Clan and Tribe

3.5 stars

Tell kids that they're going to form different groups or "clans".  Ask group members to choose from the following list of animal they most identify with.  Keep choices secret.  After everyone has chosen a clan, have group members walk around silently shaking hands with everyone else in the room.  Each person should shake the number of times specified by his or her clan.  Have kids continue shaking hands until they've grouped themselves according to their clans.  Name enough clans to form small groups of five to nine members each.  For example, if you have 25 kids, name only five clans from the following list.

  • Bear Clan: one shake. 
  • Turtle Clan: two shakes,
  • Wolf Clan: three shakes,
  • Raven Clan: four shakes, etc. 

Then have kids follow the instructions for the five rounds of play described below. 

Round 1: After group members are in their clans, direct them to introduce themselves.  Then have each member tell about one beautiful place her or she has seen in the world. 

Round 2: Choose one clan to be chief clan.  Instruct the members of this clan to make sure that every clan has an equal number of members.  After the chief clan has evened up the clans, ask everyone to talk in their clans about places they have had to say good-bye to in their lives. 

Round 3: Direct each clan to trade one clan member for a member of another clan.  Then have the traded clan member ask their new clans three questions.  For example, kids may ask about hobbies, interests, or favourite foods. 

Round 4: Instruct each clan to trade two clan members for two members of another clan.  Then have the old members of each clan ask the new clan members three questions. 

Round 5: Gather the clans together and have kids share new things they learned about each other through this activity.

  • Free / Low Cost
  • Sharing, Get to know you
  • Night
  • Ice breaker
  • Indoor
  • Large area
  • Small area
  • Teens (Age 12-15)
  • Teens (Age 16-18)

Group Size
  • Small Groups (1-9 people)
  • Medium (10-29 people)
  • Large groups (30+)

  • Longer (30-60 mins)
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We need to use discernment on what games we utilized. What are we teaching youth about tribes and clans of Native Americans?
Native American peoples grouped in tribes and clans are existent today and this game may be offensive to them because it is taking something that is sacred to their identity and turning it into a game.
I think its a good mixer with the handshakes, but I would change the theme. ie. sports teams that do trade members Or if you are going to do this theme make sure you are backing it up with education or making it a relevant lesson.

Students are our leaders of tomorrow. "What we as leaders do in moderation our students will do in excess." - a wise mentor
Thank you.

- Youth Minister (4 Dec 2007)

Great point and well made. Thankyou for your feedback.
- admin (10 Dec 2007)

i think this is a great mixer game. An awesome way to get everyone feeling comfortable in the new environment. I think the idea of having 'tribes' is funny as the tv show survivor is really popular amoungst youth today. Also i would reccomend having funny tribe names for example: nacho tribe...or even getting the kids to come up with tribe names and then splitting them into a group.
- Youth Leader (23 Oct 2008)

i think this is an excellent game for sharing with Aboriginal students/children, it introduces the Clan system to them if they don't already know it. miigwech, Ojibway helper
- bhc (24 Nov 2009)

i see your point but sometimes we take things to the extreme and make everything into a negative or demonic element; we need to use judgment based on your group and be sensitive- I just came back from a reservation where are group leaders (Native American) did a game using the African tribes and cowboys- it was great and they weren't worried and I wasn't the least offended
- (22 Apr 2010)

great but if offensive, the names of the tibes can always change. but otherwise, it's a great way of involving everyone and making them feel good and appreciated. i liked it.
- julianne (11 Oct 2011)

What if a Scottish person visits? Or an African person? What if you have gang members drop by at some point? What if people from clans and tribes from all over the world got together and played a game with fictional clans and tribes as the foundation of the game? What if we were all offending each other with our tribal backgrounds and individual heritages?

It's evident you're hyper-sensitive and over thinking the whole ordeal...
- 'saph (24 Apr 2012)

I like this idea tremendously. I've just adapted this to fit an ESL classroom. In step 2 just after the chief clan is assigned, I'm having the kids brainstorm what their daily life looks like. Then have the clans trade members in order to find out the differences between the clans are. As a follow up lesson I plan to have them do a web quest so that they can discover how different tribes in the USA varied depending on climate and region. There is a tremendous opportunity for learning in this and could not in the least offend any groups. Let's not forget that showing interest in a different culture shows said culture that we recognize and appreciate them as a part of this world.
- Justin (25 Apr 2012)

Just because someone is concerned with offending another group does not make them oversensitive. When you are working with a youth or children's group you do have to be sensitive to other cultures and ethnicities. This is a basic rule taught to anyone that works in human services. Yes, it can be taken to extremes and some groups are more sensitive than others about their culture, but it is a real and valid concern and it is a bit rude to judge them for trying to be thoughtful of that. Please keep that in mind next you decide to pass judgement saph.
- Whitney (5 Aug 2012)

I think it is a good game. However I can understand not wanting to be offensive with the clan idea, but I think the clan idea could be substituted with animals or traditional roles
- Bean (26 Nov 2012)

Great game idea. I am going to use this tonight. The point about being sensitive to students of different cultures has been made enough. No need for anyone to get on a soapbox here. We are all smart enough to adjust to terminology that fits our situation.
- PW (10 Jan 2018)

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