Old-School Recess Games to Play at Home During Quarantine

The school playground may be closed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to have recess! Who remembers jumping to rhymes like Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear? How about playing Red Light, Green Light? Or Four Square? We rounded up some old school (no contact!) recess games that kids AND parents will love!

A lot of these games can be modified to be no contact and can be played with players at least 6 feet apart. There’s also suggestions to add an educational twist to the game! It’s a win-win during these challenging times.



Jump Roping to Rhymes

How many jump roping rhymes do you remember? Here’s some of our favorites:

List your favorite below!


Red Light, Green Light

Red Light, Green Light Variations:

  • Add different color lights with different ways to move (such as run on green, walk slowly on yellow, hop on blue, skip on purple, etc.)
  • Leader can move around, meaning the finish line could move further away.


Four Square

Four Square Educational Twist: 

  • When players bounce the ball, they must also call out the name of a country, a state, an animal, or whatever the category may be. A player is out if they repeat something that’s already been said.
  • Have players count by 5s, 10s, 12s, etc. as they pass the ball to memorize number patterns or multiplication facts.


(Shadow) Tag


If it’s a sunny day, try this no-contact variation of a classic tag game! Instead of touching, players run around and jump on each other’s shadows while making sure no one jumps on theirs.

Shadow Tag Variations:

  • When players are tagged, give them a short task to do (such as 10 jumping jacks, 5 push ups, or even answer trivia questions) to get back in the game.


Steal the Bacon

This old-school game develops teamwork, listening skills and number recognition.

Steal the Bacon Educational Twists:

  • For older kids, use addition/subtraction/multiplication/division problems to call out numbers. For example, if you call out 12 x 2, the players that are numbers 24 will run.
  • Call more than one number at a time and require players to pass the bacon once before they can score.

Quarantine Tip: Use a ‘bacon’ that the kids can wear for the remainder of the game (bracelets, scrunchies, etc.) That way, they keep the ‘bacon’ they touch and a new one is used every round.



Take this old-fashioned game and give it a whole new look! And since only one player goes at a time, it’s the perfect game for quarantine time.

Hopscotch Educational Twists:

  • Have kids identify the shapes used to make the game.
  • Use more complex shapes for older kids (pentagons, parallelograms, trapezoids, etc.)



What was your favorite playground game to play as a kid? Let us know below!



This post was written by Kidsguide


  • marcia taylor

    Jump Rope games:

    School starts at 9 o’clock and don’t be late
    Sign your name on the golden slate (one jump for each letter of your name, then go out)
    Kindergarten (run through, don’t jump)
    First grade (jump once)
    Second grade (jump twice) and so on thru 12th grade. Every time you trip/miss, you have to start back over from kindergarten.

    Charlie Chaplin went to France
    To teach the girls how to do the cutie dance
    Heel (tap your heel when you land)
    Toe (tap your toe when you land)
    Around you go (jump & spin around before you land)
    Curtsy to the captain (jump & curtsy when you land
    Curtsy to the queen (jump and curtsy when you land)
    Touch the floor of the submarine (touch the ground when you land)

    Gypsy, Gypsy pray tell me
    What my future is going to be
    Rich man
    Poor man
    Beggar man
    Indian Chief
    (Keep jumping and repeating until you miss/trip to find out which)

    Different ways to turn the rope:
    Bluebells (turners just swing rope back and forth without turning over)
    Wavy (rope is on the ground and wiggle it like a snake)
    Walky (rope turners step sideways while turning the rope and jumper has to follow and keep jumping)
    Pepper (turners turn the rope as fast as they can)

    I spent YEARS playing jump rope in the “olden days”. Never could turn or do double dutch, though.

    • Alina Na

      I love the ‘school starts at 9’ one! Never got the hang of double dutch either. Thanks for sharing your favorites!

      – Alina, Kidsguide

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