“Down” time games

When having a training, introduction or travel with a large group there might be moments in which everyone is a bit bored or might be waiting for something or someone. For these moments you can use so called “down” time games (in Dutch dodemoment spelletjes). These are small simple games which you can do with your group. In this blog I explain a couple of down time games for you.


You will need four chairs arranged in a square (close together). Four people sit on the chairs. Proceeding clockwise, they recline onto their neighbors’ laps (keeping their feet on the ground). The chairs are pushed out from under the sitting/reclining people, leaving a floating group. How long can they keep it up? When there are no chairs available, you can use four people to play the part of the chair by standing on their hands and feet. In the video below you see it in action.

The Human Knot

One person will move out of the group and shuts his eyes. The group will stand in a circle next to each other and holds hands. After this points hands should stay connected at all times. Following everyone will move crisscross, above or underneath each other to form a human knot. The person who was placed out of the group then has the task to untie the “knot”.

The Land of No Idea

Far, far away lays the Land of No Idea. They do have people there, but no children; they have membranes, but no skin; they have no vehicles, though they do have cars and scooters. They have computers, but no modems, monitors, or keyboards. Some words do exist while others do not. The answer lies in the name of the game; The Land of No Idea. The catch is in pronunciation of the word “idea”. The correct sentence would be; The Land of no “id”. So all words with either an “i” or “d” do not exist.

Monkey, monkey, elephant

A leader tells the children that he/she can do something the others can’t, and then shows them: He/she says the sentence “monkey monkey monkey monkey elephant monkey elephant monkey monkey monkey monkey” and explains the movements that go with it: Each time you say “monkey” you touch one of the fingers on your left hand with your right index finger. The sequence is: little finger, ring finger, middle finger, index finger and thumb, and then back again from the thumb to the little finger. When you say “elephant”, you slide your index finger from the top of your index finger to the top of your thumb, or the other way round. When the leader has explained it, he/she shows them how to do it once. He/she then makes an additional movement that is hardly noticeable. Everyone has to repeat the game with their fingers. It is only when the children figure out they also need to make the additional movement that they are told they have got it completely right. A suggestion: The ‘hardly noticeable’ movement could be that, after finishing the sentence, you fold your arms, and then say to one of the children: “Now it’s your turn.”

Black magic

All the players sit in a circle, and there are once again two game leaders (A and B). B leaves the room or space briefly. A asks someone from the circle to choose a nearby object, which B will have to guess. B is now called back. A begins to point out different nearby objects. For example: “Is it these trousers?” -“No”- “Is it that watch?” – “No”- and so on. B will continue to answer “No” to A’s questions, until A mentions the correct object – the one that the players previously agreed on. B will now answer “Yes”. How is that possible? How does it work? The clue is in the title – black magic. A will mention all kinds of objects that are not black. After mentioning several objects, A will mention one that is completely black. The next object that A mentions is the one that has been agreed on with the group. In other words, the game leaders know which object it will be beforehand: it is always the object that comes after the black object.

Who am I

Everyone takes a small piece of paper and writes down a name of a person that everyone knows, taking care not to show it to the person next to them. It could be someone famous or a personal acquaintance, or a fictional character, for example. You then attach the note onto the forehead of the person next to you using sticky tape. When everyone has a name on their forehead the game can begin. Taking turns, everyone asks yes/no questions about themselves, for example, “am I a woman?”, which the group then answers with “yes” or “no”. If the answer to the question is yes, the same person can ask another question; if it is no, the turn passes to the next person. The winner is the first person to work out who he or she is – the rest of the group can continue playing if they wish.

Black Stories

The game leader tells how a person died. The group then has to guess how the person has died and may only ask questions which can be answered with yes or no. Online you can find numerous amount of riddles or apps.

  • A guy is lying dead in a phone booth; the handset is off the hook, and there is glass lying on the ground outside the booth.

Solution: He called his wife to tell her how big the fish was that he had caught. The wife asks, “How big was it?” The man stretches out both arms to indicate the length (“THIS big!”), ramming both arms through the glass. In doing so, he cut his wrists and died.

  • A man is lying dead in the forest, wearing his swimming trunks.

Solution: The man had been swimming in a lake/ocean. A firefighting aircraft scooped him up and dumped him in a burning forest. The man died from the fall.

  • A man has hanged himself from the roof of a warehouse four meters high (he is hanging two meters above the ground). The warehouse is in the desert, and there is no ladder or similar object to be found. How did he do it?

Solution: He was standing on a block of ice two meters high. The ice melted and evaporated.

  • A man went out on the street, saw a hotel, and knew that he was bankrupt.

Solution: He was playing Monopoly.

  • A sailor goes into a restaurant, eats an albatross sandwich, and then falls over dead.

Solution: He had been shipwrecked a while ago. There had been nothing to eat on the uninhabited island. Several of his companions had died of hunger. He and his buddy were also ravenous. His buddy made two “albatross sandwiches,” which they quickly devoured. It now appears that the delicacy had not been albatross at all, but one of their former shipmates. This was too much for the man.

  • A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. In the morning, he takes the elevator to the ground floor to go to work. When he returns in the evening, he takes the elevator to the sixth floor and takes the stairs to the twelfth. When it’s raining, however, he takes the elevator to the twelfth floor. Why?

Solution: The man is a midget and can reach the button for the sixth floor, but no higher … unless he has an umbrella with him.

  • A man is sitting in the non-smoking section of the Swiss railways. He grabs his gun and shoots himself through the head. If he had been sitting in a smoking compartment, this would not have happened. Why not?

Solution: The man had been blind for years and was just returning from having surgery on his eyes. The surgeon had said that he could not yet remove the bandage from his eyes. Once in the train, however, he couldn’t wait, and he removed his bandage. At that precise moment, the train entered a tunnel and the compartment was shrouded in darkness. The man thinks that the operation had failed and that he will never be able to see, and so he shoots himself in the head. If there had been a smoker in the compartment, he would have seen the red tip of the burning cigarette.

  • The smallest man in the circus discovers sawdust under doormat: he now knows that he is growing!

Solution: As a midget, the smallest man in the circus earns his money with his stature. He does not notice that he is growing. To disguise this, his girlfriend regularly saws thin chips off the chair legs. She sweeps the sawdust under the doormat.

  • Romeo and Juliet are lying dead on the bed, and the window is closed.

Solution: Romeo is a cat, and Juliet is a fish. Romeo choked to death while eating Juliet.


The group is in a circle. At the beginning one Viking is appointed. The two people sitting on the left and right of the Viking are the rowers. The rest is the sea. The Viking starts holding his hands like two horns to his head (like a viking helmet). Following he makes a growling Viking sound; aarrrrghh, raaaaaarrrrrrrw, et cetera. At the same time the rowers make a rowing movement (to the correct side) and say; row, row, row, row, et cetera. The people appointed as sea imitate waves with their hands and constantly say; woesh, woesh, woesh, et cetera. At a random point in time the Viking appoints a new Viking who adopts the new role and as such there will also be new rowers and a new sea.