Um, how do you play Red Rover?

I only vaguely remember this game, and I am casting about for games to play at my soon-to-be 4 year old’s birthday party. Thanks!

[ul][li]Divide children into two teams.[/li][li]Form two lines facing each other and some distance apart (kids love the anticipation.)[/li][li]Have the children hold hands.[/li][li]One team yells "Red Rover, red rover send (member of other team) over.[/li][li]The named child runs towards the other team and tries to break thru the hand-holding children.[/li][li]The team that breaks thru the most times is the winner.[/ul][/li]
Simple, but fun. I almost got into it, just writing this. :o

Divide the children into teams based on the most socially-acceptable way of destroying self-esteem. Picking team captains and letting them pick their teams is guaranteed to result in someone being the last to be chosen, thus sending them on a downward spiral that will result in them in a clock tower with a rifle.

But that’s none of your concern at this moment. You’ve got your two teams, and you’re ready to go.

Each team lines up facing the other, holding hands, standing a set distance apart. Preferably more than a few feet, as the children need some room to build up a running start.

So, on team A you have Annie, Aaron, Amy and Azerbaijani. On team B you have Bob, Billy, Betty and Bazookistan.

Team A will shout “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Billy right over!” Billy then lets go of his teammates and runs at full speed at the other team, trying to break through their hands. If he succeeds, he gets to go back to team B and gets to take someone from team A for his own team. If he fails, he has to join team A.

Then the other team will shout “Red Rover, Red Rover, send…” and it goes back and forth until one team has only one person left.

That team is the losing team, and the remaining person has his or her self-esteem crushed as well and will end up in a downward spiral of their own. But again, that’s not your concern, as you’ll have cake and ice cream to serve.

…and done forget about the joy of breaking childrens’ wrists as the other kids come flying into the human chain at full throttle. A wonderful little game, really.

Ino are you suggesting this might be hard on the kiddies? Because I don’t want that. I remember too much childhood heartbreak to ever let kids choose their own teams.

We’ll be playing musical chairs backwards (start with one chair, by the end everybody has a seat) to avoid the “loser” feelings. Is Red Rover amenable to such softie tinkering?

(Bazookistan…hee hee hee!)

There’s always Simon Says and Red-Light-Green-Light (where kids race towards a finish line, but have to freeze when the “cop” says red light - if they don’t, they start over). Tag and Hide-and-Seek are always fun, and there are a bazillion variations of Tag. I used to play Red Rover, and I never found it that depressing - even though I wasn’t all that good at it.

I wonder how kids that young would handle something like the bucket and sponge game, where you try to transfer all the water in one bucket into another one using only a sponge. It can be set up as a race between teams, or done as a group effort.

Try Googling “Kindergarten games” or something similar - you’ll find plenty of ideas.

Sorry, carlotta, I didn’t mean to imply that it’d be hard on the kiddies. The game really has no element of skill – the child just runs full-tilt at the other side, as opposed to having to try to catch a ball or shoot a basket or run faster than the average. Just my failed attempt at wit. If you do choose to play it, though, I would recommend dividing up the teams yourself, and then letting the team win that scores the most points, rather than reducing a team to one last child. (That is, use kniz’s scoring system rather than mine.)

Backing up what mnemosyne said, I fondly remember Red-Light-Green-Light, or transferring water from one bucket to another using either a sponge or a spoon.

Oh please…Heartbreak? Broken wrists? 4 year olds can’t get enough of a grip to end up breaking their wrists, or any other pert of their hand. If they did, I would stake my life that their was a pre-existing greenstick fracture of some sort.

Backwards musical chairs??? Where is the fun in that?

I don’t understand how backwards musical chairs would work. It makes no sense to me. :confused:

What was the game with one kid in the middle in a large chalk circle and the others make a very large circle and they try to hit the kid in the middle with a vollyball…is that dodgeball?

Always seemed fun as a kid, and no matter how big or small you were, it wasn’t great skill to avoid getting hit, at least a few times.

Red Rover, IIRC, got tired as soon as you realised Betty and Bazookistan were the weak links in the line, and everybody who ran there broke through and won.

Please let this be a joke otherwise I’ll have to post it to that other thread thats going: “Things you thought were a joke and were shocked to realize weren’t”

Apparently, in suburban NJ in the late '60’s, my elementary athletic department was either genuinely concerned about wrist-breakage, or, maybe lawsuits, that we did not play red rover that way [weight of body at full-bore-run v. clasped child fingers].

Instead, after lining up the two parallel and opposing teams (chosen by captains in the humiliation roll call of the differentiation of the talented and popular from the awkward and scorned), each side would have taggers.

Taggers? Yes, elements of tag, i.e., just touching another person, replaces full body tackles, much like touch football, which was the only type of football allowed in gym class.

So, each team began with just one to four taggers (depending how large the teams were) who start out in the middle. The two sides create an imaginary goal line and allow runners to freely pass through.

The captain of the first team will call out a name from Team B (we’ll use Billy for our example) and Billy now has to make it to the other team (A) without being tagged.

If Billy makes it through, he returns to his team. If he is tagged, Billy then takes the place of the tagger for the A Team, and that tagger rejoins his Team (A). And so, now, Team A is up one player, and slow Billy is now working for them as a new tagger.

And then Team B goes, calling out a player from Team A.

After doing a web search, I am fully aware (only now in my life) that this is not the way Red Rover is supposed to be played. But for the sake of my typing fingers, I’m certainly glad it was. (Oh, BTW, some sites mentioned that players linked arms, not hold hands.)

Oh, and as an alternative, I’ve played Red Rover teamlessly. Here’s how: you put for taggers in the center and you have an impartial caller (like the gym teacher) call out “Red Rover, Red Rover, will all those wearing blue come over!”

Then about 20 kids from each side (large gym class) who were wearing blue (the realization that they had blue on ranged from instantaneous for some, and a few panicked seconds of thought for others) would then criss-cross no-man’s land in a wild pass-by avoiding the four taggers. If you were tagged, you became it. The number of people on any side didn’t matter, you just didn’t want to be it.


“Red Rover, Red Rover, will those who acknowledge Satan as their Lord and Master come over!”

I remember it as “Red Rover Red Rover Let Jackie Come Over”. The game might be a bit brutal for 4 year olds. Pin the tail on whatever might be a better choice.

We briefly played a similar game for a few weeks called Headshrinker during the early 60’s. Sadly, our principal, Mrs. Crano put an end to it with a firm P.A. announcement stating that anyone caught playing would be punished. She was rather fond of beating kids with a razor strop so I didn’t play after that.

Ok, no this isn’t a joke, and I haven’t tried it yet, so maybe I will be the big loser.

The only time my son has played musical chairs (at a bookstore storytime) I could see that especially the very little kids really enjoyed the part about walking/running around together to the music, and the sudden surprise of the music stopping, but were very dismayed and upset when they were “out”.

One kid never “got” being out and kept going around in the circle. He never tried to get a seat, just wanted to keep playing.

So I conceived of “backwards musical chairs”. This is for a party of 3 and 4 year olds. You start out with one chair and add more with each round until their is one for everybody. Everybody gets to play every round, you still have the fun of the music, the surprise of the stop, the scramble for a chair, and at the end, no one is out, everyone is in.

Yes, I don’t want to hurt their wittle feelings. These are very little kids, probably littler than most of us even remember being.

And the most important thing at a birthday party is to minimize occasions for crying. (Item:number of balloons must match or exceed number of guests.)

until there is one for everybody.

AG! One of my biggest pet peeves!

Hey, everybody, carlotta is teaching Communism! Send the troops!

You should use regular musical chairs to teach them that life isn’t always fair, there are winners and losers, successes and disapointments, they must scamble mercilessly in life to take what is theirs if they want to survive, and nobody will cut you slack in the marketplace where resources are scarce. :stuck_out_tongue:

[old man voice on]
When I was a yung’un, we played Red Rover AND dodge ball. To the best of my knowledge, nobody from my class climbed into a tower, rifle in hand.
[old man voice off]

I do agree with always choosing the same two “popular” kids as captains is a bad idea. The best way to do this would be to pull names out a hat. That way each game is different.

Children need to learn that life isn’t always fair and some of these games are the best way. They have fun and you get to sneak in a lesson, too. The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.

Wow. What a boring game of musical chairs.

I mean that in the nicest way of course, you are obviously trying to make things fair…unfortunately I’m going to wager that you sucked all of the fun out as well.

While wrist breaking is probably rare, I don’t think I was ever involved in a game of red rover that didn’t result in at least one bleeding injury (elbow, knee) that happened when someone thought it’d be funny to let go when the kid reached them so the runner ended up in a heap behind the line. YMMV

Well, I’ll let you guys know how it plays among the 4 year old set. Watch for this fascinating report in 2 weeks.

Thanks all, for the help with Red Rover. We probably will play some desecrated version therof. :slight_smile: