13 outdoor games to play with kids that you totally forgot about


It’s officially spring, which for many people means warmer weather and more time outdoors — ultimately. If you feel like you’ve been cooped up with the kids all winter, it’s time to get out there with some outdoor games to play with the kids you totally forgot about. Turn off all screens (including yours) and head outside for some old-school family fun. Your kids may complain a bit at first, but don’t worry, these games are so fun that any protest won’t last long. Not only do they provide you and your family with great bonding experiences and hours of entertainment, but they will also help keep the family more active. And believe me, your children 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 kids, but these games are extra special because you’ll be able to pass on some of your childhood favorites. Whether you grew up knowing Four Square as your favorite summer game instead of a check-in app, or you just like to get creative with some relay races, there’s a game on this list for every family.


Tap the can

Such a fun game to play in the summer months, especially at night (and really, just about 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 hit it. Once the can is thrown, everyone has to run and hide. The person who is “it” must fetch the can, bring it “home” and put it on the floor. Close your eyes and start counting to 50. When you’re done counting, start looking for everyone (think hide and seek). The goal of the hiders is to kick the box without getting caught. If caught, they are sent to “jail”, which is an area within sight of the box. If someone is able to kick the box, he frees all the “prisoners”.


capture the flag

There are several ways to play this game, but the goal 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 view), and the goal is to capture the other team’s flag without getting tagged. If you are tagged, you are sent to “jail”.



Think dodgeball but less chaotic. Get a bouncy ball and throw it in the air while everyone runs away as fast as they can. Yell “SPUD” when you catch the ball. When other players hear you shout “SPUD” they should freeze in their tracks. Take three big steps towards any player and try to get them out by touching them with the ball. Players can try to dodge your ball by moving any part of their body except their feet. If you hit the player, he wins a letter S, and if you miss you win a S, ultimately spelling out the word SPUD. If you roll SPUD, you are out of the game. The person receiving the ball becomes the new thrower.


red rover

It’s another team game so the more players you have the better. Teams line up with players holding hands side by side. Team 1 yells, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (player name)!” The player who is called must run as fast as possible and try to break the chain. If they succeed, they can join their team and take someone with them. If they don’t, they must join the other team. The first team to stay with one player loses.


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 much fun. One person is the “traffic light” and all other players line up from a distance. The “traffic light” player covers their eyes and turns around and shouts “Red light, green light, 1, 2, 3!” Players who have lined up must move as fast as possible and get to the “traffic light” player before the counter reaches 3 and turn around, without getting caught. If a player is caught in motion, he is sent back to the starting line. The first player to reach the “light” wins.



Playing this at night in New York City parks (sorry, mom and dad) as a teenager will always be one of my funniest memories. The 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 searchers, “cops” or “hunters”. As the hiders are found and tagged, they must return to prison. The last marked hider chooses the hiders for the next round.


Freeze Tag

A simple tag game with a twist. Instead of just popping out when tagged, you become frozen in your tracks and can’t move until you’re tagged by another “not that” player.


Mother Can I?

For this game you need at least three players. One person is referred to as the “mother” and the other players are the “children”. The “mother” stands 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, can I take three giant steps? and the “mother” will respond with “yes, you can” or “no, you can’t. But, you can also offer an alternative, for example the one playing the mother can say, “one giant step forward” .a child forgets to say “Mother, may I”, he must return to the starting line and start over.The first child who reaches “mother” wins and becomes the “mother”.


four squares

All you need is sidewalk chalk and a bouncy ball. Draw a box on the ground with four small squares inside (four corners). Each player sits in a box and bounces the ball into other players’ boxes. If the ball hits on a line or out of bounds, they are out. The last player standing in their corner wins.


Relay races

If you’re unfamiliar with relay races, not only are they really fun, but they’re also great exercise for kids. There are a ton of different race variations to do, like potato sack races, three-legged races, or a water relay. Another variation of what I like to do with my son is “animal race”. Jump like a frog or run like a cheetah and watch your kids sweat and have fun doing it.



A classic game perfect for any BBQ, outdoor event or just family game night during the summer months.


corn hole

Another outdoor classic that will keep the family busy for hours.



Do you remember hopscotch? It’s another fun choice that will get your kids exercising. Draw a two-column grind on the floor with sidewalk chalk and number each square. Using a rock or stick, gently throw it at the first number and jump into each square without touching the square containing the stick or stone. Repeat for each number.


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