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10 Racing Games for Kids That Won't Chase You Away

Shellie Braeuner
May 19, 2017

Fast-paced games that keep your child physically, socially and intellectually fit.



Ready, set, go! Parents and babysitters might think racing games for kids are just running from one place to another, inevitably leading to one winner and several losers. And the fastest runner always wins. One child brags, and the rest lose interest -- or even have a meltdown. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be like this. You can give all the kids a fair shot by switching up your racing games to encourage a wide range of skills.

"These activities help kids improve their reaction times and coordination -- both physically and mentally," says Judy Kuan, a personal trainer and the vice president of product strategy at Adventure to Fitness, a company that designs educational fitness program for kids. "They also develop both cognitive and physical capabilities as kids translate the instructions into physical movement."

In addition, with these games, the kid who's the fastest doesn't always win -- and the slowest runner doesn't always lose. Kids can learn that they win at some things, lose other races and that not any one person wins all the time.

  1. Avoidance Racing
    "Avoidance racing forces kids to make decisions as they run and dodge," says John O'Sullivan, a former youth soccer coach and the author of "Changing the Game." "It literally teaches them how to think on their feet." Never heard of avoidance racing? You're probably more familiar with it than you think -- it's any game where players run away from someone, such as tag, blind man's bluff or even Marco Polo.
  2. Silly Racers
    Racing games for kids don't have to be all running. "One way to concurrently stimulate kids' minds and bodies is by developing their speed and agility in responding to cues for jumping, hopping, leaping on the left or right legs, and running in 'stealth mode' -- on tiptoes while slightly lowered," Kuan says. So try a hopping race, a "sneaky" race, a "baby steps" race or even a "giant steps" race.
  3. Water Relays
    The teamwork of relays teaches your child to accept the limits and talents of others. A water relay requires a cup and two buckets per team: one with a line on it and the other full of water. Line up each team behind a full bucket. The first person fills his cup with water, runs across the yard and dumps the water into the second bucket before running back to the starting line and handing the cup to the next person. The first team to fill the second bucket and get back to the starting line wins the race.

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  4. Ball Race
    Sometimes care is more important than speed. Hand each person a small ball and a spoon. Ask the children to run or walk a predetermined distance while balancing the ball on the spoon. Modeling humor at your own dropped ball helps your child learn to laugh at her mistakes.
  5. Obstacle Course
    This helps children learn how to handle frustration and the, well, obstacles that show up in life. Don't limit your course to outside games -- instead, let your children navigate a maze of pillows or old boxes indoors.
  6. Super-Tough Ball Race
    Combine the ball race with the obstacle course for a super-difficult race for older kids: racing through an obstacle course while balancing a ball on a spoon.
  7. Letter-Finding Race
    Not every race is won by the fleet of foot. Give each preschooler a sheet of newspaper and a crayon. Show them a letter and see who can find the letter and circle it first. As the children become more adept, say the letters instead.
  8. Gathering Race
    Got a messy playroom? Give each child an empty pillowcase and race to fill it. You can add strategy to the game by asking who can fill it first or who has the most toys. This forces the players to think about whether they want to go for the largest toys on the floor or the smallest. Bonus: You get a clean room!
  9. Alphabet Race
    Pull your kids' eyes away from the electronics on long car trips. Each player looks for letters of the alphabet, in order, from passing signs and buildings. The first player to call out a letter from a sign gets the credit, so it's a race from one billboard to the next. The first player to complete the alphabet wins.
  10. Recycled Racers
    Encourage your child's engineering talents. Collect recyclables from your home, such as plastic tubs, soda bottles, lids and cardboard. Have each child build a racer from his own imagination. Let each player roll or slide his vehicle down a cardboard ramp from a table to the floor. Give awards for the fastest, furthest or wackiest cars.

For more activities, check out these 8 Active Games for Kids.

Shellie Braeuner is an award-winning children's author. She earned an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt in human developmental counseling and has worked as a nanny for more than 25 years.

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