One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

I attended a training given by PlayWorks this week. If you ever have a chance to go to a PlayWorks training, I highly recommend it. Check them out at They have an interactive website for games that is far superior to anything else I’ve seen. Just enter the number and age of participants, the type of game you are looking for and hit ‘enter’. It pops up a list of playground games to choose from. Easy!    The following game is from the PlayWorks training given by Kristina. Obvious Dr. Seuss reference. 


Object: Get the token back to the Island side of the court without getting caught.

Number of Participants: 10 – 30

Area: half volleyball court-size

Equipment: a token about the size of a tennis ball

How To Play: One person is chosen to be “it”, stands at one end of the court (Fishy Side) with the token on the floor at the line.  Everyone else stands at the other end of the court (Island Side), behind their line.  “It” turns her back to the other players and calls out “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”. During this time, the participants try to get to the token, take it and sneak it back to the other side of their Island base line. When “it” finishes reciting “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” she turns around. If she catches even one person moving, the entire group goes back to the their Island starting line. If she doesn’t catch anyone moving, play continues from that point, while she turns around again and calls out again “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, and then turning around to try and catch people moving.

If the token gets nabbed the game is only half over. Players still must stop every time the chant ends, but “it” gets three guesses as to who is holding the token. If she guesses correctly, the token is returned to the Ocean starting point and all the participants must re-start from their Island side of the court. If “it” doesn’t guess who is holding the token, play continues as before (“it” turns around with her back to the participants, says “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, and then turns back around to try and catch the token holder, again with three guesses.

Play ends when the Islanders have successfully nabbed the token and gotten it back to their Island.

Variation: This game can end pretty quickly if you don’t use this simple variation. Once the token has been nabbed but before it has made it back to the Island, it must be passed to at least ten people. This is what makes the game a cooperative initiative.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing the information about Playworks. Great game blog you have here. Do you have any similar games to One Fish, Two Fish that you love to play?


    • I’ve grouped each game under similar categories (e.g. where it’s played, how many people, etc.) but it sounds like “Mother May I”, “Red Light, Green Light” or “What Time Is It, Mr. Fox” are the most similar. Those might not be on my blog but you can check or the PlayWorks site. What I like about “One Fish, Two Fish…” is that it takes a simple game such as those mentioned above and adds a challenge or Initiative component to it that makes the game palatable and fun for an older group (4th grade and up). Thanks for reading!


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