The Elephant Song Game Deck

The Elephant Song Game Deck
Release Date: 
Monday, June 1, 2015
PDF icon The Elephant Song Game.pdf562.81 KB
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Play Duration (experienced): 
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by Jonathan Leistiko and Sharon Cichelli

You Need


The Elephant Song Deck is a set of cards you can use to play four different games.
An Elephant Song Deck has 52 cards. There are 10 animals (each repeated five times) and two cards that list the 10 animals.

General Rules

Always remove the two animal lists before playing.
The youngest player can go first.
When you play a card face-up, make the sound that the animal makes.

The four games you can play are:

  • Zoo-Nique (2 to 3 players)
  • Monkey’s Uncle (2 to 4 players)
  • It’s an Adventure! (2 to 4 players)
  • El-e-phants! I like elephants! (4 players)

Zoo-Nique • 2-3 players


Shuffle the deck. Deal out the entire deck into equal piles. Give each player a pile face-down. Put any left-over cards face-up in the middle of the table. Do not look at or rearrange your pile. Each player draws five cards from his or her pile.


On your turn, play an animal from your hand that is not already in play, or pass.
If you play a new animal, play passes to the player on your left. If you played the last card in your hand, take the top five cards from your pile and remove them from the game. Do not look at or reveal these cards.

If you have to pass, you may draw a card from your pile. If you can play the card, do so; then play passes to your left. If you can not play a unique animal, gather all the animals played and add them to the bottom of your pile. After the cards have been gathered, all players draw from their piles until they have five cards. If you don’t have enough cards to draw up to five, play with what you’ve got.

If you gathered the cards, you’re the new starting player. Play an animal from your hand to the center of the table and start a new round.

If all ten animals are played to the middle, remove them from the game, set them aside, and start a new round with the next player as the starting player.

If you have no cards in your hand or in your pile, you win. Ties go to the player who most recently took a turn.

“Monkey’s Uncle” • 2-4 players


Take out one of each animal. Shuffle this ten-card deck and set it aside. This is the action deck. Put the action deck to the right of the first player.

Shuffle the main deck. Deal 5 cards to each player.


At the start of each round, the first player flips the top card of the action deck face-up. This animal is the action animal.

All players must simultaneously play one or more cards face-down. When you play your card, make the sound of the action animal until all players are making the sound at the same time.

If you’re the first player, count slowly from three to zero. Before you reach zero, any player (including you) can challenge any other player’s play. You might challenge another player if you doubt that he or she is being truthful.

If you are challenged and you are bluffing, take your cards back into your hand without showing them. On the other hand, if you are telling the truth, reveal the cards you played to show that they match the action animal; the challenger must draw a card.

Once all players have played, the round ends. Keep all played cards face-down and discard them. Set the action card aside. If the action deck runs out of cards, reshuffle the action cards to form a new action deck and continue playing.

If you’re out of cards at the end of a round, you win the game. Ties go to the youngest player.

It’s An Adventure! • 2-4 players


Take out one of each animal. Shuffle this ten-card deck and deal it out face-down in the center of the table, creating three face-down rows: A row of 3, a row of 4, and a row of 3. This is the adventure board.

Shuffle the main deck. Deal 5 cards to each player. Set the rest of the cards aside in easy reach.


On your turn, you may turn a card in the adventure board face-up, or you may peek at any card on the adventure board and put it back where it was. If you turn a card face-up for all to see, you may play any cards from your hand that match that animal. If you play your last card, you win the game. If you do not play any cards, you must draw a card.

Regardless of what happens or what you choose to do, turn the card from the adventure board face-down at the end of your turn.

When you’ve finished, play passes to the left.

El-e-phants. I like elephants! • 4 players


Shuffle the deck. Deal 5 cards to each player. Set the rest of the cards aside in easy reach.


On your turn, call out an animal, like the song does (ex: “Dogs! Gotta like dogs!”). Any other player may offer you one or more cards face-down. They don’t have to offer you what you asked for. This is called “bluffing.” You may take any or all face-down cards, and you may draw an additional card from the pile. Next, you may play two or more identical cards from your hand. If you have no cards left, the game ends and you win. Otherwise, your turn is done and play passes to the left.

Origin and Credits

Back in 2009, the Endres ran a contest for make a game about The Elephant Song. The game had to:

  • Involve elephants and other animals,
  • Work for a range of children from pre-school to early elementary while still being fun for parents
  • Have basic and advanced versions,
  • Be playable in a sufficiently participatory way by 3- and 4-year-olds, and
  • Have super-low production costs.

This meets all of those requirements. To my knowledge, none of the submitted games were published. A few months ago, I wrote to Eric and asked for permission to release this as a free print-and-play. He said I could, and here it is. Enjoy!


Reference resources:


Rules © 2009 Jonathan Leistiko & Sharon Cichelli • The Elephant Song © 2002 Erich & Roseann Endres, used with permission