I have taught children between the ages of 3-5 for the last ten years, and in that time I have played Four Corners or variations of it in many, many ways.
Children love it!
It’s great for learning, it’s good for PE warm-ups, and they can play it by themselves as well. Research shows the benefits of games like this across the whole child. (Source)
Also many of the variations incorporate elements of math or literacy as well.
Let’s take a look at the ultimate list of games like Four Corners, both variations of the classic game, and also games that are similar in their rules.
Variations of Four Corners
1. Four Corners Original Game
Just so you’re completely clear in your mind what I’m talking about, let’s take a look at the original version of Four Corners.
Have a playing space with four corners. This can be a large indoor room, or you can play outside in a designated square or rectangular playing space.
One person is ‘it’. They stand in the middle of the space.
Everyone else is going to go and quietly stand in one of the four corners of the space.
The person in the middle counts to ten and then points to one of the four corners. Whoever is standing in that corner is ‘out’ and has to sit down.
Then go again, with everyone still standing up moving to another corner (or staying in the same one if they prefer).
The person in the middle picks another corner, and they all sit down again.
It is important that the person in the middle picks the corner before they open their eyes.
If the player in the middle picks a corner that has no one in, then everyone sitting down is back in the game!
You can play the competitive version if you like, where you have a champion (or possibly champions) at the end.
2. Use Colors/Animals For The Corners
A nice and simple twist is to have a picture of a color or animal in each corner.
Then the person in the middle calls out which animal or color should sit. For example, they might say, ‘Elephant’.
Everyone in the elephant corner will sit.
Young children in particular really enjoy this version, and it is good for teaching simple vocabulary.
3. Pick A Theme Linked To Learning
You could also have words or letters on pieces of paper pinned up in the corners.
It’s a good idea to target whatever theme you might be learning about at the time.
If you’re learning about dinosaurs, you could put up pictures of a ‘T-Rex,’ ‘brontosaurus,’ ‘triceratops’, and a ‘velociraptor.’
Then play the game as you would normally.
Adding the element of relevant things from your theme can teach vocabulary and heighten engagement.
4. Use A Pentagon Or Hexagon
Another way of varying the game is to increase the complexity of the playing space. Try creating a pentagon or hexagon in the outdoor space.
You could even create a triangle for a simpler experience.
5. Have A Challenge
There could be a task for the children to perform when they reach a corner.
It’s probably good if this is linked to sound in some way. So, for example, when the children reach a particular corner, they have to make some kind of noise.
Maybe there is a different song in each corner.
Or they have to do an impression of a different animal in each corner.
It is then up to the person in the middle to pick which corner is out based on the sound.
Perhaps they pick the quietest corner, or the least enthusiastic!
5. Point To The Noisiest Corner
This is a game where making no sounds is the target!
Children creep to a corner as quietly as possible.
The player who is ‘it’ will point to the noisiest corner, and those players are out!
To check out a range of other exciting listening games, then take a look at this article I wrote – 21 listening games for kids (that you’ve got to try).
Games That Are Similar To Four Corners
All the games in this section have been selected because they are similar to Four Corners in one or more of the following ways:
- One player is ‘it’
- They utilise four corners of a room
- One child closes their eyes
- The game has marked territories
- One group is out at a time
Let’s take a look at the games:
6. Question Corners
This is probably most easily done with two corners of a room.
Have one large sign stating ‘yes’, and place that in one corner.
In the opposite corner, stick a ‘no’ sign up on the wall.
Now it’s time to ask a question of the players. It could be a question either about facts or opinions.
A possible example could be:
Do you like spaghetti?
Players move either to the yes or no.
Other opinions could be:
Do you like spiders?
Do you like broccoli?
Questions that are based around facts could be things like:
Do you have long hair?
Do you support a particular sports team?
Games like this are good as an icebreaker, and helping the children get acquainted with each other’s like and dislikes.
7. Math Corners
Have some numbers put up in the different corners. You could label them ‘1,’ ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’, for example.
Then ask questions, such as:
What’s one less than 2?
What 2 add 1?
What’s three less than six?
Children vote with their feet with regards to what they think the answer is.
You can check out a whole range of simple and fun math circle time games in this article that I wrote.https://earlyimpactlearningcom.bigscoots-staging.com/math-circle-time-games-the-essential-guide-20-ideas/
8. Red Light Green Light
This is a really classic kids’ game.
One player is ‘it’. They stand facing the others, who will begin the game about twenty to thirty yards away from the player that is ‘it’.
The player that is ‘it’ starts by saying ‘Green light’, turning round and closing their eyes (so they are turned away from the other players).
That is the cue for the other players to sneak towards that player as quickly as they can.
After a few moments, the player that is ‘it’ will shout ‘Red light’ and spin around.
If they see anyone moving, then they must go back to the start.
The winner is the person that sneaks all the way to player that is ‘it’ and tags them on the back without being spotted first.
Read a whole range of adaptations of the red light, green light game here.
9. Kick the Can
This game is similar to Four Corners in that there are marked territories and also one player that is ‘it’.
It is a bit like hide and seek, but you also have a ‘jail’ area. In the jail there will be a can (or some other noisy object).
The player that is ‘it’ goes off to find the hiders. If any player gets tagged by the seeker, then they have to go in the jail.
The only way to escape from jail if is someone else sneaks into the jail and kicks the can. Then everyone is free.
Several players can be ‘it’ if you have quite a few players.
10. Capture the Flag
This is another epic game of attack and counter-attack.
Have two marked territories in your playing space. Split the players into two teams.
Have one flag for each team. This could be a rag or a real flag.
Each team places this at a point in their territory, and they are not allowed to touch it after this point.
The idea of the game is to try to capture the opposing team’s flag without getting tagged and bring it back to your zone.
Players can be ‘tagged’ when they are inside their opponent’s territory. If you get tagged then you need to return to your zone.
A good tactic is to use half your team to defend your own flag, and half the team to attack your opponents.
11. Hot Chocolate
This game is a bit like ‘Red Light Green Light,’ only without the instructions.
Have one player is ‘it’. They stand about twenty yards from the other players, that all stand at the starting line (wherever that it is).
The player that is ‘it’ will turn around, so they are facing away from the other players. That is their cue to start sneaking towards them.
At any given moment the player that is ‘it’ will spin around. If they see anyone moving, then they must go back to the start.
The objective is for one of the players to reach ‘it’, tag them on the back, and shout ‘Hot chocolate!’
That is the cue for everyone to turn around, and run back to the start line, chased by ‘it’.
If ‘it’ tags anyone, then they become ‘it’ in the next round.
12. Shark Attack!
For this game you need some marked zones on the ground.
These could be squares marked out with cones, with chalk, or with whatever else you have to hand.
One player is ‘it’. This person is the ‘shark’.
The zones on the floor are the undersea caves. All the rest of the players are ‘fish’. If the fish stand on the caves then they are safe when the shark appears.
The shark stands in the middle and closes their eyes.
The fish are now free to ‘swim’ anywhere around the space.
However, at any given moment the ‘shark’ can shout, ‘Shark!’
They will chase the fish and try to tag them.
Each fish must try to find a free cave and stand on it before getting tagged.
If anyone gets tagged by the shark, then they become a shark also, and join the original shark in the middle for the next round.