t have? How is this like everyday life?  This is an example of when you hang out with people who are routinely making mistakes, it can be easy to make mistakes right along with them.
  • Assumptions when listening
  • Anticipating what someone will say
  • Learning styles, Communication styles, Leadership styles
  • 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?
  • Keeping score – distracts people, adds to confusion, it’s really not important. But are you making improvements?


We have two Simon Says videos on the Training Wheels Youtube Channel


Simon Says as a Teaching Tool featuring Scott Gurst and Michelle Cummings teaching the basic elements of the game.

And one of Michelle leading a Keynote with a group.