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10 Playground Games That Are Just Bizarre When You Think About It

When you think about it, some kids games are kind of...unusual. Sainsbury’s Active Kids scheme encourages all sorts of play, supplying a range of sporting and cooking equipment to schools nationwide.

1. Stuck in the Mud / Via

Stuck in the Mud was pretty much identical to Red Rover (we'll get to that later), only this time when you were caught, you'd have to stand dead still with your arms and legs spread out. It was incredibly boring if you were a kid with little agility (hello), as you'd spend most of your playtime standing still and not being able to see the action. It was even worse for the shorter kids – the only way to be "unlocked" is for someone to crawl through your legs. Pretty hard when you've only got a 10-inch inner leg.

2. Off-Ground Touch

Getty Images Mike Powell / Via

Basically, it was tag, but you'd have to climb a tree or a fence or do anything so that your feet weren't on the floor, because that would make you "invisible" to the tagger. Like seriously, if your feet were a centimeter off the floor they'd just walk off like you'd hit a "lower wanted level" cheat in Grand Theft Auto. All that considered, no one would ever accept the legality of you trying to jump as you were tagged – technically your feet are off the floor, but NOPE. NOT ALLOWED.

3. Duck, Duck, Goose

Fox / Via

Now we're talking. Bunch of kids sit in a circle with one slowly walking the perimeter, tapping each on the head. Finally they'd pick one kid, usually someone who they had an outstanding grudge against, as the "goose", and then all hell would break loose. There'd be chasing and shouting and wrestling and grabbing as the picker tries to sit in the goose's vacated seat. Actually, that part is quite good practice for using public transport in London.

4. Red Rover

Getty Images/iStockphoto Catherine Yeulet / Via

We've heard it called everything from "Cocky Laura" to "Seaweed", and it was quite probably the daddy of playground fun. Every school had their own derivative with increasingly complex rules, but the basis was ostensibly the same: Run from one side to the other without getting caught by those in the middle. There'd also be weird barters that you'd make to ease crossing – something along the lines of, "Fishy, fishy, may we cross the golden water?" The catchers would respond with an achingly tenuous caveat: "OK, but only if you've got a U in your name!" Chaos.

5. Kiss Chase / Via

Ah yes, Old Faithful. It's just Tag, but with your mouth, so it meant that much more to a blossoming child – that first boundary-breaker with a crush. It was so romantic when you'd chase them until they... couldn't run anymore and then... kiss them against their will...

Actually, it's quite horrifying when you think about it.

6. Seven Up / Via

Your teacher would always make you play this one when he wanted to have a crafty go on his phone, but it seemed fun at the time. Seven children would be picked and the rest would rest their heads on their desks with their thumbs in the air and the seven would go around and "secretly" put one of their thumbs down. You'd then have to guess who'd done it. Nobody ever won because that is literally the dumbest, hardest game in the world.

7. Telling Someone You "Love" Them

Getty Images/iStockphoto Bob Ingelhart / Via

We don't care what you say, having a spouse in primary school was a game. There'd be rules (no talking), there'd be prizes (a pop compilation CD for your birthday), and in the end (and in keeping with most playground games), everyone loses.

8. Army

Getty Images/iStockphoto tumdee / Via

The "rules" of Army are vague. So vague that we're not even sure if Army was actually a game or just an excuse to shout, "WHO WANTS TO PLAY ARMY?" at the top of your lungs and wave sticks about.

9. Forty-Forty (or Runouts)


One guy closes his eyes and counts to sixty while the rest run and hide. After a minute, the catcher opens their eyes and goes to find them, with their aim to be to get back to the designated "home" without being caught. This game was always ruined by the fact that the unscrupulous would PAY MONEY to the catcher to let them go free and there'd always be a few slick kids who'd hide extremely close to the base and win the game in like, thirty seconds. Like, seriously lads, what's the point in that?

10. Thumb War / Via

"One, two, three, four – I declare a thumb war!" you'd cry. Then it was on. Wrestling your thumb with that of your opponent, a titanic tussle of tiny digits vying for the pin, the four-count, and the win. There were no clean wins, and everyone made up their own rules, usually as an excuse as to why they lost – "BUT YOU BOW AND KISS THUMBS AT THE START SO YOUR WIN IS VOID!" – and it broke up many friendships. All's fair in love and thumb war.

The Sainsbury's Active Kids scheme allows you to collect vouchers and hand them to your school or local group, who can exchange them for an exciting range of active and cooking equipment and experiences. Visit the Active Kids site to learn more.

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