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Category: Character
Category: Education
Category: Health
Category: Leisure

Teach Your Child to Play Hide and Seek

If you played Hide and Seek when you were younger, you can probably remember the excitement and suspense of being both the hider and the seeker. While some outdoors games seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, many children around the globe are still playing some form of Hide and Seek.

All children like to hide. The dread of being caught is powerfully fun. The seeker of course has just as much fun coming upon the other players one by one.

Hide and Seek is believed to be a very old game played by children in hunting societies. The game itself has many variations, some of which will be included here. The basic game of Hide and Seek goes like this: One person is the seeker, or “It”, usually chosen as the last one to say, “Not It!” The other players hide while “It” counts out loud to an agreed on number, say 50. The seeker then calls out, “Ready or not, here I come!” He or she then tries to find the other players, one by one. The last player found gets to pick who’s It next. If the seeker cannot find one or more players, he calls, “Ollie, Ollie In Free”. The remaining hiders then run from their hiding places to the counting spot. The last one there becomes It.

Hide and Seek games are best played with four or more players, but are also fun with two or three. These games can be played inside, but are more fun played outside. Some need to be played at night.

Safety note: Make sure all children are familiar with the area that the game will be played in and that the boundaries are well marked or understood. Never let children play where they can get stuck, trapped, take a fall or be injured when hiding or seeking. Make sure no one hides in a place that has the potential for latching or locking shut, such as a trunk, old refrigerator or car.


Preschool children should not play Hide and Seek games unless they are paired up with an older child or adult. Played this way it is safe and every bit as exciting. Very young children will need to be reminded to hide quietly so that they don’t give their hiding place away.

It is sometimes fun to trick the seeker by hiding in the same place more than once. It is also fun for everyone to hide in the same place once in a while to trick the seeker. In this case, the last person back to the counting spot is It.

Children will understand the point of the game quickly. They will also learn to count and to understand how to get well settled before 50. You may have to remind them to hide all of themselves, as they tend to forget legs and the tops of their heads!

Again, it is far better to be safe than sorry. Play with your little one until they are old enough to choose a safe hiding place and to endure the sometimes long wait to be found.

Main points to address:

  • You can vary the rules to meet the special needs of a preschooler.
  • Pair up with your preschooler to ensure their safety and understanding of the game.

Grades K-3rd

One variation of Hide and Seek that is hilariously fun for young school age kids is Sardines. In Sardines, the roles are reversed. The person who is “It” goes and hides while all the other children close their eyes and count to 50. At 50 all the seekers look for the hidden It. When someone finds the hiding place, they wordlessly join the person who is hiding and waits silently. One by one, seekers find the hiding place and join the others, sitting or laying together silently. The last one to find the “sardines” becomes It!

Another Hide and Seek game younger children enjoy is Chain Gang. All children except the person who is It hides while the person who is It counts to 50. The seeker then searches for the other players. When the first is found, that person links arms with the seeker and continues looking for the other players. As each player is discovered, they link arms, joining the “chain”. The last person found gets to choose who is It.

Steal Home is a combination of Hide and Seek and the game Tag.

All players except the person who is It hides. After the set count is up, the seeker tries to find the hiding players. While he is searching, the other players try to make it “home” to the counting spot without being tagged by the seeker. If you are tagged, you are “Out”. If you make it back, you are “Home Safe”. The last person found or tagged is It next round.
It is fun to mix ages with these games. The rules are easy to remember and the older kids can coach the younger kids on the best hiding places and strategies.

Main points to address:

  • Make clear play boundaries.
  • Check on children often to make sure things are staying safe.
  • Don’t hesitate to join the fun!

Grades 4-6th

Older children get just as excited playing outdoor games! Playing Hide and Seek variations will make the game even more interesting.

Flashlight is played in the dark. You will need a reliable flashlight. Children need to be clear about boundaries and aware of any potential dangers. Always remove any items that may trip or otherwise injure the players. It is played like this: The person who is It counts to 50 while the others hide. When time is up, the seeker begins hunting with the flash light off. When he finds the first hiding place, he shines the flashlight on the player. That player then takes the flashlight (turned off) and becomes It and the former seeker takes the hiding place. The seeking and switching continues until all hiding places have been discovered, which could be a long time!

Kick the Can is a traditional game played with a tin or soda can and is an exciting and competitive variation suitable for older kids. The play area should be rather large with plenty of room to kick the can and lots of places to hide. The more players the better! The person who is It stands near the can and counts while everyone else hides. It begins seeking. When they spot a person, they call out the hider’s name. Both race to the can. If It gets there first, the hider goes to “jail” If the hider gets to the can first, they must kick the can as far as they can. The hider then finds a new hiding spot while It retrieves the can and counts again. In the case of someone or many hiders being in jail, if a discovered hider gets to the can before It, all those in jail are freed to hide again. The game continues until there is only one hider not discovered. He is the winner- and the game begins again after the next It is chosen!

The last Hide and Seek game can be played by all ages and is good for times when kids don’t know what to do and need to get rid of some energy. It is called Circuit Hide and Seek and can be played indoors or out. Any number of players can play. You will need to prepare several slips of paper with various physical tasks written on them such as: “Do 5 jumping jacks”, “Spin around, then sit down”, or “Give your brother a hug”. You will need to make and hide enough slips to keep the kids busy for a while. When a round is finished, a new person gets to hide the slips and watch the fun. This can also be played with mental tasks (“Shout out the answer to 25 times 4”, “What is our state’s capital?”). You can also pair slips with props, such as a jump rope, an item of clothing, a whistle). This takes some planning, but it’s worth it.

Any one of these games can be adapted to suit the situation and the children playing. Just make sure play is happening safely and that everyone is accounted for after each round.

The Internet is only a limited source of Hide and Seek games. Your local library may have some books on this and other traditional games. Taking part in these games will create memories for your child that will last into adulthood.

Main points to address:

  • After one time of play, older kids should remember the rules of play.
  • You can vary the game to suit the situation and the kids playing.
  • Make sure everyone is accounted for after each round.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Leisure.

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