Energize Your Classroom with Whoosh, Wham, Whoa, Wow!

Recent research on the brain and learning emphasizes the importance of breaking up lecture and direct instruction sessions with movement to increase attention and enhance learning outcomes. This weeks post in our Friday Lessons “Back to School Series” offers a great way to energize and engage students before, after, or during a lesson. Whoosh, Wham, Whoa, Wow! is shared by Justin McGlamery and Mike Gessford in their book Focus Your Locus.

Whoosh, Wham, Whoa, Wow!

Whoosh, Wham, Whoa, Wow! is a game that is sure to help get your students fired up and energized!  The instruction below contain a lot of helpful details. This game may start off with a few skeptics and cynics, but by the end of the activity everyone has gotten into it, has laughed, and is well, believe it or not… energized! As you introduce this game, it is important that you really give it your best energy, because this game is played with nothing that most people can actually see—Energy!

•       Have the group members stand in a circle.  Tell them that there are four distinct actions for the four words, “whoosh,” “wham,” “whoa,” and “wow.”  As you begin to explain the game, reach into your pocket and pull out the invisible ball of energy you are going to be playing with.  Begin with it being about the size of a shooter marble, or super ball.  While explaining about the invisible ball, I begin moving my hands around, as if I were actually rolling the marble-sized ball between my palms—gradually making the ball grow—never touching my hands together.  The more you do this, the more you may actually feel the warm ball of energy growing in your hands.  Play with it!  The more you do and the more you feel it, the more your group will!

•       Invite anyone to take out their own invisible ball of energy and play with it.  Explain about energy and why it is important to be aware of both our own energy and other’s.  Keep rolling the ball around and turning it over, as you would a good snowball, until it grows to the size of a baseball or softball, no larger than a small cantaloupe.  If someone in the group has a good ball going, invite him/her to share it with the group for the activity.  Have that person toss it to you and continue to keep it going, rolling it in your hands as you explain the activity.  Once you have the ball of energy vibrating and alive and the group members focused on it, teach them the actions for the words.

•       Explain that the object of this activity is to pass the energy around and through the group using the four words: whoosh, wham, whoa, and wow.  Begin with “whoosh.”  When you pass the ball to the person directly on your left or right, say, “Whoosh!” as you do so.  Give it a try!  Pass the ball all the way around the circle until it comes back to you.

•       Next, introduce “Wham.”  “Wham” is used when you wish to send the energy ball to someone across the circle from you, to someone who is not on either your immediate left or right.  When you wham somebody, make sure to look him/her in the eye and make a direct pass.  Keep the size of the ball in mind as you pass it, extending your arms out in front of you, as if making a chest pass in a basketball game, while keeping your palms facing one another.  This will help the energy retain its shape as it flies across the circle to its intended recipient.

•       The next action is “Whoa.”  I have seen “whoa” used a few different ways.  It is beautiful in its duality!  The “whoa” is played to block a pass.  While saying “whoa,” place your hands in front of you, palms facing out, and cross your arms into an “X,” blocking the pass.  If “whoa” is played, the energy returns to the passer, who tries passing it to someone else.  Usually, I set this up so that one may only “whoa” a “wham.”  If you are “whooshed,” you must keep the energy moving by either “whooshing,” or “whamming.”

Understand that a “wham” can be a little intense for some.  People who are a bit more reserved or inhibited can actually use “whoa” as a means of “Challenge by Choice.”* We have, however, seen it used as playfully as the rest of the actions in the game.  Usually, those who pick up on the playful use of “whoa” end up rubbing off on those who used it as an escape clause, and bring them along in the fun!

•       The last action to introduce is my personal favorite.  “Wow” is used when you are just so overcome with the amount of energy being sent around the group that you cannot contain yourself.  Rather than pass it using “whoosh” or “wham,” or send it back to someone with a “whoa,” you may revel in the glory of that feeling by throwing your hands up over your head, jumping a little bit, and saying excitedly, “WOW!”   The whole group then mimics your actions, saying “WOW!”  Do and say “WOW!” as many times as you are moved to, and then pass the ball around some more with either a “whoosh” or a “wham!”


Our good friend Jodi Angus taught us another fun twist to this energizer.  After the group gets the hang of it and really gets the energy moving around, you can introduce, “WOOOOO!”  Anytime anyone says “Woooo,” the entire group repeats it with great exuberance, moving frantically around the circle, swinging their arms over their heads, and finding a new spot in the circle.  A wacky and fun way to move to a different spot and meet a new neighbor!

* “Challenge by Choice” is copyrighted by Project Adventure.  This concept is used to describe the idea that people should feel that they have control of their adventure experience (Schoel, Prouty, & Radcliffe, 1989; Rohnke & Butler, 1995).

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