Summer break is right around the corner and it's time to remember your own childhood, dust off the cobwebs in your brain, and force your own children to play awesome outdoor games that you once played as a child. Some might be familiar. Others may be new to you. All involve movement, body coordination, hand eye coordination and basic social skills. All can be played with just a few simple outdoor toys. Have fun and enjoy your summer!
1) KICK THE CAN -- It's a classic combination of tag and hide & seek.
EQUIPMENT: A can.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: more than five -- more is better.
HOW IT'S PLAYED: One person or a team of people is designated as"it". Place a can in the middle of a large open area. Players hide while the "it" covers his/her eyes and counts to a designated number. "It" then tries to find and tag each of the players, always keeping a watchful eye on the can. If a person is tagged by “it”, they go into a holding pen for captured players. If one of the un-captured players manages to kick the can, the captured players are released. The game is over once all the non-“it” players are in the holding pen.
2) TRAFFIC COP -- This isn't technically a game but most kids will have a great time pretending.
EQUIPMENT: chalk, traffic cones, scooters, bikes, roller skates, anything on wheels
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: fewer than five so you don't have too many traffic jams!
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Find a large, flat paved area, ideally with no traffic. School playgrounds work great. Draw out a curvy road. Include stop lights, stop signs and complicated intersections. One person helps direct traffic and is even authorized to write tickets.
3) FOUR SQUARE -- A classic playground game, my favorite as a kid.
EQUIPMENT: chalk and bouncy playground ball
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: four or more
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Draw a large square. Further divide large square into four smaller squares, numbered one thru four. One player stands in each of the squares, with the highest ranked player in number one, lowest in number four. Bounce the ball among the players, bouncing once in the other person’s square before that person hits it back. The person in square one is able to make the rules. Anyone who misses the ball or violates the rules has to move back to square four (if there are four players) or wait in line until square four is open. The rules can be as silly as you like (i.e.: act like a cow when you hit the ball, bounce it two times in your hands like popcorn, etc, etc).
4) RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: A smaller group is better, ideally less than five.
HOW IT'S PLAYED: One person is the traffic light at one end of a larger open space, and the other players are at the other end. When the traffic light faces the group, he or she says, “Red light!” and everyone must freeze. The traffic light then turns his or her back and says, “Green light!” while the group tries to get as close to the traffic light as possible. The traffic light turns around quickly, again saying, “Red light!”, and if anyone is spotted moving, they have to go back to the starting place. The first person to tag the traffic light wins and gets to be the next traffic light.
5) SARDINES -- It's hide & seek but in reverse! And in the dark!
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: More is better! Ideally, more than 15.
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Best played outdoors after the sun goes down in a designated area with lots of nooks and crannies. One person is designated "it". "It" hides while the other players or seekers remain together and count to a designated number. The seekers spread out to find the hiding player; as the seekers quietly find the player hiding, they join him in the hiding place until they are packed together like sardines. The last player to join the group becomes the next person to hide.
6) RED ROVER, RED ROVER
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: More than 10 is better
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Two teams line up opposite each other, no more than 30 feet apart. The first team agrees to call one player from the opposite team, and chants, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send (player's name) on over!" The person called runs to the other line and attempts to break the chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the person called fails to break the chain, that player joins the team that called Red Rover. But, if the player successfully breaks the chain, he may capture either of the two players whose link was broken by the dash, and bring them back to his original team. Teams take turns calling out Red Rover and challenging a player on the opposing team. The game is over when all the players are on one side.
7) HULA HOOP TAG -- A simple variation of tag.
EQUIPMENT: 2-4 hula hoops
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: More is probably better but you can also play with a small group of 5-6 kids
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Spread the hula hoops out around the playing area. Choose one person to be "it" and one person to be the "freer". When the game begins, everyone moves around the playing area but is not allowed to run through any of the hula hoops. If a person is tagged by an "it" they must stand inside one of the hula hoops. The "freer's" job is to move around the play area giving a high-5 to anyone standing inside a hula hoop releasing them to join the game again. If the "freer" is tagged, the game stops. Try the game with different motor skills (crab walk, jumping).
8) SPRINKLER MUSICAL CHAIRS -- Musical chairs for a hot day.
EQUIPMENT: chairs and a sprinkler
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 to 5 is probably best
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Count the number of children participating and grab chairs that total one less than the number of children playing. Spread out chairs around your sprinkler. When the water goes on, have the children run around and thru the sprinkler. When the water stops, the last child to sit in a chair is out of the game. Remove that chair and repeat the steps until there is only one person remaining.
9) HELICOPTER JUMP ROPE
EQUIPMENT: Jump rope
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: More than 4
HOW IT'S PLAYED: Have everybody spread out in a circle with one person (the helicopter) in the middle. The person in the middle has the jump rope and folds it in half. Have the people around the person with the jump rope sing, “Helicopter, Helicopter please come down!” The person who is playing the helicopter responds, “not until you guess my favorite color.” Or, you can use a different question, like “what’s my favorite food,sport etc." Once the crowd guesses the right answer, the helicopter swings the jump rope down across the floor. The crowd jumps up and tries not to hit the rope. If a person hits the rope, they sit out. The last person standing becomes the new helicopter.
10) WATER BALLOON DODGE BALL -- More fun on a hot summer day.
EQUIPMENT: as many water balloons as you can stand to fill, two plastic tubs
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: more than 10
HOW IT'S PLAYED: This one is obvious. Divide into two groups on opposite sides of a line with each side having their balloons in a plastic tub. If you are hit with a water balloon you are out (like dodgeball). Last one standing is the winner.
Enjoy your summer.