Outdoor games are a great way to motivate your students. Bring out your students fun or competitive spirits with relays, skipping rope and ball games.
Here is a list of 10 tried and tested games I have used for my language centre’s Summer Camp. Some of them are traditional playground games and others have been tweaked to involved more use of the English language.
1. Marco Polo Materials: Blindfold
One student volunteers to be blindfolded, the other students have 10 seconds to run away and hide, the blindfold is then removed and the game begins. Once the game begins, the other students must freeze. When you shout the trigger question (this can be anything from ‘What’s your name?’ to ‘How are you?’), other students must shout their response. This gives the hiding places away so that the students can be caught. The last student to be caught is the winner.
2. Hopscotch Materials: Chalk
Draw a hopscotch grid on the floor with chalk. As children jump, they have to count, say days of the week, months of the year, colours etc.
3. Skipping rope Materials: Long skipping rope
Play with this rhyme… ‘Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, when it’s your birthday please jump in… January, February, March etc. students try to join in with skipping when it is their birthday month
4. Freeze tag Materials: Nothing
When a student is caught by the chaser they have to freeze, the only way they can run again is if they shout a question. One of the free students then runs over, holds their hand on them and says the answer, then the student replies ‘thank you’. The chaser wins if all students are frozen.
5. What’s the time Mr Wolf? Materials: Nothing
Assemble the kids in a line against the wall, nominate Mr Wolf and ask them to stand at one end of the play area. Mr Wolf turns his/her back so he cannot see the other children. The other children chant, ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’, Mr Wolf responds with a time (1 o’clock, 2 o’clock etc). The other children advance the number of steps called out and then repeat the chant until eventually they are standing very close to Mr Wolf. Once one of the children is close, Mr Wolf can respond to their chant with ‘DINNER TIME!’ rather than a real time. This is the cue for lots of screaming as Mr Wolf chases the other children in an attempt to catch one of them. The child that is caught is the next Mr Wolf.
6. Duck, duck, goose Materials: Nothing
Gather the children. Sit the children in a circle. Choose one child to walk around the circle. As they walk around the circle they should tap each child’s head (or shoulder, depending on culture), whilst saying duck. The Goose must get up and chase the Duck around the circle. The Duck has to try and run around circle and sit in Goose’s spot. If the Duck gets the Goose’s spot, then the Goose becomes the Duck. If the Duck fails to get the spot first but is caught by the Goose and tagged, the Duck must be the Duck again.
7. Rainbow tag Materials: Nothing
Line up all but one (the chaser) of the students against a wall. Go along and assign each one of them a colour of the rainbow – red, yellow, pink, green, orange, purple and blue. When the chaser (who stands in the middle between the wall and where the other children need to run to) calls out a colour, those children that were assigned that colour have to run to the other side without being caught. If the chaser shouts rainbow, all students run to the other side. This can be varied by playing ‘fruit salad’, instead of colours, assign fruits… apples, bananas, strawberries, cherries, oranges, grapes etc. Keep going until all the students are caught. The last student caught is the new chaser.
8. Cats in the corner Materials: Chalk and a soft ball
Mark off a square play area using chalk. The ball thrower is at the centre of the square. There are safe zones at each of the corners where the players who are Cats will be. When the thrower shouts out ‘Cats in the corner!’ the Cats have to run from one corner to another without getting hit by the ball. They can go any direction including diagonally as long as they do not get hit. Any player hit by the ball is out. If you have a large group use several balls and a couple of throwers (also use students as fetchers).
9. Football run Materials: A ball and 4 cones for each team (ball and 4 cones for each team)
Space the cones evenly apart. If you don’t have cones make them out of construction paper. Have the 1st person on each team carry a football while running in and out of the cones, and then back to the starting line. When they return to the beginning, they pass the football to the next player, do 10 jumping jacks then the next player can go. First team to finish wins. You can turn this into a language game by making the students answer 3 questions (instead of jumping jacks) before the next player goes.
10. One knee Materials: A ball
Throw the ball to each other, if a student misses they must then go on one knee until the catch the ball again. If the continue to miss they must go to two knees, two knees and one elbow, two knees and two elbows, then they are out.
11. Mother May I Materials: Nothing
Begin by designating a ‘mother’. This person will change at the beginning of each new game. The Mother stands by him or herself at one end, and all the other players (“children”) stand shoulder-to-shoulder a desired length away (usually 10-20 feet) facing the Mother. However far away the children are, the Mother must be able to hear them. The game begins by the first child asking the Mother if they can take a certain amount of a specific type of step. Some popular steps are Baby Steps, Scissor Steps, Giant Steps, Jumping Jack Steps, Karate Steps, or Jump Steps. The Mother then replies with “Yes, you may,” or, “No, you may not.” Whether the Mother replies yes or no is completely up to the Mother’s whim. However, the Mother must be impartial, or the game isn’t fun for everyone. The rest of the children each asks for steps on their turn, and once all have asked, play returns to the first child and continues until a child had reached the Mother. The first child to reach the Mother wins! This child also becomes the Mother for the next game.
12. Red letter Materials: Nothing
Choose one person in your group to be the ‘letter-picker’ – this person chooses the letters, as their title suggests. The letter-picker is posted at the far end of the designated play area. The others gather in a horizontal line at the opposite end. The letter-picker picks one letter of the alphabet to be the Red Letter, telling the other participants what it is. The point of the Red Letter will become clear as the game gets underway. After making sure that the other participants are ready, the ‘letter-picker’ calls out a letter of the alphabet. This can be any letter, including the Red Letter. If the letter is not the Red Letter, the participants (not the letter-picker) take x number of paces forward, depending on the number of that letter in their full name. If the letter called out was ‘E’, and the person had four ‘E’s in their name, the person would take four paces forward. On the other hand, if the Red Letter chosen was ‘E’, and a person starts to move forward, they have to return to the beginning. Therefore, the objective is to get to the same end as the letter-picker first, and to remember not to move on when the Red Letter is called. The first person to get to the same end as the letter-picker gets the prize that is available (usually bragging rights) and the honour of being the letter-picker in the next game.
Please comment if you feel I have missed any games out! Thank you for reading. 🙂