15 Best Running Games For Kids To Get Moving!

running games for kids

Running games are a great way to get kids active and burn off excess energy. Not only are running games fun, but they also provide a number of benefits for kids’ physical health and development. This article will explore 15 of the best running games that kids love to play. We’ll cover everything from classic tag games to new twists on old favorites. Read on for ideas to get your kids running!

What are the benefits of running games for kids?

Playing running games provides many advantages for children:

  • Improves cardiovascular fitness and endurance
  • Builds leg and core strength 
  • Develops coordination and motor skills
  • Teaches teamwork and cooperation
  • Boosts self-confidence and resilience 
  • Promotes healthy competition and sportsmanship
  • Allows kids to burn off excess energy
  • Keeps kids active and engaged

Running games are a great way to keep kids motivated to move their bodies and get in their recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day.

Fun Tag Games to Get Kids Running

Tag is a classic running game that kids have loved for generations. The basic premise is simple – one player is “it” and tries to tag the other players. If a player gets tagged, they become “it” and the game continues. Here are some fun variations on a tag to try:

Basic Tag

This is the traditional version of tag with one player designated as “it.” For younger kids, set boundaries for the area to run in. Encourage lots of movement and running away from the person who is “it.”

Freeze Tag

In freeze tag, players who are tagged are frozen in place. They can rejoin the game when another player tags them to unfreeze them. Add the rule that players can unfreeze all frozen teammates at once by running to an agreed spot. 

TV Tag

In this creative twist, players imitate running in slow motion like characters on a TV show when the person who is “it” tags them. Players resume running in regular motion when a teammate tags them.

Chain Tag 

The player who is “it” tags someone and holds hands to form a chain. Each new player who gets tagged joins onto the chain. See how long the chain can get!

Running Games for Younger Kids

Younger kids often enjoy running games with simple rules and structure. Try these running games designed for the preschool and kindergarten crowd.

Red Light, Green Light

This game mimics stop-and-go traffic signals. One player is the traffic light at one end, and other players line up across from them. When the traffic light faces the group and says “Green light!” kids run towards the traffic light. When the traffic light faces away and says “Red light!” kids must freeze in place. Continue until someone reaches the traffic light and wins!

Rabbit Run

Choose one player to be the rabbit. Have the rabbit start running around an open space as other players chase them trying to tag the rabbit. If the rabbit gets tagged, choose a new rabbit and play again.

Running Laps 

Set up an oval running track using cones. Have players line up behind a starting line. On “Go” kids run around the track and complete as many laps as they can until you call “Stop.” Count how many laps each child completed.

Tag Games for Older Kids

Older kids love the intensity and competition of more complex tag games. Try these versions to challenge their speed and strategy.

Blob Tag

The player who is “it” tags someone and joins hands, making a blob. Each new person who gets tagged joins onto the blob, making it grow. The blob tries to tag others who avoid being captured. The last person standing wins.


One player is the “Sandman” who tries to tag the other players, putting them to sleep. Tagged players must freeze in place with their heads down. Free players can wake them up by tagging them before the Sandman tags everyone first. 

Capture the Flag

Set up a large playing area with a divider in the middle. Each team hides a flag on their half of the field. Teams try to sneak over and steal the other team’s flag and bring it back without getting tagged. Players who get tagged are sent to “jail” until tagged free by a teammate.

Kids running in a field playing running games

Fun Circle Running Games

Running games in a circle format keeps all players involved and engaged throughout. These circle games get kids moving in a different way. One example is Divide and Run – split the kids into two teams facing each other and form a large circle. Place an object like a soccer ball in the center.

When you call out “Go!” one player from each team runs to the center to get the ball. Whoever retrieves it first gets to run around the circle and tag as many opposing team members before they are tagged themselves. Then it’s the other team’s turn to run. For an added challenge, have the kids run backward or hop on one foot. Circle games like Divide and Run get kids running together in a simple and structured way

Duck, Duck, Goose

Duck, Duck, Goose is a classic circle running game that kids of all ages love to play. Have the kids sit in a circle facing each other, with adequate space between them to run around the perimeter. One player is chosen to be “it” first. They walk around the outside of the circle, tapping each player gently on the head while saying the word “duck” each time.

At some point, they will tap a head and say “Goose!” That goose player must jump up quickly and chase the tapper around the circle. The tapper runs around and tries to make it to the goose’s open spot before getting tagged. If the goose tags the tapper first, the tapper stays it for another round.

If the tapper reaches the open spot, they sit down and the goose is now it. To keep all the kids running, have the goose run around the full circle even after tagging the tapper. Duck, Duck, Goose is best played with 5 or more players and is a fun way to get kids running around in a circle.

Pass the Water Balloon

Pass the Water Balloon is an exciting circle game that incorporates a fun prop to get kids running. Have all the players stand in a circle facing each other about 2 feet apart. Start by passing around a water balloon while music plays.

Players must quickly yet gently pass the balloon to the person next to them in one direction around the circle. When the music suddenly stops, whoever is holding the water balloon is out. That player steps out of the circle, and play continues with the remaining players.

Add a second water balloon to make it more challenging. Keep playing rounds until only one player who has never held the balloon at the stop remains. This gets kids running back to their places quickly so as not to be the one stuck holding the balloon when the music stops!

Stop the Bus

Stop the Bus is an active circle game that gets kids running in and out. Mark a large circle on the ground that allows room for kids to run both inside and around the perimeter. Choose one player to start as the bus driver. Have them stand in the center of the circle.

When the bus driver yells “Stop the bus!” all players must run around the outside of the circle. When the driver yells “Get on the bus!” all the players run back inside the circle. Any players who are last to get in or out of the circle have to sit out. The last remaining player gets to be the new bus driver. With all the starting, stopping, and changing directions, this game keeps kids on their toes and gets their hearts pumping!

More PE Running Games to Try

Keep kids motivated to run with this diverse mix of active games:

Simon Says Sprint – Just like Simon Says, but every command is an active one like “Simon says sprint 10 steps” or “Simon says jump 5 times.”

Minnows in the Pond – One kid starts as the “minnow” and must run around trying to tag other players. When tagged, players become minnows too until everyone is turned.

Catch the Dragon’s Tail – Kids line up in a line each holding onto the waist of the person in front of them like a dragon. The head of the dragon tries to catch the tail without breaking the chain.

Football Style Drills – Set up cones for players to sprint through. Call out drills like “Slalom sprint!” “High knees!” “Shuffle left, shuffle right!” to get them running in new styles.

Relay Races – Classic relay races are an easy way to get teams running together. Try backwards running, three-legged races, and sprints with obstacle courses.

Tips for Encouraging Kids to Run

  • Make it a game or challenge, not a chore. Keep things fun!
  • Offer positive reinforcement when they are active and running around.
  • Vary the games to keep kids interested. Don’t play the same game every time.
  • Set up obstacle courses or circuits to follow.
  • Play games that require strategy, not just speed.
  • Focus on movement over winning. Cheer to everyone’s efforts.
  • Invite friends to join or play in groups for extra motivation.
  • Get out in natural settings like parks or trails if possible.
  • Be a role model and play actively with kids when you can. Your enthusiasm is contagious!

The Takeaways

  • Fun Running games for kids provide many health benefits for kids from building endurance to improving coordination.
  • Classic tag games like basic tag, freeze tag, and TV tag are fun twists on the original.
  • Circle games like Duck, Duck, Goose and Pass the Water Balloon keep all players involved. 
  • Football-style drills with cones and relay races encourage running in new and exciting ways.
  • Adjust games based on age to provide the right level of challenge.
  • Focus on keeping things fun first! Kids will be naturally motivated to run if you provide active games they enjoy.

Getting kids up and running around might just take some creativity and the right engaging games to spark their interest. Try out some of these fun running game ideas the next time your kids have pent-up energy to burn. Not only will you help them get their bodies moving, you’ll build wonderful memories together while doing so! Make Running Fun!

Sky Uni
Sky Uni M.S. Psychology

Contributor at Trendingkidstuff.com

Sky Uni is a Conscious Parenting Coach with 10 years of experience, and an expert in product reviews. She’s a passionate yoga and meditation enthusiast, loves coastal destinations, and enjoys spending time with her Bengal cats. Sky brings her fun-loving spirit and energy and her Master’s in Psychology to all of her work, helping families make informed decisions and create more harmonious relationships.

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