Eldrbarry's Active Games:

KEY: (Activity Level - low, +high, Area Needed - Small Medium Large)


These Games are played with equall numbers of players arranged in two parallel lines facing each other across the play area.

COMMONS (snap): (S) Teach everyone 3 distinct and silly gestures or actions. Line everybody up in two rows facing away from each other. On the signal each pair turns and does one of the gestures. This continues until they can turn and match gestures. If successful they step out and watch the rest. No talking, of course. Goal: not to be last.

QUICK DRAW: (S) Teach everyone the two gestures: "Quick draw" (Finger "pistols" draw and pointed) and "Hands up" (that's it). They face each other and when one says "Draw" both try to either "Quick draw" or respond appropriately "Hands up" when the other "draws". Object is to trap the opponent in doing the same jesture. Such gives one point to person who called "draw". Perhaps a system of rotation of gunslingers could be added.

STEAL THE BACON: (+,M) Form two equal lines, counting off each from their left to right, putting ones at opposite ends. Leader places a flag (s) midway between the lines and calls numbers at random, the numbered players must snatch the flag and return to their line without being tagged by their opposite of the same number. They can't be tagged until they touch it however. (Successfully stealing the bacon gives their team a point. After each showdown, they both proceed to the same end of line (assuring new opponents each time), all players are renumbered and play resumes. This game is very popular with older children and teens, and while being a low activity, but exciting game.

SIZZORS,PAPER,STONE (+,L) Set up three parallel boundary lines about 20-25 feet apart. Divide into two equal teams. Using the hand signals for the game: sizzors cut paper, paper wraps stone, stone dulls sizzors: each team selects their signal. Teams line up across center line and one count of 4 chant "sizzors...paper...stone" and then as a team do the chosen signals. Losers must cross safety line before being tagged. Those tagged join winners. Object is to capture all other team. (Variations can be done using different gestures: for ROCK, TREE, AXE; or GIANT, DWARF, WIZARD; HUNTER, FOX, GUN etc.]

ECHO'S (,M) Form two lines of players, have each line count off, and have the odd numbered players cross over to the other line, but they remain part of the original teams. First in lines are given a complicated phrase to pass on. They cross over to their next team mate (on the other side) and taking that persons place, pass the phrase as a whisper. The Next will then then cross and do the same, players zig zagging back and forth to the end of the lines. Both speed and accuracy count for the winners.


These are played with the players standing in a circle or circles, with play either inside, around or outside the circle. Game playing is best started by having the group initially form a circle, all joining hands, while the leader explains the game. You can play games in this formation, count off to create teams, or walk around the circle, while everyone has their eyes closed, touching backs to designate secret players or create "it"

FOXES AND SQUIRREL: (+,M) Everyone stands in circle. Three soft balls, one different represent foxes and squirrel. Foxes must be passed hand to hand with the statement "fox". Squirrel is passed hand to hand or tossed across the circle with the statement "squirrel". Balls may be passed either right to left or left to right. Object of game is for "a fox" to tag the "squirrel".

FLYING DUTCHMAN: (+,L) Arrange everyone into a circle facing inward holding hands, with two people outside the circle also holding hands (The Flying Dutchman) The Dutchman circles the world looking for a harbor. Upon breaking a hand hold somewhere around the circle the Dutchman proceeds to run around the circle and get into the gap created before the two whose grip was broken can join hands and race the opposite direction around to the same gap. Losers become the new dutchman. A constantly changing circle with runners who must run together gives this game a equalizing effect and there is strategy involved in making choices.

DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE ( ,M) Everyone sits in a circle except one, who walks around patting heads saying "Duck...Duck..." When "Goose" is said instead, they both must race around the circle and get back to the gap first. The loser is the new walker. Younger children like this game a lot.

BROKEN SPOKE is similar, however everyone is arranged in equal rows like spokes radiating from the center. At the call of "Broken Spoke" the whole "spoke" rises and races back while caller takes a spot in gap. Last person back becomes new caller.

CAT AND MOUSE (,M) Form a circle with two players, the cat outside the circle, and the mouse inside the circle. When the cat moves into the circle, the mouse exits, and the cat must follow the same path the mouse takes, weaving in and out of the circle and tag him. Variations could have the circle with joined hands, opening and closing "mouse holes" by raising and lowering hands with a chant as the mouse and cat scramble through it.

MOUSETRAP (,M) Five players form a "trap" (circle holding hands up). The mice move in and out of the "trap" getting cheese. The sleeping Cat (eyes closed) periodically calls out "Snap" and the "trap's" arms come down trapping any mice inside, who then join the circle. Goal: to be the last uncaught mouse!

FRUIT BASKET UPSET (,M) Chairs are arranged in a circle with one less than the number of players. (Or use paper plates outside - one foot must be touching for it to be occupied.) Alternating players are given names of several fruits. The player left in the middle calls out the name of one or more fruits and those players must change seats (paper plates). Whoever is left without a seat then calls out one or more. Calling "Fruit basket upset" requires everyone to change seats. A variation for smaller groups is STIR FRY - each player is a different vegetable or fruit, and "Wok's for dinner" causes everyone to move.

VOLCANO (,L) Form two concentric circles with each of those outer ring standing behind someone in the inner ring, and one person (It) in the center. The volcano begins to "erupt" when It starts clapping and the inner ring joins in with the clapping. Those in the outer ring must start running madly about shouting in panic. When It stops clapping, the inner ring also stops. Then It and the panicing villagers must find each spots behind someone in the inner ring. The one without a spot then becomes the new It.

NO LOSE HOT POTATO Form a circle and start passing a ball around. Leader counts to a number between one and twelve and shouts "Hot Potato!". Person caught holding the ball joins the leader, and chooses the next number to count to and play starts again. Younger children like counting games.

PLANETS AND MOONS: ( ,M) Equipment: five different objects: Designate one the moon. Form into a big circle holding hands stretched out. Drop hands. Explain the moons' motion: Upon receiving the moon, each revolves (turns around) once, then passes it to the next person, saying its name. Moon motion continues as each player revolves, identifies and passes the moon on around circle. Emphasize they must say correct name! Practice. Try for 3 orbits.

Now we can go to Mars: its moons are Phobos and Deimos. Encourage speedy orbits. And accuracy in regard to the name. Now change to Jupiter: its four visible moons are Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. Other possibilities are: Saturn: its Main moons are Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Titan and Iapetus. (add the rings: they must be carried around the circle before they are passed on!) Uranus: its Main moons are Miranda, Ariel, Titania, Umbriel and Oberon.(They revolve at a right angle to its orbit- pass between legs before passing on!) Neptune, its moons Triton and Nereid orbit in opposite directions.

Some of the above games were found in The New Games Book, & More New Games, ed. Flugelman and Tembeck, and New Games for the Whole Family by Dale N. LeFevre (New Games Foundation) and some are from The Outrageous Outdoor Game Book by Bob Gregson (Fearon Teaching Aids)

Thanks for visiting! Your comments and games suggestions are most welcome!
Please E-mail me at: eldrbarry@eldrbarry.net

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