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How Many Ways Can You Play Tag?

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

There are so many great variations of tag for preschoolers! This article will discuss strategies to liven up the good old-fashioned version, as well as freeze tag, elbow tag, and sharks and minnows.

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    Tag is a favorite for many preschoolers, and there are so many variations of tag! Start with the basic version, and then slowly introduce different preschool tag games into your repertoire. Your kids will thank you for the change!

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    Basic Tag – Making It Fun

    In the traditional version of tag, one child is “It." That child tries to tag the other children, while the other children run away. When the child who is “It" succeeds in tagging another child, the tagged child becomes “It," and play continues.

    You can make this game a bit more interesting even without changing the rules. For example, have children decorate a sign to hang around the neck of the child who is it. Let the children play in an area with many safe objects to hide behind, such as trees, large rocks, or changes in land elevation. On a hot summer day, have children “tag" each other by spilling cups of water on each other’s heads!

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    Freeze Tag

    This is perhaps one of the most common variations of tag, and it makes the game much more active. When the child who is “It" tags another child, the tagged child needs to “freeze" – or stand very still. The tagged child can become “unfrozen" when tagged by a third child. Although it’s fun for children to be able to “unfreeze" their friends, they need to make sure that they don’t get tagged themselves! (Note: In this game, the same child remains “It" through the end of the game. The goal of “It" is to tag everyone so that all the children are frozen.)

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    Elbow Tag

    In this variation of tag, when the child who is “It" tags another child, the tagged child becomes “It" as well. The two children link themselves by their elbows and try to tag other children. As other children are tagged, the chain of children becomes longer and harder to elude – if they work together. This tag game encourages teamwork, but it should be played in a smaller, more confined area to give the chain of children an advantage.

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    Sharks and Minnows

    This tag game begins with a long line of minnows standing against one wall, facing another wall. One child, the “Shark," stands facing the minnows. When the shark calls out “Minnows!" all of the minnows run to the opposite wall, and the Shark tries to tag the minnows. A tagged minnow becomes a shark. At the end of the game, almost all of the children are sharks, and the very few minnows have a hard time avoiding them. The last minnow to be tagged is the next Shark, and the game begins again.

    These variations of tag for preschool will help young children learn how to follow rules and be flexible. Best of all, they’re a lot of fun!