Include a Variety of Games at Every Recess

Safe and positive games create a space for everyone on the playground.

Including a variety of games helps both teachers and students feel more secure and have more fun. When setting up your playground, make sure to include these three types of games every day:

Rotational Games | Large Group Games | Independent Activities

Rotational Games

Rotational games are fast with a high turnover of participants—students move in and out in an organized way. They’re great for engaging a variety of students across gender, skill level, and age. Fun rotational games include:

Switch | Foursquare | Wall BallThree Lines Soccer | Three Lines Basketball | Knockout

Large Group Games

These games engage a large group of students in a contained space. Large group games allow students to connect with new people and make friends. Examples include:

Kickball | Rock Paper Scissors Relay | Castle Ball | Tag Games | Band-Aid Tag | Watch Your Back Tag | Hungry Fox | Hula Tag | Magic Tag

Independent Activities

Independent games can be played by an individual or small group. They’re great for students who aren’t ready for more intense games or who just want a more mellow recess. Set aside a space for this type of play to keep your playground organized and chaos free. Examples include:

Jump Rope | Helicopter | Snake | Cat and Mouse | Zero 1, 2, 3 | Hopscotch


Let’s get the games going!


What you can try this week:

  • Check your playground map—is there space for all three types of games?
  • Set up and try out one game from the three categories of play that your students haven’t tried yet.
  • Get in the game! Adults can encourage play and model behavior for kids when we take an active role on the playground.

When I first arrived at the school 6 years ago, students did not know how to engage in play. They would run around the yard. Now, students are plugged into a variety of games.

Bryant Elementary, CA

Safe and Healthy Play Toolkit

Print out this toolkit to set up rotational, large group, and independent games at every recess.

Download PDF

How to play: Switch, Magic Tag, Cat and Mouse

Print out these instructions for three fun rotational games, and set them up at your next recess.

Download PDF