Knife and Fork – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Knife and Fork

What is salt without pepper? And what is the beach without the ocean? Children work in pairs to spontaneously create a “set” of two things without talking or planning! Each partner becomes one item in the set, and must work together to improvise successfully.

Materials Required

  • No materials are needed, just a group of people


  1. As a group, brainstorm a list of as many sets of items as possible (i.e., knife and fork, wood and fire, soup and spoon).
  2. Choose one leader for the group and have everyone else split into pairs.
  3. Have the leader call out a set from the list and have each pair act out the set, each person moving their body to become one of the items—all without planning or talking!
  4. Keep playing until the leader has called out all the sets from the list. As the group becomes more advanced, have the leader call out sets at a faster rate.

Additional Tips

Try these activity variations:

  • For an extra challenge, have the leader call out sets from a "mystery" list (pre-prepared) so the players don't know what is on it, and don't have any ideas beforehand.
  • Keep the story going! After becoming the set, partners can work together to improvise a short scene.  What would the knife say to the fork? Would the salt and pepper always get along? Use imagination to tell the story.
  • At any point in the game, the leader yells “reset,” and everyone must find a new partner!

Links to Creativity

Improvisation is a really fun way to show off (and practice) your creativity. This activity asks children to respond to an impromptu (surprising) task, quickly make associations between two objects, and then make them come alive by imitating them the best they can. It is easy to see the relationship once you know what the two objects are. Making such connections can occur through insight, more commonly known as the Aha! moment. But, it is up to the role-playing participants to be flexible enough to quickly make the connection and then help provide the insight that lets everyone else in on the secret.

Supporting research includes:

Dansky, J. L. (1980). Make-believe: A mediator of the relationship between play and associative fluency. Child Development, 51, 576-579.

Gruber, H. E. (1981). On the relation between “aha experiences” and the construction of Ideas. History of Science, 19, 41–59.

Kounios, J., & Beeman, M. (2009). The Aha! Moment: The cognitive neuroscience of insight. Current Directions in Psychological Science18(4), 210-216.

Singer, J. L., & Singer, D. G. (2006). Preschoolers' imaginative play as precursor of narrative consciousness. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 25(2), 97-117.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2015 Bay Area Discovery Museum. It was inspired by an activity used by Sue Walden of ImprovWorks. For more information and resources see or

Knife and Fork

Scroll to Top