Fortunately for parents, most children are able to amuse themselves out of doors for hours on end. When it comes to playing in groups after school or on the weekends, the adults don’t need to do much more than supervise. However when it comes to holiday time or long summer evenings, a parent might want to get involved in suggesting new games for kids. Having a parent involved can encourage your kids to remain active rather than giving up and going indoors to watch television once they run out of ideas! Parents can also facilitate more complex games that the group wouldn’t be able to organise by themselves.
If the group of peers your kids usually play with appear bored by their usual games, you can start by suggesting some variants to make traditional outdoor games more interesting again.
Variations on Popular Outdoor Games
The age-old game of Tag can be spiced up by turning it into “Freeze Tag”. When the person who is “it” touches someone, the body part they touch becomes frozen but the rest can still move. Someone tagged on their left leg can still hop on their right and that left leg can become untagged by a team member. After a person is tagged two or three times they either become ‘it’ or are out of the game, depending on how your kids want to play. It’s important that everyone understands the rules of this game before it begins!
Another option is “Line Tag”: when a player is tagged they hold hands with the ‘it’ person to form a line in single file. Then must try to catch the other players, who will add to the line if caught. Obviously the goal of that game is to have everybody in the line.
Adventurous Games to Play Outside
A more adventurous summer activity could be setting up a homemade obstacle course in the garden or a nearby park. Potential obstacles can include hula hoops to climb through, a row of poles or cans in a line to zigzag past, or an old rug or sheet to crawl under. An element of competition could be added by timing everyone’s course completion, or the obstacle course could be made harder by attempting to race as a three-legged pairing. Setting up treasure hunts or orienteering games are other fun ways to get all the kids active.
If a large group of slightly older children (8-12 years) have access to a built-up or wooded area, an ideal game would be ‘Capture the Flag’. The kids are divided into two groups, each with their own flag located in a designated area and positioned some distance apart. The aim of the game is to capture the enemy’s flag and bring it back to your own base without losing your own team flag. Each team also has their own ‘jail’ area to hold captured members of the enemy team: prisoners can be freed again after a teammate successfully tags them.
Ideas for Outdoor Games in Urban Areas
If the ‘outdoor area’ is limited to an urban setting, the parents can provide chalk to engage the crowd. Younger children in small groups of two to four can be encouraged to draw pictures on the ground, while older children might want to create hopscotch ladders or mark boundary lines for their own games.
Hopefully this list will give you some ideas of ways to keep your kids and their friends amused and active out of doors. Any games and activities that foster their sense of adventure and imaginations are great. If they get fresh air and allow you to enjoy some peace and quiet at the same time, then that is even better!