Relay races are a fun way for kids, especially preschoolers, to learn sportsmanship as they compete against other teams to win. They’re a great activity to include in your summer cookouts and neighborhood block parties with friends and family. There are many ways to play, but you usually will split into two (or more) teams with an equal number of players on each team. Leaving plenty of space in between teams, each team stands in a line as one player at a time goes from the start to a certain point ahead of them (perhaps 20 feet, more or less depending on your children’s age and skill level), and back to the start, doing a movement like running or skipping. After one player returns to the start, the next player takes their turn. The team whose players complete their turns first wins the game.
Before playing, make sure there’s enough room to race safely without obstacles like rocks and away from potentially dangerous objects like barbecue grills. An open backyard or field at a park away from the road are great locations to do relay races. Even the adults can participate with the children! You can make teams by family, who has a summer birthday vs. who doesn’t, and whatever other criteria you can think of.
Here’s a list of different relay races your children can try:
- Crab Walk Race: Each player will crab walk when they take their turn. To crab walk, sit on the ground and lift yourself up with your hands and feet. On all fours, walk sideways to the other side and back to the start.
- Three-Legged Race: Teams should be split into pairs. Tying one players right leg to another player’s left leg with a bandana or scarf, pairs of players go to the other side and back to the start with one of each of their legs tied together. The key is to move at the same pace as the player tied to you so you can move faster and without tripping.
- Spoon Race: Players will walk normally, but while carrying a spoon with a hard-boiled or plastic egg on it. If a player drops their egg, they have to pick it up and put it back on their spoon before continuing. You can also try this with other objects that are hard to balance, such as water balloons.
- Wheelbarrow Race: Like the three-legged race, each team should be split into pairs. One player (the wheelbarrow) walks on their hands while the other player holds the “wheelbarrow’s” ankles as they walk. After getting to the other side, players should switch places and then return to the start.
For more relay race ideas, visit https://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/games/.
What’s your child’s favorite way to relay?