You can play many excellent games with almost no supplies, and one of the oldest is Kick the Can. This game has been around for nearly a century, and all you need is a can or other kickable object, at least three players, and somewhere with hiding spots. This is a variation of Hide and Seek that is more active than simply squirreling yourself away somewhere and waiting to be found.
How do you play Kick the Can? Read on to learn all about this fantastic, simple game. See the kick the can rules below.
What Is Kick The Can?
Kick the Can is a variation of Hide and Seek that has been played for almost a hundred years. In this unique version of the classic hiding game, a player (“it”) counts for their friends to hide. Instead of tagging them, the ‘it’ player calls out where someone is hiding and ‘jails’ them. The game continues until everyone is captured.
Kick The Can History
The exact origins of this long beloved game are lost in history. Its earliest variant, Hide and Seek, was first recorded in Greece in the 2nd century and involved two teams flipping a shell to see who would chase the others while they ran and hid.
It’s well known that Kick the Can was a popular game in the 1930s. The Great Depression and the era after it meant many people didn’t have enough money for fancy gear and luxuries for their children. Simple games like this were ideal because they were fun, required no special skills, used energy, and kept kids occupied. Most importantly, anyone could play Kick the Can for free.
Games like Kick the Can don’t have any special tools or parts. Since you only need a discarded can to kick and hiding places, you can play this game in most outdoor areas. Simple games like Hopscotch, Jump Rope, and Red Rover all gained popularity in this era when parents were trying to keep food on the table and could not afford to be concerned with frivolous expenditures like sports equipment and toys.
How to Play Kick The Can (Step By Step)
The rules of Kick the Can are simple and requires no special setup. You can play this game with as few as three players and one literal piece of garbage (the can). If you prefer, you can use a ball, a plastic water bottle, or anything else that is lightweight and easy to kick a fair distance. You’ll find all the directions below.
- Choose an area with lots of open space and plenty of places to hide.
- Set the bounds of the game. You can get fancy and mark the boundaries with cones if you like, but make sure everyone knows how far the playing field extends.
- Decide who is ‘It’ and will be the seeker first. You can do this any number of ways, like playing rock-paper-scissors, ink-a-bink, or rolling dice for the highest number.
- Get your Can, plastic bottle, or ball. Choose something very lightweight but sturdy enough to take a beating.
- Select a ‘jail’ area. This can be a bench or anywhere else that is in plain sight.
- In front of the ‘jail’ place your Can.
- Have the ‘It’ player count to thirty, fifty, or a hundred. The amount of time is up to you, but generally, give more time to little kids, people with mobility issues, or those playing in larger areas.
- While the seeker counts, everyone else should run and hide.
- ‘It’ can leave their Can and look around for people, but they cannot move the Can. As soon as they find a player or think they have, they must run back to the Can, put their foot on it and then call out where the person was hiding or their name.
- If the seeker is correct, the other player has to go to jail and stay there. However, if they are wrong, they count again, and everyone hides somewhere new.
- The game continues until everyone is found.
- Un-found players can ‘rescue’ the players who are in jail by running up to the Can and kicking it away while the seeker is distracted by looking for hidden players.
- If the seeker sees you and runs back to put their foot on the Can first, you go to jail. Otherwise, all the players in prison are free to hide again.
- When you kick the Can, players only have until the seeker gets the Can and puts it back to find a new hiding place.
- Play goes on until only one hider is free. They are the next one to be ‘It.’
Kick The Can Rules
The rules for Kick the Can are simple. Mainly the rules involve honesty, playing fairly, and not leaving the designated play space. Kick the Can is a great game to teach spatial awareness, integrity, and teamwork, among other skills, but mostly it’s a lot of fun and a great way to run around and play with a group of friends.
- Always establish the rules and boundaries first.
- You can’t leave or hide outside the designated play area.
- The seeker can’t move the Can except to put it back.
- If the person who was ‘it’ guessed wrong, they count again, and all the non-jailed players hide somewhere different.
- You cannot stay in the same hiding place.
- You cannot lie and say you weren’t hiding somewhere if you were.
- Jailed players must stay in jail.
- The game ends when every player but one has been found and jailed.
Kick The Can Variations
Kick the Can is a modern variation of the much older Hide and Seek and tag, which have a common origin. Similar games like Marco Polo, Freeze Tag, Dodge Ball, and even Paintball are also versions of the same game. This is a game of hiding or evading and seeking or capturing, often with an element of teamwork.
Making your own version is a great way to keep players engaged. If you want to make Kick the Can more fun for young kids, you can have the person who is ‘it’ be a monster, a spider, a police officer, or some other fantasy character to catch everyone else. Alternatively, you can add a challenge by requiring the seeker to know the name and location of a player before they call out.
You can also play a variant of Kick the Can where the seeker stands in front of the Can and calls out where they think other players are hiding. Doing this will make sneaking up to kick the can a lot harder.
There are other versions of Kick the Can. For example, the ‘it’ player kicks the can to start the game, then counts, and afterward, they get the Can to bring back before they start seeking.
Kick The Can Tips and Tricks
Although any can will do, use common sense when choosing. You don’t want a full can because the added weight can lead to broken toes when players get enthusiastic. Plus, a filled can won’t go as far when kicked.
Avoid rusty cans, sharp and torn edges, or any container like a glass bottle that might break. Like soccer and other kicking sports, wearing closed-toed shoes is essential. You don’t want anyone to get injured. If you have a ball, you can always use that instead.
Hide and seek is fun, but kick the Can is more active. In this traditional hiding, game players strive to stay out of sight while a seeker looks for them. However, the seeker can only ‘find’ players by putting their foot on top of a can and calling out where they are to ‘jail’ them. Meanwhile, the other players get to hide multiple times, and they can free all the jailed players by kicking the Can and forcing the ‘it’ player to go chase it while everyone runs and hides. If you’ve never played this active version of the hiding game, you should try it. Kick the Can has all the best parts of Marco Polo, tag, and hide and seek in a straightforward game.