Games with Physical Activity for Children

Exercise for adults often means spending time at the gym or going for a run to lose weight. For children, however, exercise is usually in the form of play, whether in a physical education class, outside with friends, or as a family activity. Games are a positive way to encourage physical activity while enjoying recreational time.

Tag -- You're It!

There are countless variations of the game "tag" with the same basic concept, where one person person is "It" and chases players until he tags someone else to be "It." Freeze tag operates the same way but when tagged that person becomes frozen and must be "melted" by another player crawling through their legs. During TV tag, when "It" is coming for you, the player ducks down and yells out a favorite show before they are tagged.

Red Light Green Light

Players line up in a straight line and the traffic light caller stands across the room or field from them. The caller yells out "Green light!" which signals players to rush toward the caller as fast as they can. "Yellow light!" means players proceed slowly and "Red light!" means players freeze. Players that do not follow directions instantly must go back to the starting line, and the first person to reach the caller becomes the caller for the next round.

Ship Captain

The captain calls directions to the other players, who are "out" if they do not listen or are the last to follow the direction. The directions include running to the front, back, left, or right sides of the ship (called out "bow," "stern," "port," or "starboard," respectively). "Scrub the deck" means players must be on their knees scrubbing the floor. "Row the boat" means players face a partner and pretend to row (any not paired are out). And "Three Men in a Boat" means players form groups of three and sing "Row Row Row the Boat." Other directions include "Hit the deck," where players lay down on their stomachs, "Shark!" where players run to a safe spot, and "Sick turtle" where players lay on their backs with legs in the air.

Relay Races

Three-legged races, potato sack races, and leap frog races are very fun games for children. Other popular race options include wheelbarrow races, crab walk, bear walk, backwards, obstacle courses, and balancing egg races. They should be a shorter distance for younger children and a longer distance for those that are older. Be sure to pair teams so all teams have children that are of mixed athletic ability in order to make the game fun and fair for everyone.

About the Author

Jennifer Cutler is a licensed educator in Virginia and has experience in both private and public schools. She has a Masters degree in Multicultural Education from Eastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with concentrations in early childhood, teaching English as a second language and anthropology.