Red Light, Green Light can be played by children of all ages. A simple game that children love to play, Red Light, Green Light can be played by any number of players either inside or outside. If there are too many players to play safely in the space provided, divide into groups and play multiple rounds. The first person to finish round one can be the leader for round two.
The goal of the game is to get from one end of the playing area to the other (or back again) without being called out because you keep moving after “Red Light!” is said.
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Red Light, Green Light Game Origin
Although the origin of the game is unknown, Red Light, Green Light has been played for generations. Called Statues or Grandmother’s Footsteps (UK), it is a popular children’s game, often played in Australia, Finland, and Sweden. However, how the game is played varies throughout different regions of the world.
Preparing to Play Red Light, Green Light
No equipment is required for the game. However, if you wish, round green and red signs can be used. It works well to use a double sided sign with one side green and one red.
The game can be played inside or outside. Designate the playing area and have the children line up in a row across from the person who will be calling out “Red Light, Green Light!”
Playing Red Light, Green Light Outside
To play Red Light, Green Light outside, you will need a large area such as an open field, tennis court, or gymnasium. Players line up on one side and the person who is calling out “Red Light!” and “Green Light!” stands in the middle of the field.
Whenever “Green Light!” is called out, players can run forward. However, when “Red Light!” is called out, they must stop immediately.
At any point, the caller may say “Red Light!” and turn around. If any of the players are caught moving after this, they are out.
Remember the following:
- Do not run too fast or when “Red Light!” is called out, you will not be able to stop.
- Wearing long pants is important so you can throw yourself down if necessary in order to stop.
- The last person to make it back to the starting line is the new person in the middle.
Playing Red Light, Green Light Inside
The children line up about 15 feet away from the person who will be calling out “Red Light!” “Green Light!” The caller faces away from the line of players and says “Green Light!” The children walk forward until the caller turns and says “Red Light!” and turns around quickly. If one or more children keep moving and are caught by the caller, they are out. The players start moving again when the caller turns back around and says “Green Light!” The caller wins if all the kids are out before anyone is able to touch him/her. Otherwise, the first player to touch the caller wins the game and earns the right to be the caller for the next game. Make sure the players understand that no running is allowed.
Using Red Light, Green Light in the Classroom
Teachers love this game. It teaches children how to follow directions, listening skills, and agility in a fun way. Additionally, the game can be played in as few as ten minutes or, if the children are engaged, as long as your wish. This game can be played either indoors or outdoors.
- The students line up, side-by-side at one end of the playing space facing the teacher.
- The teacher stands opposite the students, facing them.
- When the teacher shouts “Green Light!” the children move toward the teacher. Instruct them to walk, walk quickly, or run, depending on the amount of space you have for playing the game.
- When the teacher shouts “Red Light!” the children stop where they are.
- The teacher continues to shout “Red Light!” and “Green Light!” until the children reach her
- All the children go back to the starting line and the game begins again.
Red Light, Green Light Game Variations
- The children can take turns being the ones to shout “Red Light!” and “Green Light!”
- You can have simple red and green signs to hold up as it adds to the games enjoyment.
- When playing with children of different ages, you may want to designate two start lines, the closer one being for the smaller kids.
- In one variation of this game, you may add “Yellow Light!” which means that the players can continue to move, but must move slowly.
- In some versions of this game, the traffic light player stands with his back to the others, only turning around when “Red Light!” is called to check whether anyone is moving.
- The caller also can stay facing the others at all times.
- Some versions allow the traffic light player to shout “Red Light!” or “Green Light!” twice in a row in order to trick over-eager players who are not paying attention to the words.
- You may wish to introduce new colored lights, giving variations how to move towards the finish line. For example, run on green, walk heal to toe on purple, hop for yellow, etc.
- The caller can designate his/herself as the finish line. This enables the game to move around so that when players get close to the finish line (the leader), the finish lines moves farther away.
- For the hearing impaired, try having the caller turn their back towards the group for a red light and turn around (face your group) for a green light.
Red Light, Green Light Game Rules
Before you begin playing, make sure everyone knows the rules and what happens if they move on a Red Light.
- Players have two seconds to come to a complete stop or hit the ground or they are out.
- Make sure players understand they must move quickly and safely.
- The winner is not only the fastest player, but also the player who is the most alert and controlled.
The trick to winning Red Light, Green light is to move smoothly so that you can freeze instantly until you are within reach of the caller. Whether players win or lose, they will still have fun playing this challenging but simple game.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.