We know that it can be difficult to come up with new things to do with kids in PE so that they stay engaged – especially if there isn’t any equipment that you can use. You might also worry about them getting bored at break and lunch if they’ve run out of things to do and there’s no equipment available to keep them playing. Luckily, that’s where we come in. We’re ready to help you by offering up a few of our favourite “no equipment” playground games!
These 7 fun and easy outdoor games can all be played without equipment, and slotted into any PE lesson or playtime activity without any extra preparation.
Take a look at our suggestions and get set for some incredible activities that your kids will want to play over and over. The beauty of it is that they will be able to do just that without any fuss, prep time, or putting things away after!
7 Easy Playground Games with No Equipment
There are loads of games for kids that can be played without equipment, but we’ve picked a few of our favourites and several classics to get you started:
Number of Players: Maximum of 30
Age Range: 4+
What the Game Teaches: Team play, fitness, and agility.
You might think that a relay race is going to need at least a little bit of equipment, like a ball or a baton that pupils can pass between them. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case; to select the next player in line, the current runner can simply high-five or tag the next player in. It might even make the session run a little faster if you’ve got something else planned next – nobody will lose a ball or drop a baton on the way!
Number of Players: 2 or 4 (depending on the game being played)
Age Range: 5+
What the Game Teaches: Memorisation, coordination, and team play skills.
Clapping games might not be physical, but they’re still important for teaching students a range of skills. Because they’ve been around for decades and are considered a strong part of oral tradition, there are also hundreds of variations that you can teach to children, or that children are likely to have heard of in passing. This gives you plenty of options to choose from, and plenty for them to play, without becoming bored or having to go back to the same one as before!
We’ve made a list of 15 easy hand-clapping games to teach them to give you a head start. Have a look and see what ones you think they’ll like the most!
Duck, Duck, Goose
Number of Players: Minimum of 10
Age Range: 5+
What the Game Teaches: Engagement, team play, and fast reactions.
This classic game is a staple of any playground, and it’s so famous you’re already likely to know how to play it! All the kids have to sit in a circle, facing inwards. One child is then chosen to be the “tapper” and walks around the outside of the circle, tapping their classmates on the head while saying “Duck”.
At a point of their choosing, they tap a child and say “Goose”. The child they choose has to get up and chase them around the circle, trying to catch them out before the tapper can sit in the goose’s vacated spot. If the “goose” catches the tapper, the tapper has to go again. If the tapper sits down without being caught, the “goose” becomes the new tapper.
Number of Players: 5+
Age Range: 5+
What the Game Teaches: How to stay quiet. Also, teamwork and problem solving, if you are playing a version called ‘Sardines’.
We’d recommend playing this game at break or lunch, rather than as part of a PE lesson – after all, you don’t know how long it will take to find everyone! There are a couple of different ways it can be played; there is the standard ‘Hide-and-Seek’, where one person is the “seeker” and the rest find places to hide, or you can choose to make it a game of ‘Sardines’.
In ‘Sardines’, there is one beginning “hider” and everyone else is a seeker. When seekers find the hider, they have to hide with them. Play continues until there is only one person left to find the hiders – and this person will lose the game. Standard ‘Hide-and-Seek’ can be played in small groups, but Sardines is best played with a larger group if kids want a challenge.
Red Light/Green Light
Number of Players: 3+
Age Range: 5+
What the Game Teaches: Speed, reflexes, and agility.
The only “equipment” you’ll need for a good game of Red Light/Green Light is a wall, a fence, or even just the outskirts of your playground. One player, sometimes called the “police officer” or “traffic officer”, will stand by the wall, fence or the outskirts of the playground, facing outwards. The rest of the playing class or team line up and slowly (or quickly, if they want to run) head towards them. They then have to stop stock-still when the traffic officer turns around and calls out “Red light”; they’ll be out of the game if they’re still moving after this!
When the officer turns back around, a “Green” traffic light is called and the players are free to move again. Players win by making it to the officer, either by touching the wall or fence or stepping over the outskirts of the playground.
Number of Players: 10+
Age Range: 5+
What the Game Teaches: Team play, social skills, and agility.
There are loads of variations of tag that can be played with classes of different sizes. The simplest versions can all be played without equipment, where one child is chosen to be “It” and all the other players will have to run away and try their best not to be caught. You can then switch things up by having different rounds; perhaps people who are caught will have to “freeze” one time, and the other “free” players will have to “unfreeze” them by tagging them. You can improvise!
Catch the Dragon’s Tail
Number of Players: 12-18
Age Range: 10+
What the Game Teaches: Teamwork.
This game is particularly good if you’ve got a large group of kids that you want to keep active. The game requires children to hold hands and form a chain, which should not be broken. The player at the start of the line is the “head” of the dragon, and the person at the end of the line is the “tail”. The aim of the game is for the head to catch the tail, while the players in the middle making up the “body” try to stop the head from catching the tail without breaking the chain.
If the head succeeds in catching the tail, the tail becomes the new head and the game continues.
Do You Have Playground Markings?
If you’ve already got playground markings installed on a surface in an outdoor area, you might not need any more equipment than this to play any of the great games or amazing activities we’ve listed below.
Any one of these 5 can even be included in PE lessons if you want to do something fantastically fun, memorable, and educational with kids:
Agility Trails and Courses
If you have an Agility Trail, Fitness Test, Race Line, or something similar, kids can learn all about healthy competition, teambuilding, and communication together in PE. They can also practise by themselves at break and lunch if they like! You won’t need anything other than a timekeeping method either, as you split your class up into teams and have them race to see who can finish the fastest.
As an extra tip, keep in mind the fact that agility courses are fun for all ages. This means you can use this for PE or games no matter what year group you’re teaching. You can even join in, if you want, and so can other teachers and teaching assistants!
Does your playground have any mazes? If so, you can turn these playground games into the perfect puzzle for your pupils as part of their PE! Much like an Agility Trail or course, you won’t need much more than a stopwatch if you want to time everyone’s attempts to clear the maze itself.
If you don’t have a maze in outdoor areas but you’d like one from our range, you’ll get the chance to pick whether you’d like a straightforward maze or one with different maths problems on the way to the middle. You can engage their brains and get them thinking while they exercise!
Maths Grid Games
If you’re intrigued by the idea of engaging pupils’ minds with mathematics, as well as their athletic abilities, then you might think about turning any mathematical grids on your playground into an outdoor game.
For example, if you’ve got a straightforward number grid that goes from 1 to 100, you might start by having all the kids stand a small distance away from the grid. You can then call out a simple maths question that’s appropriate for the year group, such as “What is 5 + 4?” for younger pupils or “What is 20 + 30” for older pupils. Each pupil will then have to work out the answer and race to the correct number. The fastest one there wins!
Your grid games don’t have to be limited to just numbers! If you’ve got a mix of Alphabets & Numbers in your outdoor play area, you can easily come up with spelling games that can be played in PE, too! If you have, for instance, got something like a Solid Letter Jump, you can challenge your pupils to jump from letter to letter to come up with different words. You can even make it more challenging by not allowing them to repeat words, or letters if you think they’re up for it!
Have you got younger pupils that you want to help learn their phonics? Then you can do the same games we’ve mentioned above, or come up with your own, with any playground markings you’ve got that help them to learn these. Having a 40 Sound Phonics Pond can help them to tap into their imaginations, as you can make use of a friendly frog who sits by the pond. Turn him or her into a character for kids to receive “instructions” from and give them words to sound out phonetically; they can then either “swim”, jump, or hop to the correct lilypad.
Play All the Games You Want – Without Equipment!
If you have been searching for something new and interesting to do with students in PE, or if you know they’ll want some easy playground games to play when there’s no equipment out, Designs & Lines is here to help. With a few of our top-quality playground markings in place, you will have everything you need to set up a lesson or game with minimal time spent putting equipment out or away again.
We will be glad to work weekends and around your schedule to provide you with a playing area your pupils can use with or without equipment. We understand that you’re busy, so we’ll do everything to ensure the process is as hassle-free for you as possible. This includes giving you all the information you need so you can carry on with the most important task of all – teaching your children!