River Crossing

20 December 2007 — 1 Comment

This is less of a game and more of a simple logic puzzle. However by dressing up and acting out the scenario, our Ignite group (11-14’s) has had a lot of fun playing!

Numbers: groups of up to 10. Around five or six works well.
Suitable for: older children and younger teens (8-14’s).
Preparation time: Around 10 minutes
Safety First: There are no real safety concerns with this game.
Equipment needed:

  • An empty space.
  • A ‘river’ marked out on the floor.
  • Props for each of the 3 objects; chicken, fox and corn. You could use clip art pictures printed and laminated for them to hold while playing. We have been lucky enough to have costumes to dress up in.
  • Optional: a ‘boat’ to cross the river in!

The premise of the river crossing is very simple, a farmer has to get his three items (chicken, fox and corn) to the market by crossing the river. Unfortunately he can only carry one in his boat at a time and if he leaves certain items on the riverbank together, they will get eaten! (If left together, the fox will eat the chicken and the chicken will eat the corn). The team have to work out how to get all the items across the river without losing any items.

When we’ve played this game, we’ve given out roles of farmer, chicken, fox and corn to members of the team and they’ve had to act everything out in the space we have. The other members have to direct them and work out the solution. For example, if they want to take the fox across the river, the farmer and the fox have to get in the boat, row across the ‘river’ and climb out the other side. This adds a touch of silliness to the whole thing and helps to give it a practical focus rather than simply an abstract problem.

To make it easier for you if you want to play, I’ve created some instructions and images which you can print out and use with your group. Download here (you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader).

The solution:

  1. Take the Chicken across, leaving the Fox and Corn together.
  2. Come back with an empty boat.
  3. Take the Fox across, leaving the Corn behind.
  4. Bring the Chicken back across.
  5. Take the Corn across leaving the Chicken.
  6. Leave the Fox and Corn on the far bank, come back with an empty boat.
  7. Take the Chicken across.

We’ve found that most children initially get confused about bringing items back across the river. There have been times when we’ve needed to suggest it as an option. Normally though they crack it in about 10 minutes.


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

One response to River Crossing

  1. thanx i would have never figure it out with out this website and thanx again hope y’all had fun .

    P.S. I did crack about 10 minutes hehe

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