What it is: A fun, lighthearted outdoor group game (and one of my personal favorites). This game was taught to me by a friend from Mexico, and there you say “castles and beavers” castillos y castores (which is a bit more catchy, huh?).

Best for: Big group of at least 13 players.

What you need: A group of people, probably at least 10, and either a big open room or some space outdoors.

How to play: First, make sure you have the right number of players. You need enough to divide all players into groups of three and have one left over. So, you could have 10 players (3 groups of 3 plus 1), or 16 players (5 groups of 3 plus 1), or…well, you get the idea. Next, divide everyone up into groups of three and choose one person to be It.

Now the groups of three have to get into position. Let’s say Jane, Maria, and Sam are in a group. Two of the three (Jane and Maria) will form a “castle” by holding hands like this:

Then Sam will be the “beaver” inside the castle, like this:

So once all your groups of three have formed castles and beavers, the game can start. The point of the game is for the person who’s It (say, Michael) to be part of a castle/beaver group and not be left out anymore. So Michael can call out one of three things:

  • Castles!
  • Beavers!
  • Castles and beavers! (or, if you want to keep in touch with the Mexican roots of the game, ¡castillos y castores!)

If Michael calls out “castles,” all of the players forming castles must lift their arms up (without breaking hand holds) and find a new beaver. All the beavers stay where they are. So if Michael said “castles,” Jane and Maria, still holding hands, would together run to find a new beaver. (Michael would hope that one of the castles would find him so that he’s no longer left out.)

If Michael calls out “beavers,” all of the players who are beavers must duck out of their castles and go find a new one. All the castles stay where they are. Michael would run with the beavers to find a castle to call home, leaving another player left out.

If Michael calls out “castles and beavers,” all the castles let go of the hands they’re holding, and everyone runs to form totally new groups of three. Then castles can become beavers and beavers can become castles, and the result is usually pandemonium—and hilarious.

No matter what Michael calls or how players rearrange themselves, in the end one player should be left out again—say it’s Sam. Then it would be Sam’s turn to call something out and try to join a group of three.

So there’s no real winner or loser, and the game just kind of goes on until you don’t feel like playing, or until everyone collapses on the floor with laughter, because every time I’ve played it it’s been hilariously fun.


  1. I love it! I just used this game today for my High School Lit Club. We finished Howl’s Moving Castle so I changed it to “Castles and Calcifer.” They loved it!
    Also used Green Glass Door but changed it to “I’m going through Howl’s Door…”
    Thanks so much for putting this up!

    1. Amanda, that’s awesome! I love Howl’s Moving Castle! Someone showed me the movie by Hayao Miyazaki a few years ago and I liked it so much I read the book and of course loved it even more. Great game ideas! I especially love “Castles and Calcifer.” 🙂 It makes me want to have a Howl’s Moving Castle-themed party just to play. Thanks for sharing!

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