Creative Recess Games to Play

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Run and laugh straight into the new school year with these creative recess games you and your friends can enjoy
Jenn Danko

Going back to school doesn’t mean putting an end to summer fun. You can get creative in the playground during recess with a slew of games that will get you running, playing, thinking and laughing well into the school year. Forget hopscotch and jump rope. Gather your friends and teach them new tricks that will make the start of the school year more amusing than ever.

Rainbow Tag

Put a colorful spin on traditional tag with this easy-to-learn playground game that has kids calling out colors like crazy! The game works best with large groups of six or more. Whether you love red, purple, orange or green, everyone will find a way to call out their favorite colors in this soon-to-be playground favorite.

Object: To run from one side of the playground to the other without being tagged.

  1. Split up and stand on opposite sides of the playground—within hearing distance of one another, but with enough room to run.
  2. One or several players can start out as “It” and select a color. Any players wearing that color must cross the playing field while the other players in the center attempt to tag them.
  3. Anyone who is tagged becomes part of the center. Every time a new player joins the center, the group decides on a new color and calls it out.
  4. The group in the center can decide to shout “rainbow,” which means that all colors are included and all untagged players must run toward the opposite side.
  5. The game continues until all players have been tagged. The last player left is the winner.

Captain, May I?

Gather three or more of your friends and exercise your mind and listening skills with this interactive playground game.

Object: To be the first player to cross the line and become Captain.

  1. One player is chosen as Captain. The captain draws a line and faces the other players, who line up on the far side of the yard.
  2. The Captain starts the game by calling out a player’s name and tells them the kind of step to take and how many. The fun part is determining the type of step the players can take during each game.
    • Baby step: Move forward with the length of one foot
    • Backward step: Turn around and take a step backward
    • Banana slip: Slide one foot forward as far as possible and then draw the other foot up to it
    • Barrel step: Leap up and spin around, moving forward at the same time
    • Bunny rabbit: Hop with both feet together
    • Frog jump: Jump from a crouching position
    • Giant step: Take as large a step as possible
    • Scissors step: Jump forward and land with feet apart; take a second jump and land with feet together
    • Soldier step: Step forward with your legs stiff
    • Before the players move, they must ask, “Captain, May I?”
    • The captain replies, “Yes, you may,” or “No, you may not.”
    • If players move without asking permission, they must go back and start all over again.
    • The first player to cross the line wins and becomes the next captain.


Love to laugh? Round up your friends for this language-inspired game that will keep you giggling for hours.

Object: The player in the middle of the circle needs to refrain from laughing.

  1. All players sit around in a circle, except the “it” player who stands in the center of the circle.
  2. Each player asks the player who is “it” a question.
  3. The player who is “it” can only answer “sausage.” For example, “What color is your hair?” Sausage. “What do you brush your teeth with?” Sausage.
  4. The first person to make the “it” player laugh wins a try in the middle.
  5. The best part is you can substitute “sausage” with any word. Explore the dictionary or look online and find words that may be a funny fit for the game.

Check out the Recommended Resources section for other recess games that will keep your summer fun going straight into the school year.

Recommended Resources

Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity

By Kris Bordessa

Think you can suspend a beach ball at least three feet high in less than five minutes using only a sheet of mailing labels and a few sheets of newspaper? You and your friends can give it a go with a little help from Team Challenges. Kris Bordessa jams more than 170 creative games into the book, turning recess time into team building time. Round up your friends for full on fun!

Games Kids Should Play at Recess

By Dr. Curt Hinson

Learn how to play 12 outdoor games through this book, which includes complete descriptions of how to play each game. Kids of all ages will flip for this easy, instructional book of creative recess games.

Playing at School/Juego En La Escuela

By Joanne Mattern

Kids can learn creative recess games in both English and Spanish. This easy-to-read book published by Weekly Reader will inspire kids to learn beyond the conventional games of playground tag. As a bonus, they can practice their second language skills while learning new games.

The Ultimate Playground & Recess Game Book“:

By Guy Bailey

Dig into more than 170 fun-packed games, sports, and activities for recess and recreational time on the school playground, the community park or the family back yard. Kids will love the 150-plus illustrations that help them have fun both on and off the playground.

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