15 Fun Running Games For Kids


Image: Shutterstock / iStock

Experts recommend kids to have a physical activity such as running for at least 60 minutes every day (1). Exercises like running, jumping, swimming, help to keep obesity under check and promote the kid’s physical and mental health.

So, why not encourage children to run and be physically active? MomJunction helps you make running fun and exciting with these 15 best running games for kids.

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, persuade your child to participate; also 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 15 Exciting Running Games For Children

1. Running race

This evergreen running game is perfect for children to build stamina and strength.

Running race

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 fun running game for kids to enjoy during summers. But be prepared to deal with water soaked kids later.

Water balloon dodgeball

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.

 Seven tiles

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

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 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

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.

6. Cone flipping race

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

Cone flipping race

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).


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.

8. Kickball

It is like baseball, only without the bats.


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 (6+2). 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

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

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 or water

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

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 run as fast as he/she can towards the other team, and try to break through the held hands.
  • If he/she succeeds, 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 he/she has to join the opponent team.
  • When one child is left in a team, he/she 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

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. This is ideal for little children aged 3-4.

Fill the bucket

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 game involves extensive running and is best played in a playground.


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.

If running and exercising is this fun, can children say no to it? They may be reluctant to move away from the TV or phone and come out to play. But help them come out, get some fresh air, and play these games. We assure you, they will get hooked to them.

What running games does your child play? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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sanjana lagudu

Sanjana graduated in Pharmacy and was then drawn towards management, which made her pursue MBA in Marketing and Finance. It was during her first job, she realised she was good at writing and began freelancing as a writer. Later, she completely moved into content writing and began working as a full-time content writer.Sanjana writes articles on new parenting and relationships. When not writing, she likes to spend her time cooking, doing calligraphy or reading a good book.

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