Probably one of the oldest, best-known, and most fun games for children remains tag. Tag, played with two or more players, involves one or more players designated as “It” chasing and tagging other players. The fact that tag games usually require no extra equipment makes them possible virtually anywhere and anytime. Additionally, tag works for any age or skill level. In this article, we have provided tag games for kids, tag games for PE classes, and some clever variations of the traditional tag games. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
Tips for Playing Tag
- If your players’ skills are uneven, set a time limit for how long someone can be It.
- For team tag games, try to divide your group so that each team is relatively equal in size and ability.
- For a particularly energetic group, consider setting a safe zone to protect players.
- Advise your players to tap lightly to avoid problems with kids being hit too hard.
Tag Games for Kids
Although tag works for any age, kids are probably the biggest fans of tag games. They have the energy required to continually run. They also have the imagination that makes it possible to turn a simple chasing game into one with animals, zombies, and a variety of other characters one must escape. Our collection of tag games for kids includes some well-known favorites and a few unique and unusual choices.
Freeze tag begins just like a regular game of tag, but when someone is tagged, they must freeze in place with their legs apart. If they move, they are out of the game. This can be challenging if one is in the middle of moving. Players must not move, except for their eyes. A frozen player may get back in the game if another player crawls through their legs without being tagged. The game ends when all of the players are frozen. The last person not frozen is “It” in the next game. For a large group, turn this into a fun and frantic team game.
This tag game has some of the same elements as Freeze Tag, but lasts longer. One player is “It” and chases and tags the other players. When a player is tagged, they must freeze in place until tagged by another player. However, players can avoid being tagged by laying on their backs with their arms and legs in the air like a flipped turtle. They are only safe for the count of ten.
A simple and very fun variation of tag begins with two people as “It.” The goal is to run around with hands held and tag the other players. Whenever someone is tagged, they join hands as well. The only people able to tag others are the players at each end with free hands. The tagged group becomes larger and larger and able to surround the other players. The game ends when every player is part of the blob.
For an extremely large group of players or players that may get carried away and make the game too crazy, try splitting the blog into groups of four or six players as it grows. All the blobs chase the other players’ blobs until every player is tagged and the game is over.
Similar to Blog Tag, but with a twist, everyone begins with arms linked with another player, except for two people. One is “It” and one is “Chase.” Chase runs around avoiding being tagged by “It” and linking arms with pairs of players. When Chase links arms with a player, the person on the other side of the pair becomes Chase. If the Chased gets tagged by “It,” they become the new “It.”
The tag game has no “Its.” Everyone chases and tags. When someone is tagged, they must put their hand over the spot where they are tagged—that’s the “bandage.” The second time someone is tagged, they must put their other hand as a second bandage. A third tag, and the player goes to the “Hospital.” —a pre-determined spot at the edge of the playing area. When all players are in the hospital, the game is over.
Variation: A person in the hospital can be given a pre-determined action to perform, such as doing five jumping jacks, to get out.
What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?
Younger children love this game of tag. The first time kids play this tag game you may wish to have an adult or older child play Mr. Wolf. Line your players up on one side of the field with Mr. Wolf on the other side. The players call out, “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” If Mr. Wolf replies with a time, all of the kids take that number of steps forward. At some point, Mr. Wolf chooses to yell out, “Dinner Time!” and chases the players back to the starting point. Anyone he tags is out. You can either have the kids take turns playing Mr. Wolf or have the first person tagged do so.
Tag Games for PE
Tag games are perfect for physical education classes as they encourage physically active, social, and healthy play. They serve well as warm-up exercises and to take a break from more structured activities. Kids need quick reflexes, the ability to suddenly change direction, and speed, so playing tag is great exercise. Here are some group tag games perfect for PE.
Cops and Robbers
Divide your PE class into two equal groups — the “cops” and “robbers.” The cops chase the robbers and tag them. Once tagged, a robber must go to a predetermined area — the jail. A robber can release a team member by reaching the jail and tagging a kid confined. The goal is for all the cops to put all the robbers in jail.
This extremely active and exciting game combines soccer and tag. Two players have a soccer ball and are thus “It.” A person is tagged if the soccer ball hits their foot when kicked by “It.” Make sure your players know they must hit the feet of the other players, not their bodies. The winner of this fun game is the player left un-tagged.
Kids love zombies and will really enjoy a game of Zombie Tag. The game starts with a single player serving as the zombie “It.” When any player is tagged, they become a zombie. However, those who are playing the uninfected humans can defend themselves by throwing soft objects at the zombie. Provide balled-up socks, soft rubber balls, or small stuffed animals. When hit, the zombie must freeze for fifteen seconds which gives players the ability to get away from the zombie. The game ends when everyone is a zombie.
Cookie Jar Tag
For this fun game for younger players, you will need a “cookie jar”—a box, basket, or bucket. Designate a start line and choose two players to be “It.” Divide the rest of the players in half and give one group small balls, bean bags, or small stuffed animals. The goal is to reach the cookie jar and put in their “cookies” without being tagged. They can choose to throw their cookies to another player. Once all the cookies are in the jar, the game is over. For a smaller group, allow the players to get their cookies and begin the game again.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Have your players sit in a circle facing the inside. Choose one player to be the Fox. The fox walks around the outside of the circle lightly tapping each player on the head and saying, “Duck.” When they wish to do so, they randomly say, “Goose.” Whoever is designated goose jumps up and runs around the circle chasing and attempting to tag the fox. If they succeed, the fox joins the circle, and the goose becomes the next fox.
At the start of this chaotic and crazy tag game, the players are divided into four groups of animals, a zookeeper, and a monkey. The zookeeper must put all the animals in one of four cages by type, but the monkey can release them by tagging them. Each group of animals must move as if they are the animal designated, i.e. horses prance, kangaroos hop, lions walk on all fours and roar. If the zookeeper manages to lock up all the animals in a group before the monkey releases any, those animals must stay in the designated cage. The game ends when all the animals are caged, a difficult outcome with the monkey constantly releasing everyone.
Everyone’s It Tag
In this game, as the name suggest, everyone is “It.” Designate a playing area to fit the size of your group. You do not want it to be too large or too small, as you want the game active, but for everyone to be able to tag the other players. Set a timer for four or five minutes and then begin the game again. You can have players keep a tally or how many other players they tag and declare a winner. Alternatively, you can divide the group into teams and make two safe zones. The team whose players are all tagged first are the losers.
An outdoor tag variation, if a player touches something made of wood, they are safe.
Create obstacles that must be climbed over, run around, and walked on while they are being chased by “It.”
A scrap of fabric, old tie, or bandanna is tucked into each player’s waistband creating a “tail.” Everyone grabs as many tails as they can and the person who collects the most wins the game.
A night time combination of tag and hide-and-seek, “Its” goal is to find and “tag” the other players with the beam of a flashlight. If a player makes it back to base without being tagged, they are safe.
Divide your players into groups of four to six players. Have them link to form a “dragon” with the last player having a “tail” in their waistband. The player in the front of the line tries to grab the tail from another dragon.
Drop It Tag
Give about a third of the players a foam pool noodle, a ball, or a bean bag. The rest of the players chase and tag the ones holding something. When someone is tagged, they must drop what they are holding. The tagger picks it up and begins to be chased.
Divide players into groups of five. Three players hold hands to form a circle. One player is the runner and another is the tagger. The tagger tries to tag the runner. However, the runner is being protected by the players in the circle. The tagger may not go inside the circle and the players in the circle may not let go of each other. Once each group has had their runner tagged, have the players switch places so everyone gets a change to be the runner, the tagger, and one of the protectors.
This easy and fun game works well for any age. Each player has two clothespins on the back of their shirt or waistband. Whoever is in charge yells, “Run, turkey, run!” and all of the kids grab clothespins off the other player’s backs. When the person in charge yells, “Stop, turkey, stop!” everyone freezes. This continues as long as you wish. The person with the most clothespins at the end of the game is the winner.
Tag is not simply a chasing game. Kids must think on their feet and have coordination in order to evade “It.” Tag games are easy to learn, have very few rules, and work for any age or group size. Whenever you have a group of kids needing exercise and fun, consider one of our tag game. Careful! Don’t get tagged and have fun!
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.