Kids. They’re excessively active, and it’s quite tough to predict their bursts of energy. Where does it come from?
More importantly, as a care-taker, HOW do you keep them occupied?
Most kids are livewires, buzzing with energy, and managing them is almost always a full-time job. No matter how many guides you write, they’re still a tough bunch.
Do they cooperate? Seldom.
However, one way to get them to spend their energy is to have them run around. While they do so without us even having to ask them, organized running games are definitely a genius way to keep them occupied. It’s great exercise, and they get to have fun.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, playing around – both with parents and their peers help kids build thriving bonds and healthy bodies. So, read on to find some exciting running games for kids, while you observe and chill with the other care-takers!
How Does Playing Outdoors Help Kids?
Playing outdoors gives kids exposure to plenty of sunlight. Sunlight is the best way to ensure they get their fill of Vitamin D, which is essential for good health. Kids get to explore the world around them and learn about their physical abilities.
Running is a significant way for kids to express themselves. It also gives them a greater sense of freedom, helping develop their creative abilities.
Running tires them out, and nothing is more relieving for a caregiver than to spend a quiet night after the kids are tucked in. The physical activity definitely prompts a regular, healthy sleep schedule; and restricts their physical energy to just the day.
Cleaning them up might be a little tiresome, but that’s something we’d be willing to do over watching them raise a ruckus at night. Right?
How Does Running Foster Social Behavior in Children?
All running games definitely involve at least one partner.
When kids play outdoors, they make friends and playmates. This in turn helps develop their social skills. They learn to interact with each other and learn to connect with people their age. Learning from each other, developing empathy, and care for others is also something that happens during group activities.
Teamwork and social cues – two very important parts of communication, are also learned. They are more relaxed, without the constraints of the classroom, or a regulated environment and this reduces anxiety. A free, unrestrained child is a very happy child.
Playing games outside involves different kinds of interaction with other kids and an open environment with set rules. This kind of environment helps kids remain calm, and also helps them connect with nature while observing their surroundings.
Keeping track of their behavior especially in a social setting that involves other kids also helps parents detect behavioral problems in children early.
Some of the Best Running Games for Kids
1. TAG – Touch and Go
Equipment: You will need a group of three or more children and a large open space without any sharp corners.
Rules: One person is the ‘IT’ and has to catch the other kids in the group. Depending on how adventurous the group is and the amount of space around them, they can add more rules to make it enjoyable. The game stops when all have been tagged at least once or if everyone tires themselves out.
Variations: You could add a ‘safe space’ where kids could hide and not get caught. You could also add a concept of ‘locking’ and ‘releasing’ to compel kids to work together, even in a simple game of chase.
Benefits: The concept of ‘locking’ and ‘releasing’ instills the concept of cooperation in kids, where they learn to bond and team up. Interpersonal skills that help improve their communication abilities are also learned during Touch and Go. This game is a great way to get kids to run around, blow off steam, and tire themselves out while picking up some interpersonal skills at the same time.
2. Scavenger Hunt
Equipment: You will need a group of children, many recognizable sturdy items that are large but can be hidden easily, and a wide-open space.
Rules: This game is a treasure-hunting game, where kids are given a list of items and are tasked with finding them within a given time. The kids are encouraged to go exploring in search of their hidden treasures.
Variations: You could also make it enjoyable with themes and rewards. This game can also be played in variations, based on the area and the age of the kids.
Benefits: It cultivates a sense of healthy competition and gives them the pleasure of discovery and intrigue. The children also learn social skills and conflict resolution.
3. Capture the Flag
Equipment: You will need a large area like a park or a playground, with a varied cover (big rocks, trees, etc.) and a large group of over 20 kids. You will also need two colored flags and a safe method of tagging people: laser tag or nerf guns with protective gear for the players.
Rules: Capture the Flag is one of the games PE teachers use often to foster team spirit and organizational behavior.
The kids divide themselves into two teams and pick two areas equally distanced from each other. When the game begins, each team tries to ‘capture’ the others’ flag and bring it to their site. In the ensuing chaos, team members can get tagged by an opponent player and go to the time-out zone, where they watch the rest of the game unfold.
The game continues till the time ends or a team captures the flag a certain number of times, or the players get tagged out.
Variations: The game could carry variations with spies and multiple teams instead of two to increase the stakes. You could also make it a single flag and hide it; so that the team members have to work together to find it and bring it to their safe space.
Benefits: The game prompts strategic thinking and teamwork amongst the kids. It teaches them to watch their surroundings, look for social cues, and strategically defuse any situation that may arise. This is a great game to teach kids to think on their feet.
4. Dog and the Ball
Equipment: You will require a group of kids and an evenly divided flat space. You will also need a softball that is light and safe to play with and doesn’t cause harm or injury.
Rules: Two groups are lined up equally distanced from each other, and a ball is placed in the center. When we say “go,” a kid from both the teams tries to run and grab the ball first, to head back to their team.
The teammate who grabs the ball has to make sure not to let the other team player catch them before they go back to their team. Kids have to plan and dodge the others while being the fastest to grab the ball.
Benefits: The game enhances dexterity in kids and allows them to work on their speed – learning when to run fast or go slow. They also learn to better their aim and work on evading an attack from their opposing team.
5. Kick the Can
Equipment: You need a can, a large area with a varied cover, and a clear space to start the game.
Rules: This game is a combination of TAG and Hide-and-Seek. One kid or a small team of kids will be the catchers, and a can is placed in the middle of the playing area. The others try to run and hide while the catcher(s) close their eyes and count to a certain number. After the countdown, they try to find the other hidden kids.
If a kid is caught, they go into a holding pen. If one of the un-captured kids manages to kick the can, the captured players are released. The game is over once all the runners are in the holding pen.
Variations: Kids could divide themselves into teams and work together to catch everyone else.
Benefits: Kids learn time management, making spur of the moment decisions, and how to assess and make quick decisions properly.
6. Running Dodgeball
Equipment: You will need a softball and a closed space that is flat.
Rules: The kids are split into teams of two, and a softball is given to them. One team tries to hit the other team members to secure a point, and the team with the most points wins. The kids are not allowed to take more than three steps while holding the ball. Teammates have to move around and pass the ball while trying to hit the others.
Variations: During summer, the ball can be switched with water balloons to beat the heat.
Benefits: This game develops teamwork, coordination, and analytical skills. Kids learn how to aim the ball at opponents, and gauge how much force to apply while flinging the ball. The game is just pure fun for the kids while teaching them how to plan their moves well.
7. Seven Tiles
Equipment: You need a set of seven wooden/ plastic blocks of various sizes, a soft and lightweight rubber ball that doesn’t hurt the kids while playing.
Rules: Divide the kids into two teams; one team will be the players, and the other will be the seekers.
The players’ team stacks the seven blocks (largest to the smallest) at the middle of the playground. The seekers will then lie up at a distance of a few feet and try to hit the stack with the ball such that the blocks are scattered across the playing area.
The players will then try to collect the blocks and stack them in the same order at the same place, while the seekers try to prevent it by hitting the players (who are attempting to stack the blocks) with the ball.
The player who gets hit by the ball will be out of the game. The team which succeeds in doing their task first wins.
Variations: Use stones and maintain a safe distance if you do not have blocks. The goal could be to pick up all the rocks, and catch the person who threw the ball to break the pile.
Benefits: Kids learn the value of time, understanding time-management during critical situations, while staying aware of external factors in their surroundings. This is another game that helps them think on their feet and also teaches them about multitasking skills.
8. Hide and Seek
Equipment: You need a large space where you can hide – with covers like rocks, trees and safe spaces that can conceal; and a large group of kids.
Rules: A single child shuts their eyes and counts to a number while the others hide. After the countdown is over, the child then ‘catches’ the others who have hidden themselves in various corners of the park. The game ends when everyone has been caught or when the child gives up.
Variations: A variation could involve two ‘catchers’ or ‘ policemen’ catching the others who are ‘robbers’ or ‘thieves.’ Another variation could involve a concept of ‘I’m Out’ said by the child trying to find everyone, and the last person to reach the child is the next ’seeker.’
Benefits: Hide and Seek develops a sense of discovery and adventure in kids. They get to work on their analyzing skills. Their impromptu thinking during unpredictable situations and gauging skills are also developed. This game also teaches children about being self-dependent, how to operate as a single unit and play individually.
There’s no denying that kids in this generation spend too much time cooped up in their rooms or classrooms studying and constantly developing skills that the society demands.
They need a safe to unwind and spend time without being pressured into keeping track of their responsibilities.
As a child, they deserve to unwind by enjoying their childhood and making memories for life. Running games for kids are definitely a wonderful way to help them grow individually and stay at the peak of their physical health.
Physical activity is definitely essential for children’s mental and physical development. As a care-taker, if you’re too worried about the safety of your children while they play outside, relax. Trust your gut, and monitor them. They’re definitely not alone, and they’re only going to have the fun they deserve!
Letting your child play outside and tire themselves will help them grow, and help with your caretaking skills as well!
All we want is for our tots to grow up healthy and happy, and there’s no better way to let them grow than setting them loose – let them run around, make friends and have fun while you watch!