Do you have fond memories of taking part in chasing and fleeing games as children, around the neighbourhood or at school?
These kinds of games are not only fun for children but also have many educational benefits. Chasing games can:
- Develop the large muscles
- Exercise the cardiovascular system
- Develop balance
- Increase coordination
- Improve spatial awareness
- Develop social skills
- Develop memory skills
Here are some examples of chasing games, including old favourites and possibly a few new ideas thrown into the mix.
For select games, bright cones can be helpful to mark the boundaries of the playing areas. In games with teams, coloured vests or “pinnies” are helpful to distinguish one team from the other.
Most of these activities are suitable for preschoolers, but for various reasons, you could find that several are best played with kids who are somewhat older.
1. Duck, Duck, Goose
This is how you play the popular kids’ game Duck, Duck, Goose:
- Kids sit in a large circle, facing the middle.
- The child who is “it” goes around the circle, patting each child on the head, saying “Duck” with each pat and finally “Goose!”
- This pat’s announcement makes that child the “goose” or the chaser.
- The goose then chases after the other child around the circle and tries to tag them with their hand before they get back to the empty spot.
- If the child who was “it” reaches that spot without being tagged by the goose, then the goose is “it.” However, if the goose tags them, then the goose keeps their spot for another round.
2. Stuck in the Mud
Stuck in the mud is also an old favourite:
- One child is “it” and chases other children, trying to tag them.
- When they are tagged, they become “stuck in the mud,” standing still with their arms outstretched and legs set apart.
- Those who are stuck in the mud can get “unstuck” when another player crawls through their legs.
- “Crawlers” are safe and cannot be tagged while on the ground.
- When all players are finally stuck in the mud, the game is over.
3. Hide and Seek
Young children love playing Hide and Seek. This is how you play it:
- One child is “it” or the “seeker” and covers their eyes, counting up to 10.
- During the counting, the other kids scramble to find places to hide.
- When the seeker finishes counting, they call out, “Ready or not, here I come!” and they start looking for the others.
- For the version that includes the most chasing, when the seeker locates someone, that hider has a chance to run toward “home base” and yell, “Free!” when they arrive to be considered “safe.”
- If they’re tagged before arriving at home base, then they become the seeker, calling, “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” for everyone to begin a new round of play.
Tag, also called catchers, is the original and simplest of the chasing games:
- One person in the group is chosen to be “it” and chases the others, trying to tag them with their hand.
- When someone is tagged, they become “it” and start chasing others.
- Common rules include boundaries of where players can run and also “no tag-back,” which means that the person who just got tagged can’t immediately tag the other person in return.
The game of tag offers some alternate versions, as well:
- In “shadow tag,” instead of using hands, the person who is “it” uses their feet to step on the shadows of others to tag them.
- For “freeze tag,” when a child is tagged, they are “frozen” and must not move until another player tags and unfreezes them.
5. Fox and Sheep
Here are the rules of the game, Fox and Sheep:
- The adult or group chooses one child as the fox, and the others are all sheep, who line up at the opposite end of the playing area.
- The fox calls out various times, such as, “Three o-clock,” and the sheep all take that number of steps toward the fox.
- But when the fox calls, “Midnight,” then the sheep all try to run back to their end of the playing area without being tagged by the fox.
- The first one tagged becomes the fox.
6. Captain, Captain
The game Captain, Captain is fun for young kids who are learning about colours:
- The child who is chosen as “captain” stands at one end of the playing area, while the others stand on the other end.
- They call out, “Captain, Captain, may we cross your ship?” The captain replies, “Only if you wear _____,” naming a specific colour.
- Players who are wearing that colour run freely toward the captain.
- Those who are not wearing that colour, again ask, “Captain, Captain, may we cross your ship?”
- The captain says, “Only if you dare!” They take off running and try to reach the other end of the field without being tagged by the captain.
- The last player untagged has the option of taking the captain’s role next.
7. Spiders and Flies
This is how you play Spiders and Flies:
- Divide the group of children evenly into “spiders” and “flies” to stand on opposite ends of the playing area.
- Chanting, they take turns saying, “We are the spiders,” “We are the flies,” “We’re gonna catch you,” “Just try!”
- The flies run toward the other end of the play area, trying to avoid being tagged by the spiders.
- If tagged, they become spiders or sit out in the middle on the imaginary “web.”
- Start a new game when only a few flies are left.
8. Cross the Ocean
Cross the Ocean is a similar game to the previous one and will go well with an ocean theme for preschoolers.
- Name several children as sharks.
- The two groups of children stand opposite each other in the assigned area.
- The sharks yell, “Cross the ocean,” and the fish must run to the other side while trying to avoid being tagged by the sharks.
- When tagged, they also become sharks or sit in the middle pretending to be “seaweed.”
- When just two fish remain, they become sharks and a new game begins.
9. Join Hands
This variation of Tag teaches kids to work and move as a team and is great for developing coordination:
- One child is “it” and covers their eyes, counting to 10 while the others hide.
- When that number is reached, “it” starts looking for the other kids.
- When they chase after someone and tag them, the two join hands and run together to try and tag others.
- If more than three children are tagged, they can split into smaller groups but not chase as singles.
- The last one untagged is the winner.
10. Dog Catcher
For this last variation, kids pretend to be dogs and dog catchers:
- Choose one or two children to serve as the “dog catchers.”
- The others pretend to be the dogs who escape from the area designated as the “pound” into the “park” or playing area.
- Bean bags are scattered about the park as “dog bones.”
- In addition, several “free” areas or “dog houses” can be set up in the area.
- An adult instructs the dogs to leave the “pound” and walk, run, or skip, etc., while the dog catchers chase in the same fashion and try to tag them.
- Dogs who are tagged go back to the pound.
- Their canine pals can bring them dog bones as a means of escape.
- After a set number of minutes, change roles until everyone has had a chance to serve as dog catchers.
Chasing games for children tend to evolve naturally during play. Challenge your kids to come up with their own ideas for pretend characters, scenarios, and rules!
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