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Earth, Air, Water

cartoons of earth, air, fire, and water
No. of Players: 4+
Type of Game: spoken
What you need: small object


To think of words that fit the categories earth, air and water.

How to play

This is an ideal game for children to play. Players sit facing each other. One player tosses a small object, like a stuffed toy, to another player and shouts Earth! (or Air! or Water!). The player who catches the object then has ten seconds (either silently timed with a watch or by an audible count for maximum pressure) to think of a creature that lives in that category. For instance, if the category is 'earth,' the player can say cat or horse; if the category is 'air,' a creature capable of flight, like a robin or a mosquito, can be said; if the category is 'water,' whale or minnow would be acceptable answers. A player who responds in time with an acceptable answer gets to toss the object to another player, choosing a new (or the same) category. But if the player does not properly respond in time, the tossing player gets to toss the object to another player. Alternatively, a fourth category of fire can be shouted at the catcher of the object, who then must remain silent for ten seconds.

Did you know?

Around 2,500 years ago, the ancient Greeks believed that everything was made up of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. They considered these four pure and elemental. Hence the Classical Theory of the Four Elements.

symbols for earth, water, fire, air

But the Greeks also realized we never actually encounter something in just one of these states. They reasoned that everything was some combination of earth, air, water, and fire – pushed together, or pulled apart, by forces of attraction and repulsion. In this way, the Greeks could explain why things appeared to change.

symbols for water, earth, fire, air

While we no longer consider this theory true, modern science still kind of agrees. As any high schooler knows, there are four states of matter: solid (which is like earth), gas (air), liquid (water), and plasma (fire). And when you start considering things like atoms, how atoms bond together in molecules, and the effects of temperature changes, the Greeks were not all that far off.

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