Inside: Alternate ways to play familiar and fun group games for kids.
One of my favorite memories from elementary school is playing fun group games in P.E. class or at recess. It was such a fun way to play with my classmates and friends.
I also fondly remember playing some of these games with my cousins or friends at home. Now it warms my heart to play these games with my niece, nephew and my own children. It also helps me find and nurture my playful side.
Another special memory is teaching and playing some of these fun group games with my Kindergarten students.
Here is a list of group games with both original instructions and variations so you can make the games more interesting. Most of the games are more suited for outdoors, but can be played indoors if you have a large space.
Red Light, Green Light
- Choose one player or adult to be the caller.
- The caller stands with his back to the other players so he can’t see them approaching him. The caller needs to start the game about 30-40 feet ahead of the other players.
- When the caller shouts out “green light,” the other players run toward him as fast as they can to tag him.
- If the caller says “red light” the players must stop immediately and freeze.
- The caller then turns around to see if anyone is moving. If they are caught in motion (even slightly) they must return to the starting line.
- The first player to tag the stationary caller becomes the caller for the next round of this fun game.
Variation: Instead of running the players must move in a particular way determined before each round starts. This is an excellent way to practice hopping, skipping, crawling, tip toeing, running backwards or sideways, etc.
Mother, May I?
- One player (aka Mother or Captain) stands facing away from a line of kids.
- He or she then chooses a child and gives him a command telling him how many giant, regular or baby steps he may take going forward or backward. (“Henry, you may take 5 giant steps forward.”)
- The child responds with “Mother may I?” or “Captain, may I?” Mother or Captain then states “Yes” or “No”, depending on what they feel like at the moment, and the child complies.
- If the child forgets to ask “Mother may I?” he or she goes back to the starting line.
- The first child to touch Mother or Captain wins.
- The children take turns asking the mother or Captain if they can take certain steps. (Mother, may I take 6 regular steps?). The mother or Captain reply “Yes” or “No.”
- Mother tells all the children a command. Then each one takes a turn asking “Mother, may I?” and she says “Yes” or “No.”
- Use different types of movement such as hops, leaps, skips, etc…
- At least six players are needed for this game. The players divide into two even teams.
- The two teams line up facing each other, no more than 30 feet apart.
- The first team decides which player to call from the opposite team, and chants, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (player’s name) on over!”
- The person called runs to the other line and attempts to break the chain the first team forms by linking their hands.
- If the person called fails to break the chain, he joins the team that called him.
- If the player successfully breaks the chain, he may capture either of the two players whose link was broken by him and bring them back to his original team.
- Teams take turns calling out Red Rover and challenging a player on the opposing team. Play the game until all the players end up on one side.
Variation: Play “Green Rover.” The team calling a person over decides on a color and says, “Green Rover, Green Rover, send yellow (or whatever color you decide) on over.” Any player wearing yellow runs across to try to break the chain. Be careful because this version can get a little dangerous!
Hide and Seek
- One player is the “seeker”and the rest of the players are the “hiders.”
- The seeker closes his eyes and counts to a predetermined number (usually 10 or 20).
- The rest of the players run and hide before the seeker stops counting.
- After she finishes counting, the seeker seeks the other players by looking to see if she can find where they are hiding.
Variation: Play the game in reverse (aka Sardines) with one person who hides and the rest of the players are seekers who try to find the person hiding. As each seeker finds the person hiding, he or she hides with the “hider” until all the seekers Depending on where the hiding place is, it can soon become as crowded as a can of sardines!
- One player is chosen to be “It.”
- It chases the rest of the players.
- If It catches and touches another player that player becomes the new It.
- The game then begins again.
- Choose 2-3 students to chase the other players and try to turn them into toilets.
- When a player is tagged by one of the chasers, he or she becomes a toilet by kneeling down on one knee and holding out one hand to the side to be the handle.
- In order to rejoin the game another player (who has not yet been turned into a toilet) must sit on the “toilet’s” raised knee and flush the toilet by pushing down on the “toilet’s” outstretched hand.
- When “It” catches a player, that player joins hands with him and they are both It.
- When It tags another person, that person joins hands with them.
- After another person is tagged, the foursome splits into two twos so now there are two “Its.”
- The game ends when everyone is caught.
- When a player is tagged by It, that player does not become It.
- Instead, he becomes frozen like a statue.
- Frozen players can become unfrozen when another player who has not been tagged yet tags them.
- The game is over when It gets everyone frozen.
- The last person frozen becomes the new It.
Are You Game?
Which games do you like playing the best? Are you game for playing the suggested variations? If you have tried them with your children, let me know how it went.
Do you have a new way to play an old game? It would be fun to add it to the list.
Remember these fun group games the next time you have a bunch of kids together and need something to entertain them. I guarantee you will have hours of fun!