Red Light, Green Light!


Remember playing "Red Light, Green Light" as a child? You were developing your listening, gross-motor, balance and coordination skills as your teacher snuck in an important safety lesson about when to wait and when to walk when crossing busy intersections!

Gather Materials

  • A group of children
  • A large, open space for running

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that you feel are safe for your child and that you are comfortable letting your child use.


When working with children, we often use or hear the term "self-regulation." This is simply the ability to control behavior and follow rules. 

Children with good self-regulation skills enjoy greater well-being and make their parents' and teachers' lives a little easier!

"Red Light, Green Light," "Simon Says" and "Freeze Dance" are all fun, easy games that teach children self-regulation through play.

"Red Light, Green Light" is an activity that can be played without materials, props or setup time. It's a great way to get children moving while encouraging them to listen and respond with controlled body movements. 

So let's get started:

  • Find an area with plenty of room to run.
  • As the leader of the activity, you will serve as the first "traffic light."
  • Stand a good distance away from the children with your back to the group.
  • The children will stand facing you.
  • When you call out "Green Light," the children will run toward you until you spin around and call out "Red Light."
  • When the children hear the Red Light command, they must freeze on the spot.
  • If any of the children move, they must return to the starting line.
  • Turn your back to the children once more and continue the play.
  • I often throw in a Yellow Light command. When they heard this command, the children should walk rather than run.
  • Continue playing until one of the children reaches you and tags you.
  • That child will become the new traffic light and the game will begin again.

To build more advanced coordination and balance skills, you can ask the children to crawl, run backward, hop, skip or gallop. This is a great game to play at family parties or with a group of children at the park. As the children learn self-regulation skills, they'll also be learning about relationships and playing in groups!

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