16 Fun Running Games For Kids

✔ Research-backed

According to experts, children should spend a minimum of 60 minutes each day engaging in physical activity to maintain optimum physical and mental health (1). So, to start with, we bring some fun running games for kids in this post to encourage them to stay physically fit and active. You can even combine those activities with jumping and jogging and make it fun for them to spend their time outdoors rather than sticking to their gadgets.

In This Article

How to encourage your kids to run?

You may be aware of all the benefits of running, but how do you convince your children to go out and play? Here are a few pointers on that.

  • Talk to your kids about outdoors. Tell them there is a new park opened around the corner and how exciting it is to play in the park.
  • Organize an outdoor playdate and invite all your kid’s friends to encourage them to step out.
  • If the school is organizing a running race, challenge your child to participate. You may take them out for some practice running sessions before the big day.
  • Motivate your kid to accompany you in your daily walk/ jog.
  • Explain to your kids that it is ok to get muddy and dirty while playing outdoors.
  • If they get hurt, soothe them and make sure they go out after the wound heals.
  • Limit their daily screen time to a few hours.
  • If your children are inactive and have a sedentary lifestyle, then start their running regime slowly and gradually increase the amount of daily physical activity.
  • Make running a daily habit for your kids.

Certain fun running games for kids would encourage them to run. Here are some such ideas you can try.

Top 16 Exciting Running Games For Children

1. Running race

This evergreen running game is perfect for children to build stamina, strength and make them feel energetic.

Fun running race game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Mark start and stop points on the playground as per the kids’ age.
  • Ask all the kids to line up at the starting point and instruct them to start running at the blow of the whistle.
  • Set the timer and blow the whistle.
  • The kid who crosses the finish line first is the winner.

2. Water balloon dodgeball

This is a recreation running game for kids to enjoy during summers. But be prepared to deal with water soaked kids later.

Water balloon dodgeball fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Buy medium sized balloons, fill them up with water and secure the ends.
  • Divide the kids into two teams; instruct them to cover the face during the game and not to hit each other on the face.
  • Each team must elect a captain. Flip a coin to decide which team will play and which will dodge.
  • The team which chooses to play must throw the water balloons at the opposite team and they must dodge. This will continue until all the players are out within the set time.
  • Later the dodgers will become the players.
  • Time each play and dodge session; the team which manages to hit all the opponent players in the least time wins.

3. Seven tiles

Introduce this traditional Indian game in your kid’s next playdate to make it a joyful experience.

Seven tiles fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • You can either buy the set in a sports store or use seven wooden/ plastic blocks of various sizes.
  • You also need a soft and lightweight rubber ball that would not hurt anyone.
  • Divide the kids into two teams; one team will be the players and the other will be the seekers.
  • The players’ team will stack the seven blocks (largest to the smallest) at the middle of the playground.
  • The seekers will then hit the stack with the ball such that the blocks are scattered across the playground.
  • The players will then try to collect the blocks and stack them in the same order at the same place, while the seekers try to prevent it by hitting the players (who are attempting to stack) with the ball.
  • The player who gets hit by the ball will be out of the game.
  • The team which succeeds in doing their task first wins.

4. Crocodile, crocodile which color do you want

This crocodile takes its colors very seriously.

Crocodile, crocodile which color do you want, fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • In this game, one player will be the crocodile and stand away from the rest of the group.
  • The rest of the kids must ask, “Crocodile, crocodile which color do you want?”
  • The crocodile then picks a color that is there around them and say out loud “I want “name of the color”.
  • All the kids must run and jump and catch any object that is of that specific color before the crocodile grabs them.
  • If the crocodile catches them, they will become the crocodile.

5. One-legged tag

Tag is a famous outdoor running game for kids and is one game that can have multiple variations. Here is one such variation.

One-legged tag fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Use rock, paper, scissors to appoint the seeker.
  • Rest of the kids would run around the playground while the seeker tries to tag each player hopping on one leg.
  • The player who gets tagged will become the seeker for the next game.
protip_icon Quick tip
Warm-up exercises are important for children before they engage in running games. The warm-up can help children prepare their muscles before running full force.

6. Cone flipping race

In this running race, children not only run but also do some physical exercise.

Cone flipping race fun running game for kids

Image: IStock

How to play:

  • Mark the start and finish lines demarcate the race track on the playground.
  • All along the race track, place plastic cones in an upright position.
  • The kids have to run the race course flipping the cones.
  • Time each kid; the one who completes the race in the least time wins.

7. Freeze-warm

This is a fun outdoor running game for kids, where the seeker gets to freeze the players (of course not literally).

Freeze-warm fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Appoint a seeker, from whom the rest of the players have to run away.
  • The seeker must run and try to tag the players by saying “Freeze”.
  • Once frozen, the player must stay where they are and not move; the seeker then stays close and guards the frozen player.
  • Other players must try to unfreeze the player by touching the player and saying “Warm”.
  • While trying to unfreeze, if the other players also get frozen, then they too must join the first player and wait until other players warm them.
  • The player who gets frozen three times will then become the seeker.

Kids are highly creative when it comes to playing games. They sometimes even combine different games to create a new one. Mini shares one such incident when she and her friends cannot decide which game to play. She says, “We all wanted to play different games. I wanted to play catch, My other friend wanted to play freeze tag and my other friend wanted to jump rope. We kept thinking of ideas, but we could not think of something we all wanted to do. “I have an idea!,” I said suddenly. “We can play freeze tag. To tag someone, you have to hit them with the ball. If you want to get unfrozen, you have to jump 10 times in a row!” She concludes, “We all had fun playing the game. We compromised and found a solution (i).”

8. Kickball

It is like baseball, only without the bats.

Kickball fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Prepare the ground by marking home base, first base, second base and third base similar to a baseball pitch.
  • Divide the group into two teams. Decide the kickers and outfielders among the two teams through toss.
  • One parent can be a full-time pitcher.
  • The pitcher will place the ball on the home base, and a player from the kickers’ team kicks the ball as far as possible.
  • After kicking the ball, the player can run in either direction, complete one full round touching all the bases and return to home base.
  • Meanwhile, the outfielders will try to catch the ball and return to the home base before the kicker could reach. If the outfielders succeed, then it is strike one for the kicker.
  • After three such strikes, the kicker is out and the next kicker comes in.
  • Count the number of times each kicker was able to complete running through all the bases without getting struck out — this makes one inning.
  • Both the teams will play one inning each. The team with the highest score wins.

9. Activity relay race

This is not your typical baton-relay race. In this, the kids need to be quick and coordinate with each other to win the race.

Activity relay race fun running game for kids

Image: IStock

How to play:

  • Mark a start and an endpoint for the relay race.
  • In between the start and the end points, place certain activities which the kids need to complete before moving forward.
  • The activities need to be simple and can be completed within a minute. For example, wearing a hat, writing your teammates names on a board, arranging a simple puzzle game, spinning a hula hoop, etc.
  • Each team member has to run along the race course completing the activities in between.
  • The team who completes it in the shortest time wins.

10. Chain building

This is another interesting running game for children, where the seeker gets to build a chain of seekers.

Chain building fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • One child will be the seeker, and the rest of the children will be running along the playground.
  • Once the seeker catches one player, he/ she has to join hands with the seeker to catch the other players.
  • When they both catch another kid, he also has to join and so on the chain grows until all the players join the chain.

11. Land or water

The one who steps in the wrong place drowns.

Land and water fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Instruct the kids to mark certain safe places like small benches, sofa, etc., as land. Make sure they choose areas that are easy to climb and get down.
  • The rest of the playground is water.
  • When the seeker says “land” all the kids have to run and stand on the objects named land. And when the seeker says “water” they have to stand in the area named water.
  • The trick is that the seeker has to say land and water quickly and alternatively such that at one instance any one player would step in water when it is land.
  • In this case, the player will run to land, and the seeker has to catch him before he succeeds.

12. Red Rover

Try this fun outdoor game for kids and they will ask for more.

Red rover fun running game for kids

Image: IStock

How to play:

  • Split the kids into two teams.
  • Each team must stand around 20 feet apart, holding hands.
  • The teams will take turns, where one kid will call, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let me come over!” and leaves the team line to sprint as fast as they can towards the other team, and try to break through the held hands.
  • If they succeed, then one player where the ties are broken has to leave their team and join the opponent team.
  • If the kid is not able to break the held hands, then they have to join the opponent team.
  • When one child is left in a team, they will try to break into the opponent team. If they succeed, they will get one player into the team and the game continues, else the other team wins.

13. What is the time, Mr. Wolf

Run away before the hungry wolf catches you!

What is the time, Mr. Wolf, fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • One child will be the wolf, standing facing the wall.
  • The rest of the kids will stand at a distance from the wolf, inside a circle.
  • All the children must now shout together “What is the time, Mr. Wolf?”
  • If the wolf says, “It is 5 o’clock”, then all the kids have to take five steps towards the wolf.
  • This will continue until the kids come close enough to the wolf.
  • Now, the wolf has to say “Lunchtime”, turn around and catch the kids.
  • The kids then have to run back to the circle without being caught; if anyone gets caught, they will become the wolf.

14. Fill the bucket

Here is yet another fun running game for your kids’ enjoyment. This is ideal for little children aged 3-4.

Fill the bucket fun running game for kids

Image: IStock

How to play:

  • Split the players into two teams.
  • Place a bucket at the end of the finish line for each team.
  • Ask the kids to line up near their respective start lines with a cup filled with water.
  • As the whistle blows, each kid must run towards the bucket and empty their cup of water into the bucket.
  • The team whose bucket fills first wins.

15. Soccer

This is an athletic game involving extensive running and is best played in a playground.

Soccer fun running game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  • Split the players into two teams of 11 each.
  • One player from each team will be the goalkeeper.
  • Once the whistle is blown, each team must try to hit the ball in their designated goalpost.
  • The time limit for this game is 90 minutes, and the team which scores the maximum number of goals wins.
  • Basic rules, like not to touch the ball with the hands and not to hit the opponents while trying to get the ball, need to be enforced.

16. Band-aid tag

This is a warming-up game for kids to get them in the mood for running.

How to play:

  • Every player is a tagger and can be tagged.
  • When tagged, they place one hand (bandaid) on the tagged spot.
  • Tagged players continue running, using their free hand to tag others.
  • If tagged again, the player places the other hand on the new spot but can still tag others.
  • On the third tag, the player performs a predetermined action (e.g., five jumping jacks) as a hospital visit.
  • After the action, the player rejoins the game, starting with one bandaid again.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there any running games that don’t require a lot of space?

Many running games, including “Red Light, Green Light” or “Simon Says” can be played in small spaces, such as hallways and living rooms.

2. What are some running games that can be played indoors?

Running games that can be played indoors include “Musical Chairs,” and “Freeze Dance” by changing some of the physical activities associated with the game.

3. What running games are suitable for a range of ages?

Games including “Scavenger Hunt,” “Solve the Puzzle,” and “Capture the Flag” are suitable for a wide range of ages as the challenges in these games can be modified based on the players’ age.

4. What running games can be played in a large group?

Games such as “Tag,” “Scavenger Hunts,” “Car Lot,” and “Balloon Battle” can be played in large groups and multiple teams. You may also include challenges and change the rules depending on the group size and players’ age range.

5. What are some running games that require minimal equipment?

Red Light, Green Light, “Mother May I,” and “Simon Says” are some running games that require little to no equipment.

6. Are there any running games for children that involve teamwork?

“Tug of War,” “Capture the Flag,” “Caterpillar,” and “Relay Races” are some running games that involve teamwork.

When you come up with unique and fun running games for kids, they will be encouraged to participate in activities during their playtime. These games are a great way to promote physical activity, provide entertainment, and ensure that your little ones stay fit. They may be reluctant to move away from the TV or phone initially, so you may have to pull them and compel them to come out and play. They need to get some fresh air and play these games, and soon you will find them enjoying the outdoors.

Infographic: Ways To Encourage Your Kids To Run

Although children have an innate tendency to run around all the time, they may not always be interested in running as an activity or sport. So, if you are a parent who wants to motivate your child to run, this infographic can guide you with helpful tips to make your task easier.

tips to motivate children (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Running is fun and essential for overall health and fitness for your little ones, especially when they are engrossed in their phones.
  • Parents must encourage children to indulge in running constructively.
  • Motivate them to try fun running games such as seven tiles, water balloon dodgeball, and one-leg tagged, to name a few.
Fun Running Games For Kids_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Running games are fun and healthy for children. Come join us for four fun races for kindergarten sports day. Get ready to have a blast with physical education games and activities.

Personal Experience: Source

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Justin Cahill
Justin CahillPhysical Educator
Justin Cahill has been a physical education teacher for over 27 years and currently works at Trinity School, Atlanta. He is also the founder of keepingkidsinmotion.com, a website full of videos, ideas, lessons, and thoughts on how to keep kids active in a device-driven world.

Read full bio of Justin Cahill