Tag Games

Tag games for kids

The thing about playing tag is that you can take this classic lawn game and make rules to change the game a thousand different ways and never play the same game twice! What a fun way to get kids moving and outside with movement, balance challenges, development of the visual system, and heavy work. Add these tag games to our massive list of outdoor lawn games to get kids moving, running, jumping, and building motor skills!

These tag games are powerful ways to help kids develop skills. Use the creative tag games in therapy or in summer camp activities.

Tag games

The tag games listed in this post are great ways to add motor movement to kids, to get them off the screens, and outside. Tag also is a powerful way to play together as a family, adding a chance for connection and creating memories.

What better way to spend some time together as a family than playing a game of tag that offers heavy work, sensory input, in the great outdoors?

These tag games are also great running games for physical education. Use the tag games in a group therapy setting, in PE planning, or in summer camp activities.

The nice thing about using a simple game of tag in summer camp activities is that you can modify the tag game to meet any theme or topic!

  • Have an ocean summer camp? Play ocean animals tag (kids call out ocean animals and drop to the ground to stay safe.)
  • Planning a space camp? Play space tag. Kids can call out planets when the “it” person is near and stay safe.
  • Creating a Pirates theme summer camp? Modify sharks and minnows tag to meet your theme.
  • Coming up with a handwriting camp to work on handwriting skills? Encourage heavy work through the arms by adding crawling, hopping, or heavy work animal walks.

The options are limitless! Here are more summer camp ideas that tag can fit well into with therapeutic and team-building benefits.

There are many therapeutic benefits of playing tag. Use these tag games in therapy or summer camps to help kids with child development and have fun too!

Therapeutics benefits of playing tag

When kids are running, stopping, turning course, running around obstacles, there are many developmental benefits.

Let’s break down games of tags for their therapeutic benefits:

Running- running in short bursts offers cardio input that gets the blood pumping. When kids run and stop in short bursts, they are gaining heavy work input through their legs and core. The short intervals involved in tag games build muscle strength, and allow for running at various speeds. As opposed to longer distance running, kids can be successful in running in short bursts. This is also a great way to “reset” after being indoors for a while, on a long car ride, in the classroom all day, or on screen devices for a long period of time. We talked here about the benefits of treadmills and wellbeing, but for shorter bursts of running, the mindfulness benefits definitely exist!

Stopping and Starting- When we run and then stop abruptly or stop and turn, there are so many motor components occurring at one time. The muscles that are actively engaged need to stop abruptly, adding heavy work input through those muscles and joints. Then the opposing muscles and core need to activate to maintain posture. The whole body is engaged in this action. Kids often play tag in a yard or park where there are trees or other stationary structures. These provide a need to move around targets and slow running speed. This requires the visual processing system to interact with the motor tasks. When kids are running around other tag players, they are running around moving targets, which further engages muscles and visual processing system.

Tagging others- Tag is such a great way to interact with others in an appropriate way. You may have had a school yard experience where you were pushed down in a game of tag. When others tag you and it occurs unexpectedly or with too much force, a fall can happen! However, by playing tag, kids get that experience with proprioceptive input, vestibular input, and visual motor skills. How much force must they exert to tag without pushing over a playmate? How far do they need to reach out to tag a friend without hitting their face? All of this experience in movement is powerful! It helps kids learn about how their body moves in space, spatial awareness, and eye-hand coordination skills.

Spatial awareness- Expanding further on the spatial awareness skills, body awareness, and position in space, all of these body concepts are able to be carried over to other functional tasks. This experience allows kids to use this knowledge when walking in crowded hallways without bumping into others, spatial awareness in handwriting on a page, moving while carrying plates or heavy items. All of these experiences can be integrated for functional movement.

Executive functioning skills- Playing a simple game of tag can build executive functioning skills, too! Think about it: when you play tag, there is working memory to recall movements that allowed you to escape in a previous game or trial. If you’re playing a fun tag game version, you need to recall specific words or phrases that were already used. Other executive functioning skills that are used in tag include planning, prioritization of movements, impulse control, task completion, initiation, processing speed, self-monitoring, foresight, mindset, and cognitive shift. What a powerful game tag is in building cognitive skills!

Motor planning- Moving, making motor plans, running around obstacles and other children…what a great game tag is to build motor planning skills. There’s more: tag is a fast-paced game. So those motor planning sequences and movements need to happen quickly. The good news is that a game of tag offers many trials and repetitions to build motor plans and muscle memory.

Visual Processing Skills- Visual processing skills is an umbrella of visual skills and tag addresses many of these areas through play. And playing tag requires many visual processing skills under that umbrella! Take a look at all of the visual skills needed for tag: eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual scanning, visual tracking, visual convergence, visual discrimination, form constancy, visual figure ground, peripheral vision, visual efficiency, and visual acuity…what a powerful game tag is!

So, now that we know the massive therapeutic benefits of tag, let’s take a look at some fun tag games for kids.

Play these creative tag games to add a twist to the classic tag game.

Fun Tag Games

  1. Classic tag– Someone is it and chases the others in the group. When they touch someone else, that person is now “it”. The game continues.

2. TV Tag– One person is “it”. When they approach another person, the player yells the name of a TV show and drops to the ground. They are then safe and the person that is “it” needs to run and tag another person. This type of tag can be adjusted to call out music, songs, YouTube shows, games, sports, favorite foods, animals, etc.

3. Flashlight Tag– Play tag in the early evening hours with flashlights.

4. Sharks and Minnows Tag– One person is the shark and the others are the minnows. When the shark touches another player, that person then turns into a shark. Now there are two sharks. Play until all of the minnows turn into sharks.

5. Freeze Tag- When a person is tagged, they need to freeze in place until another player touches them to “unfreeze” them.

6. Cops and Robbers Tag- A group splits into either “cops” or “robbers”. The cops chase the robbers and once tagged, they need to sit in “jail” until another robber tags them and releases them.

7. Pizza Tag- One person is “it” and chases the others.  Players run from “it” and can stay safe from being tagged by naming pizza toppings and touching the ground.

8. Animal Walk Tag- Players can assume an animal walk (crab walks, hop like a bunny, waddle like a penguin, sway like an elephant, etc.) and play tag!

Social Distance Tag Games

9. No-Touch Tag Games- Tag games can be modified to any theme which is great for social distancing. One person is “it”. When they near another child, that person yells out a word or phrase, or completes an action like hopping, squatting, acting like an animal, touching the ground, dabbing, or completing any physical action. Tag could take any action or theme in this way.

10. Shadow Tag- Play classic tag but tag one another by stepping on the shadow of others. This is a great social distancing version of tag, as well.

11. Social Distancing Tag- This tag game is another way to play with others, gain the benefits of tag, and play in a socially distanced form. Simply play tag in the classic version (or use any of the fun tag versions described here) and when “it” is within 6 feet of another person, they have tagged the other player. This is a nice way to work on spatial awareness and scanning at a distance, too.

What do you think? Have you played any of these tag games before? Let’s get those kids moving!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Outdoor Lawn Games

outdoor lawn games

Here, you’ll discover outdoor lawn games that help children and families with development and play. These outdoor yard games build gross motor skills and are great for summer activities for kids, getting them outside and off screens. Playing in the yard is beneficial for so many reasons.

Getting kids outdoors and moving is a great for so many reasons: added physical activity, a break from screen time, adding heavy work movement, a chance to connect with others, and benefit from the outdoors. Whether the kids just need to get out of the house, or you have a birthday party to plan this summer, outdoor yard games are the way to go to add much-needed movement for kids of all ages.

Outdoor Lawn Games

There is much research on the sensory benefits of outdoor play. Just a few of those benefits include:

  • Outdoor play offers an alerting or calming environment.
  • Outdoor play fosters listening skills.
  • Outdoor play provides an environment that encourages a calming and alert state of being. 
  • Outdoor play encourages risk-taking and self-confidence.
  • Outdoor play supports executive functioning skills.
  • Outdoor play encourages participation in the sense of touch.
  • Outdoor play promotes heavy work proprioceptive input and movement in a variety of planes, offering vestibular input.

There are so many other reasons to get outside and play. Let’s get started on some of the outdoor lawn games for kids:

Running Games

  1. Tag- There are so many benefits to playing tag with kids. Try these tag games (and read up on the therapeutic benefits of playing tag, too).
  2. Wolf Wolf- One person is the wolf and stands across the yard. The others call out “Wolf, wolf: What time is it?” The wolf then says a time “It’s 3:00” and the other players take 3 steps across the lawn toward the wolf. When the players are close, the wolf yells out, “It’s lunch time!” and turns around and chases after the players.
  3. Red Rover- Players split into two teams and hold hands across the lawn from the other team. One at a time, the team yells, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (child’s name) over. That child runs across the lawn and tries to break through the line of the other team. If they succeed, that child returns to their own team. If they can not break through the arms of the other team, they then join the new team.
  4. Relay Races- Split everyone into two teams. The two teams can run, jump, move, or do a variety of actions, one at a time. The first team to complete all of the tasks, one by one is the winner. Relay races can involve water balloons, carrying items, adding clothing materials, etc.
  5. Hide and Seek- One person is “it”. The person who is “it” counts to a specified number while all of the other players hide. They then go out and look for the others.
  6. Sardines- Just like hide and seek, sardines is a hiding and finding game. But, one person hides and the others are the seekers. When someone finds the hiding person, they join the person that is hiding. Then, everyone continues to hide with the person who is “it” until there is only one person left.
  7. Monkey in the middle
  8. 4 Square

More Outdoor Lawn Activities

This massive list of outdoor lawn activities inspire movement, creativity, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, sensory input,

  1. Climb trees
  2. Animal walks
  3. Make a creative balance beam.
  4. Go hiking.
  5. Hang a sensory swing.
  6. Go for a walk or run.
  7. Bounce balls.
  8. Play kickball or wiffleball.
  9. Go on a nature sensory walk.
  10. Stress ball or fidget toys outdoors.
  11. Running games like races.
  12. Play with rocks.
  13. “I Spy” scavenger hunts for colors or shapes
  14. Obstacle courses
  15. Have a sound scavenger hunt in the backyard.
  16. Tug of war activities
  17. Play in the woods.
  18. Carry equipment, buckets, or bins.
  19. Cardboard races: Slide down a hill on cardboard
  20. Grass, flowers, and leaves sensory bin.
  21. Use a magnifying glass to inspect the grass and dirt
  22. Cartwheels and tumbling on the grass (barefoot or with shoes!)
  23. Water Table with nature
  24. Cartwheel or tumbling 
  25. Target games
  26. Bean bag games
  27. Hide and seek games
  28. Simon Says games
  29. Mud kitchen
  30. Roll down hills
  31. Animal walks with bare feet
  32. Create nature “soup” with grass, flower petals, sticks, etc.
  33. Pick flowers
  34. Bell parade
  35. Kazoo sound hunt
  36. Outdoor pretend play.
  37. Listening for birds or animals
  38. Record backyard sounds and playback the recording. Try to recognize and name the sound and where it was located in the yard.
  39. Fill containers with items from the backyard.  Shake plastic containers or even paper bags with the items and see if your child can name the objects.
  40. Play Marco Polo in the yard!
  41. Create a lawn maze with sticks, snow, or leaves.
  42. Auditory backyard games like: Neighborhood Listening Scavenger Hunt, Auditory Hide and Seek, Listening Tag, Noisy Toy Positioning Game
  43. Create with recycled materials and make arts, crafts, and activities.
  44. Pull plasticware out of the cupboards and sort the lids onto the containers.
  45. Mix colors with food coloring in water.
  46. Blow bubbles
  47. Explore how water evaporates.
  48. Jump rope
  49. Throw a book picnic: grab snacks, a blanket, and a pile of books and head outside.
  50. Poke holes in a cardboard box and push pipe cleaners through the holes
  51. Bowl with recycled plastic water bottles
  52. Act out a favorite nursery rhyme or story.
  53. Put dollhouses or play sets into a bin of shredded paper.
  54. Play hide and seek.
  55. Watch and draw clouds
  56. Tell stories where one person starts a story and each person adds a sentence to continue the story.  Write it down and illustrate your story!
  57. Make and deliver lemonade to neighbors.
  58. Go birdwatching.
  59. Make creative firefly catchers and then catch the fireflies that night.
  60. Play charades.
  61. Create with finger paints (make your own with flour, water, and food coloring or washable paint!)
  62. Wash a car.
  63. Rainbow Outdoor Game
  64. Sing songs.
  65. Turn on music and dance.
  66. Pick flowers and give them to neighbors.
  67. Make crafts. Have an art show and invite friends.
  68. Create a spatial concepts map.
  69. Spin in circles.
  70. Swing side to side on a swing set.
  71. Create a water sensory bin.
  72. Hang upside down from swing set equipment.
  73. Swing on a hammock.
  74. Have a sight word scavenger hunt.
  75. Backyard dance party.  Encourage lots of whole body movements and spinning.
  76. Cartwheels
  77. Tumble
  78. Hopscotch
  79. Play Leapfrog
  80. Mini trampoline (or the big sized-trampoline).
  81. Catch a ball while standing, sitting, swinging, rolling a ball, catching between legs, etc.
  82. Hit a tennis racket at a target including bubbles, falling leaves, large balls, small rubber balls, and balloons.
  83. Catch butterflies in a net.
  84. Bubble pop, including popping bubbles with a toe, knee, foot, head, finger, or elbows.
  85. Have a backyard messy play date.
  86. Animal Sound Obstacle Course
  87. Outdoor Math Game for Preschoolers: Exploring Very Big and Very Small
  88. Pool Noodle Train Tracks 
  89. Steam Streamers Active Train Play
  90. Water Balloon Letter Learning
  91. Spray Bottle Target Practice
  92. Water Balloon Games for Kids
  93. Dandelion Games
  94. Water Games
  95. Pom Pom Games
  96. Bubble Science and Make Your Own Bubble Solution
  97. Get Up and Move Dice Homemade Toddler Game
  98. Super Simple 5 Minute Backyard Teepee
  99. Games With Pool Noodles

BACKYARD SENSORY DIET EQUIPMENT

Make a bin of outdoor toys that are readily available in your garage or storage area so that sensory play experiences are at your family’s fingertips. 

  • Hoola Hoops
  • Jump Ropes
  • Balls
  • Bat
  • Tennis Racket
  • Butterfly Net
  • Baby Swimming Pool
  • Tarp or Slip and Slide
  • Water Hose
  • Scoops and cups
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bike
  • Scooter
  • Skateboard
  • Cardboard
  • Target or net
  • Shovels
  • Buckets
  • Play wheelbarrow
  • Swingset
  • Climbing structure
  • Flashlight
  • Magnifying glass
  • Cones
  • Bubbles
  • Bean bags

For more outdoor play ideas that inspire movement and encourage development of motor skills, try these resources:

Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards

Heavy Work Movement Cards

Sensory Lifestyle Handbook

 

 

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.