The 10 best playground games

Written by rosemary gemmell
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The 10 best playground games
Children enjoy playground games in the UK. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Children still enjoy playground games at school in the UK. From ball games and skipping ropes to simple singing rhymes, groups of children gather together for playtime at morning break and lunch time. Many of the best games require nothing more than a group of children, a ball or some skipping ropes.

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Dodge the Ball

Two teams face each other across a marked line. One team starts the game by throwing a ball to try to hit someone in the opposite team. That person will then be out. If the opposing person catches it, the thrower is out. The winner is the team with most people still in.

The 10 best playground games
Win the game by dodging the ball. (ball image by Eldin Muratovic from

Hide and Seek

One child is the seeker and stands with his back to the other children, covering his eyes. As he counts to 100, the other children go and hide. When he reaches 100, the seeker calls out "I'm coming, ready or not". The seeker has to find all the children, and the last one is the winner who then becomes the seeker.

The 10 best playground games
Children must hide before the seeker counts to 100. (dj wave 34 image by Nathalie P from


Often known as tag, this is a popular chase game for any number of children. One person is chosen as "it". All the other children run around the playground trying to keep out of his way. The person who is "it" must tag or touch another child, who then becomes 'it' and starts chasing after the others.

Children must avoid being tagged by "it".
Children must avoid being tagged by "it". (children/boy and girl running/playing image by L. Shat from

Skipping Game

Two girls stand at the end of a long skipping rope, one at either side. They turn the rope while all the girls sing a rhyme. Each of the other girls tries to jump into the rope and out again one at a time. They are out of the game if they get tangled in the rope.

The 10 best playground games
Many girls love skipping games. (skipping rope. image by bluefern from

The Farmer's in His Den

One of the best singing games, the children hold hands in a large circle in the playground. One child stands in the middle as the farmer, while the others walk and chant the rhyme, "the farmer's in his den". In the next verse, the farmer chooses a wife to stand with him. The rhyme continues as the wife chooses a child, who then chooses a nurse, and she chooses a dog. The final verse is "they all pat the dog". The dog then becomes the new farmer and it all starts again.


Any number of children can play leapfrog. One child bends over as the frog, so that his back is flat. Another child then jumps over the frog by running and placing his hands on the frog's back while trying to leap over him. Two people can play with each other, or one child can try to leap over a row of frogs.

Oranges and Lemons

Two children form an arch with their hands; one is a lemon and the other is an orange. The other children walk under the arch while they sing the rhyme. The arch can fall on any child trapping them. The child must choose to become an orange or lemon and they stand behind the person making the arch. Sometimes there is a tug of war between the two teams at the end.

The 10 best playground games
Oranges and lemons is an old London rhyme. (oranges and lemons image by david hughes from


This is one of the best singing games for younger children, in which they hold hands to make a circle. As they walk round they sing the old rhyme "Ring-a-ring-o-roses". At the end when they sing "Atishoo, we all fall down", they drop to the ground.


One person is the judge. The other children run around the playground,until the judge calls "freeze". Everyone must stop and freeze in position. The judge tries to make the children move or laugh without touching them. Anyone moving is out. When he shouts "move", the remaining children run around again and the game is repeated until they have a winner.

The children have to be as still as statues.
The children have to be as still as statues. (Cemetery statues image by Matt Ferrell from


Conkers is played with the conker, or hard nut of the horse chestnut tree found inside its prickly shell. Make a hole in the conker and thread a piece of string through it, tying a knot in the end. Two people face each other with their conkers and take turns at hitting their opponent's conker with their own. The winner destroys the other conker.

The 10 best playground games
The conker is the hard nut inside the jaggy shell. (horse chestnut (conker) border image by Tamara Kulikova from

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