15 Best Running Games for Kids

Last Updated on April 2, 2023 by Michele Tripple

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Lace up your shoes and get ready to help the kids get their energy out with these running games for kids

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As you and the kids have fun with these running games you will leave boredom in the dust not only will these keep your kids active and healthy but also allow them to use their imaginations while they play with others. 

So, get ready, get set, and go! Let’s sprint into endless fun with these running games for kids.

Benefits of Running Games for Kids

Encouraging your kids to be active is so important. Getting regular exercise improves mood, keeps you healthy, and helps kids develop their coordination skills. 

Kids always seem to have so much energy, and they need to burn it off, so running games for kids are a great option! I know if my kids haven’t been active enough that day, they are so cranky at the end of the day and don’t want to go to bed. 

These fifteen running games are guaranteed to help your kids burn that energy and have lots of fun while they’re at it! 

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Running Games for Kids

Capture the Flag 

Divide a large playing area into two distinct areas. Divide your group into two teams and give each team a flag. 

Each team must place its flag somewhere within their territory where it is easily visible. Once the flag is placed by a team, they cannot move it again. 

The goal is for a team to capture the other team’s flag and bring it back to their territory without being captured themselves. 

Players cannot guard their flag too closely (for example, by standing right in front of it). Consider making some sort of boundary around the flag that cannot be crossed except for when the flag is being stolen. 

Players can only be tagged by the other team if they are in “enemy” territory. A team’s own territory is a safe zone. 

Once a player is tagged, they are taken to “jail” which can be any area in a team’s territory. Their teammates can come tag them to let them out of jail. The goal is for a team to capture the other team’s flag and bring it back to their territory without being captured themselves.

Chain Tag

In Chain tag, one kid is chosen to be “it.” As soon as they tag someone, that kid must join hands with the tagger. Each time someone is tagged, they link onto the human chain until there is only one player left not in the chain. Chain Tag works best if there are boundaries on the playing area, to make it more and more difficult for kids to avoid the ever-growing chain. 

Mystery Run

Mystery run is great for when you just need the kids to run around a bit! Write different landmarks of your playing area on different slips of paper and place them in a bag. (Drinking fountain, slide, baseball field, bleachers, a specific tree, etc). It’s ok to place the same landmark in the bag more than once. 

To begin the game, one kid reaches into the bag and pulls out a paper. The kids all run to the destination on the paper. Once there, it’s someone else’s turn to pick a destination out of the bag. Continue until all the slips have been chosen. 

Pony Express 

In Pony Express, you will want to split the kids into two teams and line them up on opposite sides of a marked circle or track. 

At a starting signal, one kid from each team will start running around the circle (in the same direction). They are trying to get all the way around the circle before getting tagged by the kid on the other team. Once they get back around the circle, they will tag the next kid in line who will begin to run. If a player is tagged by a member of the other team, they will both return to their teams and a new signal is given to start the next two players running. 

Water Relay  

In Water Relay you will want to divide the kids into equal teams (as many as you like) and line each team up behind an empty bucket. Place another bucket full of water some distance away for each team. Hand the first player on each team a large sponge or a cup. On the signal, each team will run to the bucket of water, fill their sponge or cup, and race back to dump or squeeze the water into their empty bucket. Team members will take turns running back and forth until one team has filled their bucket or until the time is up. The team with the bucket the fullest wins.  

Color Hunt 

In COlor hunt you will hide flags, index cards, or anything you have that comes in a variety of colors all around a designated area. Each team or child is assigned one color. On a signal, they race out to find the items of their color. Each time an item is found, they bring it back to their base (or where the teacher/adult is sitting). They can only bring back one item at a time. The first team to collect all their items wins. If you only have limited time, the team that finds the most objects wins. 

Partner Tag

In Partner tage, players link elbows with a partner and stand in a circle. Two players are chosen to be the chaser and the runner. These two run around the outside of the circle. At any point, the runner links elbows with a player in the circle, at which point that player’s partner must un-link and start running from the chaser! If the runner is caught, they become the new chaser and a new runner is chosen. 

Infection Tag

When playing infection tag you will start with a few children who are chosen to be “it.” They are “infected” and each time they tag another player, that player is also “infected” and must start chasing and trying to tag others. The last kid standing is the winner. 

Obstacle Course Relay 

Obstacle course relays are a favorite in kids. To play, set up a simple obstacle course on the ground. Ideas include jump ropes to jump over, items to run around, a hopscotch board drawn in chalk, or even just a set of instructions (go across the monkey bars, slide down the slide, run between the swings, around the big tree, and back to me!). 

Divide players into two teams. After a player from each team completes the obstacle course, they will tag their next teammate. The first team to finish the course wins. 

What time is it Mr. Fox?  

What time is it Mr. Fox, is a great game for younger players. 

One player is chosen to be the fox and stands at one end of the playing field with their back to the rest of the players. The other players will shout together “What time is it, Mr. Fox?” The fox will reply with a time, such as “It’s 9 o’clock!” and the players all need to take that many steps forward. 

Repeat these two steps until the fox thinks the players are getting close, and then the fox responds to the group question with “Lunchtime!” The fox turns around and chases the other players, who have to run back to the starting line and try not to be caught. If the fox tags another player, that player becomes the next fox. 

Nature Scavenger Hunt  

A nature scavenger hunt is a low key running game for kids. Create a list of simple items that can be found in nature, such as a twig, pinecone, flower petal, blade of grass, etc. Give each child a list and a bag. Whoever comes back with all the items on the list first wins! 

Suitcase Relay 

Suitcase relay is a really silly running game for kids that is perfect for playing indoors! 

Fill a small suitcase or bag with a variety of clothing, one bag for each team. Try to get a similar assortment of clothing in each bag. Place the bags some distance from a finish line. Divide each team in two and place half the players at the finish line and the other half behind the suitcase. 

On a signal, one player from each team opens the suitcase and puts on all the clothing. They then run  to the finish line, remove the clothes and give them to their next teammate, who must put them on. Then that player runs back to the suitcase, removes the clothes, and gives them to the next teammate. The process repeats until all team members have had a chance to run across with the clothing. The game ends when the clothing is returned to the suitcase! 

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Octopus Tag 

In Octopus Tag you will need to choose a clearly defined playing area like a basketball court or a soccer field. 

The game starts with one player in the center of the field – they are the octopus. All other players will line up at one end of the field. The octopus shouts “Swim, fish, swim!” and all the players will begin running across the field. The octopus tries to tag other players before they reach the opposite end of the field. 

Any players who are tagged become “seaweed” and must stand in the spot where they were tagged. They can move their arms and reach to try to tag other players but cannot move their feet. The octopus is free to run around still. 

Once players reach the other side, the octopus will shout “Swim, fish, swim!” again and players again try to reach the other side without being tagged by the octopus or the seaweed. The last person left untagged becomes the new octopus. 

Freeze tag with a twist 

Freeze tag is a familiar game, but Freeze tag with a twist is a fun new way to play! 

One child is chosen to be “it” but when they tag another player, that player must freeze in place. In this version, a tagged child stands frozen with their legs spread wide apart. In order to unfreeze, a teammate must crawl through the frozen player’s legs without being tagged. If they do it successfully then the frozen player is back in the game!

Band-aid Tag  

In band-aid tag you will choose two players to be “doctors” and one player to be “it.” 

When a player is tagged, they must place a hand over the spot they were tagged. When they are tagged a second time, they place their other hand on the other tag spot. If they are tagged a third time they must freeze. In order to get back into the game, a frozen player must be tagged by a doctor. If the doctors both become frozen, the game ends. 

There you have it! Our favorite running games for kids! Do you have any great running games that your kids love to play? Share them with us in the comments, we’d love to hear them and share them with others to get kids outside and moving! 

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