Tap Someone WHo
Has your class ever had a moment (or several) where it seems like they just can’t get along? Does every little moment turn into a small tiff? When that happens, it is best to pause the academic learning and work on some social-emotional learning. It’s time for a class gratitude activity! Tap Someone Who is the perfect one. I learned this activity at summer camp, and I have played it with adults, teens, first graders, and everyone in between.
When I was a junior in high school, I was a counselor in training at the summer camp I attended as a camper. It was so exciting and so overwhelming. We spent a few weeks at the camp, pretending we were the real cool camp counselors we had looked up to since we were kids. BUT so much time with such few people in the woods can lead to a bit of drama. We were at each other. We argued about everything and anything; it was not good. After attempting to get us to work through training, our counselor lost it! I don’t blame her. We were really pushing the limits. So, she kicked us all out of our cabin. We were sent to different parts of the camp with our notebooks to sit in reflection. This was serious. We scattered all around and were eventually called back to the cabin.
I was nervous walking back, what was going to happen? When we returned, it was a calm environment. We didn’t get yelled at. We got to reset as a group by playing Touch Someone Who. It was such a wonderful experience. A chance for all of us to show the appreciation that we weren’t showing earlier. A chance to reset together and remember that we do care about one another. Since this experience at camp, I’ve played this game in many different settings, both as a participant and a leader. It is always such an enjoyable and powerful experience.
Preparing for the Activity
This class gratitude activity is perfect when your class is about to have or is already having a meltdown. It is also the ideal activity for right before or after a break. It is also an excellent activity for Valentine’s Day. Isn’t Valentine’s (not Valentimes!) Day all about showing appreciation?
Before you begin, you’ll also want to plan out which students you’ll call up together. Ideally, it would be between 3-5 students depending on the size of your class. I try not to call friends up together because then they get a little rowdy, and they might not know who to tap. It’s always good if kids have a go-to friend that they can tap if they aren’t sure who to tap. Once you plan out your groups, write the students’ names on the transition cards. Please know that the first group goes on Direction Card 8.
I have included a color copy of the transition cards. You might want to print them out on colored paper, so they stick out in the pile.
After you’ve planned out the groups to call up together, read through the different descriptors, and pick which ones are best for your group. Use the blank cards to add in additional ones specific to your class or school and eliminate the ones that aren’t right for you. If you have any additional suggestions, please email me or comment below! I like to plan that each group starts their tapping with lighter statements and then moves into deeper statements. The last statement of the game is always “tap someone who touched your heart,” and I make sure I tap every student for that card.
See how many descriptor cards you’ve picked and how many groups you have. Stick the transition cards in between the Tap Someone cards, so you’re all set. I like to hole punch all the cards and put them on a binder ring; then they’re easier to manage during the activity.
I really like to set the mood a little bit. You don’t have to do this, but it does make things feel a bit cozier, a bit more comfortable. I like to dim the lights or turn them off entirely, depending on how dark your space gets. I also play some relaxing music softly in the background. I’ve found that sort of touch calms down the environment and sets the tone for the activity.
Keep in mind that you know your students the best. There have been years I didn’t do these things because it wasn’t right for my class.
Gather Your Class for A Class Gratitude Activity
Gather your class at the carpet and have them sit in a circle to explain the directions. I ask that all students hold questions until the end. I have scripted out direction cards in the set. Know that you may need to make changes to fit your teaching style and your class. Do what’s best for you!
Possible DIrection Script
“We need to sit in a circle.”
-wait for your kids to get into a circle
-make sure that kids are sitting next to someone who will allow them to focus on the activity.
-have students face inwards for the directions and then turn around when the game is about to start.
-I usually dim the lights during the directions to help set the mood.
“Today, we’re going to do a gratitude activity. Gratitude means showing appreciation or giving thanks. Today we’re appreciating our community. We work together every day, and it is nice to pause from time to time and let others know that you notice good things about them, and you’re glad we’re all together in this class. I’m going to explain the directions of our activity now. Please save your questions until the end because I might answer them as I explain.
In this activity, you will face the outside of the circle and gently close your eyes. We won’t turn around until the directions are finished. I will call students to the center silently, so no one knows who is in the middle of the circle. If you are tapped, you’ll have to be extra quiet. Then I will read out statements, and the people in the middle will gently tap people in our community who match the statement.
When you are picked to come to the middle, you will get a chance to show gratitude for the different members of our community. If you are sitting around the circle, you will receive appreciation. If you get tapped after I say ‘tap someone who…’ you’ll stay in your spot and quietly reflect on why someone appreciates you. It might be for something you knew you’d get tapped for, and it might be unexpected.
I might read a card that says, ‘tap someone who makes you laugh.’ If you’re in the middle, you’ll gently tap people on the head or shoulder who make you laugh. Sometimes you might respectfully tap a few people. Sometimes you might only tap one.
When someone taps you, don’t turn around to try to figure out who it is- accept their appreciation. It isn’t about who gets the most taps or who is tapping you- its that you’re an important member of our community, and we’re glad you’re here.
People in the middle with get to show appreciation for a few statements before we switch.
Sometimes it can be tricky to remember if a tap means I appreciate you or if a tap means to come to the middle.
If I say, ‘tap someone who…’ and you get tapped, you stay where you are.
But if I say, ‘when I tap your shoulder, please come to the middle,’ you’ll come to the middle. If you’re not sure, pause, and I will repeat what I said. Listening closely will help us be successful.
For everyone to feel safe during this activity, the taps must be gentle. You can tap someone on top of the head or the shoulder. You must tap them gently and with respect. The point of this activity is to build appreciation and show gratitude. If we aren’t safe, people won’t feel appreciated.”
-Demonstrate acceptable touches.
“What questions do you have?”
“Please turn and face the outside of the circle. When I tap you on the shoulder, please come to the middle.”
*Tap the students who are in the first group*
When Do I Go In The Middle?
Sometimes groups struggle to understand when they come to the middle and when they don’t. It may be nice to ring a chime during the transition time. Explain that if they hear the bell once and they are tapped, it means to come to the middle of the circle. If they hear the bell twice, that means stay in your spot. It is also helpful to repeat those directions several times before tapping anyone during the transition and after the transition. It may also be beneficial to practice the transition a few times before turning around so students can see how it will go.
Students Without Many Taps
Some students might receive fewer taps than other students. Please watch for these students and ensure that they are tapped from time to time. There are some statements that I tap each student in my class. Sometimes I also play a sneaky trick where I change up how I’m tapping students, so they don’t always know it’s me. Maybe I’m not fooling anyone, but I like to think I am.
Tapping Too Hard
Some students might tap too hard. Please review that tapping is to be kind and gentle. Students should feel appreciated when they are tapped, not injured. Make sure you explain exactly where the tap can be placed on the body. We usually do tops of the heads and shoulders.
The discussion is one of the most valuable parts of this class gratitude activity. It is so important to conclude with a discussion and a brief reflection. Sometimes there’s so much energy that I prompt students to turn and talk with a partner about their experience. Sometimes there’s a calm feeling as students turn around, and then I dive right into the prompts. Feel the room and decide what’s best for your group.
“When you are finished, please sit down.”
*Wait for participants in the middle to sit down and then take a few seconds to pause before calling everyone back*
“Take a moment, open your eyes, and turn back to face the middle of the circle when you’re ready.”
*During the conversation, no one should be forced to share. If no one wants to open up about their experience right away, that is ok. Let participants share when they are ready.*
Here are some possible discussion questions. There are additional blank cards if you need to add any questions to fit the needs of your group.
I do try to steer the conversation away from how many taps people got and try to guide it towards how do you feel? Why was this class gratitude activity important?
- How did this make you feel?
- Why is it important to show each other we care?
- How did it feel when someone tapped you?
- Were you surprised by any of the taps you got?
- Were there any statements you wished I had said?
- How did it feel when you got to tap someone?
- Why do you think we kept our eyes closed, so we didn’t know who was in the middle?
- How did you feel at the beginning? How do you feel now?
- How can we continue this feeling of appreciation for the rest of our day?
Depending on the flow of the conversation, you might only use a few discussion questions, or you might use a lot of them.
Download Tap Someone Who
Click here to visit the resources page of Ms. Natasha Theodora and download Tap Someone Who.
Please come back once you’ve completed the activity with your class and share any tips or comments that will help others along the class gratitude journey!