Ducking Out of Duck, Duck Goose

The rules to play the traditional children’s game of Duck, Duck, Goose are generally that all players except "IT" sits in a circle. IT (sometimes called the "goose") walks around the outside of the circle, behind the players’ backs while tapping gently on each of the seated players’ heads, saying “Duck...Duck...Duck...” each time they tap a head. When IT taps a player's head and says, “Goose!” the new "goose" jumps up and chases the first child around the circle. If the new goose doesn’t tag the other child before s/he reaches the open seat in the circle, IT takes the place in the circle and the new goose resumes the game by tapping heads. (If the new goose did happen to tag IT, s/he gets back to his/her spot in the circle and the first child remains IT.)

However, I've noticed sometimes the person who is IT doesn’t just “tap” a child’s head gently, they “hit”! Also, children who don’t want to be “hit” may put their hands on top of their head and lower their heads into their laps. Other children may follow that child’s lead and then there are no heads to “tap,” indicating that no one wants to play the game.

I want to share with you what I feel is a more developmentally appropriate way for young children to play this game in an early childhood classroom or home setting.
A Tisket, A Tasket, My Fruit & Veggie Basket
Materials Needed:
Small basket filled with plastic fruits and vegetables
How to play:
1. Sit young children (players) in a circle.
2. One child is chosen to hold the fruit basket and walk around the outside of the circle, behind the players’ backs while the group chants:

A tisket, a tasket,
My fruit and veggie basket.
I went walking down the lane,
And on the way I dropped it,
I dropped it, I dropped it...

4. On the last verse, the child walking around the circle drops the basket behind a player’s back.
5. That player picks up the basket and runs after the first child, who is running back to the open place in the circle.
6. If unable to tag the player before s/he gets to the open spot, the new player holding the basket must now walk around the outside of the circle, dropping the basket of fruits and veggies behind someone who has not yet had a turn.
7. The game ends when every player has had a chance to hold and drop the basket.

Another way to play this game in a similar way is to have the first child hold a small cardboard pizza box and walk around the outside of the circle, behind the players’ backs while the
group chants:

Pizza delivery in the box,
Pizza delivery piping hot,
Pizza delivery ready or not.
Ding, dong, PIZZA DELIVERY!

On the last words, “Pizza Delivery,” the child drops the pizza box behind a players’ back and the game continues per the steps above.

Preschool children love the element of surprise that these games offer. Whose back is IT going to drop the basket or pizza box behind? They also love to play chase and the activity of running and increasing heart rates is very beneficial for physical health and development.

These activities are also great for teachers to use when children are in transition -- i.e., waiting for parent pick up or for their group’s turn at the art center in the classroom, etc. Remember young children do not need to engage in competitive games with definite winners and losers. Having fun and playing cooperatively is a great main objective!