Outdoor Play

How to Play a Game of Tag, with a Twist!

By: Katherine Swarts
Children running while playing tag games
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Fine Motor Skills

Tag, you’re It! Kids have been playing tag since forever, so why not change things up! Read through these tag variations with your kids to help them find a new way to play the game. Which ones do they want to try today?

Dragon Tag

  1. Line up.
  2. Each player holds the waist of the person in front of them.
  3. Then the dragon’s head (the player in front) tries to “bite” the tail (the last player in line).
  4. Anyone who lets go is out for a round.

Shadow Tag

  1. Try this indoors or a well-lit backyard after dark.
  2. Instead of tagging people, the person who is “it” steps on peoples’ shadows. 
  3. Your shadows will change as you run!

Taboo Tag

  1. Choose something only the person who is “it” can step on or touch, such as a certain area on the playground or the grass between some trees.
  2. Runners who touch the “taboo” spot are out until a new person is tagged to be “it.”

Crossover Tag

  1. The person who is “it” picks one person and keeps chasing them, unless someone runs between them, a.k.a., “crosses over.”
  2. Any person who crosses over becomes the new target.
  3. Everyone else keeps moving. If anyone is standing still, the person who is “it” can point at that person to make that person the new “it.”

Chain Tag

  1. Start with regular tag.
  2. The first player tagged joins hands with the person who is “it.” They run together and use their free hands to tag others.
  3. Each person tagged becomes a new link in the chain. Play until everyone is part of the chain.

Extend the Fun

Young children: Little ones might have trouble following multiple rules or feeling okay when they’re out of the game. Try the tag variations that are more inclusive, such as chain tag or dragon tag. Or change the movement. Instead of running, have kids hop or walk like a crab.

Older children: Encourage your kids to make up their own game of tag. Maybe they build on one of these variations, or maybe they come up with something wildly different. Try letting each child who is “it” come up with a new rule (funny ones are best!) so that, by the end of the game, there are dozens of silly rules to follow.

Author Photo
By: Katherine Swarts