The best list of outdoor games for kids so you can enjoy your summer in your own backyard without too much stress!
Are you looking forward to summertime and spending hours of fun in the sun in your own backyard?
As someone who spends 6 months stuck inside with children during the winter season, I try my hardest to get the kids outside as much as possible when the weather is nice.
It’s really important for children to spend time in nature, even if it’s just the backyard. After all, being outdoors is proven to be better for your health and also it happens to lower anxiety levels in children and adults too.
I’m currently very lucky, my children can go outside and play without needing a structured activity, but when those moments come when they just want to sit on the couch and watch TV, I have some backup games that get them off the couch and into the backyard.
If you need some ideas for toddlers specifically, please read Backyard Activities For Toddlers.
Games For The Backyard
One of our favorite backyard games is Wiffle Ball. This game is similar to baseball, with the exception that the ball is considerably lighter and there are no bases. This game, which is played with a wiffle ball, may be played with as little as two people (a pitcher and a batter). You can get wiffle balls on Amazon for $10 or less!
Because a wiffle ball cannot be thrown or hit as far as a baseball, the playing field is divided into three zones, with points granted based on where the ball falls if it is not caught.
The zones function similarly to bases: if the ball arrives in the first zone, the player has reached first base; if it lands beyond the third zone, the player has hit a home run.
Catch The Water Balloons
We’ve all played catch at some point in our lives. Play with various balls, water balloons, or bean bags to spice up this popular game. I like this Bunch O Balloons and I order a few sets every summer.
Toss the ball a short distance and take a step back with each catch before tossing again to see how far you can get before missing.
This game is best played in groups, with the winning team being the one with the most distance between them. When playing with water balloons, whomever gets soaked first loses.
Foam Ball Tag
A fun twist on traditional tag using a soft foam ball instead of hands. The object of the game is to avoid being tagged by the ball thrown by the designated player.
Croquet is a lot of fun and is a great backyard game, especially when you play with a large group. This is a great little set for kids.
Although the game comes from the nineteenth century, it is still a pleasant outdoor activity for both kids and adults. Croquet involves hitting tiny balls through a course of gates or “wickets” using a wooden or plastic mallet. The goal is to be the first to get your ball through all of the wickets.
Hula Hoop Ring Toss
Using hula hoops and golf balls, players take turns trying to toss the balls into the hoops. The player with the most successful tosses wins!
Lawn Games Jenga
A giant version of the classic board game, using lawn games blocks made of wood. The object of the game is to build a tower and remove blocks without causing it to collapse.
Pool Noodle Scavenger Hunt
A nature scavenger hunt using pool noodles as markers. The object of the game is to find as many markers as possible before the time runs out.
Rubber Ball Marco Polo
A fun twist on the classic pool game of Marco Polo, using a rubber ball instead of calling out “Marco”. The object of the game is to find and tag the other players while keeping your eyes closed.
A game that tests a child’s attention to detail and ability to follow directions. The object of the game is to follow the traffic light signals and freeze when the “red light” signal is given.
A game that combines elements of horseshoes and cornhole. The object of the game is to toss the bolas (rope with weights on each end) onto the ladder rungs to score points.
DIY Backyard Games
The best part of this game is the endless possibilities! Using a poster board, markers, and small objects, players can create a list of things to find or a game to play. The possibilities are endless and limited only by imagination!
A fun outdoor game that requires teamwork and hand-eye coordination. The object of the game is to move the ball (or other small objects) around the large circle using the parachute.
Soccer Ball Last Person Standing
A game that combines elements of dodgeball and soccer. The object of the game is to be the last person standing by avoiding being hit by the soccer ball.
This classic outdoor bowling game has been enjoyed by children for thousands of years. You already know how to play if you’ve been to a standard bowling alley — just set up nine pins instead of ten. It’s a great game to play if you’re having an outdoor birthday party.
Pins can be anything from empty milk cartons to tiny cones or 2-liter soda bottles, and they should be arranged in a diamond.
You’ll need a plastic ball that is hefty enough to knock over several pins. For basic rules, assign points each bowl to players. The individual who scores the most points is the winner.
This simple game is great for a big group and is a must-play for any energetic young children in your household. One youngster is “it,” and he or she is in charge of catching the others. Once tagged by “it,” another player must “freeze,” and can only be unfrozen if another player touches them again.
You may change up the game by having numerous “its” or having other players unfreeze a frozen person by going beneath their legs.
Another option to spice up this old game is to play it to music; while the music is playing, everyone can dance and run around, but when it stops, everyone must freeze. The first person to move becomes “it,” and it is then their turn to DJ.
Two pieces of plywood inclined at an angle on opposing ends and eight bean bags are all you need for this game (also known as bean bag throw). You can also purchase a premade set from Amazon for under $30.
The idea is to hurl the bean bags through the holes, which are carved into each piece of plywood towards the higher end.
Cornhole sets are available at most recreation and toy stores; purchase a customizable set and let the kids decorate their platforms for extra outdoor fun.
The game can also be played by kids of various ages thanks to the configurable set; simply reduce the difficulty by reducing the distance between the two platforms or increase the complexity by raising the angle of the platform.
See also: Best Swimming Jokes For Kids
Red Light Green Light
Red Light, Green Light is a classic game that encourages kids to pay attention and respond with careful concentration and controlled motions.
While many kids believe that the quickest child will win, those who are confident of themselves and solid on their feet have the best chance.
This is a fun way to kill some time if you have a larger number of players. I played this game a lot in my own childhood as well as red rover!
If your children enjoy basketball, this is an excellent opportunity for them to improve their shooting skills. Each participant strives to miss the fewest number of baskets in this game played with at least two individuals.
A letter H, O, R, S, or E is given to a player who misses a basket. The game is lost when the player misses five shots (earning all five letters of the word). Kids may make the game more thrilling by attempting to knock the ball out of the way of the other player.
See also: Water Table Activities For Toddlers
Capture The Flag
another easy outdoor game is capture the flag. This is a fun game for kids of all ages (particularly in summer camps!) that will keep them busy and engaged.
It is played in a big garden or field with two teams defending their own flag (or other light item such as a beach ball or even a stuffed animal) from home base.
The goal of the game is to successfully capture the other team’s flag and return it to home base without being tagged. If a player enters the area of the other team, they risk being tagged and being frozen or kicked out of the game.
Here is a really fun glow in the dark capture the flag kit that my kids really loved.
More things You Can Do Outside With Kids In The Summer
Draw With Chalk
There is nothing more simple than grabbing a box of chalk and letting the kids use their imaginations. Sidewalk chalk is a great way to kill some time without having a specific game in mind.
Chalk works well on all different kinds of surfaces. Kids can draw on pavement, brick walls, concrete porches, sidewalks, chalkboards and even paper.
The great thing about chalk is that it washes away after a nice rain, giving them an opportunity to draw all over again! You can always hose the chalk off as well if you’re not expecting rain.
Have a blast playing a classic outdoor game like hopscotch together. You can use masking tape, chalk, or even go all out and paint slabs of concrete to create a hopscotch grid. You can use this Walkie Chalk Standup Sidewalk Chalk Holder to help make the grid easier.
Just in case you can’t remember how to play hopscotch, here are the rules:
- Each player has something to roll (a stone, chalk, shell etc)
- The first player stands behind the starting line and rolls their item
- The first player would then hop on one foot on the one square spaces and two feet on the two square spaces and turn around at the back and hope back to square one. On the way back to square one, the player has to pick up their item without losing balance.
- A player must always hop over any square where the item has been placed.
- A player is out if they hope on a line if they stumble or use the wrong amount of feet on the spaces provided,
Enjoy this youtube video which explains visually the rules of hopscotch.
Run Through Sprinklers
Do you have amazing memories of yourself as a child running through cold water sprinklers on the hottest summer days? Do the same for your little one! This is a fairly low maintenance activity. Just make sure to sunscreen up and wear proper headwear to avoid sunburns.
You can either go buy a fancy sprinkler or use a simple hose for this kind of water play. There is no right or wrong way to play with water in the backyard.
Studies say that jumping can make you smarter. Who knew?!
Well someone knew, and they did some research. Get your kids off the couch and teach them awesome jump rope games!
Teach your kids basic jumping skills and get those heart rates up for the ultimate exercise and fun all in one. Make sure to teach them about games they can play together and alone. Jumping rope isn’t just for kids either, mom, you can join in on the fun too!
So go on, grab a jump rope and get active.
You don’t have to go far for a family camp out. Set everything up right in your backyard.
Get a campfire going, set up the tent and pretend the house is not right there. If you have little kids, this is a great opportunity to introduce them to the camping lifestyle, and the fact that home is so close can bring the little ones comfort in a new situation.
Sing songs around the campfire, tell scary stories and teach kids some important survival skills while having a blast and creating amazing family memories!
Play In Sandbox
Nothing says hours of fun than a sandbox filled with sand and awesome toys!
You can even get super creative and make your own sandbox.
Stimulate the senses by letting your children play freely in the sand. Let their little toes sink into it and watch them get really dirty and have lots of fun. Let them engage in sensory and imaginative play with a few sandbox toys.
Whether you decide to have a sandbox on the ground or a sand table for this sensory play activity, they will be sure to have loads of fun for hours on end.
Kick A Ball
Good old fashion ball kicking should never be ruled out as a backyard activity. Heck, why just balls? Throw frisbees and baseballs too!
Throwing and kicking balls engages kids in active play and creates lots of laughter too. Think of the memories you’ll create if you play along with them!
It is never too early to start teaching kids how to properly kick a ball…I mean have you seen the kids on youtube these days?!
Even though water play seems like a basic and wild activity, it actually teaches kids balance and improves their strength. Not to mention helps them with their aim and coordination. While you think you’re just letting them play wild without learning, you actually ARE helping them strengthen core skills that they will use later in life.
Nothing like learning through play while having the best summer ever.
Fly kites right in your own backyard.
Have hours of fun running around with kites and letting them take off high into the sky.
You can even make your own kites for extra fun!
A simple activity like flying kites is very exciting for children and think of all the exercise they are getting with all that running around. Talk about a healthy kid.
Blowing bubbles is a super fun backyard activity.
You can use traditional bubbles with bottles from the shop or you can make your own super giant bubbles.
Play around with different materials in your home and see what kinds of bubbles these things can create.
Did you know that bubbles are also really good for physical development in children? They better their visual tracking skills, improve gross motor development, hand-eye and foot coordination and body awareness too.
I’m a sucker for activities that are skill building and super fun. Learning through play is the best kind of learning.
Create A Slip N’ Slide
Have fun in the hot hot days with a lawn slip and slide.
Develop kids motor skills while they play on these slip and slides too! Make sure to continue to reapply sunscreen when playing in the water to practice sun safety.
Play On Tire Swing
Take your modern kids back to the olden days where tire swings were all summer was about.
You can create your own tire swings, especially if you have a nice big tree in your yard to utilize!
If you don’t have a tree, not to worry, you can always utilize a fun playset and get it shipped right to your door from Amazon too. Whatever your preference is, having a place to swing is a great addition to childhood memories.
Play With Remote Control Cars
Do you have hills and bumps in your backyard? Get some wicked remote control cars and have hours of fun “off-roading” in your own backyard.
There really is unlimited fun when it comes to remote control cars in the backyard. The only thing that stops the playtime is the running out of power on the remote controls, so be sure to do your homework and get one with extra battery juice for extra fun.
Smores have always been a favorite summer treat.
You don’t have to go camping to enjoy smores, you can have them right in your own backyard.
Stuff your mouth full of gooey marshmallows and warm chocolate wedged between 2 pieces of gram cracker cookies.
These traditions may seem crazy, but to kids, they are awfully exciting. Enjoy summer smores this year and create amazing memories.
Benefits Of Playing Outside
Fresh air is not a thing of the past, even though sometimes it feels like it might be with all the available tools to help us feel comfortable and entertained indoors, but it really is rather important for mental and physical health for children to play outside. These fun backyard games can help get your kids playing outside.
Playing outdoors builds healthier children physically because they can run wild, jump high, catch and throw balls and lift toys and rocks without any limits. I don’t want these things happening inside the home, so outside the home, it’s all fair game.
Spending time with nature naturally improves moods and gives a natural feeling of happiness. This is true for kids and adults as well. So play a great game with the whole family or do some fun activities and unstructured play with a small group of kids.