Games & Play / Jump Starters Disponible en español

Simon Says

Follow the leader (or don’t!) in this game that gets children moving, listening closely, and practicing early math skills.

Activity Summary

This movement game doesn’t require any materials, and can be played inside or outside. There’s lots of different ways to bring counting and math words into your play.

Instructions

How to Play

Choose one player to be the leader. The leader gives commands and the other players follow. But the other players are supposed to follow only when the leader starts the command with “Simon Says.” For example, if the leader says, “Simon Says put your hands on your head,” you should put your hands on your head. But if the leader says, “Put your hands on your head,” don’t put your hands on your head.

Play with Shapes, Space, and Location

You could give the following directions:

  • Put your arms behind your legs.
  • Turn around to face the back of the room.
  • Put one hand on top of your head and one behind your back.
  • Come up with your own using some of the words in the Math Tips section!

Play with Numbers and Counting

You could give the following directions:

  • Hop on one foot five times.
  • Jump one time, clap two times, and repeat this three times.
  • Go half-way to the door and come back.
  • Come up with your own using some of the words in the Math Tips section!

Math Talk While Playing

  • Use hand gestures to highlight the meaning of the words, such as holding up two fingers to show “2.”
  • Ask questions that encourage children to use math words: “How do you know how many jumps you did?”

Math Words to Try

See if you can use any of these words in your directions:

  • above, below
  • over, under, through
  • front, back, behind
  • between
  • in, out
  • inside, outside
  • on, off
  • first, last, middle
  • high, low
  • far, near
  • top, bottom
  • rotate, turn, flip
  • connect, separate
  • twist
  • big, little, large, small
  • long, short, tall
  • narrow, wide

Variations

  • Use dice or a deck of cards to decide how many times to do the command.
  • Take turns being the leader.
  • For very young children, play “Follow the Leader” where they always do what the leader says, and then introduce the “Simon Says” rules.
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