10 Essential Playground Games

10 Essential Playground Games

Going to the playground can be one of the most enjoyable and memorable experiences for a child. With modern playgrounds in schools and parks offering everything from tall slides to colourful climbing nets and even the chance to skate at a skatepark, the play opportunities can seem endless.

So, when there is a world of possibilities and excited children on your hands, how can teachers, parents and carers support children to play together? The answer is playground games!

From the classic games you played as a kid to popular new playground activities, we have compiled a list of 10 playground games that can take play time to the next level, with big benefits.

What are the benefits of playground games for kids?

As a quintessential part of childhood, we often think playground games are simply fun but there’s so more to them than that! Research has found that games are essential for children’s health and development. This includes:

  • Physically: Playground games offer children the opportunity to be active. This helps to improve their motor skills, coordination, balance and more.
  • Socially: From waiting their turn to sharing play equipment, playground games allow children to collaborate and develop bonds with others. This is beneficial for helping them to form new relationships.
  • Emotionally: Games teach children how to understand and manage their emotions. This allows them to have more confidence with going out and spending time with others.
  • Cognitively: Through experimenting with trial and error, playground activities help children to strengthen their problem solving and thinking skills.

Many playground games are organised and goal orientated so they are considered a form of structured play. This type of play is especially beneficial for older children, due to its ability to support the development of active listening and problem-solving skills. They also provide a platform for social interaction that flows through to the way children play together in unstructured play in the playground.

Playground games list

Whether it’s lunchtime at school or you are heading to the local playground with your family or a group of friends, here are 10 games that will entertain and engage children.


Tag is a simple game that is fun for children of all ages. Known by many names, Tag is as simple as they come. One player is appointed as “it”. They must try to make another player “it” by tagging them with a light tap.


Handball is a favourite playground ball games the world over. All it requires is 2 or more players, a handball and a clearly marked out area on the ground.

In many games, there are four squares: Kings, Queens, Jacks and Dunce. King is the highest position and Dunce is the lowest. The King is given the option to serve each round, where they must hit the ball in their own square and into someone else's square. The receiving player then hits the ball to any other player, both in their square and their other player’s square. If the ball bounces twice or more in someone’s square, the receiving player is out and must go to Dunce. All players after them then get to move up.

Some other rules and lingo include:

  • Lines: If the ball hits a line, the game is replayed.
  • Foul: When a player does not hit the ball in their square first.
  • Double touch: When a ball is touched twice by the same player.
  • Interference: When a player interferes with another player.
  • Out: When a ball lands outside of the designated area, the last player to touch the ball is out.

Hide and Seek

Another classic game, hide and seek is an essential playground game which can be played in and around a play space. In hide-and-seek, one player is appointed as the “seeker”. The seeker counts to 20 as all the other players hide. It is then their job to find all the other players before they make it back to the base without being caught.

What’s The Time, Mr Wolf?

“What’s The Time, Mr Wolf?” is a call and response game. One player is selected to be Mr Wolf, who stands at the other end of the play area as other players call “what’s the time Mr Wolf?”.

Mr Wolf then calls out a time between 1-12. For example, saying “3 o’clock” will require the other players to take 3 steps forward toward Mr Wolf. At any point, Mr Wolf can instead respond with “Dinnertime!”. The other players must then run back to their starting position without being caught by Mr Wolf. If they are caught, they are out of the game.

Stuck in the Mud

Stuck in the Mud is a game that works well with a larger group. It requires one or two children to be selected as “It”. It is their job to tag all of the other players.

When a player is tagged, they must stand still, with their arms and legs apart. The only way they can become freed is for another player who is not “It” to crawl under their legs. Once everyone is tagged, the game is over.

Red Rover

Red Rover is an engaging game that requires enough children to split into two groups. Each group must face each other and hold hands. The teams take turns yelling “red rover, red rover, send (name) over” to call someone from the other team. The chosen player must try to break through the other team’s line.

Players who can’t break through join the other team and players that do break through get to bring back two people from the other team’s broken link.

Simon Says

In Simon Says, one player is selected to be “Simon”. Simon gives out instructions to all the other players. To follow the instructions, the player nominated as Simon must include the saying “Simon Says”. If any other player follows an instruction without this saying, they are out.


Skipping is a fun activity that can be done individually or as a group. Group jump rope requires two players to work together to swing one large jump rope. Another player then gets the chance to jump in the middle. Get creative, see if you can get multiple jumpers, or a rotating group that jumps in and then out, one at a time.


For a fast-paced ball game, Dodgeball is your go-to. In Dodgeball, you’ll need to split the children into two groups with a number of dodgeballs placed on the floor in between them. When the teams are signalled, they must grab the dodgeballs and throw them at the other team’s players. If a player is hit, they are out. The team with the last player(s) standing wins.

Duck, Duck, Goose

In Duck, Duck, Goose, all the children are asked to sit in a circle. One player who is “it” walks around the circle, patting the other players’ heads and saying “Duck” or “Goose”. If a player is selected as “Goose”, they must get up and chase the player with the aim of tagging them before they make it back to steal their spot.

Enjoy your day at the playground with Playground Centre

Playgrounds are at the heart of great play experiences and at Playground Centre, we know playgrounds. If you are planning your next outdoor project, we have a range of playground equipment that is perfect for kids of all ages. Contact the team at Playground Centre today or get a free quote today.