In this article I’m going to share more than 40 awesome ideas for outdoor games.
Playing outdoor games can be a great way to spend quality time together as a family and strengthen family relationships. Include outdoor games at your next family reunion or family gathering!
Playing outdoor games is also a great option for activities for school groups, church groups, neighborhood gatherings, and more! And you don’t have to spend much money to do it! Enjoy hours of fun with your family, friends, and neighbors with these fun and frugal ideas for outdoor games!
Tip: Pin this awesome list of outdoor games so that you can refer to it later!
43 Fun and Cheap Ideas for Outdoor Games
One of the best ways to pass the time during the warmer months is to play outdoor games! And outdoor games are an excellent activity for gatherings big and small!
One of the best things about the summer (maybe the best thing about it?) is the many things you can do outside during this most wonderful of seasons. By planning fun outdoor games, you can spend quality time with your family members or friends. Check out this list of more than 40 fun outdoor games!
1. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are a fun and active way to keep your kids entertained potentially for hours. You can find lots of fun ideas for scavenger hunts on Pinterest or by Googling.
You could have a small scavenger hunt around your own home or yard, or you could expand it to your neighborhood(s) or even downtown or other central part of your city.
2. Candy Hunt
This activity is inspired by my kids’ love of Easter egg hunts, long after Easter is over. 😊 If you have Easter eggs, use those. If you don’t, you can just hide the candy around the yard or around the park, or put the candies in little zip-top bags and hide those around the house or yard.
We love having Hawaiian luau dinners during the warmer months, but we’ve also enjoyed them inside during the winter. And doing the limbo is always part of the fun. We’ve also done traditional limbo (and variations of limbo) at family reunions.
For limbo, you could buy a dowel or other stick from the hardware store that would work, but we’ve also used the stick off of a large push broom before, and we’ve used a broom before.
Another fun outdoor game is badminton. In this classic outdoor game, two to four players (most commonly, though more players can participate) use racquets to hit the shuttlecock over the net and try to get it to hit the ground before the players on the other team can hit it back over the net.
Croquet is another fun outdoor game. In this game two to six players hit largish round, colorful balls through a course set up with metal hoops. The team or person that completes the course first wins.
6. Ring Toss
This simple but fun game involves children or those of any age throwing rings to see who can ring the most pegs or the pegs worth the most points.
7. Bean Bag Toss or Ball Toss
This game is easy and fun for children and others. Simply buy (or make) bean bags, and then toss them into bowls, hats, holes in a wood board, or something similar from a designated distance away (young children generally stand closer than older children or adults). The person who gets the most bean bags into the bowls, holes, and so on worth the most points wins.
8. Bucket Relay
Outdoor games are the perfect time to take advantage of fun summertime activities like bucket relays. In this water game players sit or stand in a row, and then water is passed with sponges, cups, or similar items from the bucket at the beginning of the line to the bucket at the other end of the line. The team who fills up their bucket first wins.
9. Water Balloon Toss
In another fun water game, two players toss filled water balloons between them to see how far apart they can get without dropping or popping the balloon.
10. Water Balloon Catapult
This is another fun outdoor game, popular at family reunions and other larger gatherings. In water balloon catapult, three people use slingshots (two people hold the ends of the slingshot and one person pulls back and releases the slingshot) to launch balloons across a field, while the other players (often in teams of two) use towels to try and catch as many water balloons as possible. If you choose to, you can have a winning team—the one that catches the most water balloons.
11. Water Balloon Volleyball
In this fun twist on a traditional sport, teams throw water balloons over the volleyball net and work to catch them with their towels, rather than using a volleyball.
12. Run through the Sprinklers
Kids love running through sprinklers! You could make it a friendly race if you want, or simply let the kids run around to their hearts’ content to keep cool on a warm day.
13. Slip ’n’ Slide
You can buy a slip ’n’ slide, but you can also make them yourself for cheap (under $50)! You can make a slip ’n’ slide by using heavy duty plastic sheeting. Then use a hose or sprinklers to keep the slide wet. (Adding liquid soap or shampoo helps the slide to be slick.) Landscape pins or tent stakes can help to keep the sheeting in place.
14. Beach Ball Volleyball
This is a simple alternative to regular volleyball, to make it easier for young children and more festive for a summer or pool party. In place of a regular volleyball, use a bright, colorful beach ball instead to hit back and forth over the volleyball (or even badminton) net.
15. Giant Bubbles
Kids love bubbles. And giant bubbles are even better! You can make giant bubble wands using basic wooden dowels purchased from your local hardware store or Amazon with cotton rope. Simply drill holes in the dowels and secure the ropes. Then make bubble solution with dish soap, corn starch, glycerin, and water. You can find instructions for making the giant bubbles and the bubble wands here.
16. Sidewalk Art
Let your little buddiing Michelangelos go to town by purchasing sidewalk chalk and having an art competition. Or keep things low key by simply letting everyone draw their favorite pictures on the sidewalk or driveway (no competition required).
17. Digging for Fossils
Take advantage of children’s desire to play and dig in the dirt by letting them dig for “fossils” in the sand with this outdoor game. You can do this activity at the park or in your own sandbox. Burying actual dinosaurs or dinosaur skeletons is fun, but you can also bury other small figurines or toys. The kids will have fun, no matter what they are digging for.
18. Jump Ropes
Play a game of jump rope by letting teams of two children each maneuver the ropes while one or more children jump them. This game does require more coordination, so it is better for older kids. If you have some real jump rope enthusiasts, play double dutch, where one or two children have to jump between two ropes going opposite directions instead of just jumping one.
Tug-o-war is one of the most popular outdoor games for larger group parties or family reunions. For best results, use a long, very thick rope (so that it won’t break). You can make the game as structured as you want, such as designating the exact number of team members on each side and specific age ranges. Or just let it be a free-for-all.
For this game, draw a hopscotch diagram on your sidewalk or driveway. Then throw a beanbag, small rock, twig, or other marker into the first square. Hop on one foot through all of the single squares except for the first one with the marker. When you get to the double squares, jump with both feet. When you get to square 10, turn around, and hop back, following the same rules as on the way up. Pick up your marker when you reach the marked square. Everyone takes turns doing the course with the marker on each number (square) until the first person completes the course for 10 successfully. If you fall, jump outside of the lines, miss a square, or don’t pick up the marker, you lose your turn and have to do that number over. You can find the diagram to draw and more hopscotch rules here.
21. Outdoor Bowling
Backyard or outdoor bowling is a fun twist on the traditional game. You can use kickballs or similar balls, and you can fill large water bottles, soda bottles, or other similar bottles with water for the pins. For even more variety, use a glow in the dark ball and put glowsticks in the water bottles to play glow in the dark bowling!
22. Outdoor Crafts
Outdoor crafts are another fun option. Ideas for fun outdoor craft activities include painting rocks, doing leaf art, pressing flowers, making bead necklaces or bracelets, making DIY fossils or nature sculptures, creating colorful stick wind chimes, making painted aluminum can wind chimes, painting with DIY spray chalk, making painted walking sticks, making simple picture frames, and making homemade kites. So that crafters don’t get burned, put the craft table or tables under a canopy or other shaded structure.
23. Simon Says
In this simple game for younger children, players have to follow what the leader says—but only if the person begins with “Simon Says.” If the leader does not say “Simon Says” and players still do the action, they have to sit out until the next round.
24. Duck, Duck, Goose
In this much-loved children’s game, the children sit in a circle. One person is it, and he or she must walk around the outside of the circle, tapping each person on the head. The person taps each head and says “Duck” until he or she gets to the person they want to be the goose. Then they say “Goose” and start running. The person who is tagged as the goose must get up and chase after the other person who had been it. The person who was originally it tries to sit in the place of the goose before getting tagged. If successful, the goose is then it, and he or she then walks around the circle saying “duck, duck, duck, duck” until getting to the person they want to choose as the goose.
25. Red Rover
Play this classic outdoor game to help kids burn off some energy! Children are divided into two and take turns sending one player at a time across to the other team’s defense line (where children all hold hands in a line) to try to break through.
26. Capture the Flag
In another fun children’s outdoor game, opposing teams try to capture each other’s flags (often a so,[;e piece of fabric) from enemy territory, while not getting tagged themselves. Tagged players go to jail, where they remain until a teammate touches them to free them.
27. Kick the Can
In this game, a can (or similar object, such as a plastic bottle) is put in an open area. Then the person who is it closes their eyes and counts to 30 (or whatever number players decide on). In the meantime, the other players run and hide. The person who is it then tries to find and tag each of the other players, while always keeping an eye on the can. If a person is tagged, they go to jail. The other players then try to kick the can (without being tagged themselves) in order to set the people in jail free.
28. Marco Polo
Often played in water (since that may be safer 😊), in this game the person who is it closes their eyes and calls out “Marco.” Each time the person calls out “Marco,” the other players call “Polo.” The person who is it listens carefully, trying to touch one of the people saying “Polo.” Once the person who is it tags another, then that person becomes the person who is it.
29. Ring around the Rosie
Ring around the Rosie is a game for younger children where all of the players hold hands and walk in a circle singing “Ring around the Rosie, pockets full of Posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.” When they say “down,” all of the players fall to the ground. The roots of the game are actually kind of morbid, but young kids just love this game.
In kickball, players run around a baseball field, trying to get “home,” as in baseball. The person whose turn it is tries to kick the ball as far as possible so that players on the bases can run as far as possible. If the ball is caught right after being kicked into the air, the kicker is out, like in baseball. Also as in baseball, if the person in the outfield reaches the base with the kickball before the runner does, the runner is out.
There is some variation in the rules of dodgeball. In one common version of the game, the players are divided into two teams, and there is a line in the center of the court or field that divides it in half. Four or six balls are used to get players “out” of the game. Players get out if they get hit by a ball thrown by an opponent, if they step on or over the center line or a sideline, or a ball they throw is caught by an opponent. You can find more detailed dodgeball instructions here.
Softball is very similar to baseball, but the ball is bigger and not quite so hard. The pitcher is also generally closer to the person at bat in softball than in baseball. The bases are also generally closer together in softball than in baseball.
In the simplest form of frisbee, players simply throw the Frisbee to other players, who try and catch it.
34. Ultimate Frisbee (Frisbee Football)
In ultimate frisbee, teams line up against each other during each player, similar to how they do in football, and the team with the frisbee throws it to other players in the direction of their goal. When the frisbee is thrown to someone who is past the goal line and that person catches the frisbee, the team scores a point. If the frisbee is dropped or a player on the other team intercepts the frisbee or the frisbee is thrown out of bounds, it is the other team’s turn to play, and they move in the other direction toward their own goal. Players cannot run with the frisbee; it has to be moved by throwing and catching it.
35. Frisbee Golf
In frisbee golf, the rules are similar to traditional golf, except that instead of putting a golf ball, players throw a frisbee from one goal point to another. Some parks have actual frisbee golf courses, and in such courses the goal is generally a basket where players throw the frisbee to score the points. As with regular golf, players try to make their goals in as few throws as possible.
Known as “football” in areas outside of the United States, soccer is a popular game in many areas of the world. You can find the rules for soccer here.
37. Sand Volleyball
Sand volleyball is an awesome alternative to indoor volleyball. Rules of the game are the same as traditional volleyball rules.
38. Three-Legged Race
This is a fun variation on classic foot races. In this activity, strips of fabric or other (safe) materials are used to tie two racers legs together (their two inner legs when they are standing next to each other). Racers then line up together and when the designated person says “Go,” the teams of two all run toward the finish line. The first pair to reach the finish line wins.
39. Crab Crawl Race
In a crab crawl race, racers bend over backward close to the ground, and they crawl on their hands and feet toward the finish line. The first crab to cross the finish line wins.
40. Potato Sack Races
In potato sack races, each player puts their feet or legs into a pillowcase, gunny sack, or other cloth sack. They then hold up the sack with their hands, and everyone lines up facing the finish line. When the designated person says “Go,” racers hop (all the time holding up their sack around their legs) toward the finish line. The first person to reach the finish line wins.
41. Red Light, Green Light
In this fun indoor or outdoor game, players line up together. When the designated person says “Green light,” all of the racers move toward the finish line. When the person says “Red light,” every must stop. The person who crosses the finish line first wins, and the game ends when everyone has crossed the finish line.
42. Hide and Seek
In this favorite children’s game, one person is it, and he or she counts to a certain number, like 30, while the other players run and hide. The person who is it then tries to find all of the other children. When all of the hiding children are found, someone else becomes the seeker.
In this twist on the traditional hide and seek, everyone seeks while one person hides. As each person find the person who originally hid, they then hide with the original hider, until the last person find all of the players who are now hidden—and often packed in as tight as sardines.
When the weather is good, playing outdoor games is a great way to have a good time with friends or family members. The wide variety of outdoor games available ensures that whether you have a family group, group of friends, school group, or church group, you’ll find an activity that everyone can enjoy.
What are your favorite outdoor games? Are there any games in this list that you haven’t tried before that you plan to try? Or do you have fun outdoor games that I didn’t include in this list? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to hear your ideas!
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