gray duck

Duck Duck Goose

Duck Duck Goose, also called Duck Duck Gray Duck in Minnesota and South Dakota, is a traditional children's game often first learned in pre-school or kindergarten.

Basic concept

A group of players sit in a circle, facing inward, while another player, the 'picker' (a.k.a. the 'fox'), walks around tapping or pointing to each player in turn, calling each a 'duck' until finally picking one to be a 'goose'. The 'goose' then rises and chases and tries to tag the 'picker', while the 'picker' tries to return to and sit where the 'goose' had been sitting. If the picker succeeds, the 'goose' is now the new picker and the process begins again. If the 'goose' succeeds in tagging the picker, the goose may return to sit in the previous spot and the 'picker' resumes the process.

Alternate versions

Mush Pot

How to play:

A group of people sit in a circle facing inward. One person is chosen to be "it." That person walks around the circle tapping on each player's head while saying "duck." When the person who's "it" decides on whom to pick that he wants to chase them, he says "goose" instead of "duck." The "goose" chases "It" around the circle until "It" reaches the goose's spot. If the "goose" tags the "It" they have to sit in the center of the circle (the "Mush Pot" or "Stew Pot") until someone else is tagged. If the "goose" does not tag "It" the game starts all over and the "goose" is now "It."

Duck Duck Splash

"Duck duck splash" is an alternative to the traditional game. This alternative is typically played during the summer months. The "picker" carries a small bucket of water around the ciricle and uses it to splash the person who will be the goose. This version is also commonly called "Drip Drip Splash."

Rag Tag / I Wrote a Letter to My Mother

In Rag Tag or Drop the Handkerchief, the players sit in a circle facing inward, while another child, the 'picker', walks around the outside of the circle carrying a rag or handkerchief until finally dropping it behind one child. This child then rises, grabs the rag, and chases and tries to tag the picker. The picker tries to return to the spot where the picked child had been sitting and sit in that spot. If the picker succeeds, the other child is now the new picker and the process begins again. If the child succeeds in tagging the picker, the same child may return to sit in the previous spot and the picker resumes the process. In some versions, the one who is tagged is 'out' and must sit in the center of the circle; when the resulting circle becomes too small, a new game may be started.

There is also a version called I Wrote a Letter to My Mother, where the handkerchief is imagined as a letter being accidentally dropped. This version has a song which goes:

A tisket, a tasket, A green and yellow basket, I wrote a letter to my mother, on the way I dropped it, and one of you has picked it up and put it in your pocket. Not you, not you, not you, not you………

The Marathi version of this song is "Maazhya aaiche patra harawla, te malaa saapadla".

The Rag Tag version is the standard game in France where it is called jeu du mouchoir (handkerchief game). The same is true for Germany, where it is called Plumpsack (plop sack), and for Poland, where it is called Mam chusteczkę haftowaną (I got a knitted cloth).

Connecticon Duck Duck Goose

A version played primarily at Connecticon, convention attendees, many of them cosplayers, often substitute Duck Duck Goose for things like Ninja Ninja Shinobi, or Black Mage Black Mage White Mage. The substitutions often relate to the costume, but substituting is not a requirement.

Extreme Duck Duck Goose

This variant is played the same as regular duck duck goose, except in how the goose and picker try to get back to the empty spot. Instead of the goose chasing after the picker, he or she goes the opposite way and tries to intercept the picker on the other side of the circle. Physical contact is allowed(but not required); this usually involves wrestling and soft tackling. Throwing of limbs or fists is never allowed, the intent is always to only temporarily slow down your opponent so you can be first back to the empty spot. This version is also sometimes referred to as Yak Yak Moose.

Duck Duck Animal

This variant can suddenly be applied to a standard game of duck duck goose if the picker decides to tag someone as an animal other than a duck or a goose. The picker then chooses a relevant form of movement or charade, and the picker and the animal race back to the spot using that form of movement or charade. Some examples include hopping around the circle for duck duck kangaroo, or pulling oneself around on one's stomach for duck duck amoeba. The motion does not necessarily have to correspond to an actual animal, as the picker may choose to roll around the circle for duck duck rock.

Pato Pato Ganso

When the 'goose' is picked, the 'picker' runs in one direction of his or her choice around the circle, while the 'goose' runs in the other direction. The first person who gets to the vacant space rejoins the circle, while the other person becomes the 'picker'.

Unnamed alterations

  • In many cases, the picker will tap heads and say other birds, like 'hummingbird', or 'crane'. When they do that, however, they aren't actually choosing a 'goose'.

See also



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