Circle Games

From 'Games Galore', BSC publication.

Table of Contents

  • Three Deep
  • Capture The Fort
  • Japanese Balloon Game
  • Multiples Or "Buzz" (Taiwan)
  • Poison
  • Variation--Poison Indian Club
  • Variation--Circle Pull
  • Variation--Poison Circle
  • Jack's Alive
  • Ankle Grasp
  • Smile Toss
  • Bird Or Animal
  • Who Is Going To Be The Redskin Chief?
  • Zip! Zap!
  • Shopping
  • Postman
  • The Treasure of the White Cobra
  • Variation--Sleeping Pirate
  • Dodgeball
  • Centre Catch
  • In The Pond
  • Swat To The Gap
  • Variation--Fill The Gap
  • Kill The Rattlesnake
  • Australian Circle Game
  • Masks
  • Lifeboat
  • I've Lost My Dog
  • Who's The Best Indian
  • Red Indian
  • Three Deep

    Players form a circle, two deep, facing center. Two players on the outside of the circle, and at some distance from each other, begin the game as runner and chaser. The runner may save himself from being tagged by stepping in front of one of the pairs of players, thus making the circle, at that point, three deep, Immediately, the outside player must leave or be tagged. If a player is tagged, he becomes the chaser. A runner may run in any direction, to right or left or across the circle or around the outside.

    When a player finds himself the third or last player in a line, he must run or be tagged. He tries not to be tagged and, for safety, may stop in front of any line of two. Set a time limit of fifteen minutes.

    Capture The Fort

    Divide players into two sides: Attackers and Defenders.

    Defenders form a circle, holding hands and facing outward, with their captain in the center.

    Attackers surround the fort at about eight or ten paces distant. They try to kick a soccer ball into the fort; it may go through the legs of the defenders or over their heads. If it goes over their heads, the captain may catch it and throw it out. But if it touches the ground inside the circle, the fort is captured and the players change sides.

    Japanese Balloon Game

    The group stands in a circle. The leader has half a dozen balloons. Into each a message has been inserted before the balloon was blown up. One at a time, a balloon is passed from player to player around the circle, until the leader blows a whistle. The player holding the balloon when the whistle blows must go to the center of the circle. He must sit on the balloon until it bursts, then read the note, and perform the action or answer the question contained in the message.

    Multiples Or "Buzz" (Taiwan)

    Players sit in a circle and start counting round the circle from "one." If the agreed figure for the game is seven, each time the number being called includes the figure seven or is a multiple of seven, the player keeps quiet and clasps his hands together. If anyone makes a mistake the leader records a point against him.

    When the boys become good at this game, add one or two other numbers, so they will have to keep very sharp not to get caught with numbers four, six and eight going on at once.

    For one number the player clasps hands. For the second number he will put both hands above his head. For the third number he can nod his head. Most players will find thinking of two numbers at once difficult enough.


    Draw 10' circle on ground. Players on outside of circle facing inward, join hands. Then on signal, circle rotates. Ground inside circle is poison. Object is to force others to touch poison without touching it yourself.

    Those who touch poison are out. Game continues until players are unable to reach around the circle.

    Variation--Poison Indian Club

    As above but without circle drawn on ground. In center, place plastic bottles or other easily knocked over objects. Object of the game is to force others to knock over one of the bottles while avoiding doing so yourself.

    Variation--Circle Pull

    Divide group into two equal teams. Draw a circle on the floor with a piece of chalk. One team of players is stationed within the circle. The other team is scattered outside the circle. At signal, the players who are stationed outside the circle try to pull the players who are stationed inside the circle so their feet are outside of the circle. At the same time, the players inside the circle try to pull their opponents stationed outside of the circle so their feet are inside the circle. Once a player is pulled in or out of the circle, depending on which side he is on, he becomes a prisoner and is out of the game. Continue the game for two minutes and count the prisoners of both sides. Next, change sides and play a second round. The team with the most prisoners wins.

    Variation--Poison Circle

    The players form a circle as large as the joining of hands will permit. When the circle is completed, all drop hands and each one takes the longest step possible towards the center. Then with his toe if outdoors, or with chalk, if indoors, each player marks on the ground a section of the so called Poison Circle. After completing the Poison Circle, the players step back to the original circle and again join hands. A ball is placed in the center and the preparation is complete. At the starting signal, the players, still holding hands, move around the circle to the right. Then, without warning, the leader calls "change" or blows his whistle. At this signal everybody moves in the opposite direction and the Players try to force one another into the Poison Circle. When a player is drawn into the circle every one calls "poison" and runs from him, while he, in the meantime, gets the ball and tries to hit one of them. If two or more players are drawn into the circle at the same time, any one of them may get the ball and try to hit one of the others. After the one who throws either hits or misses, the circle is reformed and the game continues.

    Jack's Alive

    Push a dry stick into the fire until the tip glows. Leader picks up stick, blows ember, gives stick to boy, saying "Jack's alive." Boy blows on ember, sends stick around circle. Boy holding stick when ember goes out ("Jack's dead") gets charcoal mark on face or performs a solo stunt.

    Ankle Grasp

    Draw a ring 6' in diameter. The contestants enter the ring, stoop over and grasp their ankles. The object of the game is to push your opponent over or to make him let go of his ankles. The player is automatically disqualified if he steps out of the circle.

    Smile Toss

    Seat the boys in a circle. Warn them to maintain a serious expression. The leader, standing in the center of the circle smiles, then wipes the smile from his face and tosses it to another boy in the circle, calling the boy's name as he does so. The "smile" catcher must put on the smile, wear it for a moment, then "wipe" it off and pass it to another boy. The boy who does not wipe the smile completely off, or smiles out of turn, must stand up. Since smiling is contagious, the entire group will soon be standing... as well as smiling.

    Bird Or Animal

    The chief imitates the sound of a bird or animal and the players, standing in a circle, try to guess what the sound is. The brave who guesses correctly is praised by the chief and given the chance to make the next bird or animal sound.

    Who Is Going To Be The Redskin Chief?

    One of the players is to be chosen as Indian Chief and he has got to be very nippy and fast. The group forms a big circle. In the middle there are placed five plastic bottles. The Chief goes into the middle and his job is to keep the bottles standing upright while the other players try to knock them over by throwing a football at them. Whoever manages to keep the bottles standing for a given time is quick enough to be "Indian Chief."

    Variation: Try this game using other kinds of balls, (tennis, basket ball, etc.).

    Zip! Zap!

    Form a circle with the leader in the center. When he points to someone and says "zip!" the player must give the name of the person on his right before the leader counts to ten. If the leader says "zap!" the player must name the person on his left. Anyone who gives the wrong name or is too slow drops out or may become the leader.


    Group sits in a circle. One player is sent out of the room and the others take counsel and decide what this player must be when he comes back. They decide, for example, that he shall be a policeman. When he comes in he asks each of the players in turn what he can buy for himself. In this case he can buy a pair of black boots, whistle, a flashlight, and so on. When he has gone round the circle he is given two chances to guess what he is and if he does not know he loses a point.

    Variation: As above, but group decides who the person sent out of room will be. (Famous athlete, politician, musician, movie star, etc.) Person sent out of room tries to determine who he is by elimination: Am I living? Am I Canadian? Am I in sports? etc. Set a time limit of ten minutes.


    Group sits in a circle on the floor. Every player is given the name of a town. One player with his scarf in his hand, stands in the middle. At two different places a letter box is chalked on the floor. The Postman calls out, "I have a letter to post." The players cry out, "Where does it come from?" The Postman gives the name of a town and runs away followed by the player to whom the name of this town has been given. The Postman suddenly puts his letter (scarf) in the letter box and runs back to the open space in the center of the ring. The player picks up the scarf and tries to hit the Postman with it. If he succeeds in doing this the Postman goes and stands in the circle and the other player becomes Postman.

    The Treasure of the White Cobra

    Group in a circle. One player (the White Cobra) sits blindfolded in the middle guarding the treasure of the Gold Lairs (some object which is lying between his outstretched legs). Leader points to one of the players who creeps up to the White Cobra and tries to rob him of the treasure. When the Cobra hears a sound he points with his forked tongue in the direction of the noise. If he is right then this player must go back and another has a turn. If a player succeeds in stealing the treasure then he becomes the White Cobra.

    Variation--Sleeping Pirate

    Blindfolded player becomes the sleeping pirate and sits on a chair in the middle of the room, with "treasure" (blocks of wood) which he is defending, at his feet. Players line up at one end of room. On signal "Go," players stalk in an attempt to pick up treasure without being caught. Sleeping pirate catches players who have made noise by pointing at them. A player pointed to must retire and start from beginning. Two tries for each player. Only one block can be captured at a time.

    Ten points are given for each block or box successfully captured.

    Variation; Use two pirates seated back to back, and more blocks if group is large.


    Divide boys into two groups. One group forms a large circle; the others scatter inside the circle. The circle players throw a volleyball or other ball at the inside players. The center players dodge but cannot leave the circle. When hit by the ball they join the players in the circle. The winner is the last man in the center.

    Centre Catch

    Players form a circle with arm's-length spacing. "It" stands inside the circle. The players pass a basketball, play ball or football from one to the other. "It" attempts to touch it or catch it. If "It" touches or catches the ball, the last player who touched it is "It." The ball may be passed across the circle at random or to the next player in either direction.

    In The Pond

    Mark a big circle on the floor. This is the pond. The whole group stands around the edge. The leader is the referee. When he shouts "In the Pond," you all jump into the circle. When he shouts "On the Bank," you all jump out. But... sometimes he will try and trick you by saying "On the Pond" or "In the Bank." When he does this, nobody should obey. Anyone who moves, on a wrong order, is out of the game or may pay a forfeit and get back in.

    Swat To The Gap

    Group is in a circle, facing in, with hands behind their backs, eyes closed. Leader walks quietly around circle and places the rolled up newspaper secretly in the hands of one of the group. The player starts hitting the player on his right with the swatter. He continues swatting while the victim runs around the outside of the circle and back to his place in the ring. Player with swatter now goes around the circle and hands swatter to another player. A knotted neckerchief can be used instead of a newspaper.

    Variation--Fill The Gap

    One player walks around outside the circle, taps another player on the back. Both race around the circle in opposite directions. The player that fails to "fill" the gap continues the game.

    Kill The Rattlesnake

    The group stands in a big circle. In the center are two boys blindfolded. One, the Hunter, has an old sock stuffed with Paper. The other, the Rattlesnake, has a tin (old shoe polish tins are ideal) with a lid on -- containing small pebbles. The Hunter starts the game by shouting "Rattlesnake!" The Rattlesnake "freezes" on the spot, and shakes his tin of pebbles. The Hunter rushes to where he thinks the sound comes from and takes a swipe at the Rattlesnake. If he misses, the Rattlesnake then moves silently away, and again the Hunter calls "Rattlesnake!" This continues until the Hunter hits the Rattlesnake -- with a time limit of two minutes. When the Hunter is successful, the two change places. After two minutes, the next two players in the circle have their turn.

    Australian Circle Game

    A player stands in the center of a circle, holding a tennis ball. He tries to throw this ball to someone in the circle who will drop it. Another ball is also being passed around the circle from one boy to another.

    The player in the center may throw his ball to anyone, but he usually throws it to the boy about to receive the ball being passed around the circle. If either ball is dropped, the one who dropped it changes places with the boy in the center.


    Players in circle; each player in turn goes into the center and "registers" an emotion by facial expression. First player to guess the emotion portrayed correctly scores; each player has only one guess. Best total wins.


    Group walks around in a circle singing. When leader signals they must jump into the "lifeboats." Leader puts up any number of fingers and whoever is not in a "boat" with the same number of passengers must drop out.

    I've Lost My Dog

    Players stand in a ring facing inwards. The leader stands in the center. He addresses one of the players, saying, "I've lost my dog." The player asks, "What is it like?"

    The leader describes any other person in the ring--trying a so to make the description fit a dog. When the questioner guesses the identity of the person described, the one described leaves his place and is followed round the circle by the questioner. Both race in the same direction, each returning to his place. The last to get back becomes the one to whom the leader will speak when the game begins again.

    Who's The Best Indian

    Players sit in a circle. Each takes his turn telling something he can see, hear, feel or smell from where he sits. No repetition is allowed and if a player repeats what another says, or cannot think of something, he is out. The game continues until only one is left.

    Red Indian

    A blindfolded boy stands in the center of a large circle. Beside him is a log or some other solid object.

    Other boys are given a piece of sticky paper in the color of their group. These boys circle on hands and knees trying to crawl up silently and place their stickers on the log.

    If the boy in the center hears a sound he calls "Wolf" and points In the direction of the noise. The boy caught must start over again. Points are given to the group which places the most stickers on the log. A time limit should be set. >>

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