Picture of Kids Play Paper, Rock, Scissors to Decide Who Goes First in a Game

Why It’s Important For Kids to Figure Out Who Goes First

One of the toughest parts of starting a new game of tag, a board game, or any kind of game for kids is figuring out who is going to be ‘it’ or who gets to go first.

Figuring out who goes first involves developing compromise and sharing skills as well as negotiation and compromise skills. It also helps develop empathy and sportsmanship.

Here are a few games to play to help your little ones decide who should go first.


These activities are just the beginning. Be sure to check out the full games section, It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share activities on Twitter, too! Oh, and I wrote a book with over 1,000 play activities in it! No matter where you are, what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!


Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Gather all players in a circle. As you sing each word in this song, point to one of the people in the circle, or tap their fist.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
You are not it.

VARIATION for the last line: You are it. This person goes first or is “It.”

If you are singing the ‘not it’ version, the one pointed to when you say ‘it’ is out. Keep going until you have only one person left. They are it or go first.

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum in a Dish

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many bubble gums do you wish?

On each word of the chant above, the person singing the song taps one person’s fist with theirs, going around the circle of players as they go. (The person tapping also taps their own fist.) The person who is tapped when they say “wish,” then chooses a number between 1 and 5. The person leading counts it out, tapping fists as they go. The person who they land on for chosen number is now out. Keep going until there is one person left. The last person left (not out) goes first.

Paper, Rock, Scissors

Two people play at a time. Each person makes a fist and on the count of three they reveal either paper (hand held out flat, palm down), rock (hand still in a fist), or scissors (pointer and middle finger pointing out of a fist). Paper beats rock (covers it). Rock beats scissors (crushes it). And scissors beats paper (cuts it).

If you are playing with more than two players, go in rounds. For example, say you have four people. Player 1 and 2 play against each other while player 3 and 4 play against each other. The winners of those rounds then faces off against each other. The person who wins gets to go first.

Who is the Tallest/Shortest?

Tallest or shortest person goes first, depending on which one the group has chosen.

Who is the Youngest/Oldest?

Youngest/oldest person goes first, depending on which one the group has chosen.

Who Won/Lost?

The person who won/lost last time gets to go first or be it.

Next Birthday

Who’s birthday is next? They get to go first. If it is their birthday–they go first.

Call It

Starting a game of tag? Everyone immediately yells “not it!” The last person to say “not it” is it.

Pick a Number

One person agrees to think of a number between 1 and 10 and keeps it to themselves–they don’t tell anyone. Everyone else guesses a number between 1 and 10. The person who guesses the right number or guesses closest to the right number gets to go first. If there is a tie, then those who tied guess again.

The person choosing the number can also write it down in case you think they might change their mind!

Pick a Name Out of a Hat

Write everyone’s name down on scraps of paper–one name per piece of paper. Put all the names in a hat (or whatever you’ve got handy). Shake them around to mix them up, then draw one name out. The person who’s name is pulled out is ‘it’ or goes first.

Variations: Don’t have paper and a pencil? How about rocks? Put rocks that are almost the same in a hat and make one of the rocks different somehow–like its colour–and the person who draws that rock gets to be ‘it.’

Draw Straws

You will need one straw for each person. Make one of the straws shorter than the others. One person holds the straws in a clump so nobody can tell which is the shorter one. Everyone pulls one straw–the person with the shortest straw is ‘it’ or goes first.

Variations: If you don’t have straws, how about sticks?

Flip a Coin

Toss a coin in the air. While it is in the air one of two players/teams ‘calls it.’ They choose heads or tails. If it lands with the animal/building/landmark side up it is tails. Heads is the side with the human on it. If they are right, they get to choose whether to go first or not.


Looking for more? Try these places as well:

+ Games Home

+ More Games From the Blog

+ More on Pinterest

Might I also suggest this time-saver…

Get the Book: 1,001 Boredom Busting Play Ideas for families and kids.

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