Sharks and Minnows

Summary: A high-energy classic that incorporates celebrating differences.


  1. Select one player to be the “shark.” All other players will be “minnows”.
  2. Have the shark stand in the middle of the playing field and the minnows stand on one end of the field.
  3. To begin, have the shark say, “Anyone who is ______ can cross.” The shark should fill in the blank with some sort of trait. For example, “Anyone who is wearing blue can cross.”
  4. If the trait applies to any of the minnows, then they can freely cross to the other side of the field. If the trait does not apply to a minnow, then they must get to the other side without being tagged by the shark. If they’re tagged, then they have to sit out until the next game.
  5. Continue calling out traits until there is only one minnow left.


  • Instead of sitting out, any minnows who are tagged should stand where they were caught. They become “seaweed” and can tag other minnows from where they’re standing.
  • Our Planet Style:
    • Have people be trash and fish instead of sharks and minnows
    • the trash is the bad character and fish are the runners
    • Ask questions about protecting the planet like:
      • Anyone who recycles can cross
      • Anyone who shuts the light off when they leave a room can cross

Debrief Questions:

  • How did it feel when the trait applied to you? Did you ever feel “singled out”?
  • What differences did you notice between you and your classmates?
  • [For the shark] How did you choose which traits to call out?

Activity Length: Short (<15 minutes)


  • Celebrating Differences
  • Introductions

Energy Level: High

Grade Level: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th

Group Size: Large (10+)