“Wah and “Name Wah” Ice-breakers

Today is a two-fer in my extended week sharing my favorite ice-breakers. I’m going to share with you two games I like to have students play a lot: “Wah” and “Name Wah.”


Wah

“Wah” is an quick and energizing game that is about coordination, observation, and timing that lots of student programs use.

“Wah” Instructions

  • Everyone stands in a circle facing each other.
  • A person will start the game by putting their hands together and calling out “Wah!”, while pointing another person in the circle.
  • The person who is pointed at quickly puts their hands together over their head and yells “Wah!” At the same time, the people on either side of that person “chop them in half” with their hands and say “Wah!”
  • The person with their hands raised then says “Wah!” while pointing at another person in the circle.
  • People are out when they react too slowly, do the wrong hand signal, or forget to say “Wah.”
  • After someone is eliminated, the game begins a new round.
  • At the end, only three players will remain.

This video demonstrates how to play “Wah” if that isn’t totally clear.

Name Wah

“Name Wah” is a variation on “Wah” where the students call out each other’s names instead of saying “Wah.” Very simple, quite challenging.┬áIt’s a particularly good game after the first few sessions, when people have started to learn each other’s names, but haven’t quite met everyone.

“Name Wah” Instructions

  • Everyone stands in a circle facing each other.
  • A person will start the game by putting their hands together and saying someone else’s name, while pointing at that person in the circle.
  • The person who is pointed at quickly puts their hands together over their head and says the name of the person who pointed at them. At the same time, the people on either side of that person “chop them in half” with their hands and say the name of the person they are chopping.
  • The person with their hands raised then says someone else’s name and points to that person in the circle.
  • People are out when they react too slowly, do the wrong hand signal, or say the wrong name.
  • After someone is eliminated, the game begins a new round.
  • At the end, only three players will remain.

Discussion

If the students don’t know the game “Wah,” we’ll play a few rounds of “Wah” first to familiarize themselves with the rules. They typically get it very quickly. Then we proceed to play “Name Wah.”

Sometimes students are reluctant to play “Name Wah” because they don’t know everyone’s name yet. I remind them that this is a game about learning and remembering people’s names. For the first few rounds, we play very slowly, and allow players to ask what someone else’s name is.

See more of my favorite ice-breakers here.

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