Classics never go out of style and the backyard games that you used to play when you were a kid can be just as fun now as they were years ago. Best of all most of these games don’t need any fancy equipment and you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Instead they are just simply, good clean fun that will have kids running around and playing outdoors.
Here are the top 10 classic backyard games for kids in no particular order.
1. Traditional Tag
You can’t really beat a game of traditional old tag. For this game you may want to have at least 3 people who are playing and if you can have more people, it gets even better.
Most people know how to play tag, but in case you don’t, you simply make one person “it” and they chase after the other people in the game to tag them so whoever they tag are now “it.” Some people play with a base, which is an area of item that can be touched or stood on that makes the person safe so they can take a little break from running around.
For a game of hopscotch you will need some outdoor chalk as well as a concrete area to draw your hopscotch board on. You can make your hopscotch grid as large you as you want and as difficult as you want depending on the age of the children playing.
There are several different ways that I have seen hopscotch played, but usually it is played by tossing a rock onto the square and having to pick up the rock on the way back without jumping in that square while following the pattern of the grid.
3. Hide and Seek
Your kids may play hide and seek indoors but there is really nothing like playing hide and seek outside with a plethora of places to hide. If you have younger children you may want to map out specific rules where they can hide and how far away they can go.
If you have a large number of people playing you can always divide up into teams or for a smaller amount of people, simply have one or two people be the seeker and everyone else hides. When it comes to counting, this also depends on how large of space you have to hide in as well as the age of the children. Pick an appropriate number from anywhere from around 20 seconds to a minute.
4. Kick the Can
This is a fun game that I used to play all the time with the kids in my neighborhood as the more people that play the better the game gets. This is a combination of hide and seek along with tag. Ideally, you should have at least 3-4 players for the game.
You will need a can or a bucket to place in the middle of the playing area. A person or a team is designated as “it” and must close their eyes and count while the other players go and hide. Once counting is over the “it” person must find and tag the players that are hiding before they can kick the can. If “it” is able to tag them before they kick the can they are captured and must wait until someone on their team kicks the can or “it” tags all the hiders and the game is over.
5. Red Light, Green Light
This game is geared towards younger children, but can also be made fun for older kids as well. You will need at least 3 players for the game as well as big enough space to play the game.
One person is made the traffic light controller and the rest of the players start at a designated starting line straight across from the controller. The length that they are away depends on how much room you have and the age of the children. The traffic light controller starts with their front facing the other players and this is known as “red light.” They then turn around and say “green light” while the other players race to get to the controller first. The traffic light player can turn around at anytime and yell “red light” and everyone else must freeze in place. If they see a person moving that player is sent back to the starting line. This is continued until a player tags the traffic light controller and wins the game.
6. Freeze Tag
This is a variation on your traditional tag game that can make the game really interesting and silly.
Just like tag, one person is designated as “it” while the other players must run away and not get tagged but “it.” If the “it” player does tag another player they are to freeze in the exact spot they are tagged in no matter what they are doing. Another player can un-freeze them by tagging them and making them melt. If the “it” player can freeze all the other players they win the game and someone else is chosen as “it.”
7. Mother, May I
This game is sort of like red light, green light in the way that there is one controller or leader in the game (called the Mother) and the rest of the players must start way back across from them and get to the Mother first.
Each player starts off asking the Mother, “Mother, may I…” with some sort of amount of steps they can take. For example, they could say, “Mother, may I take 3 steps?” The mother then responds, with “Yes, you may” or “No, you may not.” Make the game even more interesting and add things like giant steps, baby steps, hops, and jumps.
8. Pickle In the Middle
I remember playing pickle in the middle all the time with my siblings and even though I would hate being the pickle at times, it was still fun to play. For this game you will need some sort of soft ball that can be thrown back and forth without the kids being hurt.
This game is best played with three people. One person is the pickle and must stand in between the two other players and try to get the ball as it is thrown back and forth between the two other players. You can make certain boundaries for kids to stay in so the game is fair and doesn’t go on forever. If the pickle does get the ball, the person who last touched the ball is now the pickle.
9. Simon Says
Although Simon says can be played inside as well as outside, it can be so much more fun playing it outside in the wide open. Plus, this game helps younger kids learn about following directions as well.
One person is Simon (with younger kids and toddlers, the parent can be Simon) and the players must listen to what Simon says. Simon must always say “Simon says,” before an action in order to get the players to perform the action. If Simon doesn’t say “Simon says” the players must not do what he says. If the other players do follow what Simon says when “Simon says” is not said then they are out of the game. The last person who follows Simon is the winner of the game.
For outside play it can be fun to add some exercise activities in like jumping jacks, hopping up and down, running to a certain spot and back, and other physical activities.
This was one of my favorite games to play but as I talk to some other parents who are around my age, some of them have never even heard of the game, which is quite surprising to me. But, since it was one of my favorites I am including it in the top 10. You will need a larger ball for the game.
The game starts with one person being “it” and then all the other players are given a number by “it” or you can have bucket of numbers to draw from as well. The “it” person stands in the middle of the other players with the ball and then tosses the ball up in the air yelling a number. As the ball is tossed up in the air the other players must run as far away as possible except for the person who’s number is called. The player whose number is called must catch the ball or chase after it if is rolling away. Once they have the ball they yell “Spud” and everyone else freezes (along with the “it” person who should be running away after tossing the ball as well).
The person who now has the ball must try to hit one of the players with the ball to make that person the new “it.” If the player is hit, they get a letter ( S, P, U, D) and then becomes “it.” If the player misses with the ball, then they get the letter and is “it.” If you are playing with a large space and a lot of players it is not uncommon to allow the one player with the ball to take 2-3 steps in any direction before they toss the ball to hit another player.
What was your favorite backyard game to play when you were a kid?