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5 Fun Lawn Games for Kids: Outdoor Exercise in your Backyard

Updated on September 9, 2018

What are Some Fun, Outdoor Games Kids Will Love?

We spend so much time and effort cutting, manicuring and aerating our backyards, but if we don't make the most of that space, what's the point? I highly encourage you to let your kids spend a lot of time in your yard. Some of my best memories came from that time.

That said, keeping them entertained can be a bit of a trial. Sometimes it's best to find some entertaining and fun lawn games for your kids to play. Soccer and tag will lose their lustre, so it's a good idea to be creative here. If you invest some time into teaching your kids new games, they'll be happier and fitter.

This article will look at five of my favourite outdoor lawn games for children. I'll be offering options that are either free or inexpensive to get into. Hopefully you'll find them as entertaining as I do, and you and your kids will have tons of quality time playing together. Let's get started!

Finding Outdoor Games for Children That Rock

I'll be giving five suggestions, and there are obviously many great choices out there. Before we get into my suggestions, I want to go over things to look for in backyard games for kids, and things to avoid.

Rules Should Be Fluid:

What does that mean? Well I think part of growing up is learning how to make your own rules and invent games. You'll want to pick choices that are easy to learn, fun to play, and also that kids can customize with their own rules and variations. Let them have some fun with this process!

Avoid Lots of Gear:

A good, fun backyard kids game shouldn't have a ton of equipment, gear or accessories involved. Let's face it, when the kids have way too much energy, you don't want to spend 20 minutes getting them into their equipment. Choose options that are quick to set up and get rolling, and you'll be a lot happier.

Choose Games YOU Like Too:

If you teach your kids some fun lawn games, you will be playing them too! So be sure to pick out ones that you think you'll enjoy as well. I think adults should have play time too, so be sure to relish this time.

1) Badminton: A fun, safe, accessible outdoor game for kids


I really enjoy playing badminton. It is fun and low-key, but it is also a good cardiovascular workout, great for your hand-eye coordination, and competitive enough to allow for tournaments.

You can play it with two or four people, and you don't strictly need a net to play. Good, portable kits like this one are easily available and inexpensive.

Badminton is a great backyard game for children for a number of reasons. First off, it is pretty safe. The 'birdie' is soft and can only be hit so hard; they're unlikely to be hurt by it. Secondly, it's a lot of fun, and it's one of those games that kids really seem to love practicing.

It can even be played alone: you just try to keep the birdie aloft for as long as possible. Toss it in the air and try to prevent it from touching the ground!

If you have a yard with a decent amount of space, setting up the net is pretty easy. Fortunately, the net doesn't have to be very taut, so you can just place it between a couple of posts and put it up whenever the kids are wanting to play.

Beware: children get really good at this, really fast! You'll have to keep up your own game if you want to avoid being humiliated!

2) Kick the Can: An amazing backyard game for your kids


Kick the Can is an interesting game that seems to have disappeared somewhat in recent years. I want to help bring it back! It's a really fun lawn game for your children that they'll spend hours playing, and it really doesn't require much to play.

Here are the basic rules:

  • One player is designated as 'it'. A 'can' (I'd suggest using a plastic bucket or something similar) is placed in the middle of the yard in a nice open spot. The person who is 'it' covers their eyes and counts to 10, and everyone else hides.
  • When the person who is 'it' opens their eyes, they must find and tag the other players. When a player is tagged, they are sent to 'jail', which is really just a designated open space in the yard.
  • An uncaught player may try to sneak or run up and kick the can. If they make contact and knock it over, everyone in jail is freed! Alternatively, you can say that each time the can is kicked, one person is freed from jail (usually the person who has been in jail the longest). The game ends when the person who is 'it' captures everyone.
  • In a larger group, you can designate two or more people to be 'it'.

It's a really fun and great backyard / lawn game for kids because it involves elements of tag, hide-and-seek and capture the flag. It's really quite easy to organize, and it's always a top choice for a birthday party or trip to the park with friends.

Ideally, your yard should have some space and a few good hiding spots for kick the can to work best.

3) Snipe: A new / old kids backyard game they'll love


If you haven't heard of Snipe before, I'm not surprised. (Don't worry, it doesn't involve firearms of any kind!) It's actually a variation on an old game that has fallen out of the public eye.

This is a wonderful outdoor lawn game for your children because a) it's simple to play and b) it will keep them entertained for hours, particularly in a large space. It's also not too challenging, and the rules take about 30 seconds to explain. You can play it with two people, two teams, or just one person doing the 'seeking'.

How to play: The object is simple: there are two Snipes: little made up critters, pictured above. Each person or team will go off and hide the Snipe somewhere in the back yard. Once hidden (usually they're given 30 seconds to find a hiding spot), each team has to find the other team's Snipe and return it to the Nest.

After a short amount of time, the Snipes will start to chirp, and their eyes will flash, making them easier to find.

This feature ensures that the Snipe isn't lost, and that the games don't drag on for too long. Once a team wins, you hide them again and start over.

This deceptively simple game is actually pretty involved. It's sort of like an Easter egg hunt that you get to play over and over. Your kids will love it, and you just might enjoy it yourself!

4) Sardines: An awesome yard game for your kids to play with friends


Sardines is a classic and one of my all-time favourite games to play. It's a really simple concept too, which is great news for you.

This is pretty much like reverse hide-and-seek. At the start of the game, one person is 'it'. That person hides while everyone else covers their eyes and counts to 30. At the end of that time, everyone fans out and tries to find the player who has hidden.

When a player finds the person who is 'it', they have to hide in the same spot. As more and more players find the spot, it gets more crowded, and being stealthy becomes more difficult. This is where the name 'Sardines' comes from!

The last person to find the hiding spot is designated 'it' for the next round, and they must do the hiding.

It's a good choice for a big back yard game, and kids of all ages enjoy playing. It's a very good choice for a birthday party or day at the park, and I'd recommend it for groups consisting of at least 4 people (less than that and the game becomes kind of redundant).

5) Boochie: A Bocce alternative for kids that is tons of outdoor fun


I personally love Bocce, but it's not always a great outdoor game option for kids. Why? The balls are pretty hard and fairly heavy, so younger kids can get pretty frustrated with it. This is where Boochie has a big advantage: it's built to be played by players of all ages!

Boochie is a little hard to explain. It's similar to Bocce, but there are more elements involved. Here's how it goes:

  • First, you throw the 12 sided Boochie ball.
  • Next, you toss your ball and your ring, and try to get them closest to the Boochie ball.
  • There's a twist: each player wears a special wrist tracker.

    The tracker is turned each round, and it gives the player a special challenge to overcome, like tossing your ball and ring between your legs, standing on one leg, things like that! It's optional to use the tracker, but it makes the game a lot more fun!
  • If you land your ring around the Boochie ball, you get extra points, or even an instant win.

All the components are soft and safe for ages 8 and up to play. The addition of the ring gives an extra challenge over traditional Bocce. It can be played with 2 to 4 players, and it will quickly become a household favourite! It's definitely an outdoor backyard game your kids will appreciate!

Yard Games for Kids: Poll

What game age range are you looking for?

See results

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