"What's the Time, Mr Wolf?" is a staple playground game that has really stood the test of time. A exhilarating mix of suspense, drama, mild peril and the thrill of the chase, it's perfect for children of all ages, and can be played with groups as small as three or as large as your space allows. The beauty of this game lies in its simplicity and minimal setup. All you need is a space, a group of eager participants - and our dedicated 'What's the Time, Mr Wolf?' playground marking!
Setting The Stage
Choosing Mr Wolf
The game starts with selecting Mr Wolf. This could be done through counting-out games, or simply selecting the most enthusiastic volunteer.
The Starting Positions
Mr Wolf stands at one end of the play area, facing away from the rest of the group, who then line up at the other end.
You can also add another fun element to What's The Time, Mr Wolf by only allowing players to move when Mr Wolf is facing away from them. If they move while Mr Wolf is looking at them, they're either out -- or they become the wolf!
The Aim of the Game
The aim of What's The Time Mr Wolf is for students to make it to the finish line before without being 'eaten' (tagged) by Mr Wolf.
Now you're ready to begin the game!
The lined-up children all shout out in unison "What's the time, Mr Wolf?"
Mr Wolf answers with a time of their choosing, like "three o'clock."
The lined-up children then take that many steps towards Mr Wolf – three steps for "three o'clock", nine steps for "nine o'clock" for example - while counting each step out loud. These steps can be small, large, measured, or even playful hops!
The Plot Twist
This is where the adrenaline kicks in. At any point, when asked "What's The Time, Mr Wolf?", Mr Wolf can respond with 'DINNER TIME!', and turn around and chase the approaching students back to the starting line.
If Mr Wolf catches someone, that person becomes the new Mr Wolf, and the game resets. If everyone makes it safely back over the start line, Mr Wolf remains in place for another round.
If a player gets close enough to tag Mr Wolf before Dinner Time, they have crossed the finish line and escaped being eaten...for now!
The game continues until someone is tagged and becomes the new Mr Wolf, or everyone escapes to the safe zone. If all the children manage to get away, they can choose a new Mr Wolf or allow the same child to continue.
The Educational Spin
While the game is undeniably fun, it also serves as a covert educational tool. Children practice counting, and understand the concept of time in a hands-on, practical manner. It encourages strategic thinking -- every time they ask "what's the time, Mr Wolf?", they're taking a calculated risk. How many steps should they take? Should they get as close as possible to Mr Wolf, or hold off and stay further away from the danger of being caught? You never know when it could be 'dinner time!"
As the game progresses, children begin to pick up cues and focus more intently on the body language of Mr Wolf in an attempt to second-guess them. Not only is this a fundamental strategic skill, but understanding and interpreting non-verbal communication is a key part of social interaction, and 'What's The Time, Mr Wolf?' offers a playful yet impactful way to nurture this. The game often leads to whispered strategies and discussions among players. They learn to communicate their ideas, listen to others, and work cooperatively to outsmart Mr Wolf. This interaction is a great way for children to practice effective communication and teamwork. It might also be a fun exercise to practise attention skills in an environment with plenty of distractions.
Why is 'What's The Time, Mr Wolf' So Popular?
The great thing about "What's the Time, Mr Wolf?" is that it can be played almost anywhere. Altering the location and the size of the space can change the trajectory of the whole game and keep things interesting. It doesn't require any particular equipment, and the rules are versatile enough that you can introduce little rules or forfeits - for example, only allowing approaching children to move when Mr Wolf has their back turned.
It encourages children to be active, promoting physical fitness in a joyous way. The thrill of the chase and gratification of either escaping Mr Wolf or catching an opponent brings a rush of endorphins and improves mood and cognition, as well as lowering stress. It's also a good game to play to warm up on a chilly day!
What's The Time, Mr Wolf? is a game that many parents, carers, teachers and even grandparents will remember playing on their school playground. It's a classic, a tradition, and a beautiful nostalgic way to connect the older generations with the younger. It's a playful way to teach them about numbers and time, all the while nurturing physical agility and social interaction.
So, the next time you hear the eager voices of children chanting, "What's the time, Mr Wolf?", you’ll know they're not just playing a game, they're embarking on a journey of learning, fitness, and social development, wrapped in a package of unbridled joy and laughter. What a wonderful way to blend learning with play!