It's officially spring which, for a lot of people, means warmer weather and more time spent outside — finally. If you feel like you've been cooped up with the kids all winter, it's time to get out with some outdoor games to play with the kids that you totally forgot about. Turn off all the screens (yours included), and head outdoors for some good old fashioned family fun. Your kids may whine a little bit at first, but don't worry, these games are so fun, any protesting won't last long. They not only provide you and your family with some great bonding experiences and hours of entertainment, they'll also help you get the family to be more active. And trust me, your kids and your health will thank you for it.
There's no doubt that there are some really special benefits to playing with your kids, for both parents and the kiddos, but these games are extra special because you'll get to pass along some of your childhood favorites. Whether you grew up knowing Four Square as your go-to summer game instead of a check-in app, or you just love to get creative with some relay races, there's a game on this list for every family.
1. Kick The Can
Such a fun game to play during the summer months, especially at night (and really, pretty much every game on this list is better at night). If you have an empty can lying around, take it outside with the kids. The person with the can is "it." Place the can on the ground and kick it. Once the can is kicked, everyone else must run and hide. The person who is "it" must go collect the can, bring it back to "home" and place it on the ground. Close your eyes and begin counting to 50. When you're done counting, begin looking for everyone (think hide-and-go-seek). The hiders' objective is to kick the can without being caught. If they are caught, they are sent to "jail," which is an area within sight of the can. If someone is able to kick the can, they set all the "prisoners" free.
2. Capture The Flag
There are a few ways to play this game, but the object is to capture the other team's flag. Each team hides their flag in their designated territory (or if you're playing strategically with defenders and attackers, you can place the flag in plain sight), and the object is to capture the other team's flag without getting tagged. If you're tagged, you are sent to "jail."
Think dodgeball but less chaotic. Get a bouncy ball and throw it up in the air while everyone runs away as fast as they can. Yell "SPUD" as you catch the ball. When the other players hear you yell "SPUD," they must freeze in their tracks. Take three large steps toward any player and try to get them out by tagging them with the ball. Players may try to dodge your ball by moving any part of their body except their feet. If you hit the player, they earn a letter S, and if you miss, you earn an S, eventually spelling out the word S-P-U-D. If you get S-P-U-D, then you're out of the game. The person who gets tagged with the ball becomes the new thrower.
4. Red Rover
This is another team game so the more players you have, the better. Teams line up with players holding hands side by side. Team One shouts, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send (player's name) over!" The player who gets called must run as fast as they can and try to break the chain. If they succeed, they may rejoin their team and take someone with them. If they do not, they must join the other team. The first team to remain with only one player, loses.
5. Red Light, Green Light
Who doesn't love Red Light, Green Light? If you're not familiar with this game, it's simple and so fun. One person is the "traffic light" and all the other players line up at a distance. The "traffic light" player covers their eyes and turns around and shouts "Red light, green light, 1, 2, 3!" The players who have lined up must move as fast as possible and get to the "traffic light" player before the counter reaches 3 and turns around, without being caught. If a player gets caught moving, they are sent back to the starting line. The first player to reach the "light" wins.
Playing this at nighttime in the parks of New York City (sorry, Mom and Dad) as a teen will always stick out as one of my most fun memories. Manhunt is like hide-and-seek in reverse. One person or a small team of people are the hiders or "fugitives" and must hide from the rest of the group, called the seekers, "cops," or "hunters." As the hiders get found and tagged, they must go back to jail. The last hider that's tagged picks the hiders for the next round.
7. Freeze Tag
A simple game of tag with a twist. Instead of simply getting "out" when tagged, you become frozen in your tracks and cannot move until you are tagged by another "not it" player.
8. Mother May I?
For this game you need at least three players. One person is designated as the "mother" and the rest of the players are the "children." The "mother" stands at a decent distance from the "children," who line up side by side. The first "child" will say, "Mother, may I — " and suggest an action. For example, "Mother, may I take three giant steps forward?" and the "mother" will respond with either "yes, you may" or "no, you may not. But, you can also offer an alternative, for example the one playing the mother can say, "one giant step forward." If a child forgets to say "Mother may I," they must return back to the starting line and start over. The first child to reach "mother" wins and gets to become the "mother."
9. Four Square
All you need is some sidewalk chalk and a bouncy ball. Draw a box on the ground with four smaller squares inside (four corners). Each player sits in a box and bounces the ball into the other players' boxes. If the ball hits on a line or out of bounds, they're out. The last player to remain in their corner wins.
10. Relay Races
If you're not familiar with relay races, not only are they really fun, but they're great exercise for the kids. There are a ton of variations of different races to do, like potato sack races, three-legged races, or a water relay. Another variation of this that I love to do with my son is "animal race." Hop like a frog or run like a cheetah down and back and watch your kiddos get sweaty and have fun doing it.
A classic game perfect for any BBQ, outdoor event, or just a family game night during the summer months.
12. Corn Hole
Another outdoor classic that will keep the family occupied for hours.
Remember hopscotch? This is another fun choice that will get your kids some exercise. Draw a two-column grind on the ground with sidewalk chalk and number each box. Using a rock or stick toss it gently on to the first number and jump into each box without touching the box containing the stick or rock. Repeat for each number.