January 2009


Game Time

These games are a great way to build summer memories, friendships, and fitness.

Here are a few hints to make these games a “winner”:

  • Change these games for the level and interest of your children. *Keep the rules few and simple.
  • Play on soft surfaces and keep it SAFE!
  • Emphasize cooperation and the joy of playing, rather than competition and scores.
  • Encourage children to problem solve and work out their own differences.

Circle Soccer

Materials: playground ball

Stand in a circle and hold hands. Place the ball inside the circle. Children try to kick the ball and keep it inside the circle. If the ball goes out of the circle between two people, then both people are out of the game. If a player kicks the ball too high and it goes over someone’s head, then the player who kicked the ball is out of the game. The game continues until there are just one or two players left.

What’s That Jive?
(Similar to Red Rover)

Materials: none

Divide the children into two teams and have them stand in a line facing each other 30 to 40 feet apart. One team calls for a player from the other team with this chant:

                          (Child’s name), (child’s name)
                          What’s that jive?
                          Come on over
                          And give me five.

The team calling the chant holds their hands out in front of them with their palms up. The child called proceeds down their line giving each player “five” by slapping their palms. If the child who is “it” slaps the palms and then slaps under their palms, that child chases “it” back to his or her original team. If “it” is caught, he or she must return to the opposing team, but if not, the chaser must joint “it’s” team. The game continues with teams taking turns calling players from the opposite side.

Dodge Ball

Materials: large, soft ball

Draw a large circle on the playground with a stick and have all the children stand in the circle. Choose two children two stand outside the circle and roll the ball at the children in the circle. The children try to “dodge” the ball as it is thrown, but they must leave the game if they are hit with the ball.

The game proceeds until there are two children left in the circle. They become the ball throwers for the next game.

*As the children are hit with the ball, they may stand outside the circle and take turns throwing the ball.

*A similar game called “sticky ball” can be played. Children must stick their hand to the part of their body hit by the ball. After they are hit three times, they are out of the game.

Cat and Mouse

Materials: none

The children form a circle and hold hands. One child stands in the center and is the “mouse.” Another child stands outside the circle and is the “cat.” On a given signal, the “cat” must chase the “mouse.” They can enter or leave the circle only if the other players hold up their hands and form an arch. When the “cat” catches the “mouse,” let them choose classmates to take their places.

*Change the characters for different seasons. You could have the farmer chase the turkey, the witch chase the bat, etc.

Hug Tag

Materials: none

Designate a playing area. One child is “it.” “It” chases other children who must “freeze” when they are tagged. Players hug those who are “frozen” to “unfreeze” them

  • Stoop Tag – Children stoop down on the ground when they are tagged.
  • Cartoon Tag – Children must name a cartoon show when they are tagged.
  • Shadow Tag – children must freeze when “it” steps on their shadow.
  • Sticky Tag – Children must hold the part of their body that is tagged.


Materials: none

Divide the children into teams with five or six players on each. Have the players line up single file behind a line and run one at a time to a designated point and back. The first player tags the second player, who then runs the distance. The first team to have all players run is the winner.

*Ball Relays– Have the children pass a ball over their heads and under their legs. The last person runs to the front of the line and continues passing over and under. When the first person is in his or her original position, their team wins the game. Relays where children must dribble a ball, kick a ball, or throw a ball into a target can also be played.

*Animal Relays – Let the children walk like crabs (on backs with hands and feet), bears (on all fours), birds (flapping arms), monkeys (scratching sides), or elephants (swinging arms like a trunk.)

*Quick Change – Prepare bags with a shirt, pants, and hat for each team. The first player puts the clothes on, runs to a designated point, takes the clothes off, then runs and gives the clothes to the second person.

*Pig Relays - Move the ball with your nose.

*Movements- Have children hop, jump, skip, gallop, walk backwards, or do other movements.

*Toesie Relay – Have the children take their shoes off, pick up a peanut with their toes, carry it to a basket, and drop it in.

*Potato Relay – Ask the children to carry a potato in a large spoon without dropping it.

*Balloon Relay- Have children run with a balloon to a chair, then sit On the balloon and pop it.

Hot Potato

Materials: ball, whistle

Children stand in a circle and pass around the ball (hot potato). When you blow the whistle, the child holding the ball must leave the circle. The game is played until there is just one child left standing.

*This game can be adapted easily to play inside. Have the children sit in a circle and pass a beanbag while you play music. When the music stops, the one holding the beanbag is out of the game.

Mother, May I?

Materials: none

Children line up with their backs to a wall. One person is “mother” and stands about 30 feet in front of the others. One at a time “mother” names a child and tells them a different motion they must perform. For example, baby steps, scissor steps, twirls, giant steps, or frog leaps. The child must remember to ask, “Mother, may I?” before performing the movement or he or she is sent back to the starting line. The first one to reach “mother” becomes the next “mother.”

Name Ball

Materials: playground ball

Have the children stand in a circle. “It” stands in the middle of the circle with the ball. “It” throws the ball in the air and calls out a child’s name. That child tries to run forward and catch the ball after one bounce. The game continues as “it” calls out different children’s names.

Call Ball

Materials: playground ball

Divide the class into two teams and have them form two lines about 30 feet apart. Give each child a number by having them count off. (Two players on opposing teams will have the same number.) The teacher/adult stands between the two teams, calls out a number, and throws the ball in the air. The first child with that number to catch the ball wins a point for their team.

Howdy Partner

Materials: 2 beanbags

Have children form a circle. Two children are each given a beanbag to balance on their heads. On a given signal, they walk around the circle in opposite directions balancing their beanbags. (If they fall off, they must stop and pick them up before continuing.) When they pass each other, they must shake hands and say, “Howdy partner!” The object of the game is to see who can be the first person to return to their original spot. The first one gets to be “it” and choose the next two children to play.

Sneaky Snake

Materials: none

Have the children hold hands and stand in a long line. Hold the child’s hand at the front of the line and move them in zigzags, spirals, and all around as the others follow behind.

*See if the “head” of the snake can catch the “tail.”

Ground Basketball

Materials: playground ball, large box or laundry basket

Have the children form a circle with the basket or box placed in the middle. First, let the children take turns trying to throw the ball into the basket. Next, divide the children into two teams and let them try to make points for their team by throwing the ball into the basket.

Wolf and Chickens

Materials: none

Two lines are draw approximately 40 feet apart. The children are the “chickens” and line up behind one of the lines. One child is the wolf and stands between the two lines. The wolf pretends to be a chicken and says, “Cluck, cluck” and flaps his or her arms. But when the wolf shouts, “Wolf,” all the chickens must run to the other line. If the wolf tags them, they must become wolves, too, and help the wolf catch the other chickens. The game continues until all the chickens are caught. The last one caught becomes the wolf for the next game.

*A similar game called “sharks and minnows” can be played. Have the minnows get behind a line as the shark tries to catch them when “shark” is called.

Red Light

Materials: none

Two lines are draw 30 feet apart. The children stand behind one line while “it” stands on the opposite line. “It” turns his or her back to the other players and calls out, “One, two, three, red light!” On this signal, “it” turns and faces the other players. If anyone is caught moving, the player is sent back to the starting line. The first one to tag “it” becomes the new leader.


Materials: none

Divide the children into groups of four or five. Each group thinks of a statue they can make with their bodies. (Let them think of a title for their statue, too.) Groups perform their statue for their classmates, while classmates try to guess what their title or theme might be.

*Increase the size of the groups to see how many people they can incorporate into their statue.

Follow the Leader

Materials: none

One person is chosen to be the leader. The rest of the class marches behind the leader and does just what the leader does. The leader can walk, hop, run, skip, wave their arms, go under something, slide down the slide, and so forth. After several minutes another child is chosen to be the leader.

Jump the Creek

Materials: 2 jump ropes

Place the two ropes on the ground a few inches apart to make a “creek.”

Have the children line up single file and try to jump over the creek one at a time without stepping on a rope. After every child has jumped, move the ropes a little farther apart to make the creek wider. Continue moving the ropes farther apart and letting the children jump over them. When a player can no longer jump over the rope, they must stand to the side of the game and be cheerleaders. The object of the game is to see how far the children can jump.

*You can play a similar game by drawing lines in the sand or dirt.

Silent Ball

Materials: koosh ball or other soft ball

Have the children form a circle. Give one child the ball. He or she throws it to another child without calling the child’s name or saying anything. If a child fails to catch the ball or drops the ball, the child is out of the game. Continue throwing the ball silently until there are just two players left.

Back to Back

Materials: none

One child is “it,” and the other players move around in a designated area. When “it” yells “back to back,” all the players must find a partner and touch backs with them. When “it” says “face to face,” the partners turn around and shake hands. Players begin moving around again. When “back to back” is called, they must find a new partner. “It” tries to get a partner, too, and the child left out becomes the new “it.”

Steal the Bacon

Materials: eraser or other small object

Divide the class into two teams and have them stand behind two lines about 40 feet apart. Have the children number off on each team. (Two children will have the same number.) Place the “bacon” (eraser) between the two teams, then call out a number. The two children with that number try to “capture the bacon” and run it back to their line without being tagged by the other player. The child who successfully does this gets a point for their team, but if they are tagged in the process, the other player earns a point for his or her team. The team with more points after all the numbers are called wins the game.


Materials: none

Children form a circle and one child is chose to be “it. “It” walks around the outside of the circle saying “duck” as he or she touches each player on the head. Players squat down as they are tapped. If “it” touches a child and says “goose,” that child must chase “it” around the circle before “it” can get back to “goose’s” place. If “it” is caught, he or she must sit in the center of the circle. “Goose” then becomes “it” and the game continues.

*Adapt this game to different holidays. For example you could do “bat-bat-witch” in October.

Build the Castle

Materials: long jump rope

Choose two people to hold the rope. The other players form a straight line and take turns jumping over the rope. The rope begins on the ground, but after everyone has had a turn, it is raised a few inches. If a child’s foot touches the rope, he or she is out of the game. Continue raising the rope until there is just one child left who can jump the height.

*A similar game called “school” can be played. When the rope is on the ground it is called “kindergarten.” Each time the rope is raised, it is called “first grade,” “second grade,” and so on.


Materials: none

Draw two lines about 40 feet apart. The children pretend to be sheep and stand in their “fold” behind one line. One child is chosen to be the “fox.” The “fox” stands in it’s “den” behind the opposite line. The “fox” and the “sheep” come out and start wandering around the “meadow” between the two lines. The sheep ask the fox, “What time is it?”, and the fox answers, “Five o’clock,” or “nine o’clock,” or whatever. When the fox answers, “Midnight,” all the sheep scramble for their fold. The sheep tagged become foxes and the game continues until one sheep is left, who then becomes the new fox.


Materials: broomstick or similar long stick

Select two children to hold the broomstick at chest level. The rest of the children form a single line and take turns wiggling under the broomstick. If they touch it, they are out of the game. The game continues as the broomstick is lowered each time. When only one child is left, begin the game again.

*Play some lively music for the children to dance to as they limbo.

MEMORIES! What was your favorite game you played as a child? Play that game with your children and keep it alive!

Life is not a spectator sport!

Come on~ let’s play!







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