25 great playground games

25 great playground games
Bill Allan, bill.allan@wnlsd.ca, 637-4021
Hopscotch: Potsy
(Equipment: paint or chalk to mark lines)
The first player stands in a designated spot outside the first space. The player
tosses his/her ‘potsy’ (small rock or pebble) in space one. If the potsy lands
outside the space or on a line, his/her turn is over. If it lands inside the space,
the player hops over space 1 into space 2 and on through the pattern and back
to space 2, bends over and picks up the potsy, hops into space 1 and then out.
Having been successful, the player continues trying to toss the potsy into space
2. If successful, the player hops into every space but space 2 and comes back
to space 3, bends over to pick up his/her potsy, and hops through spaces 2 and
1 and out. If successful, the player continues until either the potsy misses its
space or a hopping error is made. When this happens, the other player takes
a turn. Player may begin their next turn where they were when they previously
made an error. The first player to complete all numbers in the pattern is the
Four Square
One player starts in each box. The server starts in the outer corner of Box 1, bounces
the ball once, and bats it open-handed into another square. Receiver lets it bounce
once and bats it into another square. (Ball cannot be hit downward at any time.)The
game continues until someone commits a fault: stepping over a line, missing the ball,
hitting a line, ball goes out of bounds, player is hit by a ball. When a fault is committed,
that player leaves the game and players advance up a number box and a new player
enters in Box 4. If no other players are waiting to play, the player who committed the
fault goes into Box 4 and other players advance.
Capture the Flag (Equipment: 2 flags, skipping ropes, hoops, bibs)
The game is played in a large open area. Divide students into two teams and identify
one with bibs. Divide the area with a center line and place 5 hoops on each side of the
field. Give each team a flag and tell them to place it on the ground in their own end.
Create a circle around the flag with 3 or 4 skipping ropes. A jail is made with skipping
ropes in the corner of each team’s field. The object of the game is to steal the
opponent’s flag and get it back safely to your own side. The hoops are safe zones and
a player cannot be tagged if in their opponent’s hoop. Only one person is allowed in the
hoop at a time. Any number of players can be in the flag zone at once. Players are not
allowed to enter their own flag zone or hoops. If an opponent, on the opposite side of
the field tags a player, they are escorted to jail by the tagger. Tagged players must stay
in jail until one of their teammates can reach the jail safely and tag them. Players are
then free but must go back to their own end before starting again.
Kick the Can
Boundaries for the game are decided on in the beginning. Anyone who goes outside
the boundaries is automatically caught and goes to jail. A can is placed in an open area
with a ten foot circle drawn around it with chalk. Everyone is divided into two teams.
One team is designated as “It”. They cover their eyes and count to 50 while the other
players run and hide. It then tries to find and tag each of the hiding players. Anyone
caught must be accompanied back to a pre-designated jail area, usually in plain sight of
the can. Any player who has not been caught can kick the can and set all the captured
players free. The seeking team can have just one guard who watches over the can.
The guard cannot go inside the circle except when chasing someone. Once all of the
hiders are caught, the game is over and the two teams switch roles. Variation: One
person can be It and he merely has to call the player’s name and hiding place rather
than actually tagging him by touch.
Ultimate Frisbee (Equipment: frisbee, two sets of pinnies)
Divide the students into two teams. Have the students play the game up to a
predetermined score or for a set period of time. Game is played on a large
field which can be divided in two to have four teams playing two games.
Determine which team will receive the initial toss. Start the game by throwing
the frisbee from the center of the field to the team with first toss. The
object of the game is to advance the frisbee down the field so that it can be
caught in the end zone. The team with the frisbee cannot run with it and must
advance it by passing it down the field. The team loses possession of the
frisbee when it falls on the ground or an opponent intercepts the pass. Once
a team scores, they return the frisbee from their end of the field by throwing
it to the other team. Players may hold the frisbee for no more than three
seconds and are only allowed to take three steps before releasing the frisbee.
Once a player has caught the frisbee, they have three seconds before they can
be tagged. Once tagged, they lose possession of the frisbee.
Duck Duck Goose
A group of players sit in a circle, facing inward, while another player (the IT) walks
around tapping each player in turn, calling each person a “duck” until finally picking one
to be a “goose”. The goose then rises and races around the circle in the opposite
direction of the It to reclaim his space on the circle, that is unless It gets there first. The
first player left without a space is the It for the next round.
Red Light Green Light
One player is the Stop Light and stands near a wall. Other players stand far away.
Stop Light turns away from players and shouts “Green Light”. Other players start
moving towards the wall. At any point, Stop Light can shout “Red Light” & turn around.
If he catches any players moving, those players are out. The game starts again when
the Stop Light turns around and calls “Green Light”. The game continues until one child
reaches the wall. That student then takes a turn calling out Red Light/ Green Light.
What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf?
Mr. Wolf starts at one end of the field with his back to the group. The group at the other
end yells out “What time is it, Mr. Wolf?” Mr. Wolf then yells out a time that is on the
even hour (1 o’clock to 12 o’clock. The group then takes that many steps. When the
group gets to where the wolf is, but not past him, and asks the time, the wolf can yell
“Midnight!” The wolf then turns and chases the group. Those that are caught sit out.
The last one left becomes the wolf. A variation is to allow each child who is tagged to
also become a wolf and help catch people.
Tic-Tac-Toe (Equipment: bean bags & tic-tac-toe design)
A tic-tac-toe design can be chalked or painted in pavement with a piece of 2 x 4. The
X’s always go first. Two players can use colored beanbags and toss them into the
game while alternating throws. If there are no bean bags, use people as teams instead
to form a line of three. One team can stand with arms at their side while the other team
crosses their arms. To make the game more fun, don’t allow talking.
Decide if you are playing for “keepsies” (players keep the marbles they win in the game)
or “playing fair” (everyone gets their own marbles back at the end of the game). Draw a
circle on the ground. Each player puts an agreed number of marbles in the circle and
stands behind a line drawn some distance away. The aim is to hit the marbles out of
the circle. Take turns throwing or flicking a marble (called a shooter) into the circle
trying to hit the marbles out. If you knock a marble out, you get to keep it. If the shooter
stays in the circle, it stays there and it is the next players turn. If the shooter comes out
too, you can fetch it and have another turn. Continue having turns until all the marbles
in the circle have been won. The person with the most marbles wins.
Tag Games
You’re It
One person is chosen to be "it". The objective is for the player who is "it" to catch
somebody else who then becomes "It". Normally this is played using "touch tag", where
a single touch or 'tag' is all that's need to say they've been caught. It's sometimes
helpful to include a rule that the person just caught cannot immediately tag the person
who just got them.
All in Tag
Starts with only one chaser, but from there on each person caught also becomes a
catcher and helps to catch the others.
Chain tag
Each person to be caught joins hands with "it," and the chain thus formed must chase
the others as a pair. As more people are caught they too join hands with the "it" players,
forming a lengthening chain. Only those at the ends of the chain are able to catch
someone, as they are the only ones with a free hand.
Frozen Tag
Players who are tagged are "frozen" and must stand in place with their arms stretched
out until they are unfrozen. An unstuck player can perform an action to unfreeze them,
such as crawling between their legs or tagging their outstretched hand.
Rock Paper Scissors Team Tag Game
Divide the group up into two teams. Each team goes to an end line of the play area to
decide on a leader to represent them and either Rock, Paper, or Scissors. The leaders
meet at center to do Rock Paper Scissors at center. All of the other team members are
gathered around their leaders on the center circle. For the leader who wins the Rock
Paper Scissors, all of the team members chase the other team members in an attempt
to tag them before they get to their end line. Any member of the losing team who is
tagged must switch to the other team. After the chase, team members would gather on
their end line again to decide on a new leader and a new Rock Paper or Scissors.
Leaders meet at center again to do Rock Paper Scissors with winning team chasing
losers again. If there is a tie (i.e two Paper), teams gather at end line to choose a new
Rock Paper or Scissors.
Skipping Games
Skipping: Birthday Game (Equipment: long skipping rope)
The game needs two enders and 4 – 8 players. Everyone starts inside the rope and the
enders turn at normal speed.
“All in together kids, How do you like the weather kids, When is your birthday?
Please jump out.
January, February, March, April, … December.”
Each child jumps out of the rope on the month of his/ her birthday so by the time the
chant is over, everyone is out. Reverse it by saying the chant again. This time, each
child jumps in when the month of his/ her birthday is called.”
Skipping: Ice Cream Soda (Equipment: one long skipping rope)
Ice cream soda, Lemonade hearts, Tell me the names,
Of your sweethearts
A, B, C, D, …
A new jumper may enter on each letter.
Skipping: Cinderella (Equipment: long skipping rope)
Cinderella, dressed in yella
Went upstairs to kiss a fella
By mistake, she kissed a snake
How many doctors did it take?
1,2,3,4,5, etc. (jumper keeps jumping and counting, as the rope is turned faster and
faster until the jumper misses)
Skipping: All Together (Equipment: long skipping rope)
Game requires two capable enders to turn and no more than 5 jumpers. The enders
keep the turns slow and as big as possible while the jumpers cooperate by standing
close together. The jumpers stand in line. The first jumper runs in and begins jumping
with the remaining players joining in one at a time until all players are jumping together.
The group continues to jump until someone misses. Change enders often.
Skipping: Double Dutch (Equipment: two 14’ or 16’ ropes)
Two ropes are turned alternatively toward each other. Remind jumpers to focus on the
rope further away and to enter as it nears the ground. Jumpers work through basic
moves in tune with a rhyme. As skipping improves, progress on to different tricks such
as doing a 180-degree turn in a single jump or hopping on one foot.
Basketball Games
Horse (Equipment: basketball and hoop)
Players decide who shoots first. Game begins with first shooter taking a shot
from anywhere on the court. If ball goes in, the second shooter must make it
from the same spot. If second shooter misses, the letter “H” is assigned. If
he/ she makes it, no letter is given and third shooter must make the shot or
else gets a “H”. When the first shooter misses a shot, the second shooter
then gets a chance to take any shot which, if made, must be duplicated. As
players make and miss baskets, the letters H-O-R-S-E will be assigned. The
object is to have your opponents be the first to spell H-O-R-S-E.
21 (Equipment: basketball and hoop)
Game begins with one player shooting from the foul line. The other players
alternate foul shots until one of them makes a shot. That first foul shot is
worth one point. All foul shots after the first made one are worth two points.
The player who made the first foul shot continues to shoot 2-point foul shots
until he/she misses. The next player rebounds a miss and tries to make a shot
from where the ball was rebounded. If the shot is made, he/she scores one
point and then shoots from the foul line until a miss is made. Game continues
until one player reaches 21 exactly. If a player reaches 22, he/she must score
from a rebound and then from the top of the key to win the game.
Bump (Equipment: 2 basketballs and hoop)
Players line up in single file from the foul line. First two players each have a
ball. The object of the game is to BUMP out other players and be the last one
shooting. To be bumped out, the player BEHIND you must make his/ her shot
before you. Each player’s first shot must be a foul shot. Player one shoots foul
shot and player two does the same right after. If player one makes the shot,
he/she quickly retrieves the ball and passes it to player three then goes to the
back of the line. Now player three is shooting behind player two trying to bump
him/her out. When a foul shot is missed, that player has to retrieve the ball
quickly and try to make a lay up before the player behind him scores. The cycle
continues until one person is left.
Wall Ball Games
Wall Ball: Handball (Equipment: rubber ball and wall)
Person #1 is designated as the Server. All other players are receivers and are
numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, … The Server stands on a serving line (drawn with chalk) and lets
the ball drop and with an underhand clap hits the ball so that it strikes the wall above the
one meter line (drawn with chalk) and lands back over the serving line. Receiver #2
must wait until the ball has bounced once behind the serving line and then hits the ball
back to the wall. If receiver #2 fails to return the ball, the Server gets one point. If
Receiver #2 returns the ball successfully, the Server hits the ball again, and Receiver #3
hits the ball, followed by Server, Receiver #4, Server, Receiver #5, and so on. Server
keeps on serving until he misses the serve or misses the ball on the return. Only Server
can score points. If the Server fails to make a legal return, he then becomes the last
receiver and Player #2 becomes the Server. The game is played until one player gets
11 points. Ball cannot be caught before hitting and players must hit the ball with their
hand. Ball must not bounce twice.
Wall Ball: Donkey (Equipment: tennis ball and a wall)
This game can be played with 4 or more players. One player throws the ball
against the wall while the others attempt to catch it so they can be the next
one to throw. The ball can also be caught off the bounce. If the first player
to the ball catches it, he/she makes the next throw. If the player making the
catch drops the ball, that player must touch the wall before any other player
can retrieve the ball and throw it back to the wall. If the ball reaches the wall
before the player, then that player gets the letter “D”, and the game continues.
Once you spell the word “DONKEY”, you are out. The game continues until only
one player remains. Variation: Use the word “DOG” or “MULE”.
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