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Kick the Can Rules

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Kick the Can is one of the best classic childhood games that I can remember. There aren’t too many adults in America who didn’t spend at least some hours of their childhood kicking a can down the street to free their captured teammates. Next time your children have some friends over to the house, gather them up for a game of kick the can.


What you need: An old coffee can

This is a great game of cat and mouse. Place the can in the center of the street. One person is selected to be “IT”. That person starts the game by standing with their foot on the can, facing away from everyone and counting to 30 with their eyes closed while everyone else hides.

Unlike hide-and-go-seek, the hiders don’t actually try to stay completely out of sight, just enough so that “IT” can’t see them clearly. This is because the hiders have to keep and eye on what’s going on. When “IT” sees you, she has to call you out by name. For example, “I see Jody behind the red car.” If it is Jody behind the red car, then she must go to jail (which is behind the can.) If it isn’t Jody, then the person doesn’t come out from hiding.

The hiders are not allowed to stay in one spot, so when “IT” isn’t looking in their direction, they shift around from place to place, being careful that they aren’t seen. “IT” can wander as far from the can as she wants to, but must be careful not to stray too far; because when somebody is in jail, the others can free them by running up and kicking the can before they are tagged by “IT”.

If “IT” tags them when they’re running towards the can, they have to go to jail too. If they manage to kick the can before “IT” tags them, then everyone in jail is freed and “IT” has to count to 30 again with her eyes closed while everyone hides again. The object is for “IT” to capture everyone. When this happens, the first person captured becomes “IT”.

Often, those in jail give signals to the remaining people hiding when they have a chance to get to the can before “IT” so they can be freed.

I don’t know how many hours I spent playing kick the can when I was young, but I do remember how fun it was every single time we played. Over the years, we would adapt the rules to keep things challenging (not that it’s not challenging enough as it is.) Sometimes, we would have two “ITs” to make freeing those captured more difficult.

However you play it, you’re sure to have fun.

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