Outdoor Game of Midnight
To begin playing the game of Midnight, players first determine and agree on a designated playing area. Then, players choose one person to be the fox. The fox starts the game by standing in one corner of the play area (considered the fox’s den). All other players are sheep and start by standing in the opposite corner (considered the sheep’s home). The title of the game, Midnight, refers to the time when the fox can catch the sheep. This ‘time’ is chosen by the fox in the following way.
The fox leaves his den and wanders around in the meadow (center of play area). The sheep also leave their corner and wander anywhere they like. They may get as close to the fox as they dare! During this time of sheep approaching and retreating from the clever fox, the sheep ask, “What time is it, Mr. Fox?” The fox answers the question with any time he chooses. He may say “it’s only 9 o’clock” or “it’s 4 o’clock little sheep.”
However, on his choice, the fox will answer the sheep’s question of ‘what time is it’ with, “It’s Midnight!” Upon announcing Midnight, all the sheep attempt to run back to their home without being caught by the fox. If a sheep is caught by the fox, that sheep (player) is then the fox and play begins again.
This type of active play encourages children to take risks and have fun challenging themselves. Each child chooses when to approach the fox and how close he dares to go. Even a shy player gets excited, and feels a sense of achievement, when he finds the courage to get closer to the fox than he normally would and then retreats.
The game of Midnight promotes alertness, as well. Sheep must always be aware of the fox and the time the fox answers. The fox, too, must be aware of the sheep’s positions and decide when it is advantageous for him to say, ‘Midnight!’
Playing Midnight is an ideal game to play and spend time outside together. Being fun for all, why not play it the next time you go outside with the kids and their friends.