Days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. Your kids have been home for over two months and looking for some new things to do. Why not bring back some classic summer fun by showing them the outdoor games you played while growing up? Many can even be played while still social distancing.
Obstacle courses are fun to play with all ages. Gather several miscellaneous items from your garage. We set our course up in our front yard, but you can make a driveway course or a course that circles around your house. In our most recent course, we jumped on one foot, zig-zagged through cones, tossed a Frisbee into a hula hoop, and finally ran a toy dump truck to a line. You can time participants to make it a competition or make it a relay so your kids work as a team.
My dad taught us this game that he played when he was a kid. Find a rock small enough to fit into all players’ hands without being seen when their hands are in fists. Choose a teacher (often the favorite job in our house, so I start in this role to prevent arguments). Find an area with sections, such as the squares on the sidewalk or steps. All players start in the first section. They are in kindergarten. The teacher puts her hands behind her back and moves the rock between them. Clenching the rock in one fist, she then puts both fists in front of the first player. He chooses a hand. If the rock is in the hand chosen, he moves to the next grade. If it isn’t, he stays in the grade he’s in. Then the teacher moves to the next player. Play continues until someone reaches the highest grade. We often like to play until we get to college. Then, the winner is the teacher for the next game.
My kids recently “invented” this game so they could play with their friends while still social distancing. All players ride bikes in an open area and one person is designated as “it.” Everyone rides around and when the “it” person rides within six feet of another player, he or she calls the other player “it.” You could also play variations of this such as freeze tag and TV tag.
Dust off some classic yard games from your garage, or borrow them from the library. The Johnson County Public Library has several yard games available for checkout in their Library of Things—bocce ball, corn hole, croquet, jazz minton, ladder toss, and yard dice. The Greenwood Public library has lawn dominoes and laser tag among other games in their Try It Kits. Check out what’s new at your local library.
Water Balloon Games
Water balloons were a special treat when I was growing up, due to the tedious task of making the balloons one by one. With Bunch-o-balloons, I can give my kids a bundle, a bucket, and they are able to fill them and play for hours. They love the classic water balloon fight. To make the balloons last longer, we like playing balloon toss. We stand toe to toe, and toss one balloon. Then, we each take one step back and toss again, taking a step back each time until the balloon breaks. You can also draw a target with chalk and circles for different point amounts and see who can score the most points. My daughters even just love to play pass with a balloon until it breaks or shoot at the basketball goal while their brother stands under it.
My kids love racing neighbors on opposite sides of the street. You can do running races, bike races, relay races, or silly races like carrying a plastic egg on a spoon. Races can be timed or a judge can determine the winner.
Find a wiffle ball, bat, and makeshift bases to create a classic summer pastime in your backyard. Our teams usually consist of my son versus my two daughters. He has to get them out three times before they go to the field and they only have to get him out once (since he’s older). Ghost runners and throw outs are often used, and when a fielder calls time, the play is over. A fun variation in the summer heat is Hydro T-Ball.
Spud was a favorite when I was growing up. All you need is a soft playground ball. The person who is “it” chooses a category, such as favorite colors. The other players huddle together and tell a spokesperson which color they each choose. All players stand together with the person who is “it.” He or she then holds the ball and shouts one person’s choice while throwing the ball into the air. The person whose choice is called runs to the ball while all other players run away. As soon as he has the ball in his hands, he shouts “freeze!” He then takes four giant steps towards any player spelling s-p-u-d and throws the ball at that player. If the player catches the ball, the thrower is “it.” If he gets hit with the ball, he is now “it.”
Do you remember the Bozo game? Simply line up five buckets vertically in front of you and find five small balls or small objects. Toss the first ball into the first bucket, second ball into the second, etc. If you make them all in, you win.
Want to play golf in your backyard, but don’t have clubs or a course? Find a bucket and a frisbee and make your own frisbee golf course. Make a par for each hole and the lowest score to make it in the bucket wins. After you perfect your backyard game, you can venture out to local parks and try their courses.