Rough & Tumble Play Games & Activities

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

Children learn valuable life lessons and social skills through rough and tumble play. The following lesson will detail those benefits and provide ideas for games and activities.

Why Rough and Tumble Play?

Rough and tumble play include activities like wrestling, tag, and rough housing. Although parents and educators used to think this type of play made children more aggressive, research has actually proven rough and tumble play to be an important aspect of decreasing aggression in children. As children play, they learn how to control their bodies and respect other people's boundaries. They also develop their gross motor skills and muscles, and they improve their cardiovascular health.

The following games will give your students an opportunity to engage in rough and tumble play in a somewhat structured way. As they play, it's important to allow your students to pause when they need to. They might need to resolve a conflict or address a minor injury. It is your job to support these instances and help your students return to the game when they are ready.


Four Corners

  • Designate four distinct corners to play with. You might use a basketball court or a four square court.
  • One person stands in the middle and closes their eyes, counting to 10 out loud.
  • As the center person counts to 10, the rest of the students run around as quietly as they can and choose a corner to stand in.
  • When the center person gets to 10, they keep their eyes closed and yell out a corner. Whoever is in that corner is out of the game.
  • The center person tries to get all the other students out, so they must listen carefully to hear which corner they think the most students are hiding in.

Grab It!

  • Divide students into pairs and ask them to take off their shoes. This game is best done inside, since shoes can increase the chances of injury.
  • Student A throws a bean bag.
  • Both students are on their hands and knees, and student B tries to get the bean bag while student A grabs onto student B's ankle
  • Once student B has grabbed the bean bag, the students switch and student B throws the bean bag while student A tries to get it.

Blob Tag

  • One student is It while the rest of the students run around and try not to get caught.
  • When It tags a student, that student is linked to It and joins in trying to tag other students.
  • As students are tagged, they join the growing blob and begin tagging other students as well.
  • Eventually, most of the class will be part of the blob and will be running around joined together, trying to tag the last few students.

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