Mother, May I Game

(for ages 3+)


  • At least 3 players

Prep Time:

  • 5 minutes

Recipe for Fun!

An old-fashioned game of Mother, May I (also known as the Captain, May I game) isn’t just a ton of fun - it also teaches kids manners and self-restraint! This game works great with mixed age groups, so if you are looking for a game to entertain your kids while they are off from school due to the coronavirus, Mother, May I is a good one. Adults can also get in on the fun, kids love to see their caregivers acting silly.

Tip: If you are playing this game with children who have never played before, it’s a good idea that you take a turn playing “mother” and demonstrate how the game is played from the leader position. Also, point out to older players that little players also take little steps, so when older players are Mother, it’s not a bad idea to give little feet extra steps.

How to play the Mother, May I Game:

  1. Line up each player shoulder to shoulder about a foot apart.
  2. The player who is “Mother” stands in front of the other players.
  3. Mother then calls on a child by name and gives them instructions so they can move forward. For instance, “Emma, take 2 GIANT steps forward.”
  4. The child who is called on must then say, “Mother, may I?”
  5. Mother then responds either “Yes”, and the child can take the steps forward, or “No” and the child must comply.
  6. If a child makes a move and forgets to ask, “Mother, may I?” then must go back to the starting line.
  7. If another child takes the steps out of turn, they must also go back to the starting line.
  8. The first child to reach Mother, wins!

Twists on the Mother, May I Game: The real fun of Mother, May I is when kids add twists and even their own rules. For instance, instead of simple steps, Mother can ask that children waddle, bunny hop, jump or scoot. And all the steps don’t have to be forward - they can be backward too, which can help the game last longer.

Benefits: What’s the biggest benefit kid’s gain from playing a game of Mother, May I? Social skills! If kids lose their temper and stomp off and the fun continues without that - it’s a valuable lesson in controlling their anger when working with others. Kids also learn fast that they must be respectful to the person playing Mother. If they lose her favor - they could also lose their chance of being called on. But that’s not the only skill kids can gain from this fun game. Kids can hone their communication skills while they listen to the detailed directions from Mother, or give them when it’s their turn to lead the game!

Can you play Mother May I with just 2 people? Yes! While the game is traditionally played with 3+ players, due to social distancing - it may not be wise to play in a group. But rest assured - little kids will enjoy the one-on-one time playing with a caregiver, taking funny steps and reaching Mother!