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How to Play Duck Duck Goose with Kids

The Duck, Duck, Goose Game is an enjoyable, traditional game to play with kids of all ages.

Use this circle game as a movement activity, a break, or simply to keep kids entertained. It makes a great party game too.

What is the Point of Duck Duck Goose?

Duck, Duck, Goose is a chasing game. The object of the game is to select a child on each round to chase the person who is “it” around the circle while trying not to get caught.

It is a game of listening carefully, reacting quickly and using physical skills such as speed. 

how to play duck duck goose with kids pinterest image

Rules of Duck Duck Goose

How do you play duck duck goose? Here are the basic rules:

  • A group of children are seated in a circle. 
  • One child is selected to be “it.”
  • The child who is “it” goes around the circle tapping each player on the head and saying “duck” on each tap.
  • This player must choose one child to be a “goose” and instead of saying “duck” when tapping this child’s head, must call out “goose” instead.
  • The child who was named the “goose” must then get up and chase the child who is “it” around the circle.
  • The child who is “it” must attempt to run around the circle and sit in the “goose’s” place before being caught by the goose. 
  • If caught, “it” must sit in the middle of the circle and can only be freed when another child is caught and they can then swap out. The “goose” is then “it.”
  • If “it” is not caught and manages to sit in the “goose’s” spot, the goose becomes the new “it.”

These are the basic Duck, Duck, Goose rules but they can be modified for the age of the kids who are playing.

kids sitting in a circle on the floor

Duck Duck Goose Game Variations

Here are some ways to vary this game to suit the ages of the kids or for some variety.

Let each child have a turn

Make a rule that no child may be nominated as the “goose” twice, to ensure all kids get a chance to be the “goose.”

What to do if “it” is caught

In some variations of the game, if the goose catches “it,” then the goose sits down again and “it” has another round.

Children love being “it” and going around the circle though, so it may be better to place “it” in the middle if caught so every “goose” gets a turn to call out “duck, duck, duck, duck, goose…!”

Kids sitting in a circle playing duck, duck, goose, with one boy at center

If playing for a winner

If playing for a winner, especially with older kids, don’t swap out the kids that are in the middle, but leave all those who are caught in the middle, until there is only one player left.

Change the words

You may want to change the words for a particular reason – such as to make the game relevant to your theme. Pick any words. For an ocean activity, you could play “fish, fish, shark!” 

In some places, this game is actually known as “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.”

Some versions have kids dumping water on heads and doing all kinds of fun things. 

It’s such a simple game, you can just make up your own variation if you’d like, but sticking to the original game is more than enough fun.

Kids Playing Duck Duck Goose

What Skills Does Duck Duck Goose Teach?

Like all children’s indoor and outdoor games, Duck, Duck, Goose can teach many valuable skills and is quite educational. Here are just a few of the benefits of playing this game.

Listening Skills

It is fundamental to the game that kids are able to listen. They need to hear what they are called when they’re tapped on the head so they know whether to react or not. 

This game can improve listening skills.

Gross Motor Skills

This is a physical game, which makes it great for developing gross motor skills.

Kids need to move quickly to jump up, run fast and also go in the right direction. 

child chasing another kid

Position in Space

This game is also a good way for kids to develop a concept of their position in space.

Social Skills

Group games encourage healthy socialising, sharing a common activity with others and building a positive experience of being with others. They also learn to take turns and to be patient.

These are just a few things kids learn while playing this fun game. There are many more benefits.

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