Four Square Categories (Variation of Four Square)

  1. Ball Games
  2. Rotational Games
  • Any Size

  • Grades 1-2

  • Balls

  • Less Than 10 minutes

The old playground favorite with a TWIST! Challenge your students minds by incorporating academic concepts while playing standard four square. Simple math problems, sight words, and even science terminology can be the focus as your students bounce the ball around the grid. 

Development Goal

To categorize items, think of an item and say it out loud while playing.

Before You Start

  • Get everyone’s attention.
  • Explain to them that this is a game similar to four square.
  • Have them repeat the rules four square or go over them again yourself
  • Explain what a category is and give a few examples, such as fruit is a category. Ask what could go in that category? What wouldn’t go in that category? What are other categories?

Set Up

Make sure you have enough playground balls and a four square court, one large square split evenly into four squares.

How to Play

  • Following standard four square rules. With one additional rule… before you can hit a ball out of your square you need to say something in that round’s category.
  • If you do not say something in the category or repeat something already said, you go to the line.
  • The server starts by indentifying the category outloud, such as fruits.
  • The server would then say a fruit and serve the ball into someone else’s square.
  • The player could say pear and hit it in someone else’s square and so one.
  • Categories can be repeated, a category’s round ends when a person makes a mistake and goes to the end of the line.


  • For younger players, you may need to give them a few simple categories to pick from, such as colors, animals or shapes.