Fun Running Games for Kids

boy running image by sonya etchison from

When kids get together, they want to play. Running games are especially good for kids because they help keep children healthy as well as provide them with entertainment. Walk through your yard before letting kids run. Fill up potholes and remove large stones so no one trips and falls. Divide kids into teams or let them run solo. Running games give kids a way to compete and show off their athletic talents.

Red Rover

Divide your kids into two teams. Each team stands hand in hand in a line, and the two teams face each other. The team captains (or each child in turn) take turns calling team members of the opposite side to try to break the line. For instance, the team captain calls out, “Red rover, red rover, let Sally come over.” When Sally hears her name, she runs to the opposite line and tries to break through the linked arms to the other side. If she breaks through the line, she gets to carry one person back with her to her original line. A runner who does not break through becomes part of the challenging line. The team that ends up with the most players at the end of playtime is the winner. Distance the teams so your kids have lots of room to run and must energetically yell to call a player over.

Suitcase Relay

Relay races are fun competitions in which kids race together. Use two small suitcases and fill them with clothes. Place an equal number of garments of similar types in each suitcase. (For instance, do not put a hat in one case and not another.) Use spray paint to paint a starting line and finish line for your game, about 20 to 50 feet apart. Place the suitcase at the beginning of the line and divide your kids into teams. Half of each team stands at the finish line, and half stands at the start line. At the start line, the first person opens the case, puts on the clothing (on top of their own) and runs to the finish line with the suitcase. At the finish line, he takes the game clothing off, puts them in the suitcase and runs back to the starting line, at which point the next person in their team (now starting from the finish line) can start. The winning team is the one that finishes running the relay first.

Octopus Race

This game works well with lots of children. For this game, choose one child to be the Octopus. Divide the children into two large groups at least 20 feet apart. Between the two groups, place the Octopus. The Octopus yells out, “I’m hungry!” When he shouts, the two teams run to swap sides. Whoever the Octopus tags gets to keep the runners. The runners hold hands to make a line. Then the Octopus yells, “I’m hungry!” again. This time, the captured runners get to help catch new octopi. However, the Octopus group has to continue holding hands. (Only the people on the end get to tag.)