“What’s the time Mr Wolf?” – an outdoors counting game

Here is another game from my childhood. Just like “Fences” I have very fond memories of it, despite it’s rather sinister premise!

What's the time Mr Wolf

You will need:
An open space
A group of kids who can vaguely count

One child is chosen to be Mr Wolf. All the others stand back in a line at least 15 paces and at most about five metres (about 16 feet). Mr Wolf turns his back on the group. Now all the children cry out “What’s the time Mr. Wolf?”. Mr Wolf chooses a number between 1 and 12 and calls out, for example; “It’s 3 o’clock!”. Everyone paces forward the corresponding number of steps, counting out loud. This continues until Mr. Wolf perceives that the group are quite close – and then when asked what time it is, he or she can shout out “Dinner Time!” and then turn around and chase the group back towards the start line. The one who is caught becomes the next Mr. Wolf. If no one is caught, the existing Mr. Wolf continues on to the next round. It sounds very simple, and it is, but it is good fun for little kids who are learning to count.

10 Responses to ““What’s the time Mr Wolf?” – an outdoors counting game”

  1. Julie

    Love this game. We learned a similar game during swim lessons, but it was called “Sharkey, Sharkey What Time is It?” and it helped the kids practice their arm strokes (either in a shallow pool or the big pool). We play it on the walk home from school to make the walk more interesting. Now, I can tell the kids I’m a wolf instead of a landshark.

  2. Nicole Fitzhugh

    How funny! At school our kids play “Mr. Fox, Mr. Fox, What time is it?” Strange how kids’ games vary from place to place and group to group.

  3. Anastasia

    I was telling my friend Melissa about this yesterday! she lives in the US and had never heard about it – is it an old English game??

  4. Hsien Lei

    Anastasia, I think it is totally a British game. We just moved to London a few months ago and the kids in the nursery school my son attends were “playing” this Mr. Wolf game. I had absolutely NO IDEA what they were saying or doing! I’m not having too much trouble with the English accent but having no context and in the company of 3-4 year olds, it got mighty confusing. LOL

    Thank you for explaining it! Now maybe we can actually participate in the game properly instead of just running around insanely.

  5. jessica

    The US game is called ‘Red light Green light 1 2 3’

  6. Mandy

    I also have not heard of this game, but it sounds like a game my 5 year old will love. I just found this site and I think it is going to be one of my favorites.

  7. Liane

    Hey, I remember that game! Just wanted to say I love this blog and check it almost every day for all the great ideas…thank you!

  8. Hilde

    Hello everybody!
    I live in Belgium and I wanted to say that I love this blog! I also recognized this game from my childhood, although the language is different ofcourse. It’s called: “wolfje, hoe laat is het?”. In Belgium “wolfje” is the name for “little wolf”.

  9. Lina

    Hello all..
    I’m from Indonesia and believe it or not, I played this game with my friends once when we’re in high school. It was boring at night at our basketball training camp and so we girls packed up and played this game. There was no ‘Mr.Wolf’ part of course, just counting from 1-5. And it was hilarous! Oh, what a sweet funny memory. We laughed so hard our fellow neighbours had to shout us up to be able to sleep ;D

  10. Jennifer

    In the midwest US here. Our kids play this, but they play “What time is it Mr. Fox?” It’s a classic favorite. 🙂

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