Hot Potato Game (Rules and How to Play)

If you are looking for a highly engaging game for groups of all ages, the hot potato game is fast, fun, and easy to learn! Its origin stemmed from children trying not to drop an actual hot potato and has evolved to safer gameplay with various twists. 

The Hot Potato game can be used in the classroom or with students to make learning more exciting. The students can recite facts or information while passing the potato around the circle. Read on to learn the hot potato game rules and instructions!

This Hot Potato rules guide will cover the following:

  • What is the Hot Potato Game?
  • What you’ll need to play the Hot Potato Game
  • Hot Potato Game Rules
  • How to play the Hot Potato Game(Video Tutorial)
  • FAQs

Read on to learn how to play the Hot Potato Game.

What is a Hot Potato Game?

Hot Potato Game Info image

Players toss a “hot potato” or small object around to keep it moving without dropping it!

Number of Players: 2+

Ages: 4+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 10-15 minutes

Category: Educational learning games 

Similar to: Fly-Swatter-Game, Sparkle Spelling Game, Roll-a-Word Vocabulary

Main Objective: The main objective is to be the last player to keep the potato in the game without it falling. 

Why We Love It: Hot Potato is especially fun in large groups because it is easy to play, fast-moving, and completely entertaining!

What You’ll Need to Play Hot Potato

Everything you need to play is listed below:

  • A group of friends or players
  • A potato, ball, or object to toss
Hot Potato Game Contents image

Area of Play

To play Hot Potato, you simply need a large enough space for players to form a large circle. You can play Hot Potato inside or outside, standing or sitting. 

If using music, have someone use a phone or speaker system to control the music. 

Get a potato, ball, or other item, and the fun begins!

Hot Potato Area of Play image

Hot Potato Rules

To start the game, all players gather in a large circle. The group decides if they are going to stand or sit as long as they are all doing the same. 

Make sure players are close enough to each other to pass an object. You can use a real potato, or you can use any small object, such as a ball or stuffed animal. 

To play hot potato using music, you need someone to be responsible for the music duration. When the music plays, the players pass the object around the circle in a clockwise rotation. 

When the music stops, whichever player holds the object is out! They must leave the circle, and the remaining players scoot together to continue the game. 

You can easily play without music if you prefer, but the game will continue until someone drops the object. The players who drop the item must leave the game.

Hot Potato Rules image

Educational Edition 

When playing Hot Potato in a classroom setting or student group, it is fun for students to practice various skills while passing the object. 

Here are some examples of continuing chants the students can use to play. If a student messes up the sequence or order of the desired chant, they are out of the game!

  • Rote counting numbers 
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Reciting alphabet sounds
  • Skip counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, etc.
  • Rhyming words (Ex. cat, bat, hat, sat, mat, etc.)
  • Parts of speech (Nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)

If your students aren’t able to manage these learning targets yet, simply play educational music to begin.

The students can pass the potato while singing along to learning songs until they increase their knowledge and are ready for more challenging gameplay later on!

Hot Potato Educational Edition image

How to Keep Score in Hot Potato

You don’t need to keep any scores in this game. However, you can certainly create a scoring system such as assigning points for players who remain in the game for a certain duration. For instance, for every minute a player remains in the game, they get 10 points. 

The last player is sure to have the most points and will win the game!

Hot Potato Scoring image

How to Play Hot Potato- Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you play hot potato for adults? 

You can get super creative with the hot potato. Instead of tossing a ball, have a bag of items to pass around. When the music stops, the player with the bag must put on one of the silly items from the bag. It might be a funny hat, frilly underwear, or another humorous costume accessory.

How do you play hot potato without music?

If you play hot potato without music, you simply need to keep the object in motion. The player who drops the ball must sit out of the game. The game continues until only one player remains. Alternatively, players can recite a small chant which is also effective, instead of playing music.

How do you make hot potato more fun? 

Hot potato gameplay can be adapted to meet your group’s needs. You can choose crazy tunes to listen to, you can make it a drinking game for adults, or even have the players do something silly (such as a dance move or charades gesture) when they lose their turn. 

Other Games Similar to Hot Potato (Our Guides)

Check out these entertaining children’s games that are sure to make learning more fun:

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Read all the articles (69) written by Andrea Huguley