10+ Classic Outdoor Games for Kids: When I was a kid, we spent most of our free time playing outside with the other kids in the neighborhood. We also took advantage of school breaks. We had a lot to do even though we didn’t have any of the technology available today. Here are some games you may have played as a kid that don’t require any technology. Yes, I did. Some of them can be done inside.
Some of them can be done alone or with just one friend. But most of them are more fun with a group of people outside. Also, you can change or improve most of these games by making your own rules. Think outside the box!
10+ Classic Outdoor Games for Kids
1. Hide and Seek
This game has been played by everyone. Most parents have played with their kids, since little kids like to hide and look for things. I’ve heard of many different ways to play this game. You sometimes count to 20, sometimes to 10, and sometimes to 100.
Sometimes you can run to a home base and tag it to become “safe,” and sometimes you just have to wait to be found. The general idea is that one person is “it,” that person closes his or her eyes and counts to a certain number without looking, and then that person tries to find the others. Best case scenario: at least three people. There is no gear.
2. Kick the Can
This game is a mix of hide-and-seek and tag. “It” can be one person or a group of people, and a can is put in the middle of the playing area. The other people run away and hide while the person who is “it” covers his or her eyes and counts to a certain number. Then “it” goes looking for everyone.
If “it” tags a player, that player goes to a holding pen for players who have been caught. If one of the players who hasn’t been caught gets to kick the can, the players who have been caught are let go. Once everyone who isn’t “it” is in the waiting pen, the game is over. Best case scenario: at least three people. A metal can is the tool.
3. Capture the Flag
This game is most fun with a lot of people. Divide the group into two teams, with a flag or other sign at the base of each team. The goal of the game is to run into the territory of the other team, grab their flag, and get back to your own territory without getting hurt. You can put “enemy” people in your area in jail by marking them. They can get out of jail if someone from their own team runs into your area, tags them, and runs back.
Each jailbreak can only free one person. It is sometimes played that everyone in jail could hold hands and form a chain back to their own area, making it easier for team members to tag them. We also played a game called “Steal the Sticks,” which was similar. It was almost the same, but instead of one flag, they used several sticks. A lot of people are playing. Two flags or other ways to mark the spot.
Fun for kids of all ages, this game involves a large round parachute, preferably with handles, with people holding the parachute all around the edges. It helps if someone is in charge telling people what to do. Players can just ruffle the parachute up and down a little bit, they can go all the way up and all the way down, or all the way up and then run underneath, sitting on the edge of the parachute, which can create a bubble of air with everyone inside.
Players can also place light objects such as wiffle balls or beanbags on top of the parachute, and make them jump by ruffling the parachute. Also, one person can sit in the middle of the parachute and everyone ruffles it near the ground.
If there is a smooth floor and a light child, the child can sit in the middle on top of the parachute and everyone else can walk part way around still holding the parachute edge. Then everyone pulls backward, spinning the child. There are countless variations.
- Number of Players: Depends on the size of the parachute, but usually eight to ten.
- Equipment: A play parachute. These aren’t as hard to find as you would think.
5. Four Square
This ball game is played on a square court that is further split into four smaller squares, named one through four. One player stands in each square, with the best player in square one and the worst player in square four. You pass the ball to the next player and let it bounce once in their square before they grab it.
When I was a kid and we played this game, there were a lot of extra rules to choose from. Whoever was in square one got to decide what the rules were. If someone breaks the rules, they will have to move down in the order or be kicked out of the game.
If they are kicked out, another person will move into square four. Unless you take turns, there are four players. A four-square court or chalk on the sidewalk, and a playground ball.
6. Jump-Rope and Double Dutch
When I was young, skipping rope was one of my favorite things to do during playtime. I got pretty good at it, both quickly and well, for my age. I liked jumping by myself, but jumping with a long rope and a couple of friends was even more fun. This is where rhymes about jumping rope come in.
They turn a simple exercise into a fun game in which you and other people can fight. There’s also “double dutch.” The older girls who could do double dutch always impressed me. When I tried it for the first time, I messed up almost right away. Once you know how to do it, though, it’s not as hard as it looks.
For single jumps, there is only one player. For double dutch or a longer rope, there are three players. Jump ropes, either one or two.