Cops and Robbers

Basic Activity Info

Activity Type: 

  • Physical
Age Group: 
6-9 yrs
9-12 yrs
Time Requirement: 

Group Size: 

  • Large Group
  • Medium Group
  • Small Group

Play Area: 

  • Gymnasium (large indoor space)
  • Outdoor - Field

Fundamental Skills: 

  • Dodge
  • Jump
  • Run
Adaptations icon.Adaptations icon.Adaptations icon.

For the cops to tag the robbers.
Other Skills: 


4 pylons (or alternative)
10 cones

Set Up: 

Use 4 pylons to identify line A and line B, about 5–10 metres apart.

Step by Step: 

Warm Up

  1. Have participants face a partner, march in place behind line A and play Rock Paper Scissors (RPS). They jump twice as they say, “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” On “Scissors”,  they strike one of 3 poses: ROCK–crouch down; PAPER–stand, legs apart, arms stretched to the sides; SCISSORS stand with arms stretched up high, ankles and wrists crossed.
  2. Each pose conquers one other pose. Paper covers rock, scissors cut paper and rock breaks scissors. 
  3. Each time they play, the winner jogs in place while the other participant speed-walks to line B and back.  
  4. Participants continue to play RPS with a different partner each time.


  1. Participants are divided into two groups. One group's Cops (with pinnies), and the other group's Robbers. 

  2. Set up a large rectangular activity area (50m x 50m), with a line of cones 5 metres from each end of the area. One end is the cops’ prison and the other is the robbers’ hideout. The game begins with all the cops next to their empty prison; at the signal, all of the robbers leave their hideout. The cops must chase and escort back to prison any robber they catch. 

  3. Robbers can avoid a cop by moving behind their hideout line, but the hideout can only have a maximum of 3 robbers at a time. Robbers must enter and leave their hideout frequently, in order to save their teammates. Robbers that leave the activity area or exceed the maximum number allowed in the hideout are immediately sent to prison and must perform 10 jumping jacks and then do 10 heel lifts on the spot.

  4. To escape, prisoners create a chain by joining hands and advancing toward their hideout. The last prisoner of the chain must keep one foot inside the prison. The chain of prisoners is freed when a robber touches the hand of the prisoner closest to their hideout. When the chain is freed, the game stops. A chain can have no fewer than 3 prisoners. Cops are awarded one point for every prisoner in the chain. 

  5. Teams change roles and the game restarts. One game can have 10 role changes. Keep a tally of the points to decide the winning team. Teams can challenge each other using prisoner records.

Safety Considerations: 

Visually inspect the play area for hazards. Emphasize that a “catch” is a touch, not a push or a grab. Clearly define areas of the body that can be touched (e.g. arms, back).


For sample stretches, see Ministry of Education, Daily Physical Activity in Schools Grades 7-8, Appendix C, or

Adaptations (General): 

Ensure that all participants understand the purpose of the activity. Spend extra time explaining the game to those who may not be clear or require an additional explanation. Encourage them to participate to the extent that they can.

Adaptations (Blindness/Visual Impairment): 
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Have a guide assist participants who are blind or visually impaired. Consider having teams differentiate themselves verbally (e.g., one team whistles while the other sings).

Adaptations (Mobility Impairment): 
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A participant with a mobility limitation (e.g., a wheelchair user) may not be able to jump. Consider employing the conventional “Rock, Paper Scissors” using hands in the event that it is not possible for participants to crouch or stand.

Adaptations (Cognitive/Learning Impairment): 
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