Guest blog by Mark Clements
Sometimes as a parent, we are tasked with entertaining a large group of younger kids. Duck Duck Goose is no longer a popular option, Red Rover is dangerous if kids get too worked up, and freeze tag gets old pretty quickly and favors faster children. That might leave you at a loss for the perfect game to play. Have no fear! There is a cheap and viable party game option at your fingertips! The game is called squirrels and nuts, and there is no way in the world that you have ever heard of it. Despite the long article, this game is very simple to learn, set-up, and play.
The great thing for parents is that the game is incredibly easy to set up, and cheap too! You are going to want 50-100 ping pong balls, a section of yard that is roped off or somehow set up to act as a playing field with boundaries, and strips of fabric or cloth that are about a foot long for each boy and girl that decides to play the world's greatest kid's game. These strips of fabric are going to act as each player's "tail." That means that you take the material and stuff it down the back of your pants, leaving about 6 inches of material sticking out the top of your pants to act as a tail. This is a team game, so you should have a different color of tail for each team. For every 6 kids, make a new team. So for example if there are eighteen children, make 3 teams. The minimum number of people I would suggest to play this game with would be 6, and in that case, I would make two teams of three.
If you have your teams built and the kids have stuffed their tails into their pants, the next step is to divide the teams and get them on separate sides of the playing field. This is called each teams "home." Each home has a basket, and the objective of the game is to grab the other teams tails, and the falling nuts (ping pong balls) and get them back safely into their own home basket. When a player loses a tail, they are out for the round. The kids are primarily going to be going for each other's tails, so it's probably important to make a rule about roughness, as you don't want the kids to be punching each other in order to collect tails. A good rule is probably no grabbing, so that the kids are dodging around as opposed to making it a physically rough game. There are a lot of different tactics for the kids to use to try and get each other's tails. Some are going to sprint all over the playing field, some are going to stick to the edges with their butts facing outward in order to avoid losing their tails, and some are going to be more focused on the big points: Nuts.
The nuts are ping pong balls, and this is where an adult is needed. The adult is going to be known as the "tree," and his or her only responsibility is to periodically throw ping pong balls into the middle of the field. The teams of course want to collect these "nuts" and take them back to their home buckets. Tails are worth a single point, and nuts are worth 5 points. Obviously when nuts are thrown, there's a big rush to the middle of the field, and a lot of action is going to be happening. As soon as a tail is pulled from a player, that player is out and they have to drop any nuts that they may be carrying. When an entire team has lost all of their tails, then the round is over, and the teams total up their scores. Typically you do three rounds, and then you mix up teams.
This game is perfect for kids' parties, youth groups, and even gym classes. It's a fairly safe game, and the different tactics that people can use make it an even playing field. I covered the basics of the game pretty well, but feel free to tweak it and add some of your own rules and wrinkles. Squirrels and nuts is a great and cheap game to play with children, and it's a great game to keep them moving and physically active.
Mark Clements is an intern at www.rainponchosonline.com, and a student at Indiana Tech University of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Feel free to contact me on any questions that you may regarding squirrels and nuts! There's a contact page on our website, and that's probably the easiest way to get a hold of me.