We all know the importance of having your children play outside. Encouraging outdoor games for kids will motivate them to stay out longer.
Living in an apartment in the middle of the city, I don’t exactly have the best situation with outdoor play for my toddler. But we do have a courtyard in our building with sandbox, we have a small balcony, and there are a number of parks that are walking distance from us.
Whenever we visit either set of parents, we take full advantage of their yard and large out space. My son loves play games and being silly. So I’ve reached back into my past to teach him some of the outdoor games that I loved as a child and he is eager to learn.
I could simply just play some sports with him, which I do. But giving him free time to play casual games that he can easily do will help keep him outside more often. And the bonus is that I also get to play some fun family activities with him as well.
Here is a list of games that kids can play outside.
44 Outdoor Games For Kids
These games all require minimal equipment and can all be played in your backyard. Most of them will need more than 1 kid to play, but the fun competition is what makes it enjoyable for them. Get your kids outside and encourage them to try some of the following games.
- Backyard Bocce – A relaxing game that challenges your child’s mind to develop strategies and also helps with their control on strength and precision. Similar to curling, the goal is to toss your bocce balls as close to the marker ball as possible. This friendly competition can be played by a little as 2 kids and you can even join in on the fun.
- Blowing Bubbles – It’s the simple things that interest kids. All you need is something to blow bubbles with and children can try out some of the many bubble games out there.
- British Bulldog – This is an exciting outdoor game that provides kids with plenty of exercise to test their speed and agility. The bulldog stands in the middle, while all remaining players line up at one end. When the bulldog says “Go”, the players run to the other side. Anyone that gets tagged by the bulldog becomes an extra bulldog for the next round. You keep going until there are no more players left. You do need quite a few kids to play and it can get rough sometimes, but you’ll get nothing but sweat and smiles by the end.
- Bug Hotel – Smaller kids will love to trap bugs inside bottles, so why not make it into some creative. They can collect leaves, sticks and dirt to build a little home inside of a plastic bottle and then the catch bugs inside of them. If you want to go further with this, creating a bug hotel is a challenging activity that you can do with your child. This will really allow your kids to engage with nature.
- Capture The Flag – This classic game is another one that works best with a larger group. Everyone is divided up into 2 teams with a flag each. You set your territories and the first team to capture the other team’s flag and bring it back wins the game. A larger space and more advanced strategies are usually needed, so it’s more for older kids.
- Cornhole – Bring home one of your favorite tailgating games back from the parking lot of the sports arena. You just need to set up something with a hole for both sides and toss bean bags back and forth until one of you scores into the hole. For the real tailgating experience, you can do this while grilling out your lunch as well.
- Digging For Dinosaurs – Your budding paleontologist will love to dig up your backyard to find dinosaur bones. So to avoid having your yard being turned upside down, why not set up a dig site or a sandbox with buried items for them to find. It will be like opening presents for kids, except maybe they will discover chicken bones.
- Dodge Ball – A common game played in PE class in schools, dodge ball can easily be done at home as well. All you need is a ball and a space away from the windows and your children can freely chuck those balls around.
- Duck Duck Goose – This is a favorite for younger kids. It allows them to work on their reflexes and agility. Everyone sits in a circle, while one person goes around tapping each person, declaring them to be a duck or goose. Once the goose is chosen, he/she gets up and tries to tag the person before they run around and sit down on their spot.
- Fly a Kite – Something as easy as flying a kite can be very beneficial to your child. It’s not much of a game, but it can help build on their patience, hand-eye coordination, and control. It also teaches them about how to adapt to wind and weather.
- Four Square – Another typical school yard game, four square can easily be played on your driveway. Get a ball, mark out your squares and the kids will be ready to roll. Like tennis, each player hits the ball to another player’s square. If they miss it bounces more than once, then the player is out and everyone moves up a square. The goal is to get to the King’s square an stay there as long as you can.
- Frisbee Golf – This is one of many games you can play with a lone frisbee. It is completely customizable as you set up your targets or holes for where to throw the frisbee too. And just like golf, you count the number attempts it takes to get the disc into the target. Lowest score wins.
- Giant Jenga – Take the classic game Jenga outside with a super sized version of it. You’ll need to get a set, but this can be hours of entertainment and strategizing for kids.
- Hacky Sack – With a hacky sack, you can learn and master tricks on your own or you can play with a group and collectively work on your balance, coordination, flexibility and juggling abilities.
- Hide And Seek – Everyone has played this one. And it’s another one that parents can play with kids. When you take it out doors, the space becomes bigger and so does the imagination. Ready or not here they come.
- Hopscotch – Whether it’s on 1 foot or both feet, hopping from square to square will help kids with their balance, strength, and coordination. This is a one that’s not overly competitive but still fun at the same time.
- Horseshoes – This is probably a game that goes way back, judging by the supplies needed. The aim is to toss your horseshoes onto the stakes on the ground. If you set up your stakes at both ends, you can play from one end and then from the other without needing to collect your horseshoes and bring them back.
- Hula Hoop – There are many hula hoop games that kids can play. All of which will help improve their balance, flexibility, coordination and happiness.
- Jackpot – This game can be played with a football, baseball, or anything you can chuck up for children to catch. The premise is simple. You set a target for points as the jackpot and then you start tossing up balls and giving them values. Whoever catches it gets that value. Once someone reaches the target, they win.
- Jacks – This is a great, easy-to-learn game. All that’s required is a small bouncy ball and a set of jacks. Trying to pick up jacks as you bounce the ball will be great for hand-eye coordination. Your kids can play this anywhere.
- Kick The Can – This is a variation on hide and seek where the players hiding can also win by kicking the can. The person who’s it places the can and goes looking for the other players. Once the other players are found, they can race over to kick that can otherwise they are out if they are tagged. A player can end the game at anytime by kicking the can.
- Lawn Bowling – The backyard kind. While lawn bowling is quite popular game for seniors with dedicated venues and clubs that facilitate them, lawn bowling at home is more like bowling. Set up some empty pop cans or something and bowl some bowls down to knock them down. It’s as fun as it sounds.
- Make a Fort – Encourage your kid’s imagination and creativity by challenging them to build a fort, a castle or tree house outside. Get them to come up with a design, select their building materials, and then make it happen. You might have to help with a tree house, but they should be able to go crazy with the options.
- Marbles – Grab a bag of marbles and set up a circle to play on. The object is to flick your large marble at the smaller ones. Whatever you knock out of the circle, you get to keep. The player with the most marbles at the end wins. This game is a favorite for younger kids.
- Marco Polo – This game encourages the use of hearing and senses. The player who is it has their eyes closed and tries to find the other players by sound only. When he says “Marco” the others say “Polo”. When they are able to tag another player, then they become they switch roles.
- Musical Chairs – This game involves music, chairs and people. There is one less chair than people. The game begins when music is played. When it stops, everyone rushes to sit on a chair. One person will be out and one chair will be removed. This continues until there is one person on one chair left. The game encourages anticipation, reflexes, and hopefully introduces good music to kids.
- Obstacle Course – The ultimate outdoor test on your child’s physical abilities. You can set up your obstacle course however you’d like. But it will encourage speed, strength, agility, and strategy among other skills. The best thing about this game is that you can make it more challenging as they get better. It can get competitive, but your kids will love it.
- Outdoor Performance – Ask your children to put on a play, dance show, or musical outside. They can pick something they love and re-enact it for your viewing pleasure. This encourages creativity, imagination, problem solving, and self confidence. And if they’re good, maybe you can start selling tickets to your neighbors for the show.
- Picking Fruit – Give them a basket and ask them to pick away from your apple tree or strawberry patch. If you don’t have anything growing in your garden, there are generally an orchid nearby you can go to for picking fruit. Your kids will be so enthusiastic about it and they will want to eat what they picked right away.
- Piggy in The Middle – Also called keep away, piggy in the middle is when you have one person in the middle and the other players try to pass the ball back and forth without allow them to get it. Once they get it, the person that threw it then becomes the piggy. Just be careful that this doesn’t become a game for kids to tease someone though, as it sometimes becomes.
- Puddle Splashing – Not so much a game, but an activity that toddlers just love. The bigger puddle the better. Some even like bring their toy cars or dolls into these mini lakes. It can get messy, but it’ll be worth it to see those smiles.
- Red Light, Green Light – One person is the traffic light and calls out red light or green light. Green means go and red means stop. The players try to move from one end to the other, where the traffic light is. If they are caught moving on Red, they go back to the start. The first person to cross the line wins.
- Red Rover – This classic school yard game requires a larger group. Players are divided up into 2 teams and they take turns calling individual players to come over. This individual that is called will then run to the other team and try to break their chain held together by hands. If they break it, then they bring one of those players back to their team. If they don’t break the chain, then they join the other team. This goes until one team has no one left.
- Rock Statues – Kids like to build things. So why not get them outside to put together statues or buildings with rocks or sticks. This will encourage your little architect to be creative and a sense of accomplishment.
- Sack Race – You can use a potato sack or laundry bag. And then put your kids in a line and let them hop away. This is a great way for them to get plenty of outdoor exercise while being silly at the same time.
- Scavenger hunt – What kid doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt. Give them a checklist of things to find and whoever brings them all back wins. You could take it a step further a create treasure hunt, complete with a map or directions. If you need an excuse to do this, Easter will be the perfect time for your kids to look for chocolate eggs.
- Scooter Race – Get them on their scooters or bikes and set up a drag race up the driveway.
- Sidewalk Art – Sidewalk chalk is a must for any child. They will love drawing all over your driveway or playing tic tac toe. Get them lots of colors and let them express their creativity and inner Picasso.
- Simon Says – This can be played any amount of people and you can lead the way by being Simon. Get your kids to do anything you desire by just adding Simon Says before the command. If you don’t say Simon Says before, anyone that follows that instruction is out.
- Skipping – A jump rope is a tool for fun and intensive workouts. Boxers live and die by their skipping routines, so you know it will be great exercise for them. Plus there are a lot of games kids can play with the jump rope.
- Tag – A simple game of tag can provide hours of fun and exercise. It doesn’t require any equipment and can be played by any amount of people. There are also different variations of the game that can add a fun twist to this classic.
- Tug of War – This is the ultimate test of strength. Put two teams on either side and have them tug away on a rope until one team gets pulled in. Arm wrestling could be another form of strength challenge.
- Water The Plants – Get your kids involved with your chores by creating a game out of it. Show them how to water your plants and they will want to mimic what you do. At least the younger one will. Your kids and your plants will be happy.
- Water Toys – On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than playing with water. You can fill up some water balloons or water guns and just get wet. Take it a step further and add a slip and slide mat and your kids will never want to come inside.
How To Proceed?
Now that you have a healthy list of ideas to reference from. Just get your kids outside and go with the flow. Take their lead. Chances are they will create their own games which they can teach you.
If you’re still stuck indoors, here’s a list of indoor games for adults and children. And when you’re having trouble getting your kids off the screens, read our article our article on suggestions on how to limit screen time.