King Elephant

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King Elephant (also known as Animal Kingdom Game) is well suited as a good party game or an icebreaker for meetings. It involves a little bit of silliness and is a lot of fun. The goal of the game is to become the King Elephant, the head of the circle.

This active game works best if you have between 8 and 15 people. It is a good indoor game, and although it does require some movements (mainly making animal gestures), there is no running involved. No special props are required – it’s pretty simple to play! The recommended age is 10 and up.

Setup for King Elephant Game

Not much setup is required. Instruct all players to have a seat and arrange everyone in a circle, facing each other. Each seat in the circle will be a different animal, arranged in order from the top of the food chain (the King Elephant) down to the bottom of the food chain (a slimy worm). Designate one person to be the King Elephant and then assign the other animals in order. If you wish, you can let players choose their own animal and invent their own gesture for the animal. Otherwise, typical motions for the animals are:

  • King Elephant – hold one arm out, extended away from your nose, while the other arm wraps around and holds your nose.
  • Bird – join both of your thumbs together and flap your hands like a bird flying
  • Chicken – place your hands under armpits and flap your arms
  • Alligator – extend your arms out in front of you, with one hand facing up, and the other down, and clamp them both together like an alligator’s jaws
  • Bear – hold your two hands out like giant bear claws
  • Lion – connect your hands above your head like a circle, make a growling face like a lion’s roar
  • Snake – make a slithering snake movement with one of your arms
  • Fish – clasp both your hands together and imitate a fish swimming upstream
  • Monkey – puff cheeks, while pulling your ears out
  • Worm – wiggle one bent finger

How to Play King Elephant

King Elephant is a rhythm game in that you must successfully stay on beat. Depending on the chair you are currently seated in, each person adopts an animal gesture (as described above, or you may create a new one). The task is to correctly do your animal signal when called upon, and then to make another animal’s signal to try to get that person to make a mistake.

The rhythm to maintain is set by the person who is King Elephant. He or she can alter the speed as desired. Everyone follows the rhythm of a 1-2-3-4 pattern, where 1 is a pat on the knee, 2 is a clap, 3 and 4 are left and right thumbs (or the signals). The person does his or her own signal (animal gesture and noise) first, followed by another animal’s signal. So for example, a round could look like this:

King Elephant starts rhythm: knee pat, clap, elephant signal (his or her own signal),
King Elephant signals a different player: knee pat, clap, bear signal (or anyone else’s signal),
Bear continues: knee pat, clap, bear signal (his or her own signal),
Bear signals another player: knee pat, clap, fish signal,
Fish continues: knee pat, clap, fish signal (his or her own signal)..

and so on. When people fail to keep the rhythm or make a mistake on their signal (e.g. do a signal when they aren’t supposed to) then they become the new worm and everyone else moves up by sliding up a seat. Those who change seats take on the role of a new animal. The goal is to try to be the King Elephant by knocking out anyone in front of you.

Great fun! Be sure to get everyone to make funny animal sound effects when they do their signal too.