How to Play the "Steal the Bacon" Children's Game
Materials Needed to Play Steal the Bacon
"Steal the Bacon" is a classic children's game that can be played outside or inside a gym. This game may be played with a minimum of seven participants, though a larger group is better. The items needed for the game are:
- A group of children, with a minimum number of seven.
- A small object to act as the "bacon."
Any small object may be used as the bacon—a small ball or dry-erase board eraser are usually easy to find in a classroom setting.
This classic game works well for elementary through middle school aged children. Academic variations may be used to reinforce concepts in the classroom, and a sports-oriented approach may be used to help improve soccer dribbling skills. Fun variations with water balloons and flashlights are perfect for summer camp!
Steal the Bacon: Classic Game Rules
- Select a "caller." The caller will stand at the head of two rows of children, and will call out numbers.
- Have the other children line up into two even rows, facing each other. The rows should be at least 20 feet apart.
- Place the "bacon" (ball, bean bag, or eraser) in the center of the two rows.
- Have the children in the rows call off their number: the first child in each row will be #1, the second child will be #2, etc.
- The caller will announce a number. If the caller calls out "number three," then both children assigned the number three will run to pick up the bacon.
- The first child to pick up the bacon and make it back to his or her side wins two points for their team. If the child is tagged by the other player before making it back to his or her own team, then the child only gets one point.
- The first team to reach 10 points (or other preset number) is considered the winner.
There are different rules for scoring that may be applied to Steal the Bacon:
- In some versions of this game, the player scores one point if he or she returns to his team line with the bacon and is not tagged. If the player holding the bacon is tagged, neither team is awarded a point.
- Another variation in scoring is similar to the rule above: if a player returns to his/her side untagged, their team gets one point. If the player is tagged however, the point is awarded to the other team.
Steal the Bacon Game
Math-Based and Academic Variations
Steal the Bacon is an excellent game to combine physical activity and academic skills. One variation of this game involves having the children solve math problems to determine which number is being called. This game may be adjusted by grade level to increase difficulty.
In this version of the game, the teacher is the caller and will call out a math problem. If the teacher calls out "four plus two!" then the two children in position number six will run for the bacon. Since the children have to solve the problem before running for the bacon, the advantage goes to the child who knows his or her math facts. Speed and knowledge are required for this game.
Likewise, the game may be used to teach phonics skills. The players may be labeled with letters instead of numbers in this version of the game. For children in Kindergarten, the instructions could be to listen to a word and identify the starting sound. If the teacher says, "grapes," then the children who are in the "G" position would run for the bacon.
Academic Variations for Steal the Bacon
Caller Prompt Examples
Player Reaction Examples
"12 divided by 2!"
Player #6 from each row would run for the bacon.
"The sound at the end of the word: man!"
Player with the letter "N" would run from each row.
"The number of syllables in the word: elephant!"
Player #3 from each row would run for the bacon.
The player in the "green" position would run for the bacon.
True or False Variation
To play "True or False" with Steal the Bacon, two objects are needed to act as the bacon. One object should be red, and the other should be blue. The blue object will represent a "true" statement, and the red object will represent a "false" statement.
The caller will shout out a number, and then a question which has a true or false answer. The players from each side will have to decide whether the statement is true or false, then run for the appropriate object.
For example, the caller will say, "Number four: the capital of Florida is Orlando!"
The two children in the number four position will have to consider whether this is true or false. The children will run for the red "bacon" (representing a false statement): the first player to return to their line wins a point. If a child chooses the wrong answer, no point is awarded.
A bonus point may be given if the child can name the proper fact—in this case, the fact that Tallahassee is the capital of Florida.
Contact Sport Variation
Steal the Bacon may be played as a contact sport. In this version of the game, the caller announces more than one number. The players from each team scramble to reach the bacon first. Players on the opposite team are allowed to tackle the player with the bacon and attempt to wrestle it from his or her hands. The team that manages to get the bacon back to their team line wins a point. This version of the game is more likely to result in injury.
Steal the Bacon, With Water Balloons
Fun Variations of Steal the Bacon
Consider trying the following fun variations of the game when playing this game during summer camp or at a party:
- Water balloon variation: when a number is called, the designated player from each team runs to fetch the bacon. When the bacon has been taken, members of the opposing team throw water balloons at the player. If the player is hit with a water balloon before returning to his or her team, he loses the point.
- Squirt gun version: similar to the water balloon version above, players from the opposing team attempt to squirt the player with the bacon before he is able to return to his team. If the player is squirted, he forfeits the point.
- Flashlight tag version: play Steal the Bacon at night, using a glow-in-the-dark ball as the "bacon." Equip one member from each team with a flashlight (this player does not have a number and will not run for the bacon). The flashlight players will be placed at the end of each line. When a number is called, both players race for the bacon. Once the bacon is in the possession of one team, the opposing team's flashlight player will try to catch the player with the bacon in the flashlight's beam. If caught, the player with the bacon is frozen and forfeits the point. Play continues until one team reaches 10 points or all the team members of one team are frozen.