Chasing & Fleeing activities (aka “Tag Games”) are a staple in many elementary physical education programs. I like them because most require little or no equipment to set up, the directions are quick and easy, and they give students a quick burst of cardio work before moving on with my lesson. If you think about it, the most basic forms of creating and denying space stem from simple tag activities. This concept is developed as children acquire new skills and learn different activities, games, or sports as they grow up. So, let me share 5 of my personal favorite tag games and tell you why I like them so much!
Anytime you can pull out some rubber chickens, you know it’s going to be a good day in P.E. class. I mean, throw in the “Chicken Dance” music and the kids will be asking for this one again and again. A couple of poly spots and some rubber chickens are all you need to get ready to play. Take the poly spot, fold it in half, add the chicken and now you have a chicken taco! We call those players, “chicken taco taggers” because they are “IT”. If students get tagged by a chicken taco tagger, the tagger drops the taco on the floor and runs away. The tagged students must pick it up and try to tag someone else. I like this activity because it is continuous. You don’t have to stop and pick new taggers all the time, and the novelty factor is pretty high.
Looking for a way to incorporate more upper body strength into your activities? Then you’ll like Plank Tag. I use a foam pool noodle cut to about 12”-16” to identify the taggers. I give 3-4 kids a hula hoop (they are the rescuers). When students are tagged, they go down into a plank or pushup position and hold it. A rescuer will hold the hoop out in front of the them, and they crawl through the hoop to get back in the game. Depending on class size and the number of taggers/rescuers, students may have to hold that plank position for several seconds, increasing muscular endurance!
I’ll use this activity as a warmup when my main lesson focuses on throwing/catching. Students get a partner and play catch anywhere in the gym with a DuraCoat ball. When the music starts, or on your go signal, the student with the ball in his/her possession is “IT”, and it becomes a tag game between you and your partner. If you tag them, drop the ball and run away. If the music goes off, or a stop signal is given, students go back to playing catch. I like this because it incorporates a skill along with only one person to chase or evade. Students typically select a friend to be their partner, and they are usually both similar in skill/speed so it works out well.
Foam frisbees work great for Pizza Delivery Tag! Each student gets a foam Frisbee (pizza) to hold in one hand with palm facing up. Students try to keep their pizza from falling out of their hand. They move to open spaces to avoid getting too close to other players. If two players get near each other, they can attempt to knock each other’s pizza off their hand and onto the floor. If a pizza falls to the ground, I have my students perform a few quick reps of an exercise (jumping jacks, squats, pushups) and then return to the game. This activity keeps kids constantly moving and forces them to visually scan the playing area for any threat to their pizza. Being aware of their surroundings and moving to open spaces help students develop spatial awareness which is vital to so many activities.
Finally, I throw in a little nutrition with the kids when my K-1 students are learning that energy comes from the food we eat. We discuss healthy snacks and how sitting down for long periods of time watching TV or other screen time isn’t good for us. I select a few students to be “IT” and start with a “remote control” picture taped to a short foam noodle. I’ll also give a couple kids a rubber fruit or veggie. If touched by a “Couch Potato Tagger” you must sit down and become a couch potato. Someone carrying a healthy snack will come give it to you to give you energy and get you back in the game. I like this game because it teaches my younger students to share their equipment. By giving it to someone else, you get them back in the game. If you get tagged, someone will give you the healthy snack and get you back in the game.
So there you have it, 5 of my favorite tag games that I use in my program. If you’d like a free, downloadable activity sheet for each of these activities, click on the name of the tag game. Also, if you have any questions about these tag games or the accompanying content I created, please feel free to contact me directly. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite tag games as well!