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What are Common Elementary School Playground Games and Activities?

By J. Beam
Updated May 23, 2024
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Playground games have been around longer than the inception of the modern playground itself, and children have been playing some of the more popular ones for years. Tag, kickball, dodgeball, hopscotch, and jump rope have remained long-standing favorites at recess. Newer games such as tetherball, funnel ball, and four square may not be as time-tested, but they have still been favorites on many school playgrounds for a number of years.

Today’s modern playgrounds have top-notch equipment, including rock walls and zip lines that entertain kids and keep them active. However, traditional playground games, especially at schools with limited playground space, should not be overlooked. Still, many kids today have never heard of Red Rover or freeze tag, and with the threat of recess being removed in many schools, these popular games could be lost forever.

One of the most valuable things a child can learn from playground games is fairness. Many games and activities require taking turns, and thus give a group of children a chance to work out a fair way to play. Encouraging kids to be fair and take turns often requires adult input, but most kids catch on quickly. Though many games for the playground require equipment, most are limited to a playground ball and maybe some sidewalk chalk to create a play area where one does not exist. Some games, such as tag, require no equipment at all.

In many schools, the physical education teacher introduces kids to playground games like kickball, freeze tag, and four square. If you live in an area where recess time is threatened, address your local school board or administration. As the obesity rate among youth continues to rise, active play time is the last thing that kids should be without. If you can volunteer to teach kids some of the traditional playground games you used to play, it might renew a sense of physical activity and fun at your school or neighborhood park.

Even if you don’t have kids in school, but are seeing a decline in active participation games and activities in your local schools, consider donating playground equipment such as playground balls, flying discs, and jump ropes. These are all inexpensive items, but they are sometimes overlooked as non-essential in schools facing budget cuts. Keeping kids active and playing is essential to their health and development, and something as simple as a traditional game of Frisbee might be enough to get them up and moving.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon927034 — On Jan 22, 2014

The best outdoor activity for my kids is theatre. We go to different performances every Sunday and all our family enjoys it. I recommend it for all who have kids to do the same, because later it becomes like a tradition in the family. We even have a list of our favorite performances.

By anon323716 — On Mar 06, 2013

Recess is a great way to be active. It's not fair some kids don't get recess and play original games and take a break from school for 30 minutes.

By surfNturf — On Jul 31, 2010

Crispety- I enjoyed kickball and dodge ball, but my favorite playground games involved hopscotch and tag.

I really enjoyed making the hopscotch grid on the ground with my chalk and trying to keep my balance as I picked up my rocks on each consecutive number.

I also loved tag. It was an adrenaline producing game that really was a lot of fun. These were the best playground fun games ever.

I used to love going to the playground as a kid and I loved recess at school too. Playing is really important for children.

By Crispety — On Jul 31, 2010

I just wanted to add that I enjoyed ball related games as a kid. Kick ball and dodge ball were the best outdoor playground games.

They were exciting fast-paced games that really kept you moving. With dodge ball you really did not know when you were going to be hit with the ball. Each round that you were missed made it that much more exciting.

Kick ball was my other favorite. It was fun trying to get on base. I love baseball but could never play it and this is the next best thing for me. These were really fun playground games.

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