15 great games you can play in the great outdoors
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the kids are … bored? Indoors watching TV? Up to their noses in Minecraft? Get them off their butts and out in the fresh air with these 15 games perfect for the great outdoors (the adults might just find themselves having a load of fun too!).
Sometimes the simplest games are the best and quoits, or as its otherwise known, ‘throw the rings over the stick’ is a prime example. A game that people of all ages can quickly master (or indeed, in some cases, never), each person gets their turn to throw five rings at a stick held in place by a small platform. The person who gets the most on the stick, wins! A great game for all ages – even the littlies that are too tiny to throw will enjoy rounding up the quoits after each throw. Although they may not necessarily give them back …
Anyone who’s watched Alice in Wonderland will know how to play croquet, just substitute mallets for the flamingos. You can pick up a basic set very cheaply and it’s another fun game for people of all ages to have a go at getting their ball through the arches.
The fun doesn’t have to end because the sun’s gone down – this game has to be played in the dark. It’s like Hide and Seek but with a torch, and playing outside just emphasises the spook factor. Kids will love being slightly freaked out in their dark hiding place, although kids younger than seven will probably need adult supervision. And obviously avoid playing near any mine shafts, rose bushes, duck ponds and the like …
4. Water fight
Water bombs, pistols, soakers and the occasional bucket of water – this game is compulsory summer fun for Aussie families. Play it as a structured game with bases, teams and a ‘flag’ (or equivalent) or just go for it, random-style, drenching everyone in sight. Just be mindful of Great Aunt Beryl in her all-white ensemble.
- See here for how to organise a Water fight.
While this can be played indoors, it’s much more fun out in the open air. Guaranteed to supply plenty of laughs and interaction, as everyone has to act out a movie, book or TV show with no words, only actions, hand signals and nods. The more people, the better, as you can split into teams.
See here for how to play Family charades.
6. Backyard balloon volleyball
This twist on an all-time favourite beach volleyball game is fun and easy to play and less likely to end in tears from someone getting a volleyball in the head. Just have spare balloons handy or it may end in tears anyway.
- See here for how to play Backyard balloon volleyball.
7. 40/40 save all
This fun kids’ game requires a tree to be ‘home base’. One child is ‘in’ and counts to 40 while the other kids run and hide. As soon as the person who is ‘in’ spots someone in their hiding place, he runs back to the tree, shouts out the name of the hider and where they are hiding, and that person is now ‘out’. The only way the hiders can save themselves is if they get to the tree first and shout out ’40-40 save all’ – then everyone is safe and the original person remains ‘in’. If all the hiders are found then the first person who was ‘out’ is the next person to be ‘in’. Are you with me? Are you pumped? You should be!
- See here for how to play 40-40.
8. Beach mini golf
A long, lazy day at the beach can take on a whole new dimension with a game of beach mini golf. Just give the kids some spades and buckets and let them build a course worthy of a championship round, before cracking out some plastic golf clubs and balls! Half the fun is in the building of the course, the trickier and bumpier the better.
- See here for how to play Beach mini golf.
An oldie but a goodie. All you need is some chalk to draw up some squares, then let the kids amuse themselves for hours while brushing up on their hopping, jumping and counting skills.
- See here for how to play Hopscotch.
10. Duck, duck goose
Kids love this one and it’s a great way to get them up and running. The kids all sit in a circle and the person who’s ‘it’ walks around the outside of the group (gently) tapping each one on the head and saying, ‘duck, duck, duck … goose!’ The child who is called goose has to get up and try to chase ‘it’ around the circle before they make it back to their spot. You can also have different variations on this game and tailor it to suit your party theme. For example, ‘Catch the monster by the tail’ is the same game but instead the outside person says, ‘monster, monster, monster … ghost!’ Perfect for a spooky party! Or maybe ‘Ana, Ana, Ana … Elsa!’ for the Frozen fiends. You get the drift …
- See here for how to play Duck, duck goose.
11. Backyard cricket
Grab your bats, a whole heap of tennis balls and some wickets (or simply a garbage/wheelie bin) for this traditional summer sporting pursuit that all ages can enjoy. Grandpa can show off his awesome bowling action, while the grandkids whack the ball over the neighbour’s fence (for a score of six, although in some backyard rules it would be “out”). There’ll be run-outs, classic catches and shouts of “Howzat?!”. There hopefully won’t be a broken window. If you’re short on outdoor space, French cricket is another fun version to play.
- See here for how to play Backyard cricket.
12. Stuck in the mud
The perfect game to get kids running around madly (i.e. well exercised and fully worn out), it involves one or more players being ‘in’ and having to chase and tag other players. Once caught, you have to stand still with your legs apart and can only be ‘unstuck’ by another player crawling through your legs. Oh, the pure unadulterated fun of it all!
- See here for how to play Stuck in the mud.
13. Chinese ball
A fun game that also help kids develop their catching and coordination skills, it involved players standing around in a circle and quickly throwing the ball to random players in the circle with the aim of surprising them and making them drop the ball.
- See here for how to play Chinese ball.
14. Red light, green light
A fun game for kids big and small, in which one player plays the ‘stop light’ and the others have to sneak up and try to tag them, it’s always a hit at birthday parties and large gatherings.
- See here for how to play Red light, green light.
15. What’s the time Mr Wolf?
A kids’ classic, it combines the fun of sneaky up on someone, the thrill of the chase, the benefits of helping younger kids with their counting skills and of course the slightly spooky factor of the possibility of being devoured by a wolf. What more could you ask for? (Perhaps a set of earplugs to deafen the squeals when the wolf calls out “Dinnertime!”)
- See here for how to play What’s the time Mr Wolf?
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