Games for middle schoolers

  1. Updates

If you take a second to remember your middle and high school days, it probably looked different than your elementary school memories.

One of the biggest differences between elementary school and middle school is the loss of a dedicated recess time. According to American Educator (2017), 90.6% of fifth graders surveyed have a regularly scheduled recess. One year later, when students are in sixth grade, that number drops dramatically to 34.9%. Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control recently amended their recess recommendations to include grades 6-12.

If you’re looking to get your middle schoolers playing and don’t know where to start, here’s some great games to introduce at recess!

1. Foursquare: Middle schoolers make this classic recess game even more competitive and fun, so be sure to introduce Rock, Paper, Scissors as a conflict resolution tool! If they get tired of the regular foursquare, try out foursquare Switch or foursquare Categories for some extra fun.

2.  Knockout: Basketball is a favorite sport that many middle schoolers love and want to play at recess, so keep it a bit more organized and allow more kids to play with Knockout! Similarly, try out 3-Line Basketball or Superstar Knockout for a twist.

3. Ultimate Football: While football is definitely a favorite game out on the playground, it can also be dangerous. To help middle schoolers still be able to enjoy the game but making it safer, try out Ultimate Football, which is a combination of football and ultimate frisbee!

4. Six Lines Soccer: If the playground space is too small for a full 11 v 11 soccer game, try this teaming strategy to get the game moving!

5. Capture the Flag: Another classic recess game! Middle schoolers thrive working together to accomplish their goal, and this game requires communication and coordination in order to be successful. For a similar game, try out Sneak!

6. Chewbacca: This game can be played on a Four Square court or anywhere with four lines, making it a very accessible game. Students are teamed up with a buddy each turn, which also reinforces teamwork skills.


Middle schoolers need recess as a time to connect with their peers, engage in fun activities, and increase their levels of physical fitness. If your school community is thinking about introducing recess to middle schoolers, do it! Your students will thank you.

Have other games that you think middle schoolers will love? Tweet us and let us know!

More Updates

child playing on playground
child playing on playground

March 30, 2023

Empowered youth to community leaders ›

The importance of youth leadership programming in elementary schools Childhood is spent brimming with fascinations of the future – ideas of what infinite potential can amount to, ambitions of fulfilling some innate passion, and the mystery of what the years ahead hold. Some will take on leadership roles, becoming agents in their community. How can…

Coach Q giving a student a high-five
Coach Q giving a student a high-five

March 16, 2023

Celebrating our AmeriCorps Members during AmeriCorps Week ›

This week is AmeriCorps Week, and we want to take a moment to highlight all of our awesome AmeriCorps Coaches serving in Boston Public Schools every single day. Keep reading to hear the wonderful (and hilarious) things that their students have to say about what makes them great Coach T, Hurley K-8 School “My favorite…

graphic of expansion across geography
graphic of expansion across geography

February 13, 2023

2022-23 Mid Year Report: Expanding and Enhancing ›

Playworks New England programming has continued to expand across New England as we enhance our service models, partnerships, and the ways in which we serve our communities. Your investment in our mission has allowed us to deepen this work and to bring safe and healthy play to thousands of youth across our region, and we…