Alien, Tiger, Cow

By | July 17, 2010


Rock, paper, scissors


This is an exercise used to break the ice, and get everyone in synch. Everyone into a circle.


There are three characters that the players can portray. The first character is the alien. The alien is created by making antennae with your fingers and leaning into the circle making the classic alien “zeep zeep zeep” noise. The second character is the tiger. The tiger is created by turning your hands into ferocious claws, leaning into the circle and roaring. The third character is the cow. The cow is created by turning your hand into a wiggly udder, leaning into the circle and mooing.

Everyone in the circle starts a three count. On the count of three everyone commits to one of the character types alien, tiger, or cow. The character is held for two beats. Everyone returns to neutral and the three count. As the group falls into sync they will develop a distinctive rhythm of 1-2-3 cacophonous blast, 1-2-3 cacophonous blast.

The warm up continues until the every player in the circle picks the same character, or everyone get’s tired. It is rare for all the hit the same character, but when it happens there is an amazing pay off.

Alien, Tiger, Cow is a physical warm up that not only gets the blood flowing it warms up listening, commitment, character and ensemble skills. Successful use of Alien, Tiger, Cow requires players to be listening not just to the words of 1-2-3 but to be listening to the group. Commitment is exercised as assuming the character quickly and without hesitation. Having players force themselves into unusual physical positions and unusual vocalizations prepares them for creating characters later. Finally any warm up that rewards the group for being in sync and aids in collective listening and timing will always help build ensemble skills.

Increase the number of character types i.e., fridge, t-Rex, car, elephant.


  • Majority Rules – Competitive version where the minority character chosen is out. I.e., if there are six tigers, four cows and two aliens the two players that chose aliens are out of the circle.
  • Head to Head – Tiger eats cow, cow scares alien, alien turns tiger into a kitty. This is probably where rock paper scissors came from.


Summer camps everywhere.