Games for UU kids and adults
Compiled and written by Dan Harper
Copyright (c) 2014-21 Dan Harper
Games are listed below with games suitable for younger kids first, then increasing in age.
COVID adaptations: Only Red Light Green Light works well for COVID — but it works extremely well.
Red Light, Green Light (age 3-adult)
COVID adaptations: To maintain physical distancing, create lanes for each player. Players stay in their lanes, and instead of tagging the caller, they tag a line marked on the ground. The caller may move up and down the line. This is actually a fun variation worth playing because as the caller moves up an down the line, the players will try to move. Players learn to prefer the outermost lanes because they seem farther from the caller’s observation, so figure out a way to randomly assign players to their lane.
Choose one person to be the caller. S/he stands at one end of the room/space, next to the goal. The goal might be anything convenient: a carpet square, a chair, etc. The rest of the players stand at the other end of the room/space, at a defined starting line (a sidewalk, the wall, and piece of rope on the floor, etc.).
When the caller calls out “Green light!” s/her must turn away from the rest of the players, and the players can then move safely towards the goal. At some point, the caller calls out, “Red light!” and turns around to look at the other players, who must all freeze. If the caller sees anyone moving, s/he calls out that person’s name, and that person has to go back to the starting line. Game is over when someone touches the goal without being sent back by the caller.
When playing with younger children, you will want to begin playing this game with an adult as the caller.
Optional additional rules — Red Light, Green Light with Cheating: So far, these are the rules of traditional Red Light, Green Light. Now comes the cheating part. The players can cheat by not staying frozen, and stealthily trying to move towards the goal without being spotted by the caller. The caller can cheat by moving away from the goal, and standing anywhere s/he wants to more closely observe the players (which of course also leaves the goal unguarded, and offers other players a chance to sneak closer to it).
Duck, Duck, Goose (age 3-adult)
COVID adaptation: This is hard to adapt to COVID restrictions. You need to sit physically distanced, plus you need a running lane that’s physically distanced from the people sitting down. Tagging can be accomplished with a four foot long rolled up paper “swat” (rolled up newspaper or flipchart paper). Honestly, not the best game for COVID.
There are many variations on this game. Here’s one:
Everyone sits in a circle except one person. That one person is the Ducker. The Ducker goes around the circle tapping each person GENTLY on the head (with preschoolers, you may have to emphasize the GENTLY), each time saying “Duck.” But eventually the Ducker taps someone on the head and says “Goose,” at which point that person (call them “Goose”) stands up, and chases the Ducker around the circle. If the Ducker manages to sit down in Goose’s place in the circle, then Goose becomes the new Ducker. If Goose manages to tag the Ducker before the Ducker sits down in Goose’s place, then the Ducker sits in the middle of the circle (which is sometimes called “The Soup Pot”); if there was already someone in the Soup Pot, that person goes back to sit in the circle; and the Goose then becomes the new Ducker.
Of course, everyone wants to be the Ducker at some point in the game. When playing with little kids, sometimes you have to say, “raise your hand if you haven’t been tagged yet,” and then tell the Ducker that they have to tag someone who has their hand up.
What’s the Time, Great Gray Wolf? (ages 5 and up)
COVID adaptation: Not suitable for COVID.
You’ll need: something that is home base, which could be an area marked on the ground (like a hula hoop), or if outdoors it could be a tree.
One player is the Great Gray Wolf (with younger children, this should be an adult). The other players are Mule Deer (or White-tailed Deer if you live east of the Great Plains).
The Mule Deer line up at one end of the playing area, next to the home base. The Great Gray Wolf stands at the other end with their back to the Deer.
The Mule Deer all chant in unison: “What’s the time, O Great Gray Wolf?” In response, the Wolf may call out any time they wish, such as “Two o’clock!” Then the Deer may each take two steps towards the Wolf. Note that these are STEPS, not JUMPS — in other words, one of the Deer’s feet must be on the ground at all times while taking a step.
At some point, when the Deer ask for the time, the Great Gray Wolf can cry out “DINNER TIME!” upon which the Wolf turns around and chases after the Deer, while the Deer run for home base. Once they touch home base with any body part (toe, hand, whatever) they have to chant “Home again, home again, SAFE!” — only then are they safe from being tagged by the Great Gray Wolf.
Now if a Deer manages to tag the Great Gray Wolf before the Wolf calls “Dinnertime!” then that Deer becomes the next Wolf.
If, on the other hand, the Wolf chases the Deer back to home base, there are at least three ways ton continue. (1) If the Great Gray Wolf tags one of the Deer, that person becomes the next Wolf; however, some Deer want to be the Wolf and so deliberately try to get tagged. (2) The first person back to home base becomes the next Great Gray Wolf; however, some Deer will take the smallest steps possible when the Wolf announces the time, so that they are positioned to be first back to home base. (3) Everyone has a turn being the Wolf — or with really little kids, only the adult is the Wolf.