How do you play Hide and Seek! Here in Japan, Hide and Seek is called かくれんぼ (Kakurenbo) and it's a little bit different than the version I grew up playing in America. In America, when we play games like Tag or Hide and Seek we choose one person to be "It". That's the person who is going to try to catch the other players. In Japan, that person is called おに (Oni - literally Demon) and is almost always selected by playing Janken (rock, scissors, paper).
In America, the person who is "it" covers his/her eyes and counts to ten while everybody hides. After counting to ten, he/she yells "Ready or not, here I come!" If the "hiders" aren't ready, too bad! You have to hide by the time the "seeker" counts to ten. When the "seeker" finds someone, he/she usually yells, "I found you!"
In Japan, the Oni counts to ten and then calls out もういいかい？ (Mo ii kai? - Okay? Are you ready?). The "hiders" either respond まだだよ！ (Mada da yo! - Not yet!) or もういいよ (Mo ii yo! - Okay! Ready!)
If the response is "Mada da yo," then the Oni waits a couple seconds and yells again, "Mo ii kai?" When the response is "Mo ii yo," the Oni then goes and looks for everyone. When the Oni finds someone, he/she shouts, みいつけた (Miitsuketa! - I found you!)
Hide and seek is of course a perfect game to play outside in the summer, but it's also great game to play in the classroom with young ones. It's fantastic for developing spacial awareness and awareness of object permanence, as well as practicing the language, "Where is ________?" and counting to ten. Plus the kids LOVE it and it's another very simple activity for teachers to prepare.
Don't worry if you have a small classroom without many places to hide. Young learners will happily hide behind parents, or under towels or sheets you bring into the classroom. 2-3 year olds will generally hide in their own hiding places...behind someone or something, or simply by laying face down and covering their eyes (if they can't see you, you can't see them!). Once kids reach 4-5 years old, they love hiding together and will often hide in the same place over and over, yet never tire of the anticipation of being found.
Here's how I usually introduce the game with young learners:
2) Ask the kids to find an object (or two or three) that you've hidden in classroom. I'll usually hide a laminated cutout of Spot or Maisy. Pretend as if you are searching for something and ask, "Where's Spot? Where's Spot? He's hiding! Let's find Spot!"
3) After finding the hidden object, have the children close their eyes and now hide the object again. Some younger childen may be reluctant to close their eyes...that's okay. They will still enjoy "looking for" the object. After you've hidden the object, tell the children "Open your eyes!" and ask "Where's Spot/Maisy/Penguin/etc." The children can run and point to the object saying, "Here!" or "There!" Repeat a few times, each time working with the kids a little more to get them all to close their eyes.
4) Let the children take turns hiding the object.
5) Now, say to the children, "Okay, now we're going to play Hide and Seek! This time, you hide." It helps to have another adult in the class the first time to help the kids hide, but if you are alone as the teacher you can help the kids hide before you start counting to ten, so they know what they are supposed to do.
Say, "Everybody, HIDE!" and then cover your eyes (peek through to make sure the kids are safely hiding) and start counting to ten. When you reach ten, say, "Ready or not, here I come!" Walk around the classroom slowly, letting the anticipation build for the kids. Try to mention each child by name. "Where's Tyler? Where's Ayano? Where's Sydnee?" As you find each child (if they don't reveal themselves to you first) say, "I found you!" Repeat, repeat, repeat.
We enjoy playing Hide and Seek so much we made a song for Super Simple Songs 2 to teach our students and their parents all the English you need to know to play it. Here's a video of me and a group of students singing and playing Hide and Seek in the park at our school's Spring Picnic earlier this year: