Duck Duck Goose is a traditional children's game often first learned in pre-school or kindergarten.
Crude representation of how Duck Duck Goose is played.
A group of children sit in a circle, facing inward, while another child, the 'picker' (a.k.a. the 'fox'), walks around tapping or pointing to each player in turn, calling each a 'duck' until finally picking one child to be a 'goose'. The 'goose' then rises and chases and tries to tag the 'picker', while the 'picker' tries to return to and sit where the 'goose' had been sitting. If the picker succeeds, the 'goose' is now the new picker and the process begins again. If the 'goose' succeeds in tagging the picker, the goose may return to sit in the previous spot and the 'picker' resumes the process.
In the Stew Pot variant — also known as Mush Pot in much of the American midwest — the one who is tagged is 'out' and must sit in the center of the circle (the 'stew pot'); when the resulting circle becomes too small, a new game may be started. In a variation of this version, when a new person is put into the stew pot, the previous one rejoins the circle.
Duck Duck Gray Duck
Duck Duck Gray Duck is played in the north central part of the United States, specifically Southern Minnesota/Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Two versions of the regional rules exist. In the first, the 'picker' will describe the 'ducks' as different colors or adjectives — for example, 'blue duck', 'white duck', 'lazy duck'. It's more of an educational game than an alteration of the original, in that one not only recites colors, but also tries to say 'gray duck' as casually as possible, hoping to deceive the gray duck and gain time. The second version is played exactly as the original, with the picker saying 'gray duck' instead of 'goose. The adjectives add an element of psychological warfare amongst the children, because they can insult the circle, confuse the circle with 'May Duck' or 'Gray Puck'. All of these add depth and layers among the seemingly child-like game.
In Rag Tag, the players sit in a circle facing inward, while another child, the 'picker', walks around the outside of the circle carrying a rag or handkerchief until finally dropping it behind one child. This child then rises, grabs the rag, and chases and tries to tag the picker. The picker tries to return to the spot where the picked child had been sitting and sit in that spot. If the picker succeeds, the other child is now the new picker and the process begins again. If the child succeeds in tagging the picker, the same child may return to sit in the previous spot and the picker resumes the process. In some versions, the one who is tagged is 'out' and must sit in the center of the circle; when the resulting circle becomes too small, a new game may be started.
- When the 'goose' is picked, the 'picker' runs in one direction of his or her choice around the circle, while the 'goose' runs in the other direction. The first person who gets to the vacant space rejoins the circle, while the other person becomes the 'picker'.
- In many cases, the picker will tap heads and say other birds, like 'hummingbird', or 'crane'. When they do that, however, they aren't actually choosing a 'goose'.