Recently, Learning Liftoff offered five playground games that stimulate both the body and mind. When it comes to physical and mental development, the playground possibilities are endless. Read on to discover five more mind-challenging playground activities for game-based learning.

Hopped Up Hopscotch

If children have never played hopscotch, teach them the basics before adding a few creative twists to this old favorite. On one square, have children alternate between hopping on the left and right foot. Designate one square on which children must sing a song or recite a poem. Be creative with the hopscotch board, drawing it in various shapes or providing larger gaps over which to jump. This game activates children’s neural pathways.

Piggy Pick-Up Sticks

If children enjoy regular pick-up sticks, they’ll love piggy pick-up sticks, in which they pick up sticks with their feet and toes. In lieu of the pick-up sticks toy, you can use colored drinking straws and use the rules of the ordinary game. This game exercises children’s dexterity; having children use both feet challenges both sides of the brain.

Alphabet Mash-Up

With just some sidewalk chalk and a clear stretch of pavement, you can test children’s visual and spatial skills. Have children write their ABC’s with their non-dominant hand, or from right to left. You can also have them use their non-dominant hand to create the mirror image of a letter correctly written by their dominant hand.

Red Letter

Exercise children’s counting and alphabet skills by playing Red Letter. Select one child, the “leader,” who will stand about 30 feet away from the other students, back turned. He or she will call out a letter. Each child who has that letter in his or her name will advance the number of steps that the letter appears in the name. For instance, if the leader calls “H,” John will advance three steps while Sarah will advance five. The winning student is the one who reaches the leader first.

Catch the Dragon’s Tail

Originating in China, Catch the Dragon’s Tail exercises physical coordination and strategy. Children stand in a line and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The first child in line is the dragon head; the last child in line is the dragon tail. The head tries to tag the tail, but the entire line must remain connected, creating the challenge of the game. Once the head successfully tags the tail, he or she becomes the dragon tail.

In Short

These and other playground activities found on K12.com can keep children physically active and healthy, helping them manage their weight and ward off diseases including the common cold. But playground time is more than just a time for exercise. It’s an opportunity to increase mental and social skills. Children are more focused after recess, thus improving their overall academic achievement. They also learn and refine their collaboration, sharing, negotiation, and leadership skills during playtime, skills that will serve them well into adulthood. It’s clear that the playground is just an extension of the classroom.

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