Animal Tag

Body control is key for kids imitating various amusing animals as they play tag

Objectives In Animal Tag, students play tag as they imitate various animals. This game helps them develop body control, which is an important concept for running. It also improves their overall fitness and athletic skills.

National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standards 1, 2

New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standard 1

Time Required 20 minutes
Materials Cones to mark the playing area

Prepare for the Activity

  • Watch the Animal Tag video to prepare for this game.
  • Set up cones to mark the boundaries of the playing area. Keep the area small—about 20 feet by 20 feet for a group of about 25 kids—to make the game more exciting.


Events Play
Animal Tag ()
Animal Tag

A game that teaches body control and develops overall fitness and fundamental athletic skills.

Click here to access on Teacher Tube

Introduce the Activity

  • Tell your students that they’re going to play "Animal Tag", a tag game where they will move like various animals.
  • Explain the rules: One person is “it.” You will call out an animal, and everyone has to move like that animal.
  • Players are “out” if they are tagged by the player who is “it,” if they go out of bounds, or if they forget to move like the animal. Once players are “out,” they step out of bounds until a new “it” and animal are named.
  • Tell students to listen for a new “it” and animal to be called every 20 seconds or so.

Conduct the Activity

  1. Have all the kids step inside the marked boundaries.
  2. Call out who is “it” and name an animal. (Try to think of animals that will encourage the kids to move in different ways: e.g., crab, kangaroo, dog, bird, bunny, orangutan, etc.)
  3. If students are tagged, travel out of bounds, or forget to move like the animal, have them step out of bounds until a new round begins. If students have trouble moving like the animal, demonstrate the movement for them.
  4. Let the kids play for 20 seconds or so, then call out a new “it” and animal. The idea is to keep the game going at a fast and fun pace and to avoid any student being out for long.
  5. Kids who are “out” reenter for the next round as soon as a new “it” and animal are called.
  6. Make sure every child gets a chance to be “it.”

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Kids who are really moving like the named animal rather than running like humans. They will get a better workout and will learn more about how to control their bodies that way.

Direction cues to share with students:

  • “Remember to move like [the animal]!”
  • “Use your legs to hop like a bunny!” (for example)
  • “Swing your arms like a gorilla!” (for example)


After the game, talk to your students about their experience. You might ask them these sorts of questions:

  • Which was the hardest animal to imitate? Why?
  • Which was the most tiring? Why?
  • What was the easiest animal to imitate? Why?
  • Which animal moves most like a human?
  • Which animal made you stretch and bend the most?
  • How will this activity help your running? (You practice being agile and flexible, you strengthen various muscles used for running, improve your fitness, practice controlling your form, etc.)


  • To make the game even faster paced, have tagged players become “it” as well, so there will soon be multiple “its” trying to tag people.
  • Start with two “its,” each positioned at opposite ends of the playing space.
  • Experiment with having the kids who are “it” calling out an animal (but be ready to step in and help if they’re having trouble).

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • If students are chair users, have them out of the chair and on a mat to be at the same level as their peers (have peers sit on the ground and stretch).
  • Partner stretching: Students can interact with each other and work on mirroring each other.
  • Have visual aids and along with verbal instructions.
  • For students with minimal range of motion, have them use stretching bands, or have them reach out as far as they can for an object and then back to a normal position.
  • Slow down the counting or do two sets of 10 so the students who take a longer time to process the change in movement will be able to catch up and have an adequate stretch.
  • Have the students push and pull against objects to get deep pressure sensations (push on mats, the wall, floor).

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