Fun After-School Playground Games for Kids

The school year has begun. As new kids enroll in your after-school program, playtime gets a little chaotic; three kids want to play different games with the same ball, seven kids are sitting on the sideline not sure how to join, and thirty kids are trying to play basketball with one hoop and one ball.

Now is the best time to teach a few fun and simple playground games. Here are four games from our friends at Playworks to ensure more kids are playing safely and inclusively during your after-school playtime:

Foursquare. Foursquare is a classic rotational playground game, making it easy for kids to join at any time or walk away and try something new. To play foursquare, you need a playground ball, four or more players, and a foursquare court. One player stands in each square while others wait in line. Begin by teaching everyone how to hit the ball with an open palm into another square. When the ball enters a player’s square, s/he may hit the ball one time to put it into another player’s square. If s/he misses the ball or a square, s/he goes to the end of the line and the next person rotates in. To learn more about how to play foursquare, visit

Switch. Switch is also a simple rotational game. Played on a foursquare court, you need five or more players. Four players stand on the corners of the square and a fifth stands in the center. First holding his/her hand in the air, the center player brings his/her hand down while loudly saying switch. Then everyone must find a new corner. No one may go to the center. Similar to musical chairs, one person will not reach a corner before the other players. That person gets a high-five and goes to end of the line to wait for his/her turn again.

Three Lines Soccer. You will will need one soccer ball, seven cones, and six or more players. All players line up behind three cones. The other cones are set up as two small goals. The first three in line are on a team together. The next three in line are another team. Both teams play a round of soccer until one team scores or a timer runs out (such as a countdown from 200 by all players waiting in line). The team that scores stays on, the other team gets high-fives and goes to the end of the line and a new team comes on. If no team scores, both go to the line. If a team wins three in a row, they get a round of applause then must go to the end of the line. To learn more about how to play three lines soccer or other versions of three lines, check out

Cookie Jar Tag. To play cookie jar, you need three or more players (though more is better) and a space large enough for the players to run with two clear end lines. One person is the “cookie monster” or tagger. S/he is on one side of the area while all the “cookies” line up on the other other line. The cookies say “cookie monster, cookie monster, are you hungry?” The cookie monster may say no, at which point the cookies ask again. When the cookie monster says yes, all the cookies run to the other side of the playspace. If cookie monster tags (lightly like a butterfly) a cookie, that cookie becomes another cookie monster. Play continues until all cookies are tagged.

With these four games, you’re well on your way to getting more kids involved and organizing that chaos in your playtime. Play on!

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