Outdoor Games to Play With First Graders


First-graders have short attention spans, so outdoor games provide a much-needed break. They teach cooperation, team play, conduct skills (standing in line) and can reinforce educational subjects. Furthermore, they hone gross and fine motor skills. There are many outdoor games suitable for first-graders.

Following Directions Games

  • "Captain's Crew" is an active whole-class game that reinforces following directions. Tell students a crew must do different jobs and activities, and people who don't follow orders will be out. The captain (teacher) will call out orders as follows: clean the deck (kids must pretend to push an imaginary broom), mess hall (kids sit down and pretend to eat), dance around the deck in twos, threes or fours (whichever is called), and rowboats of twos, threes or fours (that number of students sit in a straight line and pretend to row). Students who have the wrong number in their group are out. Practice commands a few times before playing.

    Sight Word Jump reinforces frequently used words. Draw a hopscotch board, but put a sight word in each square. The teacher calls out different sight words and students must hop to the correct word. Once a student lands on a word, he changes it with chalk.

Running Games

  • In dodge ball, students are divided into two teams. One team makes a circle and the other stands inside. The outside team throws balls trying to get inside members out. To avoid injuries, require students to throw the ball below the knees. As a child is hit, he moves outside the circle. The winner is the last child not to be hit.

    There are many versions of tag. Give teams of four colored practice jerseys, with one team designated as being "it." Members of that team must tag as many people as they can within a specified time period (five to seven minutes). Each team gets a turn to be "It," and the team that gets the most people out wins.

    In red light, green light, one student is "it" and stands 20 feet from the other students who are lined up shoulder to shoulder facing him. He turns away from the other students as he calls out green light. Students run toward him at green light, but must stop on red light."It" turns to face students when calling out red light and students still moving are out. Play continues until a student touches it."

Games Promoting Fine and Gross Motor Skills

  • Relay races, such as wheel barrel races or short walks requiring students to balance something in their hands while moving (a ball), promote coordination and movement.

    Play a "letter race" with any number of children. Each child gets a piece of chalk and an area of asphalt. The teacher calls out a letter and students must write it. Each correct letter gets a point, and students can make their own tally marks to keep track of scores. This game can also be modified to reinforce sight words.


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