March 22, 2017
Nature give us a wonderful playroom filled with beauty, adventures and discoveries for kids of all ages. As we step into spring, we step into a wonderful world of possibilities, I want to help you take full advantage of the great outdoors through creative games and activities. We all have different outdoor opportunities available to us. Some of you may have a fenced in back yard, while others live in the city, while others live with wide open space for miles (and the rest of us are jealous of you). You may even have a park somewhere in the vicinity that you can either walk to or take a short drive.
Consider the outdoor opportunities that are available to you and apply these game and activities to your situation. Many of the ideas you will find here will work well when you have a number of kids on your hands, so if the neighborhood kids show up at your house or if the cousins come over for a visit you will have creative fun on hand. Most importantly we can rejoice in God’s wonderful creation and thank Him for providing the perfect playground.
Terrific Tag Games. The thrill of the chase and the excitement and strategy of outrunning the person who is “it” makes tag games a thrill for kids of all ages. In a typical tag game, one person is designated as “it” and chases the others trying to tag them. If a player is tagged they become the new “it.” You can also play elimination tag, in which the tagged person is out of the game. The last person left without being tagged becomes the new it. You can choose “it” by drawing names out of a hat or by choosing a number between 1 – 30. The closest one is “it.” You can also draw straws (the short one is it) or you can pick candies (the one who gets the red one is “it”). Here are some variations to the typical tag game.
- Shadow Tag – Instead of tapping the runners, the person who is “it” simply steps in the persons shadow. For the best shadows play late afternoon.
- Freeze Tag – Tagged people stand like frozen statues when they are tagged. Other runners can tag them and unfreeze them.
- Chain Tag – Best with a large group, the first person tagged joins hands with “it” and they both begin to chase others. Each person tagged joins the chain. Only the two players on the outside of the chain can tag. Keep going until everyone is a part of the chain. The last one is the new “it.”
- Airplane Tag – Everyone on the ground is fair game to be tagged by “it.” The players are safe if they are above ground (like sitting on a swing, stepping on the ladder of a slide, or standing on steps).
- Hat Tag – You will need an old hat for this one. The person who is “it” must tag the person wearing the hat. The person being chased may toss the hat to another person, if “it” gets too close. If the person with the hat is tagged then they become the new “it.”
Fun and Easy Ball Games. If you have kids in your home it is a good idea to have a good supply of balls as well. Here are a variety of games to consider.
- Circle Ball – Circle up (or if you have enough create two circles) and pass the ball around the circle. Start with tossing it to the player on the right. Once the ball has gone around once you can vary the way you pass it: bounce it once, pass between the legs or behind the back. If you have two circles they can compete to see who gets the ball around the circle the fastest. Ages 3 – 8
- Soccer Circle Ball – Circle up again only this time the ball is on the ground and players kick it back and forth, keeping it within the circle. The game can be light and simple for young ones, but can be challenging for older kids as the pace picks up. Ages 4 – 10
- Racket-less Tennis – You will need a tennis ball and some chalk for this game. No net is needed, just a flat surface either on a driveway, playground or wide sidewalk. Use the chalk to draw a rectangle about 12 feet long and 6 feet wide. Draw a line down the middle which serves as the net. The first person serves the ball by simply bouncing it once and hitting it with the palm of his hand. The ball must land in the opponent’s court. The ball is volleyed back and forth until one of the players misses the ball, or doesn’t get it across the line, or hits it out of bounds. Players only score when they are the servers. Play to 11 points, but the winner must win by two points so if the score is 10 – 11 then play continues until someone has a 2 point lead. Ages 7 – 15.
Races and Relays. Your most important job in hosting a race is determining the course. Where are the start and finish lines, and is it a clear safe path? Choose teams randomly (don’t ever have kids or captains pick their teams, as feelings always get hurt). I believe it works best to draw colors (colored strips of paper or material) out of a bag to form teams. You can even divide by hair color, eye color, birthdays, or alphabetically. Then even up the teams before you begin.
- Back to Back Race – Set up two goal posts or chairs about 25 feet from your starting line. You will need about ten feet between the two teams. The players on each team stand back to back, linking elbows and running in this position (sideways). Each couplet runs to their goal post, circles it and then returns to tag the next couplet on their team. Team to finish first is the winning team.
- Bunny Hop Relay – Mark two lines on the ground at least 15 feet from each other for the start and turn-around lines. Divide kids into two teams, lined up single file behind the starting line. At the word “GO” the first player on each team hops like a bunny to the turn around line and continues back to the starting line. After she crosses the finish line, the next player in line goes. The first team with all of it’s bunnies down and back is the winner. Ages 3 – 8. This race can be varied for older kids to be a Kangaroo hop. A little different type of hop is required. This time the kangaroos stand with both feet together and keep both feet together as they land and add a little more spring to their stride. With this rely the turn-around line should be about 30 feet from the start. Ages 8 – 12.
- Sack Races – You will need either a burlap sack or pillowcase of each player (or you could make it a relay and provide one for each team). Play only on the grass or soft surface such as sand at the beach. There will be loads of laughter and fun as players try to hop across the finish line in their sacks with a few stumbles along the way. Mark the start and finish line with a stick or rope making the course around 30 feet. You may want to run this race several times and watch the kids get better and better. Ages 7 – 12.
- Tunnel Ball – Begin by marking a start and finish line about 30 feet apart. This is best played on a large flat surface and you will need one ball for each team. Players for both teams line up in single file lines behind the starting line and spread their legs out. On the word “Go” the player at the front of each line rolls the ball through the tunnel of legs on his team. Players are free to help the ball stay in the tunnel. As the last person receives the ball, she runs to the front of the line with the ball and sends it down the tunnel again. Slowly each line will progress forward. The first team to make it entirely across the finish line wins. Ages 6 – 12.
Just Plain Fun Games. There are some outdoor games that are simple and fun. You will find that most ages enjoy the following.
- 1. The King’s Treasure – Draw a large circle with chalk (or you can use shoes to form a circle in the grass). Kids circle up with one person in the center. You will need a bag of coins, bean bag or something that is easy to grab to serve as the king’s treasure. The king in the middle stands over the treasure to guard it. Everyone on the circle slowly tries to sneak up and grab the treasure without being tagged. They are safe if they are back outside the circle. If they are tagged, they must sit on the outer circle. The first one to get the treasure is the next king. (ages 5 – 13)
- Obstacle course – An obstacle course can be set up in a number of different creative ways in your own yard. You will need to make sure it is age appropriate and safe. Some of my favorite items to use for an obstacle course are a box, a jump rope, a chair, a ball and a basket. For starters consider having the kids crawl through the box, then they must jump three times with the rope, sit on the chair, and toss the ball in the basket. You can make a simple course for young ones and a more difficult and longer course for the older kids. Items to add the obstacle course include: a hula hoop, plastic slides, mini exercise tramp, sprinklers (if it is hot), and fabric tunnel. Ages 3 and up.
- Sheep and Wolf – This is a variation of the familiar Hide and Seek game only the hiders and seekers end up changing roles. You will need to choose one person to be the Wolf while all the rest are sheep. Determine a central home base (a tree stump, fountain, porch step). Remember safety is the first rule of business so make sure you establish boundaries and places that are off limits. At first the wolf hides while all the sheep close their eyes until the wolf lets out a howl. The sheep all begin to search for the wolf. When a player spots the wolf he yells, “I see a wolf!” The wolf then chases the sheep trying to tag them before the sheep reaches home base. It a sheep is caught, he or she becomes the next wolf. If everyone makes it to home base safely, then the wolf continues for another round. Ages 5 – 12.
- Red Light Green Light – One person stands about 20 or 30 feet away from the starting line with their back turned to the group. The person then shouts “Green Light!” which is the signal for everyone to begin moving forward. When he says “Red Light” everyone is supposed to freeze in position. The person who is “it” turns around immediately to catch anyone who is still moving. If he sees any movement he calls those people by name and sends them back to the starting line. The person who is able to tap it first without being detected wins and gets to be the next “it.” Ages 5 – 10.
- Follow the Leader – Choose one leader who will direct the rest of the group with their words and example. Walk like a monkey to the mail box, act like you are swimming across the yard, hop on one foot to the tree, are a few possibilities. As the adult, you may want to be the first leader. Keep the kid’s ages and abilities in mind, and remember to maintain safety at all times. Ages 5 and up.
We will add some more fun adventures for you next week. These ideas can be found in Karol’s book: A Positive Plan for Creating More Fun, Less Whining.