Why I Always Include Running Games When I Teach Kids’ English Classes

Michelle Cavanna, June 7, 2021

By the time children arrive here for English classes, they have often already had a full day of school – which sometimes means they have spent many hours in front of a laptop. They won’t learn much if I try to keep them sitting still in their chairs. So, what do I do? When the weather permits, we go outside and play running games!

Running games are an amazing learning tool, giving children a way to have fun, vent some of their energy, learn English vocabulary, and practice teamwork.

First of all, they are fun! Hopping around in the grass and sunshine is much better than sitting in a stuffy classroom. If the kids I teach have fun when they come here, they will have a great attitude and be motivated about learning English. It won’t seem like a chore for them.

Secondly, running activities increase young students’ focus levels. After a day of online learning, kids won’t learn anything by sitting still and listening to a teacher talk. I need to give them a chance to vent some of their energy. What better way to do that than by running games that encourage them to use the English language?

Children and teachers play a running game in a fun English class at Primavera English

Here, we're playing a game called "Squirrel, Squirrel, change your tree!"

The running games we play in class mostly require the players to repeat the same phrase many times. For example, in one game we play, the “it” stands at a distance from the other players, who call to him or her: “Red Rover, Red Rover, who may come over?” The “it” responds: “All who are wearing [a color or a specific item of clothing] come over!” The children look to see who is wearing that color or clothing item, and then run over if they are wearing what the “it” said. This promotes speaking confidence because they have to speak simultaneously instead of by themselves. If they repeat the same phrase many times every lesson, they stop thinking about it and just say it, and start to enjoy themselves while learning.

Of course, running games also encourage students to practice teamwork, fostering skills like problem solving, honesty, respect, and leadership.

Children running in an outdoor game during a fun English lesson at Primavera English

I try to incorporate outdoor running games into all my lessons with young students, when the weather allows. If it’s rainy, there are also active indoor games I can work into my lessons. But that’s fodder for another blog post!