Tug of War is More than a Game, it is Science

Y’all know how we love when hands-on learning through play turns into a quiet lesson and today we are going to talk about playing tug of war and how winning the game might be a lot more than brute strength.

With this activity you can engage kids’ muscles and competitive spirits while spurring their love for science with a game of tug of war.

It’s finally fall, which means my favorite place to be is outside watching my kids play with our neighbors.

Tug of War Science Game

An educator by trade, I love to think of outside games for kids to play that combine fun, learning, and movement. Enter tug of war!

Read on for how to incorporate a science lesson into a classic game.

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Supplies Needed


Tug of war with two people pulling on the rope with an orange line of tape simulated
It is time to play tug of war!

Step 1

Stick a piece of colored tape on the ground, making sure it is visible to each child.

Step 2

Have children grab each end of the rope on opposite sides of the tape. Be sure kids do not wrap the rope around their hands, which can be dangerous.

Step 3

Each kid should try to pull the other to their side of the tape!

Science Behind Winning Tug of War

I really like this simple article from Wired that talks about the science of winning tug of war.

Hint: it’s about friction and mass!

After explaining how tug of war works, challenge your kids to change up teams to see if the game results in different winners.

If you really want to wow your kids, let them watch the Wired video of people playing tug of war with a lion! While I don’t recommend they reenact that game, your kids could also play tug of war with your dogs.

According to DogTime, tug of war can be a great training activity.

Check out this video of a tiny dachshund winning tug of war against mountain dogs:

Ok, that little dog didn’t technically follow the rules!

Hope your kids enjoy playing tug of war and learning about science in the process!

Looking for More Science Activities?

How did this change your tug of war strategy?

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