The use of outdoor games for students is a great way to improve a number of mental and physical skills, and often bring with them a lot of significant benefits. Games also contribute a great deal to social development. Many students, because of problems at home, shyness or physical disability find it hard to react with others. Some adults can’t either, and nothing places one at a greater disadvantage in a business or social setting. Many developmental studies show that students that are normally withdrawn for whatever reasons have shown a lot of improvement in their ability to cooperate with playmates, and have even increased their popularity among their playmates because of skills brought about by playing games. Tests done with shy adults have had similar results.

Games teach students to follow certain limits and levels of self-control. A student who has to take his turn will think more carefully about his turn. A game that requires taking turns is a great way to focus attention, since a player constantly has to readjust plans based on others’ actions. Through these games students will develop social skills, improved self-esteem and confidence which will help them in other areas of their schooling life.

What better way to teach a student self-control and moral reasoning? When engaged in a game, the student has to learn that even in the emotional excitement of an intense game or close race, they have to observe rules and regulations, to choose between fair or unfair, and to act on those choices appropriately.


Farmers and cattle

Equipment: 10 cones and two sets of colour bands

Description: Split the class into two even teams. One team are the farmers, the other team are the cattle. In the centre of the playing area make a 2m x 2m square (the cattle yards). The farmer’s job is to run around and tag the cattle. Once they tag one of the cattle, they take them to the cattle yard where they are stuck. The aim for the farmers is to have all the cattle stuck in the cattle yards. For the cattle to become free from the cattle yard, a team member who is not caught must tag them and then they both run free. Play for two to three minutes or until all cattle are caught, then swap roles.

Farmer Sam

Equipment: Two colour bands for the taggers

Description: Students start the game on the baseline of the basketball court. The teacher picks one student to be ‘Farmer Sam’ and they wait in the middle of the court. To start the game the students all yell, “Farmer Sam, Farmer Sam, can we cross your muddy old dam?” Farmer Sam replies with, “Only if you are wearing red socks or have a hat on or have blue hair ties or have a birthday in March”, etc. The students who have the item Farmer Sam says get a free walk to the other end. If they don’t, they wait till all the students who have the item are safe on the other end, then Farmer Sam yells, “Go” and they must try to run to the other end without being tagged. If Sam tags a student they become a tagger as well. Play the game until you have a winner.

Rabbits and Hounds

Equipment: None

Description: This game can be played in a large open area. Pair students up, with one student being the rabbit, the other being the hound. Rabbits and hounds start by facing each other approximately two metres apart. On “Chase” from the teacher, the hound tries to catch the rabbit; after the rabbit is caught reverse roles. Try and pair students up who are similar in ability.

Red Lion

Equipment: Four cones to mark 10m x 10m square

Description: The teacher needs to pick one student to be the Red Lion and they are the tagger. The rest of the students form a circle around ‘Red Lion’. Red Lion sits, stands or kneels in their den while the rest of the students move around the den chanting, “Red Lion, Red Lion, come out of your den.” If Red Lion says, “No”, the children continue moving around the den repeating the game chant. If Red Lion says, “Yes”, everyone quickly runs to one end of the playing area that is the safe zone. If anyone is caught, those students become Red Lion’s helper and go into the centre of the circle. The game is continued until all the students are caught or there is one clear winner.

Stuck in the Mud

Equipment: Four cones to mark 10m x 10m square and four colour bands

Description: The teacher selects three to four students as taggers and they each put on a colour band. The class scatters and the taggers try to tag all the class members. Once a student is tagged, they must freeze with their feet in a wide stride position. After a student is tagged, they must remain frozen unless another student unfreezes them by crawling through the student’s legs. If a student is caught by a tagger while unfreezing another student, that student becomes “stuck in the mud” and must stay frozen. If a student becomes stuck in the mud, they stand in front of the student that they were trying to unfreeze. Both students can be freed if another student crawls through their legs. The game continues until all players are caught. If the taggers are finding it too difficult to freeze everyone, add a few more taggers to the group.