Playworks for every kid

How to play and teach Rock Paper Scissors

On our playgrounds, kids run their own games and settle their disputes quickly – rock paper scissors, move on – because getting along is more fun than fighting.

The game of Rock Paper Scissor is fun and simple and a great tool for basic conflict resolution. This hand game has been played for thousands of years across the globe in different forms. It’s widespread popularity may be due to its simplicity, easy access and ability to choose similar to a corn toss or drawing straws.

How to play

For two people to play Rock Paper Scissor each person needs one hand (or in some varieties: two feet or their whole body). Each person must make a choice rock, represented by a fist, paper, represented by an open hand, or scissors, represented by two extended and separated fingers. On a three count, or while saying rock paper scissor, players hold out their fist bouncing then choose their gesture while they say scissors. Rock beats scissors. Scissors beats paper. And paper beats rock. If players choose the same gesture, the two play again. For more in-depth rules, see our game description.

Interesting facts

Rock Paper Scissors isn’t just a child’s game. A frustrated US federal judge once order two opposing attorneys to settle their differences with a game of rock paper scissors on the steps of the courthouse. In Japan, two auction houses were given an opportunity to win a $20 million auction house by playing rock paper scissors.

A culture of Rock Paper Scissors

In order a make the game of Rock Paper Scissors a prevalent tool for conflict resolution, introduce the game to all students during class by first teaching the simple game, then introducing several games that use and enforce Rock Paper Scissors.

Games that use and enforce Rock Paper Scissors:

Fun variations to Rock Paper Scissors

  • Elephant Man Ant is played in Indonesia!
  • Play with your feet. Rock = feet together. Paper = feet spread out to sides. Scissors = feet spread front and back.
  • Play with the whole body! Rock = body curled up. Paper = standing straight arms to sides. Scissors = arms high and wide, legs out wide.
  • Though it loses it's use as a conflict resolution tools, it is also fun to add additional creative choices. Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock is one popular version.
  • Rock Paper Scissors is also called Jan Ken Po in Hawaii and Japan, Roshambo and Paper Scissors Stone.