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10 Fun, Classic Recess Games Every Child Should Play!

This is a sponsored post written by me. All opinions are entirely my own.  Enjoy these classic recess games!

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood include the playground and the fun recess games that we played.  I remember swinging, riding on the merry-go-round, and flying up and down on the see-saws, but the times that we all were laughing and having fun was when we were playing recess games.

Recess time was always a struggle when I was a teacher because some kids would just want to sit when they needed to get up and get the wiggles out.  That’s the whole purpose of recess, right, to get outside and let some of that energy out?  If you are a teacher, a teacher’s assistant, or a parent helper, organizing a fun recess game can get everyone involved and moving!

classic recess games

Fun, Classic Recess Games

  1. Red Rover

    This was my favorite game from recess and really, the ultimate in recess games!  To play, you divide everyone into two teams.  Each team forms a line, side by side holding hands, facing the other team.  The teams should stand about 3 yards apart.  The teams take turn singing “Red Rover, Red Rover, let <insert child’s name> come over!”  (This takes pre-planning and teamwork to decide who to invite over!)   That child leaves their team’s line, runs as fast as they can toward the other line and tries to break through the joined hands. If they break through, they get to take someone back to their team. If they don’t, they join the new team that called them over.  When a team only has one person left, that person tries to break through the other team. If they do not, then their team loses. If they do, they gain that player and play continues.

  2. Mother May I

    Choose one person to be the “Mother” and they face the group.  One person from the group asks the person “Mother, may I take <number> steps forward?” The person at the front then says, “Yes, you may.” or “No, you may not.” You can ask anything, including options such as taking baby steps, spinning steps, huge jumps, small jumps, anything else.  The first person to tag the “Mother” in the front wins and is the next person in the front.

  3. Capture The Flag

    For this game, you will need two flags or some object to “capture.”  Split the group into two teams.  Each team places the flag at their “base.”  The object of the game is to run into the other team’s territory, capture their flag and make it safely back to your own territory. You can tag “enemy” players in your territory, sending them to your jail. They can be released from jail by a member of their own team running into your territory, tagging them and running back, with one freed person allowed per jail break.

    recess games hopscotch

  4. Hopscotch

    This game is usually played on a concrete slab with some sidewalk chalk, but you can also use long pieces of string or tape in grass.  Make a hopscotch grid and number the squares from 1 – 9.  Pick a rock that is good for tossing. Start by tossing the rock onto the square marked “1.”  Hop over the rock and hop with a single foot or both feet all the way to the end. Turn around and come back, stopping on square “2.”  Balancing on one foot, pick up the rock in Square 1 and hop over Square 1 to the start. Continue this pattern with Square 2, etc. If you toss your rock and miss the correct square, your turn is over.

  5. Four Square

    I never played Four Square as a child, but I have seen Four Square painted on many a playground over the years and was intrigued!  If you don’t have a Four Square area to play, you can use sidewalk chalk or again, string or tape on grass.  You also need a big playground ball to play.  The court is just a square divided into four smaller squares, numbered 1 – 4.  One player stands in each of the squares, with the highest ranked player in number one, lowest in number four. You bounce the ball among the players, bouncing once in the other person’s square before that person catches it.

  6. Red Light, Green Light

    In this game, one person is the traffic light at one end and the other players are at the other end.  When the “traffic light” faces the group, he or she says, “red light!” and everyone must freeze.  The traffic light then turns his or her back and says, “green light!” while the group tries to get as close to the traffic light as possible. The traffic light turns around quickly, again saying, “red light!” and if anyone is spotted moving, they have to go back to the starting place. The first person to tag the traffic light wins and gets to be the next traffic light.

  7. Simon Says

    I like Simon Says because while it is fun on the playground, you can also play indoors if your class needs a little “brain break.”  One person is “Simon” and starts by saying, “Simon says, ‘[insert action]’. ”  (examples – jump, cross your legs, scratch your head, etc.)  Everyone must then do the action.  However, if Simon makes an action request without saying, “Simon says” to begin the request, anyone who does that action is out.  The last person still playing in the end wins.

  8. Shadow Tag

    This game is just like regular tag, except the person who is “it” tags someone else’s shadow with your feet instead of tagging their body.  This is great if you have little ones who tend to be too rough.  It must be played in sunny weather, of course, and gets easier and more difficult, depending on where the sun is in the sky!

  9. Freeze Tag

    Freeze Tag is so much fun!  In this variation of traditional tag, if the person who is “it” tags you, you have to freeze where you are and remain “frozen” until a player who is not “it” unfreezes you!

  10. Marco Polo/Blind Man’s Bluff

    Marco Polo is a swimming pool game, but can easily be played on the playground.  You just need a blindfold, as is used in traditional Blind Man’s Bluff.  The person who is “it” wears a blindfold and tries to tag the other players.  He/she may yell “Marco” and the other players yell “Polo” so they can be located more easily.  A parent or teacher should assist to make sure they don’t run into anything!

After your kids or students play any of these games, it’s guaranteed that they will be a little tired and needing a recharge!  Make sure they get some water and a nice snack if lunch has already happened.  If you are a parent in charge of snacks for your child’s class, I have a great suggestion for you! I found these Marvel Avengers String Cheese Twists in the snacking cheese section at H-E-B.  My kids love cheese sticks anyway, but anything with an Avenger on it is that much cooler!  I pack them in the boys’ lunches and it’s just a delicious protein snack for them.

recess games snacks

Is the weather causing you to have indoor recess? Try these indoor recess game ideas!

What was your favorite recess game as a kid?


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Family lifestyle blogger from
Tyler, TX
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