How to Play Run Sheep Run

By Peggy Epstein

On warm summer evenings, children from several generations have wiled the hours before calls for bedtime playing traditional games. “Run, Sheep, Run” is a great old-fashioned neighborhood game, giving kids the chance to do some heavy-duty running and to take advantage of all the best hiding places on the block. Although kids of all ages can play, it's better to categorize the players by age range.

How to Play Run Sheep Run

Set up a “sheep pen” and a “fox den.” These are simply two areas on opposite sides of the playing area.

Mark boundaries clearly, letting kids know how far they can go for both the hiding (for the sheep) and the searching (for the foxes).

Divide everyone into two groups: one group of sheep and one group of foxes. Explain that they will trade roles later.

Tell the sheep to choose someone who will be the “Old Ram.” This player makes decisions for all the sheep and tells them where they will run and hide. They must all stay together for the entire game.

Meanwhile, the foxes choose the “Fox King.” He (or she) will make the decisions for all the foxes. The foxes cannot begin looking for the sheep until the Old Ram comes to get them.

After the sheep are hidden, the Old Ram reports to the foxes and tells them, “My sheep are hiding; you will never find them.”

The foxes take off, led by the Fox King, looking for the sheep. They must stay together for the entire game.

The Old Ram runs with the foxes, and when he (or she) thinks the sheep would have a good chance to make it back to the sheep pen without being caught by the foxes, he yells out, “Run, Sheep, Run.”

Both the foxes and the sheep then race to the sheep pen. If the sheep get their first, they get to be the foxes next. Otherwise they must continue to be the sheep.

The game is won when one group has been the foxes for three consecutive times.