Movement is a key component of classic children's games. Kids love the combination of movement and fun and improving skills. As an additional benefit, these games often develop key social concepts of turn taking, cooperation, counting and coordination -- a win/win combination!
Monday: For young children, a simple game of Duck Duck Goose is a wonderful to work on sprinting, balance and reaction time. Challenge everyone to invent variations -- instead of running when tagged "Goose" have them hop, skip or crawl, then vote for the version they like the best. Leap Frog is another game that encourages balance and coordination. Make it into a living board game by laying out a "lily pad" path to travel by rolling dice with frog stations along the way with instructions to leap for a bug or demonstrate swimming when landing on certain "pads"!
Tuesday: Red Light Green Light is another classic game that is a great fitness choice. In this game, one person plays the "stop light" and the rest try to touch him/her. The stop light faces away from the rest of the kids and says "green light" and the kids move towards the stoplight. When the stoplight says "red light!" and turns around, any of the kids that are caught moving are out. The stop light wins if all the kids are out before anyone is able to touch him/her. Otherwise, the first player to touch the stop light wins the game and is "stop light" for the next game. Try some variations -- run as animals, or run in teams connected by a rope. "Statues" is another form of this game, where the children need to hold their positions without moving when stopped or else go back to the starting line.
Wednesday: Tag is probably the simplest children's fitness game and has endless potential for variations. Hand out ribbons or scarves that the kids tuck in their pockets and the child who is "it" must pull one out to end his/her turn. On a sunny day, try "Shadow Tag" where the child who is "it" tags others by stepping on their shadow. Or variations of "Eraser Tag" where everyone must move around with something balanced on their head; if it falls off they must freeze until another player is able to come over and tag them free. "Underground Tag" is another type of tag: when players are tagged they must stand with legs apart until another player can crawl through the 'tunnel' to set them free. For older kids, try "Flashlight Tag" at night where the player who is "it" tags others with a flashlight beam!
Thursday: Capture the Flag is a classic game that combines elements of tag and hide and seek. Start with two teams and two different territories such as front /back yard and each has a "flag" which could be a ball, or any towel sized object. Each team has 5 minutes to hide their flag in their territory, then tries to get the other team's flag. Anyone tagged in the opponent's territory goes to jail and can only be freed by a teammate sneaking in and tagging them. The first team to capture the flag wins. This game is totally different at night in the woods!
Friday: Another simple game with endless possibilities for personalizing is Scavenger Hunt. This can be done indoors or out. Have the children hunt for common objects and tie in imagination as well -- look for a rock that looks like a person/animal, or a stick shaped like a letter. Ask for different colors in leaves and flowers. Make a list of misplaced household objects and make them the focus of the hunt!