A great activity for everyone


Discover the hilarious fun of this reverse hide-and-seek game, perfect for kids and teens to break the ice and unleash their creativity!

By Jon Zajac

What is Sardines?

The Sardines Game is a popular icebreaker, also known as reverse hide-and-seek, that is perfect for introducing group members to each other in a fun and energetic way. This simple game involves one person hiding while the rest of the players seek them. Once a player finds the hider, they must join them in their hiding spot without being detected by the remaining seekers. The game continues until only one player is left searching for the hidden group, making them the loser of that round. The first player to find the hider becomes the next round’s hider, creating a continuous cycle of fun and interaction among participants.

The Sardines Game encourages children aged 5 and up to develop skills like running, counting, hiding, and staying silent while playing in various indoor or outdoor locations with no preparation required. With its engaging nature, this game fosters socialization, teamwork, and active participation, making it an excellent icebreaker for any group setting.

In addition to the traditional Sardines Game, alternative versions like “Sardines on the Move” and “I Saw the Ghost!” add more excitement and challenges by incorporating elements such as safe-bases, ghost tagging, and quick movements, keeping players engaged and entertained throughout the activity. Overall, the Sardines icebreaker is an enjoyable way to encourage interaction and foster a sense of community among group members.

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Rules for Sardines

  1. Set boundaries for the playing area.
  2. One person “it” goes in hide and the rest of the players start counting up to 60 or more.
  3. After reaching the designated number, everyone starts seeking.
  4. When a player locates the hider, they must join the hider in the hiding spot quietly.
  5. They keep joining the hider until there is only one player left. The last player to find the hider loses the game.
  6. The first player to find the hider becomes the hider in the next round.

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Materials needed for Sardines

  • Space to move around: The game can be played in any large indoor or outdoor area where there is enough space for all players to hide and run.
  • Players: At least two children aged 5 or older are needed to play the game. The more players, the better and longer the game will be.
  • Designated safe base (optional): In some variations of the game, a “safe base” is designated where players can return if they have been tagged by the “ghost.” This can be any object or area that is easy for all players to remember and access.

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Setting up for Sardines

To set up for the Sardines icebreaker game, you only need to establish boundaries for the playing area. This will ensure that all players have a clear understanding of where they are allowed to hide and seek. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the environment has enough space for everyone to move around and find creative hiding spots. There are no specific materials or special preparations required for this game, making it a convenient and easy icebreaker option.

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How to play Sardines

  1. Set the boundaries for your playing area: Before starting the game, determine the area where you and your friends will play. This could be a park, a backyard, or even a spacious room in your house. Make sure that there is enough space for everyone to run and hide.
  2. One person “it” goes in hide: Choose one person to be “it.” This person will be the one hiding while the rest of the players count up to 60. The hider should find a good spot where they can hide easily but is not too obvious for the other players to find.
  3. The rest of the players start counting up to 60 or more: While “it” is hiding, the rest of the players should start counting up to 60 or more. This will give “it” enough time to hide and make it more challenging for the other players to find them.
  4. Everyone starts seeking: After counting, all players can now start looking for “it.” When one player finds “it,” they should quietly join the hider without alerting the other players.
  5. Keep joining until there is only one player left: The game continues until all players have found “it” and joined them in their hiding spot. The last player to find “it” loses the round.
  6. The first player to find “it” becomes the hider in the next round: To make it more challenging, the first player to find “it” will be the one hiding in the next round. This gives everyone a chance to experience being “it” and finding good hiding spots.

You can also try alternative versions of the game like “Sardines on the Move,” where the hidden group tries to make its way back to the safe base undetected, or “I saw the Ghost!”, where players who find “it” scream and alert other players to run back to the safe base. These variations add more excitement and challenge to the game.

Remember, the goal of this icebreaker game is not just to win but also to have fun, be active, and interact with each other. Happy playing!

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Benefits of Sardines

  • Encourages physical activity: The Sardines icebreaker involves running and hiding, providing an opportunity for children to engage in physical play and expend energy.
  • Promotes social interaction: As a group game, Sardines requires players to interact with each other, making it an effective icebreaker for helping children get to know one another.
  • Develops problem-solving skills: Players must think creatively to find good hiding spots and avoid being found, which can help improve their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
  • Fosters a sense of teamwork: When players find the hider, they must join him or her in the hiding spot without being noticed by the other seekers. This aspect of the game encourages teamwork and cooperation.
  • Increases self-confidence: As children successfully hide and avoid being found, they can gain confidence in their abilities and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Provides a fun and engaging experience: The Sardines icebreaker is an enjoyable and exciting game that can help create positive memories and experiences for children.

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Skills built with Sardines

  • Running: Playing the Sardines icebreaker involves a lot of movement and running around as players try to find the hidden person. This helps build endurance and speed in children.
  • Counting: During the game, the other players count up to 60 or more before they start seeking, which helps develop their ability to count accurately.
  • Hiding: The main objective of the hider is to find a creative spot where they can hide successfully. This skill requires imagination and spatial awareness to determine if the hiding place is easily accessible or not.
  • Staying silent: Those who find the hider must join them quietly without alerting other players. This helps develop self-control, patience, and the ability to be stealthy.
  • Teamwork: When multiple players find the hider, they need to work together to fit in the hiding spot without making noise or giving away their location. This promotes collaboration and communication skills.
  • Problem solving: Finding creative hiding spots that can accommodate several players is a challenging task that requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

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Why I like Sardines

As someone who enjoys facilitating engaging and enjoyable activities for groups, I appreciate the Sardines icebreaker game for several reasons.

Firstly, its simplicity makes it easy to understand and play, reducing the need for extensive explanations or preparation. This accessibility allows players of various ages and abilities to participate, making it a versatile choice for different group demographics.

Secondly, Sardines encourages active participation, running, and hiding, which can help energize participants and create a lively atmosphere. The game’s physical component also provides an opportunity for players to engage in light exercise while having fun.

Additionally, Sardines promotes social interaction by requiring players to work together once they find the hidden player. This collaborative aspect fosters teamwork and strengthens group bonds as participants help each other discover the hiding spot.

The game also offers a sense of excitement and mystery as players search for their hiding companions, adding an element of anticipation and fun to the activity. The optional “Sardines on the Move” or “I saw the Ghost!” variations further enhance the experience by introducing new challenges and twists to the original gameplay.

Lastly, I like that Sardines requires no special materials or equipment, making it a convenient and cost-effective option for icebreaker activities. The flexibility of playing both indoors and outdoors also increases its appeal for various settings and occasions. Overall, these features make Sardines an enjoyable and effective icebreaker game that I am happy to recommend to others.

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Tips for making Sardines more inclusive

  • Tip: Clearly define the boundaries of the playing area to ensure that all players understand the space in which they are allowed to hide and search. This can help prevent misunderstandings or accidents.
  • Tip: Consider providing visual aids, such as cones or flags, to mark the boundaries of the playing area. This can be especially helpful for younger children or those who may have difficulty understanding verbal instructions.
  • Tip: Encourage players to use their creativity and think outside the box when hiding. This can help ensure that all players, regardless of their physical abilities or limitations, are able to find suitable hiding spots.
  • Tip: Consider establishing a “safe base” or designated meeting spot where players can go if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe during the game. This can provide a sense of security and reassurance for all players.
  • Tip: Make sure to set clear rules about touching or invading the personal space of other players while hiding or seeking. Respecting each other’s boundaries is an important aspect of any group activity, and can help ensure that everyone feels comfortable and included.
  • Tip: Consider providing a variety of hiding spots, including some that are more accessible and easy to reach. This can help ensure that all players, regardless of their physical abilities or limitations, are able to participate fully in the game.
  • Tip: Encourage players to communicate openly and respectfully with one another during the game. This can help foster a positive and inclusive atmosphere, and can make the game more enjoyable for everyone involved.

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Reflection questions for Sardines

  1. What did you enjoy most about playing the Sardines Game? This question can help participants reflect on what they found fun or engaging about the game, which can be useful for facilitators to understand what activities are well-received by the group.
  2. Did you discover any unique hiding spots while playing the game? If so, what were they? This question can encourage participants to think creatively and share their problem-solving skills with the group.
  3. How did it feel to be the person hiding or seeking during different rounds of the game? This question can help participants reflect on their own emotions and experiences during the game, which can lead to greater self-awareness and empathy for others.
  4. Did you find any strategies that helped you hide or seek more effectively? If so, what were they? This question can help participants share practical tips and advice with each other, which can be useful for improving their teamwork and communication skills.
  5. How did the game change as more players joined the hiding spot? Did this make it easier or harder to stay hidden? This question can encourage participants to think critically about group dynamics and how adding or removing members from a situation can impact the outcome.
  6. Did you notice any patterns or trends in the way that players hid or sought during the game? If so, what were they? This question can help participants analyze the game objectively and identify areas for improvement or further exploration.
  7. How could the Sardines Game be adapted or modified to fit different themes or goals? This question can help participants think creatively about how to customize the game to meet their specific needs or interests, which can lead to more engaging and meaningful experiences.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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