How to play red light – green light

How you can help your children build executive function with stop-go games!

Games like red light – green light are a great way to help children build executive function through play. Executive function plays a key role in emotion regulation and impulse control — helping kids pause, think and then make a decision before immediately reacting. This is a simple game that my students love to play! For those of you who may not be familiar with this game, I wanted to share it with you today…

How the Game Works

1. Have your students line up (side by side) at one end of your space facing the teacher.

2. The teacher stands opposite of the children and faces the children.

3. When the teacher shouts “Green Light!” The children walk quickly or run (depending on your space) towards the teacher.

4. When the teacher shouts “Red Light!” The children stop where they are.

5. The teacher continues to shout “red light or green light” until the children get to her and then all the children go back to the starting line and the game starts again.

Other Variations

  • In our classroom, the children also take turns being the ones to shout “red light and green light”.
  • We also made simple little red and green stop signs to hold up so the children can also see a visual but this is really not necessary. Our kids enjoy holding up the signs as we play the game.

Do you have an old favorite game we can play?

Available on Amazon

By |2018-12-20T13:06:02+00:00May 22nd, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Sarah May 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    My children enjoy duck duck goose and musical chairs. You can play it as “musical shares” with all the children piling in one chair at the end so there is no loser.

  2. School Sparks Renee May 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Red Light, Green Light is a classic!! Thanks, Renee

  3. Barbaral May 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Our classes just love farmer in the dell.

  4. Stacy@Share&Remember May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Great, thank you! Adding it to my collection of ideas. : )

  5. Vicki Blacken May 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Our favorite active, outdoor game is “Barracuda”. We also like “Elbow Tag” and “Tails”. Does anyone else play these?

  6. Denise Funfsinn June 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    My class also enjoyed playing “London Bridge”.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      We love that game too! An oldie but a goldie!

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