Eliminate Boredom! Here’s 15 Games to Play at Recess

Who doesn’t love recess? Seriously!

It’s a chance to get out of the classroom, stretch your legs and meet new friends. (For teachers, I know it’s a time to shovel lunch). Recess is more for the kids, obviously.

But sometimes kids get bored. Sometimes they even end up nose-deep in their cell phones texting. Can you believe it? Elementary school students texting! (I’m only 25 years old, and it blows my mind how young students already have cell phones).

Take it old school and suggest your students play some games on the playground. Having been out of recess for quite some time, I took to the internet to find some fun alternatives to simply sitting in the sandbox. Here’s a list of 15 awesome games to play at recess:

1. Foursquare

If you don’t have a foursquare court on the pavement, quickly draw your own with chalk. It’s simply four squares in a grid. Grab a bouncy ball and start playing. The ball bounces from square to square (hit after each bounce). This game is great because it can involve the whole class as you rotate through players.

2. Hopscotch

If you don’t have a painted hopscotch pattern on the pavement, use chalk to make one. Not only is this fun and creative, but it gives students a chance to work on balance and coordination, too.

3. Sausage (make ‘em laugh)

I just read about this game online. A student stands in the center of a circle of friends. Then, the friends ask random questions. The student in the center must answer “sausage” without laughing. When they laugh, the student who asks the question gets a shot at being in the middle. Oh, and the word can be anything — it doesn’t have to be sausage.

4. 500

A classic for both guys and girl, all you need is a nerf football. The caller is separated from the group. They toss the ball in the air and yell out a point value (“25 points!”). The person who catched the ball gets the points. Pick a point total. The first person to make it to that total wins the game and becomes the next caller.

5. Fourbase Kickball (for indoor recess)

I thought I’d throw in an idea for indoor recess (besides reading time). Fourbase is just like regular kickball, but played with larger gym mats as bases. There are all kinds of rules that can be read about here if you’d like to play.

6. Tag (a classic)

This game needs no explanation. It’s awesome.

7. Mother May I

A classic alternative to red light green light below, this game has a mother as well as “children”. The children ask the mother if they can take a certain number of steps (these can be baby steps, big steps, leaps, etc). The mother can say yes or no. The game continues until the first child reaches the mother. Then, that student becomes the mother for the next game.

8. Red Rover

Send your students on over! A little bit of a physical game, students form two groups and yell “Red rover, red rover, send [student] over!” Then, that student tried to break through the line of students on the other side. If they do, they join their original team. If not, they trade teams. Continue until one team only has two people. The larger team is declared the winner.

9. Red Light Green Light

Alrtighty. We’re getting to the point in the list where I wish I was back in elementary school. Red Light Green Light is a classic. The leader yells “Green light!” as the other kids run toward them. Then they yell “Red Light!” and turn around. Anyone caught moving is out. The first person to tap the leader on the shoulder wins.

10. Duck Duck Goose

Another classic game I used to play in small groups. Get your students together, form a circle, and have one student walk around the circle tapping heads and saying “Duck, duck, duck….” and then they randomly pick “Goose”. That person has to run around the circle to catch the other person before they make it into their original spot. It’s the perfect game to get students energized for recess.

11. Freeze Tag

This is my personal favorite tag game. Have a group of students head to an open space and select one person as “it”. If you get tagged, you have to freeze and sit down. The only way you can get back up is if someone else tags you. The game is over when everyone is tagged. Here’s a fun variation: Those tagged remain standing with their legs in an A. The only way to get unfrozen is to have someone else crawl under them.

12. Water Balloon Toss

For many of you, it’s still blazing hot outside. And, it’ll never truly cool down. That’s where the water balloon toss comes in. Sure, it’s been played at carnival games for years, but it’s time to bring it back. Grab a small bag of water balloons at your local toy store. Fill them with water and line your students up in two separate lines. Toass away!

13. Find and Go Seek

It’s a stretch, but it might work. Have your students run around the playground and hide. Then have the “seeker” go and find them – with a time limit – so that other kids can trade roles. Sometimes they enjoy being the seeker and not hiding all of the time.

14. Sprint Races

A lot of students go home and slump over on the couch with their video games. Get your students moving! Doing sprint races with your class is a great way to introduce an active lifestyle to them — outside of gym class.

15. Your own game!

It’s your turn. What games did you play as a kid. Or, what games to your students come up with. Sometimes, kids have the best creative minds. They come up with games I would have never imagined.

Getting kids active and out of the classroom is important. It sets a precedent for them they may not have at home and keeps them participating in an active healthy lifestyle. Here’s to a fun-filled recess.


  • bored

    Many of these games are for younger kids. Would you think of some games for older kids during recess?