Scientific studies tell us that being outdoors is one of the biggest contributory factors to children being more physically active. For this reason, a playground is a health and developmental asset. Of course, there are always ways to boost the benefits of a playing space, and playground equipment and games are a good example of that.
If you would love some outdoor play inspiration for your outdoor space, or to encourage your pupils or children to play more, these playground game ideas are a great start:
Games without equipment
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Rock, paper, scissors is often used as a way to decide who gets to do a certain chore, or who gets to enjoy a nice treat when there isn’t a clear reason any one person is the ‘right’ option. However, in the playground, it’s just a simple game to play that takes seconds. You can see how to play rock, paper, and scissors here.
In bulldog one person stands in the ‘middle’ of a playing area and then everybody else stands at one end of that space. The aim is for everybody to get from one end to another without the person in the middle catching them. Anybody who is caught has to join the middle group in catching remaining players when they run past again. This continues until everybody is caught, and the game begins again.
One person bends over whilst the other person puts their hands on their back and jumps over them.
Catch (you’re it or tag)
One person is ‘it’ and has to tap somebody else who is then ‘it’.
What’s the time Mr Wolf?
In this game there is one child who is the ‘wolf’ who faces forward and then everybody else starts in a line facing the same way, but set back.
All the other children then ask what time it is to the ‘wolf’ who then says the time, and the number they say is the steps that everybody has to take towards the wolf (IE 3 o’clock is three steps). This is repeated until the ‘wolf’ decides to say ‘dinnertime’ and all the children then have to run back to their original ‘safe’ position whilst the ‘wolf’ tries to catch one of them. If the ‘wolf’ catches a child, that child is then the ‘wolf’ when the game begins again.
Simon says is where one person says ‘Simon Says’ and then an action such as ‘put your hands on your head’ or ‘stick your tongue out’ is said and everybody does that action. The person who is saying the directions then waits for a time to give out an action without saying ‘Simon says’ first and whoever does the action still is ‘out’. This continues until everybody is out and the winner is the person who doesn’t get caught out.
Games with equipment
Skipping is a common playground game across the world, with various versions of the game played. For example; some people choose to skip alone, hopping using both feet or a mixture of both. Another option is with a long rope where two children stand apart holding two ropes, swinging one and then another and a third child skips in the middle until they catch the rope by accident and they are ‘out’ or their ‘score’ starts again. There are multiple long ropes to try, some of which you can see in this video.
Hopscotch has, according to some historical sources, been around since England was ruled by the Romans.
During that time, though, it wasn’t just a cute game for kids. In fact, it was a number of scratches made in the ground over large distances by Roman soldiers. Those soldiers would then use the markings to gain strength and agility whilst wearing the heavy armour suits they wore into battle, which could weigh up to half of the person’s body weight!
Now, hopscotch is laid out with chalk or paint in playgrounds, or for more vibrant and long-lasting results, it is done with modern thermoplastic playground markings. As there are multiple ways to play hopscotch – including the example in this video – it’s a really good investment in a thermoplastic playground design.
Other great playground marking games (to be used with or without extra equipment) are; Twister, Piggy in the Middle, Noughts and Crosses, Mirror Me, Target, Snakes and Ladders and Chess.
“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” – Leo F. Buscaglia
With a combination of games and outdoor space, children can benefit in numerous ways but especially; physically, socially and developmentally. By facilitating this and perhaps hosting or suggesting some of the games above, the children in your care can make the most of their time outdoors.