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Great Outdoor Games for Kids

Updated on August 29, 2017

Outdoor Games For Kids

When the weather is fine it means outside play time! Here are a number of classic and new outdoor games for kids that will provide hours of fun. Many of these games require minimal pieces of equipment.

Children love to play games. That's is how they learn to interact, build friendships and make memories. The challenge today is getting them off the couch, off the computer and outside to play. However, after you have gone through everything here, that shouldn't be a problem.

These are all outdoor games that offer challenge, excitement and most of all fun! If you have been around a while, you will no doubt recognize a few, but there are some new outdoor games here. With all the games it is recommended that you approach them with flexibility. Go ahead and modify or adjust what ever you need as necessary, depending on circumstances like: number of children, ages, space available, and time.

Okay if you are ready, lets head outside and start having fun!

Image courtesy of EJ Fox from Circleville, United States

The Benefits of Playing Outside

Playing outdoors is excellent for children in so many ways. Children receive benefits like: helping to reduce obesity problems, improving good cardiac health and blood pressure, helping to combat diabetes, better mental health, and strengthening growing bones and muscles. Outdoor games are also great for the development of social skills.

A number of prominent physician and psychologists feel that regular physical activity and exercise helps children to improve their cognitive skills.

According to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, "Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day." The Council goes on to say "Most of this activity should be moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity that increases cardio respiratory fitness."

Now that you know all the benefits of outdoor play, lets get out into the sunshine and have some fun.

Don't Forget Stay Protected From the Sun and Stay Hydrated

When playing outside in the heat children need to remember to wear sun protection and drink plenty of fluids.

When playing outdoors children often get too wrapped up in their fun to remember the sun can be dangerous. They need to take precautions. Children are also less efficient at perspiring than adults. For these reasons children are prone to becoming dehydrated.

It is essential that children receive the correct levels of fluid before, during and after outdoor play is essential. Children should be helped and reminded of this often.

When a child's body is properly hydrated things like endurance, concentration, and energy are all at their highest levels. In contrast, if the body does not get the right amount of fluid heat related problems can occur like cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

As well, the correct type of sun protection in lotion, gel or spray form should be applied to children so they don't get sunburned.

Sidewalk Chalk in a Variety of Colors

Here's a Really Fun Sidewalk Chalk Book for Kids

Here's an award winning book that contains 15 unique and creative activity courses kids can draw with sidewalk chalk. The book is titled, "Cursing Around," and is available through Amazon.

This book takes sidewalk art to a whole new level of fun. At the same time, it helps children's confidence and and creativity soar as they have fun drawing and playing with the many different activity courses.

Lets Go Fly a Kite

If there is plenty of wind, a large open space outdoors and at least one friend, then you have what it takes to fly a kite.

First you will need to assemble your kite. Below this are some great suggestion for fun kites you can quickly make. After you have assembled the kite, here's how you will launch it into the air.

One person will hold the kite and the other person will hold the string. The wind needs to be blowing in the direction of the person holding the kite.

Unwind about 50-75 feet of string. That should be the distance between each person. Seventy five feet would be about 25 steps for an adult or about 40 steps for a child.

Next the person holding the kite should give it a nudge into the air, releasing it. At the same time the person holding the string begins to run directly into the wind.

As the kite begins to rise slowly let out more and more string until the desired height is reached.

Simple, right!

Now everyone can take turns holding the kite as it dances in the air high above.

(The trick to getting the kite airborne, that many people miss, is to make sure the person holding the string runs right into the same direction the wind is blowing from.)

One more thing: it is never a good idea to fly a kite around electrical power lines, trees or when it looks like it could rain.

Great Kites

Amazon has an amazing selection of kites. Here are just a few favorites.

Hide and Go Seek

There are variations on how to play this classic game.

In it's purest form, the game of Hide and Go Seek starts with one person either blind folded or with eyes closed and turning their back to everyone else. This person the has to count to a predetermined number.

While this person is counting everyone else runs quickly and hides.

It is always best if you have agreed ahead of time what the boundaries will be and places where it is okay for hiding to take place.

You also have to decide what will be the home base before the game is started.

After the person (the seeker) has finished counting, they must go and go and try to find everyone that is hiding.

The idea is for everyone hiding not to get found or be seen until after they have run in and touched the home base. If they are caught, seen or found before tagging the safety of home base they are out.

The last person caught is the seeker for the next game. If you play this with winners, all those who safely made it to home base without being caught are the winners of that game.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Game of Tag

Tag is probably one of the most well known of the classic outdoor games for kids. It has many variations.

The most basic version is played with one person being "It." That person runs around and chases after all the other players. When the "It" person touches another play that player is now "It". It is always a good idea to have a no tag back rule. So the newly tagged person can't immediately tag back the person that tagged them.

Red Rover

Red Rover is a fun outdoor game that involves a lot of running. Generally this game is best played with a larger group of kids.

To begin, everyone should be divided into two equal teams. It is best to try and divide up players keeping in mind ages and physical ability, so the teams are as balanced as possible.

If there is enough space available, separate the teams by 40 feet or more with a line dividing the middle..

The two teams will take turns calling different players from the other team over by saying: "Red Rover Red Rover send (name of the person) over!"

The person called leaves their team and runs as fast as they can over to the other team and tries to break through the held hands. They can choose anywhere in the line they want to try and break through. If they are successful breaking through they get to take any one they want from that team and bring them back to their team. If they are unsuccessful, and cannot break through, they have to stay with the new team.

Play progresses until there is only one person left on a side. When it is their turn to run, if they are successful at breaking through, they win it for their team. If they do not break through the other team wins.

Three Classic Outdoor Game Favorites

Red Light, Green Light

One person is selected to be the traffic light and stands in front of all the others. All the other players are standing behind a starting line a distance away, facing the traffic light person.

The traffic light person has the choice of two different commands: "green light" or "red light." When announcing green light, the traffic light person is turned away from all other players. When announcing "red light" the traffic light person turns toward everyone.

When "green light" is called out everyone is free to move off the line and come toward the traffic light person. Some may choose to walk slowly, others may choose to run.

When the traffic light person turns around to face everyone and says, "red light," everyone must freeze. If anyone is spotted moving, they must go all the way back to the starting line and begin again.

The first player that reaches the traffic light person is the winner and gets to become the new traffic light. Yeah!

Simon Says

This is a classic game to get kids moving about. It is good for building concentration and skills that improve listening. One person gets to be Simon. This person stands in front of all the other kids and announces an action everyone should take and says his name, Simon, before each action.

Example: "Simon says touch your head." Everyone must do the correct (touch your head) action or they are eliminated from the game. Every once in a while the person will announce an action without saying Simon says in the front of it. That is an action everyone should NOT do. If someone gets confused and does that action that is cause for elimination from the game. Simon would say, "Simon didn't say to (what ever the action was)you are out of the game."

The game continues until there is just one person left. The last person left in the game is the winner.

For a variation and to make it more difficult, Simon can occasionally perform the command they are saying, or speed up the commands to try and confuse the players.

Mother, May I

This is another fun classic outdoor game that promotes creativity. It is played a lot like Red Light Green Light. One person is the Mother and stands in front and faces all other players who are at a starting line.

Taking turns, each person at the start asks for permission to move forward. It is at the discretion of the Mother if they want to allow the request. Quite often the more creative the request, the more likely it is for permission to be granted.

The person asking for permission to move forward will start off by saying "Mother May I (and then describe the action they want to take)? Examples of actions can get really creative like: two baby steps, three scissor steps, two bunny hops, one horse gallop, two twisting turn leaps. You get the idea.

After being asked, the Mother will say either "Yes You May" or "No, You May Not!"

The first person to reach the Mother is the winner.

Parachute Games

Games using a large colored parachute are something that kids absolutely love.

There is something about playing with a parachute that is a real attraction for kids. Generally, these type of games are less competitive and encourage working and playing together more so than with other games. Perhaps it is because everyone has to hold on to the same object as they play.

Below you will find a great book on many different variations of games using parachutes and none requires jumping out of an airplane!

Here's Where You Can Get a Top Rated Parachute for Kids

Outdoor Games played with a parachute are so much fun for kids. Here is a highly rated parachute that is colorful and durable. It can be purchased through Amazon here at a discounted price.

59 Games to Play with a Parachute

This book features 59 games kids can play with a parachute. It even comes with a DVD highlighting live action of how to play many of the games. This is so popular it has become a Best Selling Book on Amazon.

Here's a funny video of kids playing with a big parachute

Things are a bit unstructured in this video, there is no formal game going on. But, it does show how much kids love playing with a big, bright, colorful parachute.

What Time is it Mr. or Mrs. Wolf?

Here is another fun outdoor game that involves running, creativity and listening.

At the start, one person is selected to be Mr. or Mrs. Wolf. All other players will stand behind a starting line a predetermined distance away. The person who is playing the Wolf will have their back to the kids.

In unison all the players will call out, "Mr. (or Mrs.) Wolf, what time is it?"

The wolf turns to face the children and answers with a time of his or her choosing. For example the wolf may say, "It's four o'clock."

Whatever time the wolf says that's how many steps each child may take forward. In the case of the example, everyone can take four steps forward.

After everyone has taken the allowed steps the wolf turns around and the children ask the same question again. In unison all the players will call out, "Mr. (or Mrs.) Wolf, what time is it?"

Just like before the wolf will turn to face the children and answer with a time of their choosing.

The wolf has one more answer it can choose to use and that is "Dinner Time!" When this answer is given all the players must run back to the start. The wolf will run and chase the payers as they race back. If a player makes it back to the start line they are considered safe. If a player is touched by the wolf they become the new wolf.

If a player makes it past the wolf by taking the proper amount of steps and not getting tagged, they are declared the winner.

Capture the Flag

Capture the flag is running and strategic game that kids love. As with most of these games, Capture the Flag in particular, this game works best if played in a large open space.

Before playing determine the boundaries and divide the field of play into two equal spaces. There should be a clear line where one side ends and the other side begins. Each team will need to designate an area which will be their jail, and an area where their flag will be kept.

The objective of the game is to successfully steal the other team's flag and return it to your side without being caught.

When play begins each team may cross over into the other team's space. If a person is tagged while in another team's space they will be sent to that team's jail. The only way they can get out is by being tagged by someone else from their team. While in jail they can't do anything until they are set free.

Some strategic play may develop with this game and that is encouraged. Often players will be assigned as jail guards with the job of stopping anyone trying to steal the flag.

There are many other variations of Capture the Flag, this is the most basic.

Catch the Dragon's Tail

This is a very traditional game that comes from China. In this game called, Catch the Dragon's Tail, it is best played with a larger group of ten or more.

To begin, someone calls out "ready, set, go" and all the players run to form a line by grabbing the waist of a person in front.

The object of the game is for the person at the front of the line, the Dragon's head, to curl around and tag the last person, the Dragon's tail. All the players keep running and twisting and maneuvering around to prevent the Dragon's head from touching the Dragon's tail-without letting go or breaking the line.

If the Dragons tail gets tagged everyone moves up one position, starting with the Dragon's head which becomes the Dragons tail.

A variation of play for this game is for players to put their hands on the shoulders of the person in front instead of the waist.

Toilet Paper Relay

If you have a large group of kids, this can be a fun and funny outdoor game.

First divide the players into teams with equal numbers of players. Have the players make a line standing behind each other. Position each player at an arm's length behind the teammate that is in front.

The player at the front of the lie will each have a roll of toilet paper. They will hold on to one end of the toilet paper and hand the roll to the person behind. As they make this pass the toilet paper will unwind from the roll. Players need to be very careful not to break the toilet paper.

If the toilet paper is broken the roll must be handed from player to player back until it gets to the first player, where they start all over again. The first team to get to the end with a complete length of toilet paper that is unbroken wins.

As a variation player can play seated as they play. Another version requires the players to pass the toilet paper under their legs. An even more challenging variation involves the pass of toilet paper to alternate- one player must pass it under their legs; the next player must pass it over their shoulder and so on.

On a hot day this same game can be played with sponges, water and buckets. The player at the front takes a large sponge and soaks it full of water. Players then pass it over their heads all the way down the line. The last player squeezes the water out into another bucket. The sponge is then passed back up the line to the first person who again soaks it and sends it back. The team that fills their bucket first wins.

What's Your Answer To This Question Regarding Games for Kids

We have highlighted both types of games for kids here--those that are competitive and will end with a winner and those that encourage group play with no outright winner.

Check Out These Fun Outdoor Games We Like From Amazon

Boochie Ball

This is a new game that is a lot like Bocce Ball but with a fun twist. Perhaps that is why it is one of the most popular games selling on Amazon these days.

With Boochie Ball, it involves tossing, kicking, throwing and bowling--no two games are the same!

This fun outdoor toy has won a lot of prestigious awards including the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval.

You can check it out today at Amazon.

Mini Frisbee Golf

This is a very popular and fun outdoor game played a lot like golf, but with frisbees. The game includes mini frisbees and a game target.

Players take turns throwing their frisbee toward the target. The further the distance the better, so it takes a few throws to get to the target, just like getting to the green in golf. The objective is to take as few throws as possible and land inside the target basket. After each turn the target basket is moved to a different location and at a different distance.

Blongo Ball

Blongo Bal is a fun NEW outdoor game that was just invented in 2004. It can be played with two or more players.

This excited game for kids and adults involves elements of classic favorites like horseshoes, bocce, croquet and other lawn tossing games. But it adds a different twist. Players throw a blongo ball at a goal. The blongo ball is actually two small balls (about the size of golf balls) attached by a small rope. The idea is to wrap your bongo ball around different bars of the goal. Depending on how your toss lands and attaches different points are awarded.

Please Help With This Fun Poll

Please vote in this quick poll, then check the results to see how your selection compares to everyone else.

Of All the Outdoor Games Listed Here, Which is Your Favorite? If Your Favorite Game Was Not Listed Please Add it to the Comments List Below--Thanks!

See results

We welcome and thank you for sharing your thoughts. Did you enjoy this lens? What is your favorite outdoor game? What game did we leave out (there are many I am sure)?

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    • Zebedee32 profile image

      Zebedee32 5 years ago

      I loved this quest! Great lens.

    • kburns421 lm profile image

      kburns421 lm 5 years ago

      Nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Loved this lens! What a great idea! All of the best outdoor games in one easy to access area! Red Rover sure takes me back to my childhood. Will be taking my son outside today to play some of these fun games!