Getting outdoors and enjoying a series of energetic games is the perfect way for children to spend their afternoon. Whether it’s alone, with a few siblings or with an entire group of friends, playing outside is a great way to engage kids. Check out this list of outdoor games if you’re looking for new ideas. Whether you’re prepping for the approaching worldwide day of play or are simply exploring a list of options to help keep your kids active, here’s a list of 25 outdoor games and activities that are guaranteed to create memories and fun.
1. Collect Leaves
As the seasons begin to transition, it’s fun to admire the changes in nature, too. Invite kids to collect a variety of leaves in different shapes and colors. Try identifying what kinds of leaves they are and then use them to create some amazing fall leaf art.
2. Enjoy a Game of Bean Bag Toss
Bean bag toss is a simple yet favorite game for kids of all ages. The setup for this game is simple to make and DIY-friendly — which means you can also get the kids involved in the production of the game.
3. Identify Clouds
Have you ever looked up on a summer afternoon and spotted a cloud that seriously looked like a dragon? How about a rabbit or an elephant? While cloud spotting uses more of your creative muscles rather than your actual muscles, it’s still a fun outdoor activity. Break out a few comfy towels, lay under the sky and see how many unique cloud formations you can spot. To take it a step further, try identifying the different types of clouds.
4. Camp Under the Stars
Taking in a view of the sky is the perfect way to have fun while learning a bit more about the moon, stars, constellations and planets. Make a few maps or handouts to turn it into an educational event.
5. Have a Nature Scavenger Hunt
Exploring nature is the perfect way for kids to learn more about the natural world while remaining active and healthy. Create a scavenger hunt with various items to see and find. Offer a reward for the person who completes the scavenger hunt or who crosses off the most things to get everyone invested and excited.
6. Hit Balloons Badminton-Style
While badminton is a fun game in and of itself, switching the traditional birdie out for a lightweight balloon adds an extra thrill to this outdoor-friendly game. Set up a net and inflate a handful of balloons — the kids will take care of the rest.
7. Play Hide-And-Seek
If you’re looking for a list of outdoor games to keep children active, you can’t overlook the traditional game of hide-and-seek. When playing in a public space or an unfamiliar outdoor area, be sure to educate kids about the importance of outdoor safety so that everyone can have fun and be safe, too.
8. Throw Frisbees in a Game of Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe may be a fun game to break out on a rainy day, but it’s also perfect for an outdoor event. Swap the traditional board game for your lawn. Drawn the outline with chalk or paint in the grass and let the kids toss their frisbee to mark their space.
9. Have a Sack Race
Put those old burlap potato sacks to use with an exciting sack race. If you don’t have any, try using old pillowcases. This is the perfect game for large outdoor parties or events for kids to engage in with their friends.
10. Break out a Game of Musical Chairs
Kids will love playing a game of musical chairs in the great outdoors. This favorite game simply requires a handful of fold-out chairs, a few musical tunes and a set of eager kids. Swap out chairs for hay bales, stools or sleeping bags to add a spin to this traditional game.
11. Play Dodgeball
A game of dodgeball will instill a sense of team effort in kids while getting their heart racing in a fun and healthy way. Invest in a few lightweight balls — that’s all you need!
12. Enjoy a Round of Kickball
Kickball involves a bunch of running, laughing and teamwork — what’s not to love? Consider playing on grass to make it slower-paced and more child-friendly.
13. Play Capture the Flag
Capture the flag is a game that will have your entire team laughing and running. The rules of this game focus on trying to retrieve the opposing team’s flag.
14. Hike as a Group
Kids love the outdoors, and hiking is a great way to explore it. Not only is it guaranteed to help them expel their energy in a productive manner, but a quick walk through nature can help boost their immune system, too. Have different leaders throughout your hike to turn this outdoor event into a game.
15. Try Playing Twister on the Lawn
What would a list of outdoor games be without mentioning a good ol’ fashioned game of Twister — lawn-style. Break out a fold-out Twister mat or make your own with outdoor paint.
16. Play Hopscotch
Hopscotch is known as a favorite schoolyard game that’s perfect for any outdoor event. Simply use chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground and follow the game’s traditional rules or make up your own along the way.
17. Have a Round of Tug of War
Separate a group of children into two teams and let them tug on a rope from the side opposite of their opponent. Put a kiddie pool full of water, balloons or something else in the middle of the two to up the ante — and see which team gets pulled into it first.
18. Jump Rope
Jump rope is the perfect outdoor activity because it can be done solo or as a group. Plus, it boasts a myriad of health benefits, too. Add a round of double-dutch to the mix to change up the traditional game of jump rope when desired.
19. Play Kick the Can
This game is a crazy combination of tag, capture the flag and hide-and-seek — and you just need an empty can. Place your can in an open space. One person, or team if you have a lot of kids, is “It,” and they count down while the other children hide. “It” must find and tag the other kids before they can kick the can.
If a person is tagged, they must head to “jail.” But if someone is able to kick the can without being tagged, everyone in jail is free, and “It” must start over!
20. Go Wild With Freeze Tag
Tag, you’re it. Whoever is “It” gets to tag and “freeze” as many of the other children as possible — but other runners get to touch and “unfreeze” these players. The game continues until all children are frozen and a winner is crowned.
21. Play With a Dog
Playing with a family dog outside is a great way to keep both kids and dogs active. In a safely-secured outdoor space, invite kids to play a game of fetch with your pet. They may find it stimulating to teach them a few easy tricks, too.
22. Skip Rocks in a Lake
Skipping rocks is a fun way to engage with nature while enjoying the great outdoors. Gather up a bucket of rocks and find a body of calm water and skip away!
23. Play a Game of Simon Says
Simon says it’s time to take the fun outdoors. Make a list of outdoor-friendly commands, such as “Simon says run across the field two times,” to add even more fun to this enjoyable game.
24. Create a Squirt Gun Painting
We’re betting you have a few squirt guns laying around in the basement that are just waiting for the next fun event. Try loading up your squirts guns with paint. Then give each child a canvas, and have them squirt the paint on it. They’ll have tons of fun and come away with a unique art project, too.
25. Capture Fireflies
Chasing fireflies is nostalgic for adults of all ages. So, why not let today’s generation find a sense of appreciation for these glowing insects, too? Supply nets to help kids capture fireflies with ease. If you don’t have fireflies where you live, try making your own.
The number of games children can play and enjoy outdoors is virtually endless. A little bit of creativity, a few props and a team of eager participants can go a long way. Happy playing!