Tag games are a great way to encourage kids to be active. There are a lot of tag games for kids that are out there and these are just a few with a focus on animals. With a bit rethinking, kids can change these games around to feature their favorite critters.
For the most fun, tag games should be played by kids with similar physical abilities. A younger child chasing a group of older kids could mean that no one gets tagged, the younger child becomes frustrated, and no one has much fun.
Bird’s Nest Tag
Have the players sit in a circle with one player, “It,” standing in the center. “It” selects the name of three or four types of birds (for example, chickadee, blue jay, cardinal) and goes around the group assigning the names to the different players (there should be at least two players for each type of bird).
“It” returns to the center of the circle and calls out the name of one of the birds. All players with that identity jump up and run to a new, vacated spot while “It” runs to take one of the open spots. The player who doesn’t get a spot in the circle becomes the new “It.”
Bat and Moth Tag
You’ll need two blindfolds for this game. Have two players stand in the center of a circle of other players. Blindfold the two players inside the circle. Name one of those players the bat and the other moth. The children forming the circle are the forest.
The bat calls out, “bat” and the moth responds with, “moth,” mimicking how bats use echolocation to find insects. The bat listens for the moth and tries to tries to tag the moth. The moth moves away trying to avoid capture. The players go back and forth until the bat tags the moth. If either of those players move too close to the circle, the closest player calls out, “tree” to redirect the players toward the center of the circle. With a big group, you can have two moth and one bat.
The Food Chain Game
The food chain here involves a leaf, a rabbit, and a fox, but kid can come up with any simple food chain for this game. If you have ten players, four will be rabbits, three leaves, and three foxes. Have the rabbits stand in a circle in the center. The fox form a circle around the rabbits. The leaves are the outer circle.
Call out “go” and the rabbits try to run to tag the leaves (which stay still) while the fox try to tag the rabbits. Rabbits are safe when they crouch down and can’t be tagged by a fox. A rabbit must reach the leaves during a 20-to-30 second round. If they don’t tag a leaf, that rabbit becomes a leaf during the next round. A rabbit may tag as many leaves as it can.
A fox must tag one rabbit during each round to stay alive. If the fox doesn’t tag a rabbit, it becomes a leaf during the next round. If a leaf gets tagged by a rabbit, it becomes a rabbit during the next round.
Since each round is brief and players that don’t tag a food source become leaves, this game has many opportunities for players to change roles, keeping the action high.
Human, Fish, Mosquito Tag
This fun tag game is a combination of a food chain game and Everybody’s It. Define a small playing field that keeps players near one another because in this game, players will change roles each time they get tagged.
First, teach three poses that players hold during the game to show other players if they are a human, fish, or mosquito. Humans stand with their arms raised in a “muscle man” pose. Fish hold their palms together and wiggle their hands like a fish. Mosquitoes pinch their index finger and thumb together and hold their hand up by their nose to indicate the mosquito’s mouthpart.
The food chain for this game is: Humans eat (tag) fish; fish eat mosquitoes, and mosquitoes eat humans. Divide the players into three groups and assign each group a character. Remind the players whom they can tag. If a player is tagged, they become what tagged them. (So, if a human tags a fish, the fish becomes a human. If a mosquito tags a human, the human becomes a mosquito.)
This is a fast paced game with players constantly changing roles. You’ll probably have to remind players to hold up their hand signals so it is clear which character each player is. The game (or the round) ends when all of the players end up as the same character.
Because tag games require a high burst of energy during a short time, keep games short: ten-to-twenty minutes, depending on the age of the kids. During the summer, try to play in the shade or have kids stop after each round for a water break so they stay hydrated.