Kids and games: 18 fun ways to choose who goes first (a Friday flashback feature)

Summer time is game time, and whether you're hosting an all-out Grandma Camp or a simple gathering of grands of another sort, the fun can't begin until the gang figures out who goes first.

Here from the Grandma's Briefs archives is my popular post on various ways to choose who goes first — some of them offbeat ideas that can serve as minigames on their own.

Originally published May 13, 2014

When playing games with kids — or directing getting the ball rolling — choosing who gets to go first can sometimes take longer than the actual gameplay.

That no longer need be the case thanks to the following fun methods I've gathered for grandmothers and others.

ways to choose who goes first 

Creative Eeny Meeny
When I was a Girl Scout leader eons ago, I taught my Daisies and Brownies a variation on the old-school eeny meeny most folks know (and if you don't know it, I've included it below). Yes, it's the sing-song selector in which all players put both fists — or just one — in the center huddle then the adult or previously designated leader goes around bopping the fists with his or her own fist, in sync with the chant until one fist remains.

My variation, though, is more fun and goes like this:

"Eeny - meeny - chick a - cheeny - ooo - goo - ooo ma - lah - iller - ah chi - ah chi - pa chi - out - goes - you!"

All together now: Eeny meeny chick a cheeny ooo goo ooo ma lah iller ah chi ah chi pa chi out goes YOU!

(Of course, the leader best practice that a few times herself in order to not completely screw things up and delay gameplay even longer.)

Old-school Eeny Meeny
If that's too hard or confusing, there's always the standard eeny meeny options:

"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers let him go. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. My mother told me to choose the very best one, and you are not it."

One Potato
Just like Eeny Meeny, but following the chant: "One potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato, six potato, seven potato, more." Fists touched on the word "more" are eliminated until one remains.

Inka Bink
I only recently learned this entire chant. The odd little ditty goes like this: "Inka bink a bottle of ink, the cap fell off and you stink, not because you're dirty, not because you're clean, just because you kissed a boy (or girl) behind a magazine and you are not it."

(Caveat to consider: Will kids know what a bottle of ink is? Will they know what a magazine is? One more bit of the fallout of living in a digital age.)

There are other similar chants but some are just plain silly — and not in a humorous way kids will giggle over — and some promote violence (have you heard the one about mothers hanging out laundry, one punches the other in the nose and the chant goes on declaring the color of the blood? Gah!).

Select the player who...
• Has the longest hair

• Has the shortest hair

• Most recently had a haircut

• Has the next birthday

• Has a birthday farthest in the future

• Is the oldest

• Is the youngest

• Is wearing the most of one specific color

• Is missing the most teeth

• Has the tiniest teeth

• Is tallest

• Is shortest

• Is the hungriest — which can be a game in itself listening to one another's tummy grumbles

One final option
Last but not least is this method for choosing who gets to go first. It's one of my favorites as I'm a grandma who relishes quiet time. (My family calls me "The Librarian" because of my shhh...! not because of my book smarts.) This method guarantees a few seconds of golden silence:

• The one who can hold their breath the longest gets to go first


Now get out there and play!