Mar 22

Best Outdoor Games for Kids

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Here are some of the best outdoor games for kids that are simple, require little or no equipment or set-up, and are loads of fun. Playing games outdoors is a great way for children to have fun with their friends and to gets lots of exercise at the same time.  Enjoy.

On the Importance of Play

Play is very important for the social, emotional, physical, and creative development of children.  Outdoor play, in particular, is especially beneficial.

Outdoor Play is Important for Children

Outdoor Play is Important for Children

The decline in outdoor play, however, has been both continuous and great.  Busy family schedules and busy schedules for children themselves have come at the cost of less outdoor play.  Combine that with the proliferation of on-line activities, TV watching, and an increased general perception by parents that the world is a more dangerous place, and it comes as no surprise that outdoor play is becoming somewhat of a lost art for many.

This trend has been linked to growing rates of obesity as well as increased levels of depression, anxiety, and narcissism.  Let your children go outside and play (and play with them outside too).

Fun Outdoor Games that are Easy to Play (and which require little or no equipment)

1.  Manhunt

Materials needed: a large playing area with good some good hiding spots

Yes, girls can and do enjoy playing this game as well as boys.  It is a sort of hybrid between tag and Hide and Go Seek.  One person is ‘it’.  He or she counts down out load while the other players run away and scatter around the play area.  He or she then runs around and tries to tag the other players.  Once another player is tagged, they too become an ‘it’, so you have a growing number of ‘its’ as the game progresses.  The last remaining player who has not been tagged is the winner.

2. Duck, Duck, Goose

Materials needed: fast shoes

In this game, players form a circle and join hands.  The player who is ‘it’ walks around the outside perimeter of the circle and taps each of the players on their shoulder and says ‘duck’.  The player who is it will suddenly call out ‘goose’ after tapping one player on the shoulder.  Both players then race in opposite directions around the circle and try to be the first person back to the empty place in the circle.  Whoever does not get back to fill the space first is the new “it”.

3. Kick the Can

Materials needed: a soda can and relatively large playing area with some good hiding spots

Players pick an area with some good hiding spots and decide who it ‘it”.  The play who is ‘it’ places a soda can in the middle of the play area, covers their eyes, and counts down while the other players go and hide.

‘It’ then looks for the other players who are hiding.  When “it’ finds someone he/she calls their name and they both race back to the soda can as fast as they can.  If ‘it’ gets there first, the other player gets ‘captured’ and must stand right near the soda can.   If the other player gets there before ‘it’ does, he/she kicks the can as hard as they can and the other captured players are released.   ‘It’ must then retrieve the can, place it back in the middle of the playing area, and continue until all of the other players have been captured.

You can also play this game with more than one ‘it’ playing at the same time.  This speeds up the game a bit and is not quite a tiring for the ‘its’.

4. Fox and Geese

Materials needed: some lines

This game can be played year round.  The only thing you need is a shape outline.  In the winter you can make your own shape outline in the snow (traditionally a spoked wheel in the pioneer days).  During other seasons you can use a Four Square or any outdoor playing court outline.

The players then choose one person to be the fox.  The fox tries to tag the other players, who are the geese.  All of the players must stay on the lines of the wheel, Four Square outline, or any other type of outline that is being used. Whoever is tagged then becomes the new fox and has to chase the geese.

5. Shadow Tag

Materials needed: the sun and a shadow

This is a version of tag that is best played on bright, sunny days.  One person is chosen to be ‘it’.  ‘It’ then tries to run around and step one someone else’s shadow.  Players can hide in a spot that does not cast their shadow (behind a tree, for example), but only for ten seconds before they must come out into the sun.  A player become the new ‘it’ after their shadow is stepped on.

6. Chain Tag

Materials needed: none

Here is another variation of tag.  In Chain Tag, you start with two ‘its’ who link arms together to form a ‘chain’. They run around with their arms linked and try to tag other players.  Once other players are tagged, they join the chain by linking arms with the other chain members.  The chain continue to grow until all players have been incorporated into the chain.

7. Blind Man’s Bluff

Materials needed: something to blindfold someone (or they can just close their eyes

The child who is ‘it’ is blindfolded and the other children stand in a circle around him or her.  The blindfolded child is spun around a few times and then they try to tag another child around the circle.  Once another child is tagged, they get blindfolded and become the new ‘it’.

8. Red Light, Green Light

Materials needed: none

One player takes on the role of the “stoplight”.  The stop light stands alone at one end of the playing area.  The rest of the players line up at the other end of the playing area (the playing area should about 20 – 30 feet long).

The “stoplight” stands with their back to the others and calls out “green light”.  Nest, the “stoplight” calls out “red light” and quickly turns around.  If any player is caught moving, they must go back to the starting line and start again.

This process continues until one player tags the “stoplight”.  This player gets to be the “stoplight” in the next game.


Kids need to play games (group games that require running around with friends – not video games).  It is crucial to their social, emotional, physical, and creative development.  Playing games outdoors is also loads of fun and a great way to spend time with your friends.  As a bonus, there are many great outdoor games that require little or no set-up or equipment.

PS  These games are also great fun for adults and for adults to play with children.

PPS  I have also written some posts about the best toys for babies, toddlers, and kids.

What are your favourite outdoor games for kids?  What were your favourites as a child?  Are there any outdoor games that you did not like as a child?  Please share your ideas with our community below.  

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Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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