How Hachi Pachi brought new life and energy to my students (and me)

It’s that time of the year where everyone is exhausted, nothing seems to stick, and your students know all your tricks! Enters Hachi Pachi. I had already heard of Hachi Pachi as a brain break but I learned this version of the game at SCOLT from Tameka Allen, an OWL facilitator, and fell in love with it because you can tie it to any content you may be teaching. Hachi Pachi has been a hit in all my classes, especially this time of year when 1) my students are in cognitive overload and 2) we are all exhausted and in need of no-prep yet novel activities!

My students are begging me to play Hachi Pachi every time we meet! This is how I implemented it in my Novice students, feel free to adapt it to your teaching environment:


  1. Arrange your chairs into a circle. You need as many chairs as students.
  2. Come-up with 3-5 questions about a familiar topic. See some examples below for my 6th graders (we are creating an identity journal) and my 7th graders (we are exchanging with our penpals about our respective schools).


  1. I wrote the directions in comprehensible French and projected them.
  2. I read the directions line by line and after each sentence a student popped out of her chair and translated.
  3. I took a few questions from my students in English.
  4. We played using a new question for each round, and it was a hit, hit, hit!


  1. There is a circle with x chairs (x= number of students).
  2. x-1 people are sitting and 1 person is standing.
  3. The standing person is in the center of the circle.
  4. Everyone closes their eyes.
  5. The teacher chooses a sitting person (I tap a student on the head). This person is “Hachi Pachi”. (The teacher then sits down in the circle with the students)
  6. Everyone opens their eyes.
  7. The person in the center of the circle asks a question in the TL to each person.
  8. Each person answers in French.
  9. Hachi Pachi does not answer the question, they say “Hachi Pachi”.
  10. Upon hearing “Hachi Pachi”, everyone stands up and changes seats QUICKLY.
  11. The person who does not have a seat is now in the center (and will ask the next question).

I looked for videos of this Hachi Pachi version on the Internet but to no avail. Annabelle Williamson has the brain break version which is similar to the Ring Leader but as I said earlier, I really clicked with the OWL version because you can tie it to your content and incorporate it as part of your lesson plan… and the “musical chair” component is sooo fun!

Let me know if you have questions and enjoy the end of the school year!


  1. A staple in my class. However, I do not have them say Hachi Pachi, but something pre-determined in French. For example, if we are all expressing how we are feeling today, everyone is having a terrible day except the person who is Hachi Pachi. If we are all giving our birthdays, Hachi Pachi says today is their birthday. I find this makes the students listen more intently to one another.

  2. My French 1 students really like this. I heard someone call it “Je suis la grenouille”, but I call it “Je suis l’escargot” because it is easier to say. Merci Cécile.

  3. 👍 It is great! Cecile, could you make short video how you play this game in reality ?

    • Bonjour Helen, I am not allowed to film my students so I can’t give you a video for this one, sorry 🙁 maybe this summer I can find some neighbors to play with and film then… 🙂

  4. Good evening Cecile! I like the idea of this game. I am ESL. Could you please explain what name “Hachi pachi” means? I tried to translate it into English,but can not find good translation may be there are English equivalents?

  5. Salut Cecile! So a) do they questions go individually to a student or they answer as a group(in chorus)? b) I am not totally following the point of the person saying Hachi Pachi. Do the students move when that person says it?

    • Salut Ryan, a) Yes, the person standing in the center asks questions to people in the circle one by one, in any order they want b) HACHI PACHI is the signal for everyone to change seats quickly. Clearer?

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