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The Stuck In The Mud Game: How to Play + Variations

Stuck in the Mud is a classic children’s chasing game usually played outside or in a large indoor playing area. 

Here are the rules of this simple game as well as some variations, educational benefits of the game, and some similar games.

There’s a handy printable with more fun game ideas in the Free Activity Pack below, so don’t forget to sign up for that too!

How to Play Stuck in the Mud

Number of players: 

Stuck in the Mud is a group game that requires at least 4 or 5 players. It is also fun for a large group of children. 

Rule of the game:

  • One child is selected to be the “tagger” or is “on”.
  • The tagger chases and attempts to touch (tag) the other players who then become “stuck in the mud”. They must stand with their legs apart and pretend to be stuck.
  • The only way to become unstuck is for another player to crawl under the legs of the tagged player.
  • Once a player is unstuck, they can continue running around and avoid being tagged again.
  • If all the players are tagged, the tagger wins the round and a new round is started.

These are the basic rules of the game, although they may vary slightly.

Kids playing a game of stuck in the mud

Variations of Stuck in the Mud

Here are a few ways you can tweak the game for a change, or to suit the age and maturity of the players, or the size of the group:

  • Have more than one tagger: This will make it more challenging for the players to get unstuck.
  • Players remain stuck: If introducing the game to young children, play a game where players stay stuck when tagged, and continue until the last child still untagged becomes the winner and the tagger in the next round. When the children become familiar with these rules, introduce the “unsticking” rule.
  • Have a time limit for being stuck: Players who are tagged can slowly count out loud to 10 or 20 and then release themselves.
  • A player can only unstick another player once: Once a player has crawled under someone’s legs to free them, they may not free the same person again.

Games Similar to Stuck in the Mud

If you’re looking for games similar to Stuck in the Mud, here are a few chasing games with similar concepts of tagging and movement restrictions:


Tag – also called Catchers – is the most basic of the chasing games. One child is “on” and chases the others, trying to tag them with their hand. When someone is tagged, they become the new tagger and start chasing others.

Shadow Tag

Instead of using hands, the person who is “on” uses their feet to step on the shadows of others to tag them. Once tagged, they must freeze until another player steps onto their shadow to unfreeze them.

Freeze Tag

When a player is tagged, they must freeze in place until another player tags them to unfreeze.

Blob Tag

In Blob Tag, when a player is tagged, they link elbows with the tagger to form a “blob,” and they move together to try to tag other players.

Chain Tag

Similar to Blob Tag, but when a player is tagged, they hold hands with the tagger, forming a chain. The chain then works together to tag other players.

Sharks and Minnows

One or more children are selected as “sharks,” and the rest are “minnows”. The minnows must try to cross a designated area without being tagged by the sharks. Those who make it past the sharks win the round.

Kids playing stuck in the mud outside

Octopus Tag

The fish try to run past the “octopus” without getting “caught”. If a fish is tagged, they stay in place, becoming one of the octopus’s arms and they then join the octopus in tagging others. 

Educational Benefits of Playing Stuck in the Mud

Here are just a few of the benefits of playing Stuck in the Mud with children:

Social Skills 

Stuck in the Mud is a group game that teaches kids positive social skills such as working as a team and cooperating. As well as dodging the tagger, children also have to consider others as they try to free them. 

Gross Motor Skills

Kids will develop many gross motor skills such as speed, changing direction while running, and understanding their position in space.

Concentration and Awareness

To avoid being tagged in this game, children must be alert and aware at all times. They need to be constantly moving while concentrating on their surroundings.

Learning to Follow Rules

Cooperative games with simple rules give children an opportunity to practise following a set of rules and listening to instructions. 

Here is a list of the top 40 classic games for kids if you’d like more ideas.

Kids playing tag outside. Text reads "how to play the stuck in the mud game with kids."

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