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We are thrilled to share a 3-part series on hide-and-seek. For many reasons, variations of hide-and-seek are played all over the world, dating back to at least 2nd century Greece. Over time, you and your child will learn to search for better and better cover, a process through which kids learn, first hand, about the trees, brush, logs and other features of the outdoors...and they get off of the paths! Little kids actually get great practice with counting to ten. I had a preschooler who couldn't make it from ten to eleven without exclaiming, "Ready or not, here I come!"
It turns out, hide-and-seek works incredibly well—not only at getting reluctant kids “into” their surroundings, but at keeping all kids highly engaged. They love hide and seek. Who doesn’t? It never gets old, especially when you play outdoors. With the right twists, it can captivate kids of all ages. The more we’ve learned about it and observed how kids play it, the more we appreciate how powerful the game really is.
We’ve made our own variations on hide-and-seek and use them with kids ages 0-2. These age ranges are general guidelines. You know your kids best, so strike the balance with just enough challenge while avoiding making them frustrated. Check out our Hide-and-Seek variations for kids ages 3-5 and ages 6-8.
Before the age of 4, most kids have not matured enough to take the perspective of the person seeking them, so their ability to choose effective hiding spots is limited at best. But they can learn the fundamentals (taking turns, counting, not peeking—well, trying not to peek, hiding, and finding) and still enjoy the separation and reunion that are such emotionally satisfying aspects of the game.
Small radius hide-and-seek (minimum: 1 kid)
Hide/Seek a “friend” (minimum: 1 kid)
Note: Hide/Seek a "friend" can be fun with older kids as well. To give both challenge and some direct experience with the concept of camouflage, hide objects that blend into the surroundings. If you can go out ahead of kids, hide an object towards the end of a trail. Finding a stuffed friend on the trail can give dragging little feet just the boost they need to finish a hike.
Psychologists tout the emotional benefits of Hide and Seek, saying that little kids get hooked on facing and, in the moment, conquering the fear of separation from loved ones (parents, friends). We have watched hide-and-seek build independence and self reliance—the more they play, the further kids will push themselves. Finally, our wee ones rarely remain in a hiding spot and can hardly keep from being noticed, but even the attempt gives them basic practice with focus and self control.