Getting your children outside can feel like a chore. But, with fun outdoor games for kids, you can encourage them to really cut loose and play. From classic games like the ones you played growing up to new activities for children, we have found all the best things for kids to do when they need something different to play. There’s nothing better on those long summer days than playing until it’s time for dinner.
As our children become increasingly tech-savvy, you might be wondering what no-tech outdoor games for kids will still keep them engaged. We discovered the perfect outdoor games that children really love that make them forget that their iPad or other toys even exist! Now, ready, set, go! It’s time to talk play!
These Outdoor Games for Kids Will Make Summer Even More Fun!
One of the best outdoor games for kids that incorporates music is Freeze Dance. Simply put one of the kids in charge of the music. The players must dance while the music is playing but “freeze” in place when it stops. Anyone who is still moving when the music stops is out!
Here’s a game you likely played as a child. Telephone is a game that can be played anywhere which makes it especially great for outdoor activities. Have the kids sit in a circle. One person thinks of a sentence or phrase and whispers it to the person to the right. The message continues to get passed along from one child to the next until each player has heard it. The last person has to reveal how the message has changed. Laughter often ensues!
Sure, normal tag is fun, but what about encouraging your kids to go wild? Designate an area as the “zoo” where tagged “animals” must go. Then, choose a kid to be “it.” This person will be called the “zookeeper” who is responsible for tagging all of the animals and sending them to their “cage” at the “zoo.” Next, assign an animal to the other players. Think monkeys, zebras, giraffes, etc. Tell the kids they must run like the animal you’ve assigned them. Ready, set, go! It’s time to play animal tag!
Kick the Can
If you’d like to further riff on a good old game of tag, play Kick the Can. One person or a team is designated as “it.” Put a can in the middle of the playing area. The other players run off and hide while the “it” covers his or her eyes and counts to a certain number. The “It” person or team then tries to find the other players. If a person is tagged by “it,” they go into a “holding pen” of captured players. If one of the un-captured players manages to kick the can, the captured players are released. The game is over once all the non “it” players are captured in the pen.
This is one of the most beloved outdoor games for kids and we encourage you to get your little ones playing it. They’ll have a blast!
Hide & Seek
One of the most beloved outdoor games for kids of all time is Hide and Seek. Choose a person to be “it.” They then most cover their eyes and count to a specified number while the other players hide. Then, “it” must find all the players. You can add further rules like creating a safe home base and a tag element which is similar to Kick the Can. The possibilities for this game are endless! Ask your kids to make up some of their own rules to see what they cook up.
Capture the Flag
This is one of the best outdoor games for kids when you have a large group assembled to play. Split the players into two teams. Half of your yard or field of play goes to one team and the other half to the other. Each team gets a “flag” to protect on their home base. The object of play is to run into the other team’s territory, capture their flag and make it safely back to your own territory.
You can tag “enemy” players in your territory, sending them to your jail. They can be sprung from jail by a member of their own team running into your territory, tagging them, and running back, with one freed person allowed per jail break.
Bust out the sidewalk chalk for this fun game! Divide a portion of your driveway or other cement surface into one giant square. Next, divide that square further into four smaller squares, numbered one through four. One player stands in each of the squares, with the highest-ranked player in the number one spot and the lowest in number four. You bounce the ball among the players, bouncing once in the other person’s square before that person catches it.
It’s one of the best outdoor games for kids when you have a group of four!
Another one of the outdoor games for kids that requires some chalk, Hopscotch is a classic that involves drawing a hopscotch grid on the ground. A player tosses a rock that must land inside the lines of the first square. Hop over the rock and hop with a single foot or both feet (to adhere to the hopscotch pattern) all the way to the end of the grid. Turn around and come back, stopping on Square 2. Balancing on one foot, pick up the rock in Square 1 and hop over Square 1 to the start. Continue this pattern with Square 2. A turn ends if the rock is thrown outside the correct square, balance is lost, or if one falls.
Sharks & Minnows
Sharks and minnows is a great game that can be played in a pool but it’s also rather fun on land! Pick one or more players to be the “shark.” They will try to tag the minnows. The rest of the players are those “minnows” and should stand together in a straight line at one end of the playing field, all facing the shark in the middle of the field. When the shark yells “Swim!” all of the minnows should try to run to the other side of the field without being tagged.
If a minnow is tagged, there are two possible options: You can have them become “seaweed” having them sit down and try to reach out for other minnows to turn them into seaweed too. Or you can have them become additional sharks for the next round. Play continues until only one minnow remains untagged, they become the new lead shark. It’s one of the best outdoor games for kids that really gets their hearts pumping!
Some Opinionated Tag
Decide on four spots to be the bases for the game. Label one “Love it,” another “Okay,” one more “Don’t like it,” and finally, the last one “Never tried it.” Choose one person to be “It.” They choose a type of food, movie, sport, activity, etc. and yell it out loud. For example “basketball” or “peas” or “French class”. All of the other players must run to the base that describes how they feel about the chosen subject. It tries to tag one of the players as they run. If a player is tagged, they become the new It for the next round.
It’s one of the fun outdoor games for kids that takes good old tag to a whole new level.
Mother, May I?
Another one of the best outdoor games for kids that requires no equipment whatsoever is Mother, May I? One person is chosen to be “it.” Another player in the group asks the person in the front, “Mother, may I take steps forward?” The person at the front then says, “Yes, you may.” or “No, you may not.” Players can vary their requests by including options such as taking baby steps, spinning steps, leaps, or whatever. The first person to tag the person in the front wins and is the next person in the front.
Simon Says is a game that can be played inside but it’s even better when it’s played outside as it allows children to be especially rambunctious. One person is “it” or Simon. They say “Simon says…” followed by a command that the other players must follow. If a command is given without the words “Simon says,” players should not follow the command. Any player who does follows the command is then “out.” The last player left playing, gets to be Simon in the next round of play.
Blind Man’s Bluff
One of the most beloved outdoor games for kids in the Victorian Era, Blind Man’s Bluff is simply a game of tag except that the person who is “it” must be blindfolded. Now, it goes without saying that this is one of the outdoor games for kids in which the field of play should be free from obstructions. After all, you don’t want the blindfolded person getting injured.
One of the classic outdoor games for kids that you likely played as a child, Red Rover requires a nice-sized group to play. Divide the players into two teams. Each team will need to hold hands and form a line. The two lines should be about twenty feet apart. The first time calls out, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send [the name of a player from the opposite team] right over!” The named person must then run from their team and try to break through the other team’s line. If they break through the line, they get to steal someone from the other time to join their own.
The game ends when only one person remains on a team. They then must try to break through the line of players. If they fail, they lose the game. If they break through, the game continues with them picking up another player for their team.
Here is one of the most fun outdoor games for kids that’s pretty involved! Every player gets a number. Choose a person to be “it.” Players crowd around “it” and wait for them to throw the ball into the air. As soon as the ball goes airborne, the other players must run away from “it.”
As the ball reaches the top of its toss, “it” calls out the number of one of the other players and then runs away as well. The child whose number is called must run back and catch the ball (or chase after it if it is bouncing around). After that person has the ball, they yell, “Spud!” Then everyone else must freeze.
The person with the ball must try to hit one of the players with the ball. If they do, that new person gets a letter (first S, then P, then U, then D) and is now “it.” If they miss, the person who threw the ball is “it” for the next round.
This is one of the best outdoor games for kids to play if there’s a sandbox around, but it can easily be played on a sidewalk or driveway as well. Draw a circle in the sand or use chalk to draw one on the sidewalk. The general rules are for players to take turns trying to knock each other’s marbles out of the circle with the one large marble. There are many variations on this game so get creative with the rules!
One of the most thrilling outdoor games for kids to play on a sunny day is shadow tag. It’s like a normal game of tag except players try to tag each other’s shadows with their feet. Start the play a little before high noon and watch the kids freak out when their shadows disappear!
Racing with Cups of Water
If you like your outdoor games for kids to include water for hot days, consider sending the kids off to the races. Gather your racers. Poke a hole in the bottom of plastic cups and hand one to each player. Ask players to plug the hole with their fingers as you fill each cup with water. Now, stand at the finish line. Tell the players that when you say “go” the kids must unplug the hole and run to the finish line. The person with the most water left in their cup after they cross the finish line wins. It’s just like normal racing but everyone gets wet.
You will need a large sponge and a bucket for this activity, think of those big sponges used to wash a car. Throw the sponge in the water and designate one kid to be “it.” They then must grab the wet sponge and try to tag other players with it. The first person who is tagged then becomes “it” and they must dunk the sponge in the water and try to tag another person.
Another one of the great outdoor games for kids to play on hot days, Frozen toes requires ice and two buckets or tubs. Fill one bucket with ice, put the empty bucket beside it, and set a timer for one minute. The first player must then try and get as many pieces of ice into the empty bucket using only their feet. Keep track of the ice cubes and count to see how many they manage to move in one minute. The player who transports the most ice wins! Refresh ice often and repeat to stay cool!
Over/Under Sponge Relay
You will need two large sponges and two buckets that are the same size and two large tubs filled with water for this game. Divide the children into two groups and have each group stand in a line. Place the full tubs in front of the lines and the empty buckets at the end of the lines.
Hand the large sponge to the first person in line. They must dunk the sponge and pass it over their head to the next person in line. That person must pass it under their legs to the next person who then passes it over their head and so on. The last child in line squeezes the sponge out into the bucket then runs to the front of the line and the relay continues. The first team to fill their bucket wins.
It’s one of the most fun outdoor games for kids to play on hot days!
Water Balloon Long Toss
Another great outdoor game for kids to play when they need some relief from the heat, a water balloon toss will get them wet and wild! You will need to fill up a bunch of water balloons, more if you are hosting a large group. Have kids pair up and give each pair a balloon. Have each pair stand the same distance from one another, a couple of feet is a good start. Have them toss the balloon back and forth. On each successful toss and catch, the partners can take a step away from one another.
If a balloon bursts or gets dropped, the pair must either return to the distance they started at or you can go ahead and kick them out. The group that gets the furthest apart without dropping or bursting their balloon wins!
Water Hose Limbo
If you are planning on watering your lawn anyway, consider one of the best hot-day outdoor games for kids, water limbo! All you need is a hose. Start the stream high and get lower after each player has limbo’d underneath. Any child who gets sprayed by the hose or falls is out, the last player standing wins!
Drip, Drip, Splash!
Here’s one of the outdoor games for kids that’s been adapted from an indoor one. It’s essentially just like Duck Duck Goose except with a wet sponge!
Have all of the children sit in a circle, except the child who is “it”. The person who is “it” should walk around the circle holding a soaked sponge over each child’s head. As they pass they should say “Drip, drip, drip” until they get to their chosen player and say “Drench!,” squeezing the sponge over the person’s head. The chosen player gets up and chases it around the circle trying to tag them.
“It” tries to make it around the circle once and to sit in the chosen player’s spot. If “it” is tagged, they must sit in the center of the circle until someone else is tagged. The chosen player becomes the next It. Resoak the sponge and play again!
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Bicycle Obstacle Course
Your kids will need their bikes for this one. Take a piece of chalk and draw a long line with wavy points and straight lines. Then, play How Slow Can You Go? Kids will take turns going as slow as they can while riding their bike over the line drawn. If they fall or put their foot down, they are “out.” The rider who completes the obstacle course the slowest wins!
There you go! We hope you found some outdoor games for kids that they can play virtually anywhere. Encouraging kids to get some fresh air can be challenging but by suggesting games for them to try, you can make the decision easier for them. Now, kick their butts out of the house and watch them play these enjoyable outdoor games for kids!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 These Outdoor Games for Kids Will Make Summer Even More Fun!
- 1.1 Freeze Dance
- 1.2 Telephone
- 1.3 Animal Tag
- 1.4 Kick the Can
- 1.5 Hide & Seek
- 1.6 Capture the Flag
- 1.7 Four Square
- 1.8 Hopscotch
- 1.9 Sharks & Minnows
- 1.10 Some Opinionated Tag
- 1.11 Mother, May I?
- 1.12 Simon Says
- 1.13 Blind Man’s Bluff
- 1.14 Red Rover
- 1.15 S-P-U-D
- 1.16 Marbles
- 1.17 Shadow Tag
- 1.18 Racing with Cups of Water
- 1.19 Sponge Tag
- 1.20 Frozen Toes
- 1.21 Over/Under Sponge Relay
- 1.22 Water Balloon Long Toss
- 1.23 Water Hose Limbo
- 1.24 Drip, Drip, Splash!
- 1.25 Bicycle Obstacle Course
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