In this new digital age, many kids are spending their downtime inside on devices. While this isn’t always a negative, there are multitudes of studies demonstrating the benefits of kids spending time outdoors.
From vitamin D and exercise to socialization, improved sensory skills including coordination and cognitive function, outdoor play is proving to be a crucial aspect of childhood which cannot be skipped.
Outdoor play is also proven to decrease stress and improve happiness, so we have come up with 50 super fun outdoor games for kids (and adults too)!
Some of these games are oldies but goodies, some are new takes on old games and some you may have never come across before at all!
Studies show that unstructured outdoor play promotes creativity, which is a wordy way of saying that even though we’ve given you rules, they’re made to be broken! If your little ones come up with a better variation, go with it!
In fact, we’d love to know if there’s a more fun way we should be playing our games!
Here are 25 Awesome Outdoor Games your kids will love:
An oldie but a goodie, Simon says is one of those games that works for all ages, requires no equipment or props (but they can be a fun addition), can be as high or low energy as you want and can keep everyone thoroughly entertained.
What’s great is that it works across all ages. The bigger kids can either play Simon, or, they can help the little ones. It’s easy to explain the rules and it’s so much fun for the kids.
For more great Simon Says Ideas click on that link you just passed over. We love the game so much that we wrote an entire article about it.
- Best For: All-Ages
- Number of Players: Minimum of three people (1 Simon and 2 players)
- What You’ll Need: Nothing but yourself for a traditional version of Simon Says.
Scavenger hunts can go for hours! They can be suited to any age – nice and easy for the little ones, or more challenging with quizzes and riddles for the big kids.
You can also tailor them to suit your yard and include the house for a bigger area. You can really get creative and encourage your kids to do the same. Scavenger hunts can be tailored to a theme for parties and are just a really fun game for kids to play!
This is great because the big kids get a sense of responsibility and have to get creative to guide the little ones through. Clues can start easy and get progressively harder, which means the bigger kids will have to explain the clues to the little ones as best as they can.
- Best For: All ages! If you have a big range of ages it works well to buddy up a big kid with a little kid and they can go through the scavenger hunt together.
- What You’ll Need: At a minimum, pens & paper to write your list of items to find, or your clues. For more creative scavenger hunts you’ll need more materials.
- Number of Players: Best with 3 or more.
Lava! Lava! (AKA The Floor is Lava)
This one can be a seriously fun energy burner for the kids and works really well at a playground. Want to tire your kids out? Make the ground lava and be a lava monster! Boom! Happy and exhausted kids!
Plus this game really gets their imagination going. Once you’ve finished, you can calm the kids down by getting them to draw their lava world and them leaping over it.
How to Play: This game does require some setup. If you’re playing in the backyard then you can use outdoor furniture (that you don’t mind being stepped on), logs, trees or even towels and other pieces of fabric to create a course.
Once you’ve set up your course, the game is to jump from piece to piece to avoid stepping on the ground, because it’s lava! You can either just jump around avoiding the ground or make someone a lava monster whose job is to catch people. This increases the fun and the sense of danger
- Best For: Pre-schoolers – Pre-teens
- Number of Players: 2+
- What You’ll Need: Relatively sturdy and secure items that can be climbed/hopped or jumped on
This is another great kids game that doesn’t require any equipment and really relies on quick reactions and good attention from the kids!
How to Play: One person is chosen to play the “fox” who stands with their back to the other kids who are standing a distance away in a straight line.
While the fox has their back to the other kids, they can crawl, creep, run or walk closer to the fox. The fox’s job is to catch them moving closer and so when the fox turns around, the players freeze!
If the fox sees someone moving, the player has to go back to the starting line. The first player to reach the fox without being caught wins either points or they get to be the fox the next round.
- Best For: Pre-schoolers – pre-teens
- Number of Players: This game is more fun with more people, but can be played with as few as 3.
- What You’ll Need: Nothing but the kids!
Duck, Duck, Goose
Another high-energy classic, this is another amazing kids game which will keep them entertained and leave them all tuckered out!
- Best For: Pre-Schoolers – Pre-teens
- Number of Players: This is a real party game and works best with bigger groups. A minimum of 6 players works best
- What You’ll Need: High energy and a space big enough to form a big circle
How to Play: Everyone except one child sits in a circle. The one kid standing is the “Goose” and they walk around the circle, gently tapping everyone on the head and saying “Duck” out loud.
When the Goose decides it’s time, they tap someone and yell “GOOSE!” instead of duck. The new Goose jumps up and chases the old Goose around the circle.
The goal is for the old Goose to sprint around the entire circle until they get to the empty spot left by the new Goose where they sit down.
If they make it to the empty spot without getting caught, then the new Goose repeats the process. If the new Goose is quick and catches the old Goose, then the old Goose starts again.
A classic pool game, Marco Polo is a great kids game for in or out of the water. It’s made for loads of giggles and fun! It’s also a nice little history lesson for the kids about the famous Italian merchant who traveled the silk road and then had a fun kids game named after him!
If you play in the water it does wonders for building confidence for kids learning to swim.
- Best For: This classic is a fun all-ages game!
- Number of Players: Again, more is more depending on the space you have. A minimum of 4 is best for the most fun
- What You’ll Need: A swimming pool and a blindfold if you want to use one
Tug of War
This is a great team activity which big and little kids (and even the biggest kids, adults) can get involved in! And best of all, tug of war used to be an Olympic sport, so you can tell your kids that they’re basically training to be Olympians!
- Best For: This one is best for the bigger kids, grade-schoolers and up
- Number of Players: This can be a 2 person game, but it’s extra fun with even-numbered teams!
- What You’ll Need: A sturdy rope and enough space for your teams to move
Keep the Balloon Off the Ground
This one is for competitors, is simple, super fun and great for hand-eye coordination. It’s also a great option when you have leftover party balloons and kids full of sugar who have energy to expend!
How to Play: Take a balloon and throw it in the air and then take it in turns to tap it up into the air again. The goal is to stop the balloon from ever hitting the ground.
You can count the number of times you hit it up and try to beat your score each time. This is a great one for little kids to practice their hand-eye coordination and counting skills all at once!
- Best For: This is one for the little kids, although some big kids will happily play with the little ones because they’ll have to throw themselves around to save the balloon!
- Number of Players: Minimum of 2
- What You’ll Need: Just a balloon and a sense of fun!
Hide & Seek
We love this game for the creativity it sparks in kids. The obvious hiding spots tend to get used up quickly and so kids are forced to think of new ideas for where to hide.
Plus the suspense of the seeker being near you when you’re hiding (without finding you) is amazing!
- Best For: This is a great one for all ages. You can pair up any little ones with the bigger kids – they will LOVE getting to hide and be a part of the game with their older cousin or sibling.
- Number of Players: Minimum of 2
- What You’ll Need: A big enough area with hiding spots for everyone.
How to Play: One person is the designated seeker. They close their eyes and count (slowly!) to twenty out loud. While they’re counting, the rest of the players scatter and find hiding spots.
Once the seeker has finished counting, they can go and seek the other players. The first person to be found is the seeker in the next round and the last person is the winner of the round.
If you’re brave, you can change up your hiding spot while the seeker is looking for you making for a dynamic round!
If your kids are getting bored with this game be sure to check out our article on alternative ways to play Hide and Seek.
Sidewalk Chalk Matching
This one is amazing for the little ones who are learning colors and shapes. It also lets them practice their motor skills. So fun plus cognitive and motor skills in one!
How to Play: Using different chalk colors, draw matching shapes in the same colors i.e. yellow triangles, blue circles, green squares, red triangles etc.
Mix up the shapes so no duplicates sit next to one another. Then get your little ones to find matching pairs by jumping on the color and shape that you call out. Whoever gets the most pairs wins!
- Best For: Pre-Schoolers who are learning their shapes and colors
- Number of players: Any number for this game – the only limit is how many color and shape combinations you can come up with!
- What You’ll Need: Multi-colored chalk and enough pavement to draw your shapes on.
This game has been played for centuries by the ancient Romans and Egyptians. Italian immigrants took it to America, where it has become a favorite backyard game.
In these stressful days, we all need a way to relax and, if we can do that with our family in our own backyard, then it’s even better. Playing a game of Bocce ball is the way to have all that while giving us the chance to exercise and enjoy a little competition.
How to Play: Teams play against each other to try to hit the pallino or jack – or get as close to it as possible by aiming and throwing their bocce balls in that direction while keeping the bocce balls within the court. Bocce ball can be played by two individuals or by teams of up to four players on each side.
Be careful when buying a Bocce ball set, while the balls may all look similar, there are actually huge differences in quality. Be sure to check out our handy Bocce Ball Buyers Guide to help you purchase the perfect set for your needs.
- Best For: It is suitable for any age group from four upwards. There are smaller, lighter balls available for young children and beginners.
- Number of Players: 2-8
- What You’ll Need: You will need to buy a Bocce ball set in advance and then have it ready for play. There should be eight balls in at least two different colors and a single pallino/jack.
Washer Toss Game
This simple, but exciting game will bring an element of competition to your family picnic in the park or barbeque in the yard. A party game for people of all ages or a solo pursuit for relieving stress, the Washers Game is a versatile and fun form of exercise.
How to Play: The aim of the game is for individuals or teams to compete against one another to try to be the first to reach a winning score of 11, 17 or 21 points.
For detailed rules and tips on how to play check out our Guide to the Washers Game.
- Best For: This is a game for all ages.
- Number of Players: 1-4
- What You’ll Need: Two washer pits or boards, 8 washers
Kick the Can
This game is a cross between Hide-and-Seek and Tag. It is exciting and energetic, the rules are simple and it can be played just about anywhere.
- Best For: Anyone who is over the age of four and can run and kick a can.
- Number of Players: 3-10 (best with 4 players or over)
- What You’ll Need: A metal can, bucket or similar receptacle.
Cornhole isn’t just a game you play during a tailgate party. Get your kids together for a friendly competition while you get the grill going. The loser gets to help you set the table.
- Best For: This game is best for grade-schoolers upwards.
- Number of Players: 1, 2 or 4
- What You’ll Need: A Cornhole Set (2 Cornhole boards, 2 sets of Cornhole bags, A large, flat open space, A tape measure or a ball of string
Red Light, Green Light
This quick, easy game can be played just about anywhere, but using a big space in your backyard will make it even more fun. Just remember to mark out the start and the finish line with string or in some way to avoid arguments.
This simple, fun game requires players to listen and develop awareness and gross motor control (agility).
- Best For: Pre K – Grade 5
- Number of Players: A small group of players works best.
- What You’ll Need: No equipment needed.
Capture the Flag
This game has been a favorite with leaders at Summer Camp or for other organizations that have to keep a large group of kids occupied for a lengthy period. The main aim of the game is to enter the other team’s territory undetected, capture their flag and make it safely back to your own territory.
It is a simple high-energy game that keeps kids active and alert. It requires minimal equipment and organization.
- Best For: 4+
- What You’ll Need: 2 flags or markers (anything bright and light-weight, such as a Tshirt, will do), A large area, which can be roughly divided into two
- Number of Players: This game is best played with a large group of players so that you can organize them into teams.
This activity is only limited by the imagination. It can be tailored to individual children’s abilities, interests, and ages. It promotes dexterity and improves both fine and gross motor skills.
- Best For: All ages from toddlers to fit elderly people
- Number of Players: Suitable for one child or a large group of children. Just make sure that they are supervised and know about any potential hazards.
- What You’ll Need: Various obstacles (you can buy or DIY)
How to Play: You and your child can decide which obstacles to set out. Many of the obstacles can be found around the house and do not need to be specially bought or designed. Remember to leave sufficient space around each obstacle to avoid participants from bumping into each other.
Try to be creative in the use of the obstacles, for example:
- A large cardboard box can be used to crawl through or jumped over.
- Foam pool noodles make ideal hurdles to jump over or wiggle under.
- Ropes of varying lengths can be used for skipping or simply walking along next to.
- Old tires or hoops can be hopped in and out or crawled through.
Of course, it is possible to buy obstacle course equipment so that you have a permanent obstacle course set up in your backyard where kids can burn off energy any time they feel like it.
WARNING! This game can get rough and adult supervision is advisable.
I think children across the globe have played this game in one form or another. The aim of the game is to get through a barrier of hands that the opposing team has joined together. It is a rough and tough game of speed and assessment of risk.
This is a traditional backyard game that has been played for generations in one form or another. A great way to keep your kids fit and healthy.
Rounders is a fast team game that is easy to organize in your backyard. In this game, two teams play against each other to get as many players from the opposite side out at the same time as trying to score as many rounders as they can.
Although it is a simple game, it requires skill, speed, and great team play.