Top 15 Playground Games & Activities

The arrival of spring and warm weather usually means kids have one thing on their mind: outdoor recess. Playing outdoors helps engage imaginations, encourage teamwork, develop motor skills and keep children healthy.

Playground games have always been a recess tradition, with activities ranging from kickball and hopscotch to a simple game of tag. If you’ve found yourself wondering what to do with students during recess, look no further. The list below will help give you an idea of which games your students can play and the items that they’ll need for each one:

1. Jump-Rope/Double Dutch – A playground classic, this activity works great for single or multiple children. Kids can get hours of enjoyment and exercise out of jumping in time to rhymes or competing with one another to see who can jump the most.

Players: 1 – 3

Required: Single Jump Rope or Double Dutch Rope

2. Parachute – A great group activity for kids of all ages, this game begins with multiple kids holding the edges of a round parachute. Players can then lift up the chute and run underneath, or place light items on top and launch them into the air.

Players: 8 – 32

Required: Nylon Parachute

3. Four Square – Played on a square court divided into four smaller squares, this game involves bouncing a ball into an opponents’ square to knock them out of the game. Each square is ranked, with the high number diagonal to the lowest. Players must tap the ball into the next square without grabbing the ball, hitting the ball out of bounds or hitting the ball out of turn.

Players: 4+

Required: Rubber Ball (set of 6 shown) & playground chalk

4. Bocce – This simple game requires only an open expanse of grass or asphalt and a set of Bocce balls. The game begins when a player throws the smaller ball, called a jack, towards the middle of the playing area. Each player must then throw their remaining balls in an attempt to get as close to the jack as possible. A player gets one point for each of their balls that are closer to the jack than the closest ball of the other team or player.

Players: 2 (or 2 teams)

Required: Bocce Set

5. Kickball – A playground staple for over 50 years, this game was originally invented as a way to teach younger kids the rules of Baseball. A pitcher rolls an inflated rubber ball towards the catcher, where a “batter” then kicks the ball and runs to first base or further. Typically, there are two teams that total no more than 30 players.

Players: 10 – 30 (2 teams)

Required: Playground Ball

6. Tetherball – Another common playground activity, this game usually begins with two players standing on opposite sides of a pole that has a ball attached. One player starts the game by hitting the ball towards his or her opponent, who then tries to return it until the ball becomes wrapped completely around the pole.

Players: 2

Required: Tetherball Set

7. Croquet – Encourage students to build tactical thinking skills with this classic outdoor game. Each match involves two players who must hit colored balls through embedded hoops with a mallet, starting at one wicket and striving to reach to other end of the pitch. There are a variety of ways to play this game, but all games require strategy and planning to win.

Players: 2

Required: Croquet Set

8. Beanbag Toss – A fun and easy activity that lets your students test their aim and accuracy during recess. Kids can use the set of bean bags without fear of hurting themselves or others.

Players: 2+

Required: Bean Bag Toss Game

9. Traffic Cop – Teach your students about traffic laws and safety while still allowing them to have plenty of fun. All you’ll need are enough “vehicles” (scooters, wagons, etc.) for your students and a set of traffic signs.

Players: 1+

Required: Playground Traffic Signs

10. Spud – Begin this game by numbering players and deeming someone “it” for the round. That player then tosses a ball high into the air, calls out the number of one of the other players and runs away. The player whose number was called must run back, catch the ball and call out “Spud!” to freeze everyone else. The player with the ball must then try to tag one of the other players, making them “it” and giving them a letter (first S, then P, and so on to spell SPUD). If they miss, they become “it” for the next round. Whoever survives the longest wins the game.

Players: 5+

Required: Playground Ball

11. Lawn Bowling – A fun group activity for students of all ages, this game lets players attempt to knock down 10 plastic pins by rolling a large ball down a lane. Usually played indoors, this version features a bowling ball and pins that endure outdoor conditions, so kids can play on grass or asphalt.

Players: 1 – 5

Required: Bowling Set

12. Tug of War – A game that doesn’t need much explanation, Tug of War encourages teamwork amongst your students. All you’ll need is a long rope and an open space to play the game. Kids can form two or four teams, depending on the type of rope that you supply.

Players: 2 or 4 teams

Required: Tug of War Rope

13. Dodgeball – Another playground classic, this game typically begins with two teams on opposite sides of a basketball court or field, with four playground balls placed on a center line. On a signal, all players rush to grab a ball and tag opposing team members by throwing the ball. If the targeted player is hit, he or she is eliminated, but if the player catches the ball, the throwing player is then eliminated. Softer playground balls ensure that no one is hurt during play.

Players: 4 – 20 (2 teams)

Required: Dodgeball Set

14. Capture the Flag – This game, ideal for larger groups, requires plenty of energy and planning on the part of the players. The game starts with each team on their “home base” with their team flag. Players then attempt to take the opposing team’s flag without being tagged, which either eliminates them or sends them to a “jail” area. Teams can only win when the opposing team’s flag is captured and taken back to their own base.

Players: 6 – 10 (2 teams)

Required: Flag Set

15. Hopscotch – As one of the oldest playground games in existence, hopscotch has entertained countless generations of schoolyard kids. With only some chalk and beanbags, your students can have hours of fun at little expense. The game consists of a court divided into 10 numbered squares that players must hop through, returning once they reach the end. The opening player must throw the beanbag marker onto a square before starting, skipping that square as they hop through and back. Players who touch the edges, miss a square or lose their balance get eliminated. The first player to complete the course by skipping each square at least once wins the game.

Players: 2+

Required: Beanbag Set

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2 Responses to “Top 15 Playground Games & Activities”

  1. wendyApril 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    I love to play old games outside. Croquet is my favorite.

  2. Lisa BarnettApril 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Kickball

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