10 Tag Games for Kids to Break With Tradition

Make tag your own with these unique tag games.

Published April 24, 2023
Kids playing a game of tag outside

We learn to play tag almost from the time that we can run on our own and hold out our hands. It's a game that every tired teacher and energized sibling can rely on. With such a simple premise, there are an infinite number of ways you can reinvent the wheel. Are your kiddos tired of playing traditional tag? Try one of these creative tag games for kids instead.

How to Play Traditional Tag

When playing tag, there's one major purpose - not to get 'it.' Like a hot potato, you try to pass being 'it' onto another player by touching them with one of your hands. Once 'tagged' the other player becomes 'it' and they have to get rid of their status by tagging someone else.

Learning how to play freeze tag is very similar. The difference is that instead of becoming 'it' when they are tagged, a kid becomes 'frozen' when they are tagged by the person who is 'it.' Typically other players can 'unfreeze' them by tapping them on the shoulder or arm.

Tag and freeze tag games can go for hours, and with just one or two modifications, you can open a whole new world of play.

Entertaining Tag Games for Kids

Tag is a fabulous game, but you can only play it so many days in a row before you start itching for something else. Never fear; there are so many unique tag games for kids out there that your kids can learn to play.

Zombie Tag

Similar to freeze tag is Zombie Tag. In Zombie Tag, kids run around with only one person being 'infected.' In this version, you don't get to get rid of your infection status by tagging someone else. Instead, you pass on the infection by tagging them. Soon, the infection spreads and you have tons of infected kids running after non-infected ones. The last kid to survive without catching the infection wins.

Crab Tag

Crab Tag's rules are the same as regular tag, except kids have to chase after each other in a crab walk. If you don't know what a crab walk is, here's how you get into position:

  1. Drop into a crouch.
  2. Lean back and put one palm on the ground behind you.
  3. Once stable, put your other hand on the ground so that you look like you're doing a backwards backbend.
  4. Move yourself back and forth without dropping out of the position.
Girls crab-walking on football field

Flashlight Tag

Flashlight Tag is a staple at sleepovers everywhere. Instead of using hands to tag your fellow friends out, you use flashlights. Running around in the dark, everyone tries to avoid getting hit by the beam of light.

Ants in Your Pants Tag

A silly way to keep kids moving even when tagged is this version called Ants in Your Pants. When kids are tagged in Ants in Your Pants, they don't become 'it.' Instead, they get hit with a dose of creepy crawlies in their clothes.

Kids with ants in their pants have to wiggle around in their spot, waiting for someone who's not it to come give them the curing ant powder. When they tag the kids with ants in their pants, they get to reenter the game.

Vampire Bats Tag

One Halloween-ified version of tag you can play during the autumn months is Vampire Bats Tag. This one is a little more complicated than regular tag.

During Vampire Bats Tag, one kid (or more depending on the size of the group) will start out as a vampire bat and one kid will start out as a vampire hunter. The vampire bat will run around trying to bite (tag) as many humans as possible to turn them into vampire bats as well. However, newly turned vampire bats can be turned back into humans by getting cured (tagged) by the vampire hunter.

To distinguish one from the other, vampire bats have to run while flapping their wings, while humans and the vampire hunter gets to run around like normal. The game ends when either everyone is turned into a vampire bat or a human.

Family playing tag, dad chasing them with arms spread out like vampire

London Bridge Tag

Get inspired by the nursery rhyme with this silly tag game. In London Bridge Tag, kids play freeze tag like normal except those that are tagged don't become 'it.' Instead, they have to drop down onto their hands and form a bridge with their body. Non-tagged kids can save them from their position by crawling underneath the 'London Bridge.'

What's the Time, Mr. Wolf?

Like something that walked right out of Grimm's Fairy Tales, What's the Time, Mr. Wolf? is an interesting play on the tag concept. Basically, one kid takes on the role as Mr. Wolf, and prowls the edges of their territory. The other kids are tasked with walking from the start line to the finish line. They have to ask "What's the Time, Mr. Wolf?" and the wolf shouts out different numbers, with those numbers being how many steps the kids get to take to get closer to the finish line.

Watch out for when Mr. Wolf says "Midnight," though, because that's the hunting hour and they'll come running to tag you out of the game. During the midnight hour, kids race to get to the finish line before getting tagged. Anyone who's tagged gets sent out of the game, and the game restarts back at the start line.

Memory Tag

In Memory Tag, kids start up tag like usual, except when someone's tagged out, they don't get to be freed from their position until the person who tagged them gets tagged. It's a great way to challenge their memory and keep them multi-tasking.

Shadow Tag

Make like Peter Pan and protect your shadow during Shadow Tag. Instead of tagging using your hands, you use your feet to stomp on someone else's shadow. If you catch someone's shadow, they're now it. Naturally, shadow tag works best during the afternoon when the sun is starting to set and your shadows are huge.

Caterpillar Tag

In Caterpillar Tag, kids take to the playground to start tag as usual. However, when the first kid gets tagged, they join the person who tagged them by linking hands to start the caterpillar. Every new kid that gets tagged out joins the line until you've got a huge hungry caterpillar full of kiddos.

Children holding hands and running in a park

There Are Endless Tag Variations

Sometimes the simplest games are the most exciting because there's so much room to make them your own. Experiment with these tag games or brainstorm with your kids and come up with something entirely your own. Either way, don't forget to tag yourself out.

10 Tag Games for Kids to Break With Tradition