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Fox and Hare

Can the fox figure out the trick to catching the hare before it's too late?

Ages: 4-9
Players: 2
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Type: physical activities
Location: outside
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Ages: 4-9
Players: 2
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Type: physical activities
Location: outside

Instructions

Start by drawing the court with sidewalk chalk. Draw big enough that two players can easily move from dot to dot, and it will always be clear which dot they're standing on.

A kid drawing a grid with sidewalk chalk
Oops! We forgot dots.

Here is the design for the court.

3 by 3 grid of squares with a diagonal in the center square

One player is the fox, and the other is the hare. Start by standing on opposite corners. The fox starts in the corner at the top left of the court, and the hare on the bottom right corner.

Kids standing at opposite corners of a sidewalk chalk grid

Then, take turns moving along a line from your dot to a neighboring dot. The fox always moves first. They try to catch the hare by moving to the same dot as the hare. The hare tries, well, not to get caught!

One kid jumping to the same square as the other kid
Gotcha! The fox wins!

With the right moves the fox will always be able to catch the hare, but the fox gets tired. So, if the hare can move (or hop, rather) 10 times without being caught, the hare wins.

Try different court designs. See Variations below for more.

lego figures standing on a grid drawn on paper
lego figures standing on a grid drawn on paper
lego figures standing on a grid drawn on paper
The fox is wearing blue pants (on the left), and the hare is wearing white pants (on the right).

The fun of this game (besides hopping around outside) is in figuring out the "trick." Don't spoil the game for your child (or yourself) by reading about the trick before you've played. But after you've foxed and hared a few times, take a look at the Learning Notes below for some ideas on figuring out a winning strategy.

Don't forget: it's Beast Academy Playground, not Beast Academy Study Hall. Change the rules, be silly, make mistakes, and try again. The Variations and Learning Notes are here for you if you want to dive deeper, but not all of them apply to learners of every age. The most important thing is to have fun.

Variations d

Different Courts:

Here are some other courts to play on, along with the starting positions for each player. The fox always moves first. (The hare is brown, and the fox is gray.)

A fox and a hare on a grid
A fox and a hare on a grid
A fox and a hare on a grid
A fox and a hare on a grid

Counting Practice:

The very youngest hares will benefit just from counting to 10 as they hop! Forgo the court all together, and just let them try to evade you for 10 hops. (So, in addition to counting practice, this is really just a hopping contest!)

Classroom Tips d

This is a great game for showing that math isn't just about numbers. It's about problem-solving! Take the class outside, split them into pairs or small groups, and let them choose which court they'd like to draw (use the ones shown above in Variations). After some jumping around, bring them together to discuss the "trick."

Discussion Questions

  • How many small squares are there on the original game court?
  • How many total squares are there?
  • What strategies can the fox use to win?
  • What strategies can the hare use to win?
  • Can you come up with your own courts? How can the fox win on your court?

Alignment with Beast Academy Curriculum

  • Level 2, Chapter 12: Problem Solving
  • Level 4, Chapter 6: Logic

See Variations and Learning Notes for more ideas on how to adapt this activity and incorporate it into your classroom.

Learning Notes d

Strategy:

The fun of Fox and Hare is in figuring out how to win. Once you know, the game is much more straightforward. So be sure not to read ahead until you've played several times, maybe on many different courts, and given you and your child a chance to figure the game out on your own.

So, how can the fox always catch the hare? Grab some more sidewalk chalk and color alternating dots a different color.

A fox and hare on a grid

Now play again on this color-coded court. As you play, ask, "What do you notice about every move?" With the colors on the game, it's easy to notice that, wherever you move (almost), you go from orange to blue or else go from blue to orange. So, generally, you always switch colors. Help your child notice, too, that when the hare is on orange, the fox is generally only able to move to blue, but when the hare is on blue, the fox is generally only able to move to orange. Remember, it's better to ask questions than to give answers. Let your math beast notice these patterns on their own by asking leading questions and being patient.

So, is it always true that you change colors on every move? No! There is one spot on the board (the diagonal in the middle) that allows you to move from blue to blue. For the fox to win, they must make this move to change their color, which will allow them to eventually corner and catch the hare. That's the trick of the game! Remember, don't give it away. Help your child discover by playing.

Can you find the special "trick" moves on the other courts, which connect two dots of the same color? Some courts have more than one. On some courts, the fox can always win by making the right moves. On others, the hare can always win by making the right moves. Experiment, play, and see what you can discover. Have fun!

Drawing the Grid:

Drawing the grids can itself be a good learning opportunity, and a chance to practice spatial reasoning. Ask questions like "How many lines do you think we'll need to draw to split this square into 3 rows?" or "How many little squares will there be when we've drawn all the lines?"

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Materials
  • sidewalk chalk
Learning Goals
  • strategic thinking
  • counting
Common Core Standards
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Image of Ms. Q

Ready to level up?

Keep problem solving with Beast Academy’s full math curriculum for students ages 7–13. Check out our captivating comic book series and immersive online platform.

LEARN MORE

Bring problem-solving to your classroom

Keep your entire class engaged with a full book and online math curriculum, for students ages 7–13. 98% of teachers say they’re satisfied with Beast Academy.

LEARN MORE
Image of a BA book