Children's School Yard Games

Written by kendall olsen
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Children's School Yard Games
Children's playground games from the past remain popular today. (playground image by timur1970 from

According to two researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recess is an important part of the school day for elementary-aged children. Structured recess can be implemented but is not always necessary as long as equipment and game ideas are provided. While there are several new innovations for recess, many favourite games from the past persist today. Ball games, hand clapping games and chasing games remain popular.

Marbles and Jacks

Marbles and jacks are games that students can play with just a few inexpensive elements and a flat playing surface. Several versions of rules exist–most of these games require kids to acquire as many of their opponent's game pieces as possible.


Hopscotch is a game that can be played in the playground with a flat surface and a hopscotch board. Hopscotch boards can be painted on pavement or blacktop, or they can be created with a piece of chalk. The game can be varied with a small stone or rubber block–the space on which the player's stone lands is the one he or she must skip during play. Several variations of the game exist.

Skipping Rope

Skipping rope and variations of skipping rope including Chinese skipping rope, French skipping, double-dutch and elastics are popular recess games. In these games, a rope or string is moved with the arms or legs while one or more players avoid touching the ropes by running, skipping, hopping and jumping. Additionally, single skipping ropes can provide entertainment for one child at a time.

Cat's Cradle and String Games

Cat's cradle and other string games are played with a large circle of string that is then threaded through one or more sets of hands. Players work to release themselves from the string, using over-and-under strategies to avoid being "caught" by the other player.

Tag and Chase Games

Several tag and chase games have been popular on schoolyards throughout history. Schoolchildren often play tag in which one player must evade a group or another player, according to a set of rules specific to the playground.

Ball Games

Four Square, tether ball, dodge ball, kickball and catch are popular playground games. Kids can play these games on a flat asphalt surface or grassy surface, depending on the game. While tether ball requires additional equipment such as a pole and rope, dodge ball or keepaway require only a ball and a large space.

Singing, Chanting or Hand Clapping Games

Singing, chanting and hand clapping games can be played almost anywhere on a playground, from seated on a bench to sitting on blacktop or grass. Some chanting games, such as Red Rover or Duck Duck Goose require larger spaces while singsong hand clapping games can be played on a bench or while seated on the ground.

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