30 Fun Tag Game Variations Kids Love To Play

Tag has been an iconic childhood game for as long as most of us can remember. These days, however, there are so many different versions of the classic game. Some incorporate beloved characters from Star Wars or Pokémon, while others encourage kids to act like animals or robots. There are even versions of tag that turn the players into pizza toppings and hot dogs! Some tag games are best played in P.E. class since you’ll need cones, Hula-Hoops, mats, or bean bags. Still others, like flashlight tag or water freeze tag, are perfect to play with friends in your neighborhood. Ready to play? Choose one of the tag games on our list and start running!

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How To Play Tag

Tag Game Variations

How To Play Tag

Things To Know Before Playing

  • All variations of tag, including the classic version, have at least one player that is designated as “it,” or the tagger.
  • Try to chase and tag another player if you’re “it,” and avoid getting touched if you’re a runner. When a runner gets tagged, they become the new person who’s “it.”
  • Play tag until all the players are exhausted or until each person has been “it” at least once during the game.

Rules of the Game

  1. Before beginning, you will need to designate a playing area that includes out-of-bounds areas and a safe zone. This is easy to do if you’re playing in a designated area like a school gym, basketball court, etc. Pick an area free from any hazards that could result in injury. The safe zone can be a piece of playground equipment, a Hula-Hoop, or even a tree. When players are in the safe zone, the tagger is not allowed to tag them. Be sure to set a limit on time spent in the safe zone so players don’t camp out there.
  2. Select one player to be “it.” Depending on the setting, you can ask for a volunteer or just choose one at random. All the other players become the runners.
  3. You can begin the game by having the tagger count down from 10 to give the runners a chance to get away. Once the tagger reaches 0, the game begins and they can begin tagging people.
  4. TIPS: 1.) If you’re “it” keep your eye on the players while counting so you can decide who to go after first. 2.) If you’re a runner, try to find a hiding place to buy yourself some extra time.
  5. “It” or the tagger is responsible for trying to chase and catch the runners. A tag should consist of a light touch on a person’s shoulder, arm, or back. The tagger can try to fake out the runners with movements, pretending to go one way and then cutting in another direction. The tagger, however, has to be honest about being “it.”
  6. If you’re a runner, you will want to do your best to stay far away from the tagger. While you’ll definitely want to run away as fast as you can, you can try to put obstacles like trees or playground equipment in between you and the tagger. You can also try hiding somewhere out of sight of the tagger.
  7. Once a player is tagged, they become “it” and immediately start chasing the other players. The previous tagger also immediately changes roles, becoming one of the runners. If you want to avoid the same player being “it” over and over, you can make a rule that players can’t tag the person who tagged them.
  8. Unlike other games, tag doesn’t have a clearly defined end. You can choose to either end it when everyone is bored or tired or you can end once everyone has had a turn to be “it.” If you want to speed things along, you can have the person that’s “it” step out of the game playing area once they’ve tagged someone. This can continue until there is only one person left.

Tag Game Variations

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1. Freeze Tag

Select two players to be “it” in this fun twist on regular tag, then set them free to “freeze” all the other players.

Learn more: Freeze Tag at The Genius of Play

2. Star Wars Tag

While this game is fun for anyone, Star Wars lovers will really get into playing rebels, Stormtroopers, Luke, Leia, Yoda, or even Darth Vader himself. Bonus: Could anything be more fun than tagging your friends with your lightsaber (in this case, a pool noodle)?

Children are seen in the background holding hands. One child has their back to the camera facing the other children in this example of tag games
Ziggity Zoom

3. Octopus Tag

Start with one octopus while the rest of the kids are fish. Once tagged, fish become crabs who must stay where they were tagged as they join the octopus in trying to tag the fish as they run past. Finally, the last fish tagged becomes the next octopus. Since kids love funny hats, you can make a special one to designate the octopus.

Learn more: Octopus Tag Outdoor Family Game

4. Hot Dog Tag

In this hilarious version of tag, the first student tagged becomes the hot dog who then needs to find their “buns.” Once a complete hot dog is formed by three kids lying side by side, they are allowed to rejoin the game.

A large group of children are gathered together running around in this example of tag games.

5. Blob Tag

In this fun game, two kids link elbows to form the blob before chasing the other players. Once the blob reaches four players, it breaks off into two separate blobs.

Learn more: Blob Tag

6. Spider Tag

Kids will definitely get a kick out of tagging their friends with their spider webs made from balled-up pinnies. Spider-man fans will be especially excited to play this fun twist on tag.

Several students are seen trying to dodge a tagger.

7. Cookie jar

The tagger is the Cookie Monster and the rest of the students are the cookies. The cookies must ask, “Cookie Monster, Cookie Monster, are you hungry?” then wait for either a yes or a no reply. If yes, they must try to run across the field without getting eaten. If no, they must stay where they are.

Learn more: Cookie Jar

8. Band-Aid Tag

This is a simple but unique twist on tag. When tagged, runners have to place their hand over where they were tagged as a Band-Aid. Once they have two Band-Aids, they must then wait to be freed.

A man and a child are shown chasing their shadows outside in this example of tag games.
Donald Gruener/ iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

9. Shadow Tag

Tag games that also incorporate science lessons are the best! Before playing this fun game, teach your students about the ways in which shadows are formed when objects block a light source.

Learn more: Shadow Tag at Peep and the Big Wide World

Diagram of how to play Pokemon tag.
PhysEdGames via YouTube

10. Pokemon Tag

Elementary school–age kids love Pokémon and they love running around, so this is sure to be a hit! We especially love that it works well for big groups and provides opportunities for different types of movement.

Watch video: Pokemon Tag on YouTube

11. Scarecrow Soccer Tag

This would be a fun game of tag to play in the fall since tagged players become scarecrows. A player must crawl through the scarecrow’s legs to free them.

12. Oonch Neech

A popular game in Pakistan, this tag game requires players to find higher ground on a tree, rock, or the like in order to be safe from the tagger.

Learn more: Oonch Neech at Active for Life

13. Everybody’s It

This is the perfect game for your class if everyone wants to be the tagger. In this game, everyone can be!

Diagram of how to play skung tag.
PhysEdGames via YouTube

14. Skunk Tag

You’ll need four Hula-Hoops to play this fun tag variation. Kids will definitely get a kick out of playing the part of the skunk!

Watch video: Skunk Tag on YouTube

A group of school aged children are seen running across a grassy field on a warm summers day.  They are each dressed casually and are in shorts and t-shirts as they laugh and enjoy the fresh air.
Fat Camera/E+ via Getty Images

15. Robot Tag

Kids will love getting a turn to be one of the evil toy makers since they get to turn their friends into robots. This is one game where kids might not mind getting tagged since they get an opportunity to showcase their best robot walk.

Learn more: Robot Tag at PE Central

Diagram of how to play Pac-man tag.
PhysEdGames via YouTube

16. Pac-man Tag

Parents and P.E. teachers who grew up playing Pac-man will definitely get a kick out of bringing the 1980s arcade game to life. We think your students will have a lot of fun too!

Watch video: Pac-man Tag on YouTube

Two children are seen running outside in this example of tag games.
nemke/E+ via Getty Images

17. Toilet Tag

Tag games that also include some bathroom humor are sure to be a hit with the elementary-age crowd. The tagger turns their friends into toilets and then other players flush the toilet to free them.

Learn more: Toilet Tag at Elementary P.E. Games

18. Animal Tag

Little kids like to act like animals for no reason so why not give them one? This is a fun game for P.E., home, or recess.

19. Zombie Tag

You will need Hula-Hoops, cones, and a lot of pool noodles to bring this one to life (or back from the dead, in this case). This would be the perfect game to play during spooky season.

One player is seen running away with a pinnie hanging out of their shorts while another player tries to grab it in this example of tag games.
University of Victoria

20. Pinnie Tag

You can create a lot of variations of this one game, but the main idea remains the same. To begin, everyone places a pinnie hanging three-quarters of the way out of the back of their shorts/pants. Then, everyone must go after everyone else and attempt to pull out other players’ pinnies. Last person standing wins. You can amend this for sports like basketball or soccer by adding a ball into the equation.

Learn more: Pinnie Tag

A cartoon image shows kids running in different directions. Text reads How to Play Cops and Robbers.
Kid Activities

21. Cops and Robbers Tag

What’s better than a fun twist on a classic game? A fun twist on two classic games!

Learn more: Cops and Robbers

22. Pirates and Sailors

Begin the game with three pirates. Sailors attempt to travel from ship to ship without being sent to the pirate ship, also known as prison.

A little boy stands in the dark holding a flashlight.
Shauni/E+ via Getty Images

23. Flashlight Tag

This is the perfect game to play during summer nights. Gather your flashlights and neighbors and then get to playing!

Learn more: Flashlight Tag at WikiHow

24. Stick It On Tag

Kids will go nuts for this game, but you will need to have the necessary vests on hand. We’ve included links below for an option for a school or for fun at home with just a few kids.

Learn more: StickIt On at Gopher

Buy it: Action! Stick It Set at Gopher

Buy it: Dodgeball Game for Kids at Amazon

Diagram of how to play pizza tag.
PhysEdGames via YouTube

25. Pizza Tag

Before playing, pick a few kids to be the chefs and then divide the rest of the kids into pizza toppings. When your topping is called during the game, you need to run from one end of the gym to the other without the chefs getting you.

Watch video: Pizza Tag via YouTube

Six kids stand with arms around each other in this example of tag games.
Very Well Family

26. Dragon Tag

We especially love the cooperation required in this version of tag. Teams will link arms to form dragons, and then the end player will tuck a scarf or bandanna into their clothes to act as the tail. Teams try to steal each other’s tails during the game.

Learn more: Dragon Tag

27. Triangle Tag

This version of tag is so simple yet so fun. Divide kids into teams of three, then pick which kid will be the designated player who will need to be protected from the tagger.

28. Crab Tag

Designate a smaller area than normal for this fun game. Taggers will need to tag players while walking on all fours like a crab.

Learn more: PE With Mr. G

Diagram of how to play dead ant tag.
PhysEdGames via YouTube

29. Dead Ant Tag

Get your students laughing while also burning calories with this fun spin on tag. Tagged players must lie on their backs with their arms and legs in the air since they are now dead ants. A separate player must tag each of the dead ant’s limbs so they can rejoin the game.

Watch video: Dead Ant Tag via YouTube

A little girl is seen shooting a water gun in this example of tag games.
wundervisuals/E+ via Getty Images

30. Water Freeze Tag

Tag games that help to keep you cool during the summer months are the best! This game is basically just freeze tag but with water guns.

Learn more: Water Freeze Tag at Education.com

What are your favorite tag games to play with your class? Come and share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our favorite recess games for the classroom.

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