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Ten games for a laugh

Roger Frost suggests ways children can burn off excess energy at the end of term.

Stuck for an end-of-term energy-burner? Try these 10 games from Lesley Kellard and Paul Doyle, who, as heads of two Islington play centres, have 50 years' experience between them.


All sit in a circle with the "bear" in the centre. Place some keys behind the bear and pick one child to creep up. The child takes the keys, and the rest shout "Bear!" when they hear them jangle. The bear gives chase round the circle and, if he catches him, plays the bear again.


All sit at random on the floor. Choose a child to be the first goose, who moves around and chooses another goose. Goose 2 now has to catch number 1, following her as she weaves her way in between those sitting. Good memory is vital, because when goose 1 is caught, the pair have to retread their route exactly.


Pick one child as the first "piece of toffee". She chases the others and when she touches one, she sticks to him by holding hands. The pair try to touch the others to make a group of three. When the group becomes a four, they break into two pairs. Continue until everyone is stuck to someone.


Name one end of the hall "boots" and the other "shoes". Name the sides of the hall "port" and "starboard". The children have to run around the hall. Shout "Last to boots" or "Last to starboard" as you try to confuse and get the perfectly puzzled pupils "out". This is best played fast and furious. Add rules saying "last to sit down" when "sit down" means "stand up" and vice-versa.


Make a chalk circle around half the group and call this the island. These are the cannibals, the rest are pirates. The idea is to end up with all cannibals or all pirates by arm-pulling cannibals off the island or pirates from the sea. No running, but you can hold on to your team mates to save them.


A tag game. When touched you stick on the spot with your arms straight outwards. Those who aren't stuck can release you by running under your arms.


Tie something harmless to a three-metre length of thin rope. Everyone stands around the adult in a circle while he swings the rope at floor level. Everyone jumps to avoid being "hit", or else they're out. Play this carefully.


All stand in a circle with two tall skittles near the centre. Appoint two people to guard the skittles as you give the others a couple of footballs to roll at them. If a skittle falls the guard swaps places with whoever rolled the ball.


A series of very silly team games with five minutes per game. Garnish with music, megaphone, whistle and a score keeper. For example, Penny in the Ring: place pennies in the middle of a chalk circle, and place a pupil on opposite sides of it. One bounces the ball to knock a penny out of the ring, then the other tries. Water Spill: scoop some water into a plastic beaker, race round an obstacle course, up and down benches, and empty this into a plastic sweet jar. Measure the water each team collects.


Two pupils run to chairs where they dress up with a hat, handbag and so on. They race back, and dress the next person in the team who runs to the chair, disrobes and runs back. Strangely popular with boys. Tube relay: get a fabric roll tube and place a tennis ball inside. Carry, without dropping it, round a chair before passing it on.

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