Games for Kids: How to Play Captain’s Orders

Games for Kids: How to Play Captain's Orders

Captain’s Orders is a great group game for getting children moving and thinking. The faster the commands are called, the faster (and funnier!) the actions! It can be easily adapted by reducing or increasing the number and complexity of the game’s commands, which makes it work well with children of all ages (and even adults) – in fact, I remember playing it at youth group many, many years ago!

Number of players: 5+

Recommended Age: 5+ years (it is easy to adapt this game according to the age and abilities of the players)

Equipment needed: None

To play:

1. Select one player to be the captain. The captain stands at the front of the designated play space.
2. All other players line up single file, facing the captain.
3. Introduce the various commands and actions to be used in the game.
4. When ready, the captain calls out a command. The players do the action associated with the command.
5. Play continues with the captain calling and the ‘crew’ responding. The faster the actions are called and performed, the trickier (and funnier) the game becomes.

Basic commands:

  • To the island: run to the left boundary (can also be a command of ‘port’)
  • Scrub the deck: crouch down and make a scrubbing motion with hands
  • Hit the deck: lay on your stomach
  • Clear the deck: everyone must have their feet off the floor
  • Up periscope!: lie on back with one leg raised straight in the air. Twist the raised foot as if a scanning periscope
  • Captain’s coming: stand to attention and salute
  • Climb the rigging: pretend to climb a rope

Partner commands:

  • Abandon ship!: players must pair up, sit face to face and pretend to row a lifeboat
    Love boat: players pair up and dance together
    Crow’s nest: players pair up and the lightest player rides on their partner’s back (piggy back)

Tips and hints for:

  • Keep the game fun and flexible to keep the kids moving, especially for young children.
  • If you wish to add a competitive element to the game, players that perform the wrong action are out and the last player standing becomes the new captain. Be mindful that this version will mean that the eliminated players will not be actively involved in the game, which I personally think is a shame. Alternatively, those players who are eliminated could just stand out for a count of ten star jumps.

Check out the other games in the Games for Kids series;

Games for Kids-How to Play Please Mr Crocodile

Games for Kids: How to Play What's the Time Mr Wolf

Games for Kids: How to Play Scarecrow Tag

Games for Kids: How to Play Duck, Duck, Goose

Have you played a version of Captain’s Orders before? How is your version similar or different?

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  1. I used to play this as a warm up for my year 12 drama kids. They took it SO SERIOUSLY. I mean this game could end punches.

  2. Margaret Elvis says:

    Can be loads of fun. I am sure when I played it years ago (and perhaps my children after me) it was called “Simon Says”. Same principle though although I don’t think we stood in line but rather spread out. Not that it matters really.

  3. Thank you for this post! As a relief teacher I am always looking for fun, new games to fill in spare time and this is one I haven’t heard of. Can’t wait to give it a go!

  4. “Man over board” partners -one on hands and knees and the other with one foot on their back with their hand over eye looking

    “Four men eating” – four people in a group sitting on the floor pretending to eat

    “Beached whale” – flop on the floor and make whale sounds

  5. This is a fantastic game for kids from 6 – 16. You can run them ragged and they will have a ball (as lomng as you are serious about it and have lots of fun commands at the ready)…there is no limit to the commands you can use. “Cook’s Coming!” and the kids make a vomiting sound. “Starboard!” and make them run to the right then left with “port”…

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