4-way capture the flag

I have never been a fan of the game “capture the flag”.  When I tried it with my classes I always ended up with a lot of students standing around and plenty of fighting over rules being followed.  However, I get asked by students to play it quite frequently.  I modified some rules and came up with a new version that I like a lot.  The students had a great time as well and my 6th graders requested to play it during their last week of PE this year.

Play area is divided into 4 equal areas.  Make them big (about 30 paces square) if possible.  I used poly spots to mark dividing lines.  All areas should be connected — like a large rectangle divided into fourths.

Each area has a hula hoop with 5 bean bags in it and 4 cones set up in a square (jail)

Students are divided into 4 teams and each team takes a square.  They wore pinnies to separate teams.

Goal is to try and get the most bean bags into your team’s hula hoop.

Bean bags can be stolen one at a time only.  They can be passed from player to player but not thrown.

Players can be tagged anytime they are out of their own area.  Tagged players must go to the tagging team’s jail.  They can be rescued by one of their teammates.  Rescued players get a free walk-back with their rescuer, but they must be touching as they walk back.  You can only rescue one teammate at a time.

Hula hoops are a “free” area.  Players cannot be tagged if they are standing in a hula hoop.  You cannot stand in your own team’s hula hoop.  One person can guard your team’s hoop, but must be three steps away.  One person can be in a hoop at a time.  (It is fun to see the strategies team members come up with when a person gets trapped in a hoop)

Can steal bean bags from any other team’s hoop.

The game does not stop once started.  At the end of a play session, teams can count up their bags and see who has the most.

This version brought about much more involvement from all class members.  Teams really had to pay attention or their whole team could end up in jail. (I called occasional “jail break” when this happens).  The multiple bean bags really made a difference in keeping things moving and allowed for natural score-keeping for the more competitive types.


  • I was looking for some new ideas for my PE classes and found some on your site. Thank you for sharing!!!

    • I’m glad it was helpful. Good luck with your classes!

  • Questions on 4-way:
    How do you solve the “too many guarding” complaint? The rule is 1 guard but is it the same one or can they trade off?

    • That is a common complaint in my classes as well. I circle around the perimeter and chase off extra guards and that helps. I encourage the teams to rotate the guard so everyone has a turn doing different jobs. Sometimes I give the teams a few minutes to come up with strategies for play before we start. That helps with complaints also because then the teams are more organized and kids that tend to hang back understand what they should be doing.

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