Indoor Recess Games
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Classic Recess Games Quarantine-Approved for Your Home

I don't know about you, but after a week of being trapped inside during this coronavirus pandemic, I'm going nuts. I love being active and getting outside with friends, but the problem is, everyone is busy buying portable hot tubs and staying as far away from contact as possible. "Social distancing" took over 2020, and the end of these country-wide isolations and closings is unclear.

How are we going to pass the time? It's not like we can sit back and watch sports, I'll tell you that. The thirst for excitement needs quenched, and I'm doing it by resorting to my days at J.H. Brooks Elementary School for some good, old-fashioned indoor recess games.

Quarantine-Approved Indoor Recess Games

1. Flashlight Tag

If you didn't play flashlight tag as a kid, were you really doing summer the right way? Grab any flashlight, wrangle up some friends, and shine the light on them and shout their name. This isn't an official rule, but I'm making it one: Using the world's brightest flashlight is cheating.

The best part? Quarantine rules and "social distancing" don't matter here because we're not tagging each other!

2. Capture the Flag

Growing up deep in the woods of Western Pennsylvania, we'd have massive capture the flag games. But back in our gym class days, having your flag on one side of the gym class floor, then defending it from the other team, proved to be just as fun.

This game can get a little dicey (especially if you get tagged and then escape from jail), but I'm throwing caution to the wind. This is one game you can play for hours and have fun with inside your house.

3. Red Light, Green Light

Once again, a game where we don't even have to touch. Start on one end of the living room, or take it outside, but the trick is that you can only move when the person in charge says, "Green Light!" Obviously, you have to stop when "Red Light" gets called. That is, unless you're like my mom who runs red lights like it's legal.

Let's see how well those reflexes translated from childhood into that creaky, aging body.

Indoor Recess Games: Best of the Rest

1. Heads Up, Seven Up

As voted by the FanBuzz team, this remains the greatest indoor recess game of all time. You have to touch thumbs for this one (GASP!), so don't be like this clown who hasn't washed his hands in 10 years. Also, peaking over the edge of the table and seeing what color shoes the person is wearing is 100 percent cheating.


A lot of variations for this game exist, and it's one you'll want to avoid playing in the living room. Everyone starts with a number. (To make it more fun, give multiple people the same number.) The game starts with someone throwing a ball high into the air, then yelling out a number. Everyone runs away as fast as they can, except for the number that was called. The person catching the ball then yells "SPUD" and everyone must stop.

After three giant steps towards anyone, the person with the ball tries to hit them — like dodgeball — and the target can avoid without moving his or her feet. After getting hit four times, spelling out S-P-U-D, you're eliminated.

3. Red Rover

Again, this might not be "social distancing" approved, but it's such a classic. Hold hands in two lines, let the chant bellow — "Red Rover, Red Rover send Billy on over" — and Billy barrels over to try and break the chain. If he can't, he's now on your team.

4. Foursquare

Classic, easy, fun. You know how to play this one (cherry bombs subject to rule approval), but you can spice it up by playing CROSSNET, which might be even better.

5. Gym Scooters

You probably don't have these lying around, but I'd be remiss to not include them and the constant hand and shin bruising that came with flying around on these all-time classics.

6. Tug-Of-War

Have a rope or an old be sheet? Have some energy your kids need burned off? Tie a flag to the middle and let everyone have at it.

7. Broomball

I fully believe that the NHL should do away with hockey sticks and start a full-on broomball league. You don't need ice, either. Play this one right on the hardwood floor (if you dare).

8. Dodgeball

So many variations, so little time. Those tiny rubber balls shouldn't be hard to find during your next trip to the store because, well, everyone's too focused on buying toilet paper.

9. Roadkill

Need some spice for your dodgeball game? I'd suggest Roadkill 10 times out of 10. The object of the game was for the "rats" to reach the other side of the floor without being hit by a crossfire of dodgeballs, which came from two lines formed on either side of the room.

O.K., this one definitely isn't taking place in the family room, but I couldn't write a list without including it.

10. The Parachute

For sentimental reasons, you know the iconic and famous parachute had to make an appearance. I could self-isolate inside this monster for weeks and not have a care in the world.

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