Circle Game: Duck, Duck, Goose!

Duck Who What?

If you don’t work with kids you’re perhaps not familiar with games for groups of children – the circle game Duck Duck Goose is a classic to have on standby and you can easily fit it into your child’s birthday party.

Circle games are perfect for parties as everyone’s included throughout.

If they’re aged 4 or over, there’s a good chance they’ve played it before. It’s great for burning off a bit of energy and creates a lot of laughter as the chases happen. If you’re getting the children in a circle for Pass the Parcel then play Duck Duck Goose as well.

So how is it played?

The children sit in a circle facing each other, and one is chosen as the Fox. The ‘Fox’ walks around the circle in one direction, tapping each child on the head, saying ‘Duck’ each time. The Fox at any point can call someone ‘Goose’ as they’re tapped on the head.

That’s when the chase starts.

The Fox runs in the same direction it was going with the Goose in hot pursuit. They’re racing to get back to the now empty spot in the circle. Normally, the Fox makes it there first as he’s already standing and knows he’s going to run as soon as he’s said ‘Goose’.

Play continues with the Goose now becoming the Fox, walking around the circle again, Duck… Duck… Duck…  until… Goose!

Easy-peasy, then

It’s a great game and very, very simple. There are plenty of ways to vary it, including:

  • You could use your birthday party theme: Play Elsa, Elsa, Olaf or Batman, Batman, Joker
  • Extreme Duck Duck Goose (perhaps for ages 6+?): the Goose runs the opposite way to the Fox and there’s a face-off as they meet to get to the empty spot in the circle – rules on use of fists and feet need to be applied!
  • Try different actions for the chase: bounce like a kangaroo, waddle like a duck or roll around like a rock
  • If you’ve got a large number of children, play with two Foxes, each going in different directions around the circle

It’s played around the world

Duck Duck Goose is played the world over in slightly different versions. Many involve playing with a handkerchief. The children in the circle stay facing forward. The person walking around the circle drops the handkerchief behind one of them. Once they’ve realised it’s behind them they give chase! In Germany it’s called Plumpssack, and is accompanied by a rhyme sung as the child walks around the outside.

The biggest ever game of Duck Duck Goose was played in 2011. It was organised by a school in Missouri. It had 2135 players and stretched all the way round the outside of an American Football Stadium!


Image “Geese on Valentijnkade” by David Evers is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Theme Your Party Decorations

Theming your child’s birthday party to their favourite film, activity or story book character is a super idea. The look on a child’s face when they first realise the decorations are their ‘favourite’ is priceless.

Here’s my tip for theming your party

Pick two colours.

Whatever your child’s favourite, pick the two most prominent and complementary colours.

For a Frozen themed party – pick turquoise and pink.

Red and blue for Spiderman.

Black and red for a pirate party.

Now, buy everything that’s going to be disposed of after the party in these colours. The paper plates and cups. The latex balloons. The table cloths. The party bags.

They’ll create a great backdrop for the branded stuff you’ll get. The party will have a great ‘look’.

So what shall I buy with the characters on?

The key here is to think about what your child will get to enjoy at home as a reminder of the party.

Buy a few large helium-filled foil balloons with the characters on as they’ll serve as great focal points at the party and your child will enjoy them over the next week or two once you’ve taken them home.

The same goes for banners, bunting and ceiling decorations – they can also be put up at home after the party.

How about a large poster or a cardboard cutout? Yes, really.

And the birthday cake. Themed birthday cakes go down a storm.

When you put it all together you’ll be hailed as a design genius!

That’s right. Having your child’s favourite on some items and having the backdrop of the complementary colours of everything else will look super-professional.

Also, you’ll only throw away the plain coloured stuff and your child will make the most out of the bits you bought that were branded!