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What is Pin the Tail on the Donkey?

Pin the Tail on the Donkey is often played at children's birthday parties.
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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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Pin the tail on the donkey is a game that involves movement, spatial sense, and coordination, and is primarily used at parties for children. When played at parties, it is often used among a set of games, such as musical chairs and blindman’s buff, that provide an opportunity for the hosting family to give the guests small gifts. The object of the game is to place the donkey’s tail as close as possible to the place where it should actually be. Typically, the winner of a round will receive a small prize or token.

Preparation for Pin the Tail on the Donkey
To prepare to play pin the tail on the donkey, you need a large picture of a donkey without a tail and separate cutouts of the tail that belongs on the donkey, each labeled with a participant’s name or initials. You will also need a blindfold. Commercial sets are available. Also required are a bulletin board at least as large as the picture to tack it on and a thumbtack push pin for each tail. Each tail has its tack or push pin pushed through it, right side to wrong side, and they are carefully laid out. Note that substitutions may be made for any of these items:

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• you can use a picture of an animal other than a donkey
• you can tape the picture carefully to a wall rather than use a bulletin board;
• especially if small children are playing, you may wish to use a piece of double-sided tape rather than anything sharp to secure each tail.

Choose a clear, safe area in which the players will wait their turns and through which the player with the tail will move towards the picture to try to place his or her tail where it belongs. Since players may head off in completely wrong directions, it is important that a rather large area be safe for them to walk through blindfolded. Either affix the picture to a wall or affix it to the bulletin board and lean the bulletin board against a wall, making sure it is securely braced.

Playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey
One at a time, blindfold the children, hand them the tail that you’ve labeled for them, and turn them slowly around at the starting point. Point them accurately at the wall where the donkey picture is, and step back. All other players should keep out of the blindfolded child’s way as he or she makes his or her way to a vertical surface and attaches the tail.

The child should walk with arm outstretched and place the tail as soon as it touches the wall, with help from an adult, if necessary. Feeling around to identify the outline of the picture, for example, is not allowed. Assist the child to remove the blindfold and join in the laughter at the placement of the tail before blindfolding the next child. Repeat the process until all the children have had a turn. Then gather everyone to examine the picture and identify the winner, the player who has made the best attempt to pin the tail on the donkey in the proper position.

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