Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

This challenging clapping game is fun to play with teens!We had a pie party the other evening with some of our family members who won’t be able to get together on Thanksgiving Day.

I thought it was an opportune moment to coerce — I mean ask — them to play the game Matthew, Mark, Luke, John so that I could record it and post it here.

There were varying levels of willingness and enthusiasm.  They didn’t mind playing. In fact, they usually like playing this game. Really. They do!

They just didn’t particularly like being filmed.

But, they finally agreed.

Here’s the video so you can get an idea of how to play.


Have everybody sit in a circle. Choose someone to be ‘Matthew’. He is the leader. The person sitting to his right is named ‘Mark.’ The person to ‘Mark’s’ right is named ‘Luke.’ The person sitting to ‘Luke’s’ right side is ‘John.’ Now, continue around the circle giving each person a consecutive number.

The goal is to work your way to the head of the circle to become Matthew (the leader).

To begin play, Matthew gets everybody clapping the game’s rhythm pattern. To do the rhythm pattern, slap your legs one time. Clap your hands one time. Raise your hands shoulder high and snap your fingers. Do this pattern in a steady rhythm. Slap legs. Clap hands. Snap fingers.

Matthew begins the play. On a snap part of the rhythm, he calls out either one of the names (Mark, Luke, John) or one of the numbers. When the rhythm gets to the VERY NEXT snap, the person who Matthew called out, has to respond by saying either Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or another number. If that person says the name either too soon or too late or not at all, he vacates his seat and moves to the end of the circle. The other players move up one chair and take on the new name or number. (The names and numbers belong to the ‘seat’ and not to a specific person. When a person vacates a seat, the person who moves up to sit in it takes on that number or name.)

Play continues as everybody keeps the rhythm going and calling out names or numbers on the snapping section of the rhythm. Ideally, when a person’s name or number is called, they respond by calling out Matthew’s name to try and get him to make a mistake. Of course players can call out other names and numbers, too.

As players become more skilled, the rhythm speed can be increased. That will add to the challenge. Keep playing until players decide they want to play a different game.