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Kick the Can: A Historic Outdoor Game to Teach to Children

A Spirited Version of Classic Hide-and-Seek



Kick the Can is an old-fashioned game that was played by children during the Great Depression. A variation of Hide and Seek, it was traditionally played in several adjoining backyards.


Kick the Can is appropriate for school age children.

Equipment Needed

All you need is a can. A plastic coffee container is safer than a metal can.

Where to Play

A good-sized yard or similar area in a park or schoolyard, as long as it's not too open. There must be some hiding places!

How to Play

One person is designated as “it.” A coffee can is placed in the middle of the yard. Another area of the yard is designated as “jail.” The player who is “it” covers his or her eyes and counts to a predetermined number. “It” then goes in search of the other kids. When one is sighted, “it” runs to the can and calls out the person’s name, saying, for example, “Thomas is in the can!” Thomas then has to go to "jail." If the person who has been spotted is able to run to the can and kick it before “it” reaches the can, he or she is still free and can hide again. A player who has not been spotted can “kick the can” and free all the players who are in “jail.” The game continues until all players are in "jail." Then the person who was captured first becomes “it.”


In one of the variations of this game, the players must be tagged instead of being merely spotted. This makes for a more physical game.

See More Classic Kids Outdoor Games

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