7 Games Kids Love to Play

No matter what age you are, disguising your fitness activity as something else makes the experience more, well, fun. It can be hard to get moving in the summer heat, but a great way to get kids active is to have them play a fun game. But which games are the best games? We surveyed some of our Kids Run Club Coaches to see which games their kids liked the most, and we got some great feedback. Active SWV’s Kids Run Club participants run around and play games every week during their fall and spring seasons, and they’ve made it through just about every game the Kids Run Club coaches manual has to offer. Here are the top seven games that kids love to play, tested by our Kids Run Club participants and coaches:

1. Relays, relays, relays

Coming in at number one is any kind of relay race. Start by creating teams of at least 3-8 kids. On “GO!”, the first runner on each team runs the designated distance. Runner 2 waits at the line until the first runner reaches them and gives them a high-five, and then they run their turn. Mix it up by having the kids pass an object to each other, do an exercise while waiting, or have the runner incorporate hops, skips, jumps, etc into their turn. A Kids Run Club favorite is having the players run as quickly as they can while balancing a beanbag on their heads. If the beanbag falls off, they must stop and put it back on their head before resuming running. This added challenge helps with running posture, and is good for some laughs!

2. Traffic light

Have all the players line up side by side. The leader, or designated ‘traffic cop’ will give the commands ‘GREEN LIGHT’, ‘YELLOW LIGHT’, and ‘RED LIGHT’ as the players advance across the designated area. On GREEN, the players run, on YELLOW they will walk, and on RED, players must stop and freeze. If the traffic cop catches any player moving, the player must go back to the start line and start playing from there. The round ends when players make it to the finish line. Try picking different exercises besides running to go with the different commands to get some new muscles moving!

3. Rock, Paper, Scissor sprints

Divide the group into two teams, and have them line up single file facing each-other about 100 meters (or whatever space you have) apart. The first runners in each group will run as fast as they can to meet each-other in the middle and play one round of rock, paper, scissors. The loser of the match jogs back to their group, while the winner continues to run forward and meet the next person in the opposite line, who can start running as soon as they realizes their team member lost the round. Each time the players meet, they play one round of rock, paper, scissors and the winner will continue to sprint towards the opposing team each time. Once a player makes it all the way to the other team’s side, that player is done and can wait and cheer on their team mates. The game ends when every player on one team has made it to the other side.

4. Animal tag

This game is similar to regular tag, but with a fun twist! Choose one player to be IT. Before each round, decide on an animal that everyone must mimic as they run (a monkey, dog, penguin, bear, or frog, for instance). Bonus points if the kids make the animal noise as they run around. For a slightly different take, you can also try turtle tag! In this variation, all the participants begin by running normally. In order to avoid being tagged by the player that’s IT, they can lie on their backs with their arms and legs in the air like an upside-down turtle. This turtle move is good for five seconds, then they must get up and join the rejoin the game.

5. Sharks and Minnows

One player is the shark, the rest of the players are minnows. The minnows start behind a line in a safe zone, and on “GO” they must try to run from one side of the space to the other ‘safe zone’ without being tagged by the shark in the middle. The minnows that are tagged join the shark to chase other minnows in the next round. The game continues until there is only one minnow left, and that player gets to be the first shark in the next round of the game. To mix it up, try different themes like ‘dog catcher and runaway dogs’, ‘cat and mouse’ or other similar pairings.

6. Would you rather

Present the group with ‘would you rather’ questions, pointing to the right for the first option and to the left for the second option. Players must run to the side that they would ‘rather’ do, and then run back to the middle for the next round. Here are some ideas to get started: Would you rather…..
be too hot or too cold?
turn into a cat or a dog?
have super strength or invisibility?
give up pizza or give up cake?

7. Favorites

This is the Birch River Elementary Kids Run Club’s all time favorite (no pun intended) game! To start, have all the players form a circle. One player picks a category (‘favorite season’, for example), and then each player around circle announces their favorite season in turn. Any time there is a repeated favorite, the players who had it in common must run to a predetermined spot and then back to their place in the circle. For example, if players 1 and 3 both say winter, they would both run when player 3 announces their favorite. If player 4 says ‘summer’, the game continues around the circle and nobody runs until there is another repeat. The players run every time they have a favorite thing in common. The game continues like this until it makes its way back to the starting person, when the next person in the circle picks a new category for the next round. Some fun categories are:
favorite ice cream flavor or topping
favorite fruit
favorite animal
favorite kind of cookie

And that’s it! These games can be played inside or outside, and you don’t need any equipment to make it happen. For other great ideas for games, exercises, and more to play with kids, take a look through our Kids Run Club Coaches Manual.

Like what you see and want to volunteer with a Kids Run Club? Fill out an application or contact [email protected] to get started!

And while you’re at it, get plugged into Active SWV’s Facebook page and newsletter to keep up to date on fun and FREE physical activity programs available every day of the week.

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