Here are some simple games that all children can play with help and enthusiasm:
This is not your traditional Red Rover game. It is a bit modified and great for developing listening skills and/or conditional directions.
One to two people lead the game. Suggest starting with an adult, but kids can take turns leading once they get the hang of it.
Have all the kids line up side-by-side at a starting spot (and *not* holding hands like traditional Red Rover). Designate a stop line.
The leader (if there are two leaders, then they take turns) calls out “Red Rover, Red Rover, send someone on over who is ______.” (Examples: wearing blue, a girl, name starts with “A”...the possibilities are endless)
Everyone who is described or called by the leaders runs from the start line to the stop line. The goal is to get there before getting tagged on the shoulder by the leaders. When you get to the stop line you stop (of course) and sit down to wait until everyone is over. When my son and his friends play, nothing happens if you get tagged, you just sit on the stop line and wait with everyone else tagged. My family likes games where no one “loses.”
Once everyone has made it over or is tagged, the children can turn around and start again. This is a good time to switch leaders.
What Time Is It Mr. Fox?
This is another great game for following directions and enhancing your listening skills. This is similar to “Mother-May-I” but easier.
Choose a “fox”, a leader(s). In the beginning, it’s best if an adult leads until kids are very familiar with the game.
Kids line up side-by-side at a starting line.
The “fox” stands some distance away. The kids (“chickens”) yell “What time is it Mr. Fox?!?!?!?!” (To get the kids to really yell it out instead of mumbling, I used to have them say it again and once they were loud enough I’d pretend it was so loud it knocked me over. A little physical humor goes a long way!)
The “fox” says “It’s time to _______.” Fill in the blank with bearwalk three steps, walk like a chicken for one step, hop on one foot backward two hops, etc.....you get the idea. And the kids (“chickens”), of course, follow the direction.
When the game is over (when the “chickens” reach the “fox”), switch “foxes” when the kids reach the “fox” (or the “fox” has had several turns if you get one of those kids that makes everyone go backward as soon as they get close.) Have the kids take turns rather than leting the first person to be the “fox” be the leader all the time so that everyone gets a turn.
Fruit Salad/Car Lot
This is another leader game, so choose a leader(s). Kids line up side-by-side on a starting line. Choose a stopping line.
If the game is, say, “fruit salad”, (you can call it just about anything) the leader chooses 3 fruits and tells the group to think in their head to themselves which fruit they would like to be like an apple, a banana or a pear but don’t tell anyone else!
The leader then shouts out the name of a fruit and all of the kids that chose that fruit run to the other side. Anyone tagged gently on the shoulder by the leader goes into the fruit bowl to be a part of the fruit salad (or the car lot, or the zoo, or whatever is the theme of the game).
This game sounds so simple, but next to Red Rover, it was one of my son’s all-time favorites!
Give everyone a scarf to tuck into his/her pocket, belt, waistband, etc. It must be easily pulled out, however.
Everyone chases everyone else trying to pull out their “tail” (scarves). When you pull out someone else’s tail, you must drop it gently on the ground so they can pick it up and tuck it back in.
Have a certain number of hula hoops scattered on the ground.
Explain to the kids that when you say “Go!”, they have to run, hop, skip, bear crawl, or whatever movement you choose around the area.
When you yell “Stop!!”, all of the ground turns into an ocean except the hoops. Run to a hoop so that you don’t sink into the sea!! As long as some part of your body is touching the island, even a tiny toe on the edge of the hoop, you are safe from the sharks!
Yell “Go!” again and have the kids do a different movement around the area. Then, remove 1-2 hoops.
Repeat until all the kids are in 1-2 hoops (you’d be surprised how many kids you can fit into a hoop). Talk about how you all managed to share only one (or two!) hoop(s)! Wow!
This is probably self-explanatory. The only item that is a bit different to try adding into the course is a swing. Have the kids do a particular circuit through the playground equipment. You can get creative and add equipment like jump ropes (to be a snake pit), hula hoops (jump in/out/over/through), a ball to carry (so they can throw it over or under parts of the obstacle course, balance on a little beam which is different when you’re carrying an object, etc.) You could also do an obstacle course as “Follow the Leader” with parents or chosen kids as leaders.
There are probably as many variations of freeze tag as there are kids playing the game. If players get tagged, they must freeze while their un-frozen classmates must perform a certain act (i.e. crawling between your knees or high-five on an outstretched hand) to unfreeze you. One of my favorites is difficult to teach at first, but teaches great teamwork–it’s called “Dead (or “Sleeping”, if you prefer) Ants”. The kids who get tagged lay down on their backs with all four limbs in the air. To get un-frozen/woken up, four teammates, one for each limb, must come rescue you. The catch is that until there are four teammates, the people hanging onto the frozen person are still vulnerable to the tagger. If there are four people holding onto an “ant”, they cannot be frozen and the ant becomes unfrozen.
Special thanks to a variety of parents for their help on this document including Bennetta Bensen from the ME-LIST.