Circle games are played while sitting or standing in a circle. Most circle games do not need much preparation, many materials, or equipment. For this reason, circle games are a favorite activity for teachers, camp directors – anyone who works with groups of individuals, especially children.

The main goal of a circle game is to have fun. Many circle games involve passing or gently throwing items to another participant. Others involve some sort of elimination, especially tag games.

Some of the circle games in this article are for small groups and others for larger gatherings. We have circle games designed specifically for kids and those that work with any age. We also have a group of music circle games, many of which are classics circle games most readers will remember playing in their youth.

Circle Games for Kids

Circle Games for Kids

Cat and Mouse

A game for a large group of twenty or more, Cat and Mouse works well for children seven and up. Two children play the cat and the mouse, while the rest join hands and form a circle. The kid playing the mouse stands inside the circle, and the cat outside. The mouse tries to get inside and outside the circle without the cat catching it. The mouse must keep moving inside the circle and cannot stay inside for more than ten seconds. (You may make the time longer if you wish.) The cat cannot go inside the circle, only reach in to grab the mouse. Those standing in the circle attempt to keep the cat away from the mouse, lifting their hands to allow the mouse in and out, but blocking the cat. When the mouse is caught, the player who is the mouse becomes the cat. The cat changes places with another player, who becomes the mouse. Continue playing until everyone has a turn as the cat and/or mouse.

Come with Us or Run Away

Kids of every age will love this fun standing circle game for fifteen or more people. The kids stand in a circle and hold hands. The circle is missing two chairs, and two children are chosen to tag the other players. They run around the circle, each randomly hitting a pair of joined hands, at which time they call out either, “Come with us!” or “Run Away!” The two tagged players follow the directions of the tagger, either going with or running away. All four try to get to an empty seat first. The two left begin the next round by choosing joined hands to tap. Play this fun and frantic game as long as the players enjoy doing so.

Change Seats

The kids form a circle sitting in seats. One child stands in the middle and his seat is empty. He attempts to take his seat, but the other players stop him by sitting on it. The kids move around the circle in one direction, but the direction can be changed when “Change Direction” is called out. The person in the middle will probably be able to take his seat when the direction is changed. Whoever loses his seat must take the place in the middle and play resumes. This game works well for ten or more children of any age.

Variations:

  • The person in the middle calls out the name of two players who must change places before they are tagged.
  • If the person in the middle calls out “fruit salad,” everyone must change places, giving the child in the middle a chance to take a seat. Whoever is left without one takes the middle position.

Get Inside!

Children ages eight and up will enjoy this circle game for ten or more players. After the children form a circle holding one another’s hands, a rope circle is placed on the floor just inside where they are standing. The goal is to pull the children next to you into the rope circle while hanging on to their hands. Everybody is attempting this, so the task becomes difficult and children let go of one another’s hands. Those who do so, must get into the rope circle. When all the children except one is inside the circle, the child remaining outside is the winner.

Snake

A circle game for children of all ages, you will want to have ten or more players to make sure play is fun and effective. All the children form a circle and join hands. The leader or teacher designates one person to be the beginning of the snake and one to be the end of the snake. The player at the beginning crawls, steps over, and goes under the arms of the children in the circle until he reaches the end of the snake with all of the other children following him while they keep holding hands. Once he reaches the end of the snake, the children must determine how to untangle themselves while still holding hands.

 

Circle Group Games

Circle Group Games

Team Circle Ball

You will need two balls of the same size for this circle game for any size group. Have your players form a single circle, with alternating team members for two opposing teams. When the coach, leader, or teacher gives the signal, both balls are thrown from team member to team member in the same direction. The goal is to move the ball fast enough that it passes the opposing team’s ball. Each time this happens, a point is scored and the game starts over. The team receiving three points first wins the game.

Silly Has Lost His Hat

A silly but fun circle game for eight or more players of any age, play this game as long as everyone wants to participate or set a timer for ten minutes. Players sit in a circle and each receives a number beginning at one, except for the first, who plays “Silly.” The game is played as follows:

  • Silly says, “Silly has lost his hat and number ______ (for example “7”) has it.”
  • Whatever number is said, that player (number 7 in our example) replies, “Who, I?”
  • Then Silly says, “Yes, you!”
  • Number 7 then says, “No, not I! Number ______ (10) has it.”
  • Number 10 says, “No, not I! Number _____ (4) has it.”

The game continues thus until someone messes up. That person is out of the game and Silly begins again. The last player left is the winner. As the game is played, the speed of the questions and answers increases, creating a challenge for the players.

Twenty-One Double Bounce

Everyone forms a circle and someone begins counting from the number one. Counting proceeds right around the circle. If a person says just one number, counting continues right, but if someone says two numbers consecutively, the counting changes direction and moves left. The person who must say “21” is out of the circle. Additionally, if someone says a number out of sequence or does not change direction, they are also out. The goal for all players is to stay in the circle as long as possible.

Find the Ring

Players stand in a circle holding a string on which is a ring. The players keep both hands on the string and pass the ring around the circle without one player. This player stands in the middle. If the player in the middle thinks he knows where the ring is, he taps the hand under which he thinks it is. If he is correct, he changes places with the person whose hand he tapped. The winner of this game is the last person left holding the string when everyone else has been is in the middle of the circle.

Stand Up and Shout

A good game for getting a group full of energy, players randomly stand up and shout numbers. You begin by counting the number of players. If there are twenty players, for example, the numbers will be from 1 to 20, called out in order. Only one person can stand up at a time and each player can only stand once. The last person who stands to say a number is the loser. A player forfeits their turn if they:

  • Stand up when another player is doing so
  • Shout out a number at the same time as another player does so

This increases a player’s chance of being the last person to call out a number.

 

Musical Circle Games

Musical Circle Games

Music circle games involve a song or the playing of music. The five we have included are old favorites for children, some of which have been handed down for generations. Some of the benefits of musical circle games are:

  • Confidence building
  • Following directions
  • Group singing
  • Socialization

Perhaps the most familiar is musical chairs, the first game on our list of musical circle games.

Musical Chairs

An old favorite, musical chairs works for any age as long as the group consists of ten or more people. Children love this game and never seem to get tired of playing it. Children sit in chairs in a circle. When music begins to play, the children stand and walk around until the music stops, when they must sit in the nearest chair. However, one chair is missing and removed for each round, leaving a player without a seat and “out.” The last player remaining is the winner of this game.

In and Out the Dusty Bluebells

Players hold hands in a circle and raise their arms upwards forming arches. One player winds their way in and out of the arches around the circle. When the players say (or sing – check YouTube for the song), “tappity tappity,” the player moving around the circle taps the shoulder of the person closest to him or her. These two players join hands and continue through the arches together. The game continues until there is one person remaining, who makes a bridge against a wall, so everyone can file underneath it. The last person left begins the game over again.

In and out those dusty bluebells,

In and out those dusty bluebells,

In and out those dusty bluebells,

You shall be my partner.

Tippy Tippy Tap Tap on your shoulder,

Tippy Tippy Tap Tap on your shoulder,

Tippy Tippy Tap Tap on your shoulder,

You shall be my partner.

A Tisket, a Tasket

Have the children sit in a circle. Give one child a small basket containing a folded “letter.” Everyone sings the following song, while the child with the basket skips around the outside of the circle. At the end of the song, the child who is skipping stops and deposits the letter behind a child. Now the child who received the letter jumps up and both he and the child who deposited the letter race around in opposite directions back to the empty space. The first one who manages to sit in the empty space gets the basket and letter to deposit the next time the song is sung. Repeat until every child has a turn.

A tisket, a tasket,

A green and yellow basket,

I sent a letter to my love,

And on the way, I dropped it.

I dropped, I dropped it,

And on the way, I dropped it,

A little boy picked it up,

And put it in his pocket.

The Farmer in the Dell

One child plays the farmer, standing in the center while the other children sing the song and dance around him. Each time a stanza is sung, the child in the center who was the last one to join the group chooses the next child. For example, the farmer chooses a wife, the wife chooses a child, etc. At the end, the child left in the circle is the “cheese” and becomes the farmer for the next round. If you have fewer than ten children, remove some stanzas. If more than ten children remain, and you end up with more “cheese” at the end, the teacher or leader picks one as the next farmer.

The farmer in the dell,

The farmer in the dell,

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The farmer in the dell.

The farmer takes a wife.

The farmer takes a wife.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The farmer takes a wife.

The wife takes a child.

The wife takes a child.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The wife takes a child.

The child takes a nurse.

The child takes a nurse.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The child takes a nurse

The nurse takes a cow.

The nurse takes a cow.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The nurse takes a cow.

The cow takes a dog.

The cow takes a dog.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The cow takes a dog.

The dog takes a cat.

The dog takes a cat.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The dog takes a cat.

The cat takes a rat.

The cat takes a rat.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The cat takes a rat.

The rat takes the cheese.

The rat takes the cheese.

Hi-ho, the derry-o,

The rat takes the cheese.

The cheese stands alone

The cheese stands alone

Hi-ho, the derry-o

The cheese stands alone.

Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush

This favorite, socializing circle game teaches good hygiene, such as washing one’s face and hands in a fun way. As the children sing the song, they perform the associated action for each verse. When they sing the chorus, they join hands and dance around in a circle.

Chorus:

Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,

Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush

On a cold and frosty morning.

First Verse:

This is the way you wash your hands,

Wash your hands, wash your hands.

This is the way you wash your hands,

On a cold and frosty morning.

Children sing other verses for the following actions:

  • Brush your teeth
  • Brush your hair
  • Wash your face
  • Put on clothes

Note: If your group is not familiar with these musical circle games, you can find videos on-line for the music.

Circle games provide a fun way for children and adults to pass the time. Try one of our circle games at your next party or get-together. They are also perfect for the classroom and camp sessions. Have fun!