Duck Duck Goose is one of the ultimate outdoor games for kids and is played the world over.
In more than ten years of teaching children, I’ve tried numerous adaptations similar to the traditional game of Duck Duck Goose.
In this article, I’ve compiled the very best ideas that you can use.
These are both variations of Duck Duck Goose itself, and also games that are very similar to Duck Duck Goose in the rules and the range of skills used.
Also, most of these adaptations are also perfect as circle games.
Let’s dive into the ultimate like of 16 Games Like Duck Duck Goose.
1. Duck Duck Goose Original
Here’s the original, classic game (just so you definitely know!)
The players all sit in a circle, apart from one who is in the middle.
That player will walk around the circle, and gently tap the others on the shoulder one at a time.
As they tap, they will say either ‘Duck,’ and the child will do nothing, or ‘Goose.’
If they say, ‘Goose,’ then the child that has been tapped will jump up and chase the other child around the circle.
I normally do one revolution of the outside of the circle, back to where the chaser was sitting, and then get back to the middle of the circle.
If the chaser hasn’t tagged you by the time you get back to the middle of the circle then you are safe.
The player that was chased then becomes the new chaser in the middle, and the game begins again.
There is, of course, lots of research into the benefits of outdoor games such as this. (Source)
Another of the beauties of Duck Duck Goose is its versatility. For example, here’s a video on Twitter of some kids playing it as part of their hockey training:
2. Duck Duck Goose With Parachute
One of my favorite ways to play Duck Duck Goose is with a parachute.
You play it in a similar way but with a few possible variations.
Players stand in a circle holding the parachute at about waist height.
The player that does the tagging can either go under the parachute or around the outside.
If they go underneath, they touch each player on the shoe and say ‘duck’ or ‘goose’.
If they go around the outside, then they tap them on the shoulder.
Either way, the person that is the ‘goose’ will chase them once around the parachute and then under it to the middle.
3. Duck Duck Goose Shadow Tag
Looking for outdoor games when the weather is nice?
Here’s a version to play on a sunny day, when you have nice long clear shadows on the ground.
This is the no-contact version of Duck Duck Goose.
The two main changes are:
- When the child in the middle walks around, they don’t touch the children on the shoulder. Instead, they point and say ‘duck’ or ‘goose’.
- When they chase around the outside of the circle, there is no physical tagging going on. Instead, the chaser tries to stand on the shadow of the chased. You may need an independent adjudicator (either adult or child) to confirm when this happens
4. Tapping Into Interests
A great way to adapt the game is to tap into the interests of those playing it.
For example, if some of the players really enjoyed vehicles, then you could have a game of Bike Bike Truck or Car Car Plane.
If you were exploring a particular theme you could also use that. For example, a Snow White And The Seven Dwarves theme could generate a game such as ‘Dwarf Dwarf Witch’.
Be creative and make it a super entertaining game!
5. Giant’s Keys Game
This game has many similarities with Duck Duck Goose, for example, the chasing around a circle.
This is the game I’ve probably used the most from this entire list, as the children really seem to love it.
Have a circle of children, and one of them is going to sit in the middle and be the giant. The giant will be ‘sleeping’, so the child closes their eyes.
Behind the ‘giant’ place something that is noisy when shaken. It could be a tambourine or some keys. I usually use a set of large giant keys.
Pick one player to go first. This child is going to sneak over to the giant, go behind them, and shake the noisy instrument.
That is the cue for the giant to wake up!
The player that has shaken the keys or instrument will then run back to their place in the circle, go once around the outside, back through the original space, and finish sitting down in the middle of the circle.
While they are doing that the giant will chase them, and be trying to tag them on the back.
Whether they get caught or not, the child that has been chased will become the new ‘giant’, and the old ‘giant’ will sit in the circle.
6. Fruit Salad
This is a similar game to Duck Duck Goose in that it involves running around a circle. It is also a great listening game for younger players.
The children sit in a circle.
Select about four fruit names to play the game. For example, you could select ‘banana’, ‘apple’, ‘strawberry’, and ‘mango.’
The adult (or a lead child) goes around the circle, pointing to each player in turn, and telling them they are one of the four fruits.
So, for example, they point at one child and say, ‘Banana.’ The next is, ‘Apple.’ And they carry on around the circle.
In the end, you will have a few bananas, a few apples, some strawberries, and a handful of mangoes.
Then the leader calls out a fruit – such as ‘Banana!’
All the bananas stand up and run one full circuit of the circle.
They sit back down in their place.
You can do the competitive version where the first sitting back down is the winner. Or you could do the non-competitive version. (Either works fine).
Note – the tricky bit with very young children is getting them to remember what fruit they are. Do this bit slowly, and really reinforce what fruit they are with repetition.
7. Swap Places
This is a similar game to Fruit Salad, but even easier.
All you do in this one is have the children sit in a circle. Call out two names, e.g. ‘Mohammed and Sally.’
Those two children jump up and run once around the circle, and then get back to their original spaces.
Once again, you can do the competitive version, where it is a race to get back to their places, or the non-competitive version.
8. 1s, 2s, 3s Race
This is a simple math game.
Give every child in the circle a number – 1, 2, or 3. You will have a roughly equal number of 1s, 2s, and 3s.
Then shout a number, e.g. ‘2!’
All the twos jump up and race around the circle. Who will be the first one back to their space?
Then repeat for 1s and 2s.
For older children, you can also add an element of calculating to this activity. For example, you could say, ‘One less than 3’. Or ‘1 add 2.’
9. Fruit Salad Parachute
Here’s another way of playing Fruit Salad.
Get all the children standing in a circle holding a parachute. Give them all one of four fruit names.
Then all go, ‘1, 2, 3, Lift!’
Lift the parachute up so that it balloons up into the sky.
Then shout one of the fruits, for example, ‘Bananas.’
All the bananas run under the parachute, and swap places with each other.
10. Number Clock (With Parachute)
Here’s a number game, that has an element of rotating around a circle.
Have everyone holding the parachute at about chest height, and have some numbers on cards or rubber spots that you place in a circle around the edge of the parachute, a bit like this:
The idea now is to all revolve in one direction with the parachute, stepping over the numbers if required.
You could have some music on.
Stop the music, and the children freeze. They look down and say whatever number they are standing above.
It’s as simple as that! Then start the music, and revolve around again.
You can really jazz this game up in a number of ways.
One way is to use different voices to say the number you are next to. You can use a:
-Fast voice (e.g. say the number again and again as fast as you can)
-A slow voice
-An animal voice, e.g. a tiger
-A character voice, such as a witch or princess
Target whatever numbers you are working on at that time.
This game can also be done with letters or words on cards on the ground.
11. Story Chase
This game combines storytelling with the element of chase around the circle!
One player, ideally someone quite confident to tell a made-up story, is going to be in the middle, and everyone else sits in a circle.
The idea is that the person in the middle makes up a story that at some point is going to involve an element of being chased. At that moment the person telling the story will signify who is doing the chasing, and the chaser will follow the chased all around the circle, trying to tag them.
So the story might go:
‘One day a unicorn sneaked through a haunted forest. It drank from the lake, and then suddenly saw something scary in the trees. It knew it had to run away. It saw…Billy!’
Billy at this point will jump up and chase the first player around the circle. Billy will continue the story next.
12. Parachute Switch
I like to use a parachute for a lot of these games that are similar to Duck Duck Goose, and this one is no exception.
This is a really simple parachute game for all ages.
All the players stand in a circle around the parachute, holding it off the ground at about waist height.
Pick two people to go first, for example, Billy and Ivy.
Everyone says together, ‘1, 2, 3!’
On the ‘3’ they lift the parachute up high in the air so that it balloons upwards.
The two players that have been named will now run under the parachute and swap places. Then two more people will go, and so on.
13. Cat And Mouse Tag
For this game, you have the parachute on the ground, with everyone sitting around it.
Nominate one person to be the ‘cat’ and another to be the ‘mouse.’
The mouse goes under the parachute first. Then they are chased by the cat.
Both players will be crawling around underneath the parachute.
The cat must try to tag the mouse. When that happens, they both come out, and two new players go under the chute.
14. Shark Attack
This game is extremely similar to Duck Duck Goose in that only one person is selected at a time, and that player has to do a revolution of the circle.
Use a parachute once again. All the players hold the parachute at about waist height.
One person is selected to be the ‘shark’.
They go under the parachute.
Everyone else starts to gently ripple the parachute, as though it were the waves on the sea.
The shark will ‘swim’ around in the ‘water’ under the parachute. The shark’s job is to (gently!) tap someone on the shoe. This is a ‘shark attack’.
When this happens, the person who has been tapped will run once around the circle before diving under the parachute and becoming the new shark.
Then old shark will take a place in the circle, holding the parachute, and the process will begin again.
15. What’s The Time Mr Wolf?
This is of course a really classic game, that seems similar to Duck Duck Goose in the way that the instructions of one player lead the game.
One person is going to be ‘Mr. Wolf.’ They stand with their backs to the other players.
Everyone else stands about twenty yards away from Mr. Wolf. They will all ask together, ‘What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?’
Mr. Wolf will spin around and face them, and then give a time. For example, ‘Five o’clock.’ Then, immediately, Mr. Wolf will turn away from them once again.
The time given indicates that the players will all take five large steps towards Mr. Wolf.
Then they ask the same again – ‘What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?’
Mr. Wolf continues giving a time, and the children continue moving closer towards them until at any given moment Mr. Wolf will say, ‘It’s dinner time!’
At that moment, Mr. Wolf will chase the children back to their original starting point.
If anyone is tagged then they become the new Mr. Wolf.
16. Hot Chocolate
One player is selected to be ‘it’.
They will stand with their back to the other players.
Everyone else will start about twenty or thirty yards away from the selected player. They all start to sneak towards them.
At any given moment, the player that is ‘it’ can spin around and look at the others. If they see anyone moving, then that person has to go back to the start.
The aim of the game is to be the first person to reach the person that is ‘it’, tap them on the back, and shout, ‘Hot Chocolate!’
Then everyone runs back to the start point, getting chased by the person that is ‘it’.
If they catch them then that person becomes the new player to be ‘it’ and the game continues.
17. Drip, Drip, Drop
I found this game on Wikipedia, and I have to say I’d never heard of it before!
It’s not one you could really play in school or camp, but there might be a time and place for it!
The players sit in a circle.
The player in the middle of the circle has a bucket full of water! They go around the circle and will say ‘Drip’ as they drip some water on the heads of those sitting there.
However, if they say, ‘Drop,’ then they will drop the whole contents of the bucket of water over the head of someone.
Then the chase begins!
The chaser tries to tag the chased in one revolution of the circle. I must say that I’d love to see this game in action one day!