The Stonehead Games

One of the most important things for keeping a large number of children occupied, challenged and happy is a good selection of games.

These are some of the ones I organised for the boys’ birthday party.


Set out a goal line and a starting line, about 20 paces apart.

One person is picked as the Captain and stands behind the goal line.

The other players are the sailors and stand behind the start line.

The Captain calls out a name and tells that person to “take one big step”, “skip three steps”, “spin two steps”, “take four teeny weeny steps” and so on.

The player called by name must ask “Captain, may I?” and wait for the Captain to shout “Aye, Aye!” before moving.

The captain must say “Aye, Aye” within five seconds.

If the player moves before asking and getting permission, they must return to the starting line.

When the player has either moved or returned to the starting line, the Captain calls the next player, calling faster and faster.

When one player reachers the goal line they become the next Captain.


The players sit in a circle. One is selected to leave the room.

While the player is out of the room, the others decide what the missing player is, eg a truck driver, a ballerina, a pilot, a cook, etc.

When they’ve decided, the missing player is called back and, starting to the right of where they were sitting, asks each player in turn “what do I need?”

The other players answer with the things that the player needs in order to be what they are, eg for a trucker driver it might be “a road”, “fuel”, “a load”, “a truck”

Answers should be more obvious for young children, more difficult for older ones.

After asking “what do I need” and getting an answer, the player must guess what they are.

If they get it right, they swap places with the player who gave the last answer and that player then leaves the room.

If they get it wrong, they move on to the next player and ask them.

If they go all the way around the circle, they leave the room and try again.


Divide the players into pairs and have each pair stand back to back.

Place a strong, inflated balloon between each pair.

When a grown-up blows a whistle or shouts “Go!”, each pair has to push their backs together and try to pop the balloon.

The winners are the first pair to pop their balloon. (This one invariable descends into general mayhem!)


Blindfold a player and have all the other players stand in a circle around them.

Turn the blindfolded player three times, then select one player to step forward near them.

In a squeaky voice, the selected player says “piggy, piggy” and makes an oinking noise.

The blindfolded player has to guess who the piggy is.

If they’re right, they swap places with piggy, if not piggy steps back and someone else steps forward to say “piggy, piggy, oink, oink”.


All the players stand in a circle. One is selected to stand in the centre, while the player to the right of where they were standing is given a button.

All the players in the circle then cup their hands.

The player with the button then places their cupped hands over the next player’s cupped hands and drops the button from their hands into the one below.

The second player then passes the button and so on.

At some point, one of the players will retain the button and not pass it on—but pretend they have.

The player in the centre of the circle watches closely the whole time.

When the button has apparently passed all the way around the circle, the player in the centre says “Button, button, who has the button?”

They then point to the player they think has the button. If that player has the button, the two swap places and the game starts again.

If the player doesn’t have the button, the player in the centre has two more tries.

If they still can’t find the button, the game starts again from the same point it started before.

- – - -

We had two goodie bags as lucky dips for the children to delve into when they won games, did a particularly good voice, played well, or did something fantastically silly.

One bag had sweets, one had small toys and trinkets.

Everyone went away with something, plus a little bag of loot as well.

6 Responses to “The Stonehead Games”

  1. mummys little angel Reply 27 January, 2009 at 07:15

    Do these games originate in Australia? I have never heard of them before now. Our home ed group was looking for play ground games, I shall pass them on to the group leader.

  2. They’re the sort of things we used to play in primary school and at Cubs more than 25-30 years ago in Australia. I think many of them are old British games, although I’ve undoubtedly changed them somewhat as I’m doing them from memory and they had probably changed over the years when moving from Britain to Australia. (I’m deliberately using British, as I don’t know the regional derivations of them.)

    I’m going to write a separate post about Stonehead croquet, though. The idea for it was sparked by the gift of a pair of old croquet mallets from Madasaboxoffrogs, when we collected the oven from her.

  3. ‘Captain may I’ sounds like a boy-friendly version of ‘Mother may I’

    Other good games are What time is it Mr Wolf?, Winking murder, and my particular favourite: Dead Lions (good for calming down after mayhem)

  4. I played some of these (or variants of) at Brownies and Primary School. One version of the button game was played with keys and the one in middle blindfolded (brownie hat pulled down over their eyes).

  5. LittleFfarm Dairy Reply 31 January, 2009 at 14:35

    Nice to see your ‘goodie bags’ are scaled back to what SHOULD be expected at childrens’ parties. Back in the Cotswolds I remember several mums really fretting about their kids’ birthday parties, as much as anything because of the astronomical cost of the party bags. These included the latest robotic toys; iPods; Playstation/XBox games; even £20 notes. Ridiculous – consumerism gone mad. How can children learn to understand the true cost of things if they aren’t encouraged to comprehend the value of anything….? Good on you, Stoney.


  1. Happy birthday! « Musings from a Stonehead - 26 January, 2009

    [...] the weather improved just enough that we could spend a lot of time outside, playing games that included Stonehead croquet, “Captain, may I”, football, tag, rugby and [...]

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