5 Games to Try on the Playground

These five games to try on the playground are classic games that can be played in either competitive or non-competitive fashion. You can also “dial them in” for children of varying age, skills and attention span.

Hopscotch +Plus


The game we know in America as hopscotch is actually played under different names in countries around the world. Hopscotch is simple to play, but the game does include important mental skills, like counting, and physical skills of balance and leg strength.

Few people think of hopscotch as a potential “team sport,” but you can easily encourage children to work in teams by choosing sides and having each child complete their circuit up and back the hopscotch trail of nine squares. The rules require that participants not step on a line or throw their marker outside the designated square.

Use a simple stopwatch to keep track as all five players on a team hop through the squares and back. You can also enhance a game of hopscotch by having children decorate the sidewalk all around the game with sidewalk chalk, giving the kids a theme to draw that goes with their team name.

Freeze Tag


Children love playing tag and also “play acting.” That’s why freeze tag is such a fun game for kids. When a child is tagged they have to “freeze,” and that’s half the fun, trying to hold the pose in which they are caught. It is also challenging for children who are not frozen to calculate how to get to other frozen players before the “freezer” tags them.

You can enhance any game of freeze tag by adding a song that frozen players sing until they are freed or the game is over. As more children sing, the tension rises. You can make up your own song or rhyme or sing something like this:

I’m here frozen
Still unchosen
Please come free me
If you see me

Freeze tag is also fun when played in or around playground equipment, where additional obstacles make it harder to catch players.

Red Light-Green Light


Another classic playground game, red light-green light is a game in which one player gets to be the “traffic signal” and the others are all trying to reach the post. The game encourages an honor code in which the traffic signal player must judge (within reason) whether children were still running when the “red light” call was made. The kids who “ran the red light,” so to speak, are out until the next round. You can add some fun and raise the energy level by letting kids make car or truck sounds as they move, but that raises the difficulty too because it makes it harder to hear the traffic signal!

Hot Potato


When you want (or need!) children to learn the ability to focus, there is no better game than hot potato. The dynamics of hot potato are simple. Some object serves as the hot potato and children pass it around while music plays. When the music stops, the person left holding the hot potato is “out” while the game continues.

You can add a dimension to hot potato by putting someone in the middle of the circle to pass the hot potato “through the oven” and make it even hotter, with everyone making a “sssssssssss” noise as it “bakes” in the oven.

Red Letters

This simple little game is more an activity than a physical exercise, yet it keeps children thinking, and that’s the fun of games. Have a child stand at one end of a small field and let them call out letters with their back to the group. If a child has that letter in their name, they can advance one step. If the letter occurs twice in their name, they are allowed two steps. The first player to advance all the way to the letter announcer is the winner!
 About the author:

GUEST BLOGGER – David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. (http://www.playland-inc.com/) in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc., is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, with its roots deep in the park and playground markets including churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor playgrounds, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities.