How to Play the Clapping Game

This game requires rhythm and quick thinking! It is great entertainment, when you unexpectedly have a bunch of bored kids, and your party or educational plans have failed. This game requires no equipment or preparation. It can be played indoors, outdoors, or even on a school bus.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Step 1: Pick a Game Theme.

You want to pick a theme that is broad, but not too broad. The names of the U.S. States or names of professions (doctor, lawyer, etc.) are good choices. Pick a theme which is age appropriate. Older students in a science classroom with a substitute teacher might use names from a periodic table as a theme. Younger children might select animal names as a theme.

Step 2: Step 2: Get the Rhythm Started.

Larger crowds are more fun, but this game can be played with as few as two people. Game players sit in a circle, facing each other. Working in unison, each player:

  • Claps hands together once.
  • Slaps hands on thighs once.
  • Claps hands together once.
  • Snaps both fingers.

Players repeat this sequence, with everyone clapping, slapping, clapping, and snapping at the same time, to establish a background rhythm.

Step 3: Step 3: Play the Game.

Each player takes a turn, moving around the circle from left to right (counter-clockwise). Starting with the first hand clap, the first player says a name. For example, if you chose to use animal names, the first player might say “monkey”, while the group performs clap, slap, clap, snap.

The second player’s turn begins with the next clap. This player must think of an animal name that begins with the last letter of the previous player’s word. In our example, the word “monkey” ends with “y”, so the second player must think of an animal name that begins with the letter “y”. This player has only a four count of the rhythm (clap, slap, clap, snap) to say their word. If the second player fails to say the word “yak” before their four count (clap, slap, clap, snap) is over, they move outside the circle. Play continues, going around the circle, until only one player, the winner, remains.

Young Children Version: Young children may remember names, but still be young enough to struggle with spelling the words. Remove this problem by eliminating the rule about the word’s first and last letters. Each play names an animal (or chosen theme word), without the first letter of their word matching the last letter of the previous word.

Young Adult Version: The rhythm stops when a player fails to find an appropriate word. This version focuses on social interaction skills. The loosing player remains in the circle to continue playing, but must pay a “penalty”, such as telling a personal secret, or answering an embarrassing question truthfully. If they don’t accept the “dare”, they are removed from playing.

Older Adult Version: While this game is traditionally considered to be a children’s activity, this game could be a therapy aid in communities of older adults. Playing the game would encourage participants to improve memory, thinking, and communication skills, which tend to decline with age. Consider adding more time for finding a word (clap, slap, clap, snap, clap, slap, clap, snap), to make the game less frustrating to play.

How to Play ____

Runner Up in the
How to Play ____

DIY Audio and Music Contest

Participated in the
DIY Audio and Music Contest



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

      Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
    • DIY Summer Camp Contest

      DIY Summer Camp Contest

    4 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    So, if you pick the theme of the periodic table of elements, do you clap, slap your thighs, or snap then say the name of an element?

    2 replies

    You must say the name of an element before the next round of clap, slap, clap, and snap starts. In one version of this game, you say one syllable with each hand movement. "Ox" (clap), "i" (slap), "gen" (clap), "___" (snap). Then, next player might say, "___" (clap), "Ni" (slap), "tro" (clap), "gen" (snap). If you are struggling to think of "Nitrogen", you might yell "Nitrogen" as the circle is finishing the last snap. Just finish saying "Nitrogen" before the circle does the next clap to stay in the game.


    4 years ago

    That's so awesome I'm so doing that