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Captain Midnight: An Educational Game of Tag

Updated on June 6, 2017

Telling Time Game

Here comes our commander in chief, Captain Midnight! He runs a proud and tidy ship. This educational math tag game is a party favorite. Players (crewmembers) ask the Captain for the time on his watch. Players move closer on his every command. Watch out! If he says it’s Midnight, crewmembers must run to safety. Get caught and they join the Captain’s team!

Play for fun or add a practice clock for a sea-worthy challenge in telling time!

What You Need:

  • Large area to run
  • Chalk or tape
  • Captain's hat or other costume items (optional)
  • Non-functional clock with movable hands, like a toy clock or plastic "Will Return" clock (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Choose one player to be "Captain Midnight." If you have a pirate hat, let her wear it. Have her stand at one end of the play area.
  2. The rest of the crew starts at the other end of the play area. Mark a starting line with chalk or tape.
  3. The crewmembers call out together, “Captain Midnight, what time is it?” The Captain can call out any time such as “Six o’clock”. The crew advances six steps towards the Captain. The Captain and crew repeat this pattern until the crew gets dangerously close to the Captain.
  4. After the question is asked one more time, the Captain calls out “Midnight!” and chases the crew back to the start line. If the Captain tags any crewmembers before they cross the line, they join her team and stand with her. The remaining crew starts at the line again until most or all of the crewmembers have been tagged.


  • The Captain can use a signal to indicate he/she is ready to be asked the “What time is it?” question. This helps the crewmembers to ask the question together. A variation is to have the kids step towards the Captain in a particular style. For example, the Captain could answer “Six o’clock like a rabbit” meaning the crew would have to hop instead of step.
  • Some kids will try to take big steps or tiny steps towards the Captain. Remind all crewmembers to make normal strides unless the Captain uses “baby steps” or “giant steps” in his reply!
  • To work in some great time-telling practice, have the Captain respond by moving the clock hands to indicate a certain hour. When she shows the crew, they'll have to read the clock to figure out how many steps to take!

When the game is done, let the last person to be tagged be the new Captain! Add new rules with each new Captain to keep the game exciting.


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