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How to Play the Capture the Flag Game

Capture the Flag is a great game for kids! Find out how to play Capture the Flag, or Barra Bandeira as it’s called in Brazil, here!

Grabbing a few friends, going outside, playing a game and mucking in is the best way for children to build their physical strength and confidence, creating memories for life. But so many traditional games are played less and less over the generations, making way for more modern kids’ activities. It’s time to bring back some of our forgotten favourites.  

The Playground Games series of articles celebrates some of the best classic games from around the world! Here we share a step-by-step guide introducing the Brazilian game of Barra Bandeira (“Capture the Flag”) to your child, including how to play, benefits for your child’s development, and what to do if play gets a little bit messy.  


What you need:

  • Four players or more
  • Outside space, pitch size depends on the number and the ability of the players but about 7 meters in length and 5 meters in width should be plenty (the game can be played indoors, but outside is much better)
  • String or chalk
  • Two flags (you could make your own from t-shirts)

Capture the Flag rules:

  • Split the children into two teams of equal sizes.
  • Mark out a large rectangular pitch with either string or chalk then place a flag (or a stick) at each end of the pitch.
  • Each team has a side of the pitch that they need to stay in. This is their territory.
  • The objective of the game is to steal the flag of the other group without being touched by any opposing players. To capture the flag a player must enter the opponents’ territory, dodge the opposition through ducking, diving and nifty footwork to claim the flag and bring it back to their territory without being captured (tagged).
  • If a player is tagged, they must stand still like a statue in the place where they were caught until a teammate frees them by touching them.
  • The winning group is the team who gets the flag first, regardless of the number of children who have been caught.

What’s so good about playing Capture the Flag?

This classic game is great for building physical strength and stamina. There is a lot of running involved, and kids will develop their suppleness and agility through dodging the other team. Not to mention encouraging teamwork, as the kids will have to learn to strategise and work together in order to claim the other team’s flag.  


Tales of Capture the Flag to share with your children

It is believed that Capture the Flag finds its origins on the battlefield. In the past, soldiers knew when the war was over when the enemy's flag was captured. It didn’t matter how many soldiers died or were captured; a war was not declared over until the flag was caught. It was the symbol of victory.  


Play Capture the Flag

Have a go at this classic game and don’t worry about the stained clothes your little soldiers bring home. The most likely stain is mud and all you need to do is let the mud dry, then scrub with a brush. Then you can just wash on a normal cycle with your favourite Persil detergent. Just make sure that you check the label for care details of the stained garment, and always conduct a test on a hidden area of fabric before cleaning it.