Sheep Maze

Equipment Needed:
  • tall wooden stakes (56 of them, if possible)
  • twine (lots of this)
  • maze layout
  • blindfolds
Days ahead of time, prebuild the sections of fence, from the stakes and twine, with measured lengths of twine between the stakes. Construct also eight twine gates, made to hang between two of the stakes, closing off various gaps.
On the morning of the day when the game is scheduled, lay out the maze, driving the stakes into the ground, according to the basic layout.
Excluding the entrance and exit of the maze, there are 27 gate locations in the layout — these are the places where there is an opening between two stakes that are the right distance apart for one of the 8 twine gates to hang there and close it off. The games leaders and their helpers can re-hang the eight movable gates from time to time over any of these places, so that the maze is slightly different for every person who goes through it.
(Mathematically speaking there are over two million possible arrangements, and although some of those cannot be used because they would make the maze unsolveable, there still should be thousands of distinct ways to place the eight gates so that the maze can be solved. The layout shows twelve examples.)
Each sheep is blindfolded and must follow the shepherd's voice through the maze. The shepherd goes through ahead of the sheep and calls the sheep by name. If there are a large number of children to get through, more than one shepherd can be used, so that as one sheep is in the second half of the maze another can be just starting.
When playing this game with preschool, let them run the maze together as a group, perhaps without blindfolds.
When playing with teens, have a second leader play the part of a stranger, who stalks around the maze and attempts to mislead the sheep by calling them in the wrong direction. The sheep must follow their shepherd's voice, rather than the stranger's, to successfully navigate the maze. After blindfolding each teen, be sure to change the gates, so that they cannot use a memorized knowledge of the maze layout and must rely on the shepherd.

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