Team Games for Kids
To continue my series, here's a selection of games you can play with two teams.
Capture the Flag
This age old game is tons of fun outdoors or in a very large room (i.e. gym). Split into two teams and give each team a ‘flag’. This can be anything from a Frisbee, a ball, an actual flag or piece of cloth, or even an older article of clothing. Divide the playing area into two halves and use something to mark the border, such as a pylon, a rope, or a piece of tape if you are playing indoors. Each team should get a few minutes to hide their flag. You can make a rule that the flag has to be visible, or allow it to be completely hidden. Each team should also decide where their ‘jail’ is. This is where they will send their captured opponents.
When the game begins, players try to cross to their opponents side, grab their flag and return to their own side without being tagged. If they are tagged, they are sent to jail and can only be released if one of their own teammates gets across the line and tags them. Released players get a free walk back to their side.
If a player gets a hold of the flag, but doesn’t get across their line before being tagged, they must drop the flag where they were tagged and go to jail. The owners of the flag can guard it, but they can’t move it from where it was dropped.
As a variation, instead of jail, players can be told to ‘freeze’ where they are tagged until they are released by their own teammate.
Task Race/Scavenger Hunt
Just like the game on TV, players will attempt to complete various tasks faster than their opponents. Anything you can dream up can be a station in the game. I have set up games for a 4-H club where members had to identify different seeds, draw missing parts on a diagram of a cow, and name all six of the dairy breeds pictured on a display board, among other things. A scavenger hunt is a similar game where you give each player a bag, and a list of items to find, like a twig, a leaf, an acorn, a button, a pen, a shoe, etc. Either of these games can be played individually, or as a team. You can play until all tasks are completed or items are found, or set a time limit and see who has the most done when the time is up.
Decide if you want to have one team of kids, or if you have enough to split into multiple teams. This game works best with teams of no more than 6 kids. Each team will need two simple puzzles. When I organized this game, I used 100 piece puzzles, but I was working with grades 1-6. Younger kids will need MUCH easier puzzles (or maybe just use one).
Here’s the catch. You are not going to give the kids two puzzle boxes. You are going to dump all the pieces from both puzzles into one box. Mix them up good. To make it a little easier, try to mix puzzles that are very different in color and/or shape.
Give each team a puzzle box and let them start unscrambling the puzzle pieces. If some time passes and they are having trouble, give them the second box so they can see the picture of the second puzzle. First team done both puzzles wins. This is a great game for the intellectual type child who isn’t into contact sports.
Word of warning, use older towels you don’t care too much about because sometimes they don’t survive this game! Basically, you are going to use a towel as a launcher for a rubber ball. Pick a soft ball like a beach ball or something similar. A baseball or tennis ball is probably too hard and likely to hurt someone if they get hit. You don’t have to use a net for this game, but you can if you want. Designate two players on each team as the launchers. They should each hold an end of their towel. Another player should place the ball in the towel. Working as a team, the ‘launchers’ should use the towel to toss their ball towards the opposing team. The launch team on the other side should attempt to catch it. If they can’t catch it, other team members can hit it back to the opponent’s side. If the ball hits the ground, the opposing team gets a point. If the ball is caught with the towel, the team that caught it gets the point. And yes, sometimes towels do get snapped a little too hard in the heat of the moment and rip. In which case I always tell the kids that’s too bad, and to do the best they can with what they have left!