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Category: Character
Category: Education
Category: Health
Category: Leisure

Teach Your Child How to Play Tag

Tag is quite possibly the most exciting and most played traditional game in the world. Along with its variations, tag is played wherever you find groups of children.

Even though video games and television seem to be taking the place of more physically active forms of entertainment, kids still love to run, jump and chase each other. Teaching your child to play tag will keep them moving and tie them to millions of other children around the world who try to avoid being “It”!

The rules of tag are simple, but depend on the variation of the game. Several kinds of tag will be described here, each included with the age category that it fits developmentally. But you will find that if the bigger kids playing are having fun, the younger ones will catch on and want to join in, too.

Tag teaches children to follow rules, act quickly and wisely, and to be good sports. It also helps them develop speed, agility and physical endurance.


Children can play basic tag as soon as they are able to run fast enough to catch (tag) someone and avoid being caught (tagged). Three or more players are needed- the more the merrier. The object of basic tag is for the person who is “It” (chosen by being the last one to say “Not It!”) chases the other children until one is touched (tagged). That child then becomes It and chases the others until he or she tags someone, who then becomes It. The game continues until everyone collapses in exhaustion!

A variation that preschoolers aged 4 to 6 will be able to understand is Freeze Tag. The person who is It will chase the others. The person who is It yells “Freeze!” when he tags another. When tagged, that child must “freeze”” and stand stock still in the position they were in when tagged, unless and until another runner touches them and “unfreezes” them as they run by. The object is to freeze all the other players. The last person to be tagged becomes It.

Vegetable and Fruit Tag is fun and demands quick thinking. The person who is It chases the other players. If the tagger comes close by and is ready to tag a runner, that runner must quickly squat down and say the name of a fruit or vegetable. They are then safe and free to continue in the game. If the runner fails to do this and is tagged, they become It. The name of a fruit or vegetable can only be used once in each game, so players need to remember what has already been called out!

The more players the better- five or six is a good minimum, but less can play. Remind the children to tag gently and on the shoulder or below. As your child grows, they will be able to join in to some of the other tag games described below.

Main points to address:

  • Tag games are great for groups of three to ten children.
  • Remind kids to tag with a one hand touch (not a slap, push or shove) on the shoulder or below.

Grades K-6th

School age children will love playing these variations from around the world. It will only take playing once to understand the rules.

Ball Tag is played with five or more players and a rubber kick ball or other light ball with a diameter of six to ten inches. The person who is It throws the ball at the other players. The first person who is hit (shoulders or below only) becomes It. Freeze tag can also be played with a ball.

Gallinita Ciega, or The Blind Hen, is a chase game from Mexico. You will need three or more players. The person who is It (The Blind Hen), is blindfolded with a bandana or other cloth and must chase the others (the chicks). When The Blind Hen catches one of the chicks, they must try to guess who they’ve captured. If they are right, that chick becomes The Blind Hen. If they are wrong, that chick is released and the game continues. It is best of course to play in a safe area and limit play to a set diameter so that The Big Hen does not get injured.
This game is hilarious, especially if the chicks ‘peep’ and The Blind Hen cackles!

A variation of Freeze Tag is Sun and Ice, another game from Mexico. You will need two teams, with no maximum number. The players chase members on the opposite team. When tagged, they must turn into “ice” and freeze until one of the members of their team comes to “melt” them. They then rejoin the play. Play continues until there is only one player not frozen. Then play starts again.

Sam Pal Sun is a chase game from Korea. Sam Pal Sun is the name of the border between North and South Korea. The game is played with five or more players on each team. One team has a flag, placed on the ground behind the defending team, which they need to keep the other team from reaching. Each defending team member has a “territory” they must defend and can’t move away from. The offensive team tries to get through the defending line without getting tagged. If tagged, that player must freeze until unfrozen by a team mate. If all offensive players are tagged, the game ends and restarts until they capture the flag. The flag then becomes theirs and they must defend it from the opposite team. This takes team work, strategy, speed and agility!

Buddy Tag is an American chase game. It is best played with at least eight children. One person is It and another becomes the “runner”. The rest of the players pair up and link arms. If there is an odd man, link him with one of the pairs to make a threesome. The person who is It runs to catch the runner. If the runner is caught he becomes It, and the other person becomes the runner. But to avoid being caught, the runner can join up with one of the pairs, linking arms. This forces the person on the other end of the pair to break off and become the runner. The game continues until everyone is too tired to play.

There are dozens more variations of tag that you can easily teach your child. Most require some open space and some supervision to make sure things are stay safe and fair. Getting out there and joining the fun will give you some healthy exercise. Keeping these traditional games going will make sure generations to come will experience the wholesome pleasure and excitement of tag! Have fun!

Main points to address:

  • There are many variations of tag. Use the Internet or your local library to find more.
  • Mixing ages makes tag more fun.
  • Playing with your child will be fun for both of you.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Leisure.

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