Playing outside provides valuable time for kids to have fun and get active. The large spaces outside give children open places to play and have fun. We are sharing 27 backyard games for kids to play with as few as 2 people to a whole group.
Many children spend too much time playing video games or watching television, and introducing a few new outdoor activities may be just what they need to get off the couch. So here are some fun activities and some fun backyard games for kids of all ages.
1. Freeze Tag
Freeze tag puts a twist on the original childhood game. One player starts as "it" and chases the others while trying to tag them. If she tags another person, the player becomes frozen. Other players can tag frozen players to unfreeze them. If the "it" player freezes the same person three times, that player then becomes the new "it" and the game restarts.
Croquet has been a outdoor play favorite fun game since at least the mid-1800s. The game is sure to be a hit with your family when you combine it with miniature golf in your backyard. Set up the croquet hoops at various spots around the yard, and use objects you find around the house and yard to create obstacles, much like a miniature golf course. Use a plank of wood and a log to build a ramp or a series of large rocks to create a narrow alley.
3. Capture The Flag
To play capture the flag, start by choosing a flag like a bandana, t-shirt, small towel, or something else that is colorful. Divide children into 2 or more teams. Each team will have one or more flags to keep at their home base.
Each team chooses people to guard the flags and people to go and capture the other teams flag. If someone form the other team taps you, you are frozen until someone from your team taps you to unfreeze. The team that captures the other teams flag wins.
4. Kick The Can
In this spin on classic hide and seek, one player is "it" and places a can in the middle of the yard. The rest of the older children hide while he closes his eyes and counts to 20. He then searches for players and tries to tag them. Tagged players go to jail on the side of the yard. The rest of the players can run in and try to kick the can, which releases everyone in jail. The "it" player wins if everyone goes to jail without kicking the can.
5. Red Rover
This game allows a large group of kids to get involved in one game. Set up two teams evenly across from each other. Each team should form a line while holding hands. One team starts and picks someone by saying, "Red rover, red rover, send __ over." The first player sprints at the opposing team and tries to break through their linked hands. If he successfully breaks the link, he picks one player to come to his team. If he fails to break it, then he must join the other team. The game ends when everyone is on the same team.
Scavenger hunts make a great inside and outside game. There are so many different things to search for outside like leaves, rocks, flowers and more. You can find a variety of printable scavenger hunts like this one from Thrifty Nifty Mommy.
Turn on your listening ears to play the game of red light green light. One person is the "traffic light" and stands at the end of the yard.
The rest of the players will stand on the opposite end of the yard and run when they hear "green light" and stop when the hear "red light" yelled out by the traffic light person.
If you are caught moving when red light it called you have to start at the beginning of the line. The first person to reach the traffic light wins.
8. Streets And Alleys
Streets and Alleys are played with 15 or more children in a large open outdoor area. Divide all of the players except for three into three equal groups. Have them line up in three separate, but parallel, lines and hold hands. The lines of children face the same direction, with about 5 feet of space between each line. The spaces between the lines are the streets.
The rest of the group becomes the runner, the chaser, and the caller. The runner starts at the end of one of the streets and the chaser stands at the beginning of another street. The caller signals the runner to start, and he starts running through the streets with the chaser close behind. At any time, the caller can call out, "Alleys," at which point the lines drop hands, turn to the right and form new lines with their neighbors. These are now the alleys. Play continues, switching between streets and alleys until the chaser catches the runner. New players are chosen as the runner, chaser, and caller, and another round begins.
Grab your sidewalk chalk for a nice game of hopscotch. This is fun for younger kids all the way up to older kids and adults. Draw a hopscotch board on the sidewalk up to the number 10. Hop on 1 and 2 feet while trying to stay in the squares.
10. Giant Jenga
This giant version of a classic game is so fun to play outside. Build your own or buy a set to play with your kids, friends, and family.
Play be carefully removing one piece at a time. The person to make it fall loses the came.
Sardines is an active game that is similar to hide and seek. It's actually opposite of hide and seek because in sardines, one person hides and everyone else tries to find them. Once someone finds the hidden person, they join them in hiding. The person left searching looses.
Ghost in the graveyard is a fun game for kids to play outside. Pick a home base and then choose someone to be the "ghost". Everyone will face the home base while the ghost hides.
Once the ghost has hidden, the rest of the kids will run around the yard while the ghost reveals themselves and tries to tag people. Once you have been tagged you become a ghost and can tag other people. If you see the ghost you yell "ghost in the graveyard" and try to get back to home base.
The object of the game Octopus is to play a tag game with a twist. Choose a large outdoor open area to be the ocean. Make sure there are no obstructions that could cause injury. Mark the two ends of the ocean.
One player is chosen to be the octopus and he stands in the center of the ocean. The remaining players become the fish and line up on one end of the ocean. The octopus yells, "Cross!" and the fish must try to swim across the ocean without being tagged by the octopus. Any fish that make it to the other end is safe. Fish that are tagged become the octopus's tentacles and work to help tag the other fish by holding hands with the octopus. The fish keep swimming back and forth until only one remain. That fish is the winner and becomes the octopus for the next game.
14. Water Balloons
There are so many fun games you can play with water balloons. Try tossing them through rings, tossing them into buckets, or even tossing them at each other. This is a great activity for a hot summer day.
This is a great backyard game that lets you be creative. Host a tournament with different fun events in your own backyard. These events can include wheelbarrow races, water balloon tosses, obstacle course, relay races, jump rope, tug of war, or anything else you think of. Split participants into teams and give out prizes to the winners to make the games more competitive.
Items you might use for backyard olympics: pool noodles, water balloons, jump ropes, and rings for ring toss.
16. Blind Man Walking
Blind Man Walking is a classic game for several children to play outside. It can be played in small outdoor spaces, making it a good option for children with small backyards. Choose one player to be the blind man. The blind man stands in the center of the play area with a blindfold on or with his eyes tightly closed. The other players form a circle around the blind man about 4 feet away from him.
The blind man begins gently swinging his arms and legs to try to touch the other players. The other players can duck, swerve or move to avoid being touched. If the blind man touches a player, he must also correctly identify which player he touched. If he is correct, that player becomes the new blind man and another round begins. If he is incorrect, he remains the blind man until he makes a correct identification.
17. Bocce Ball
You don't need a bocce ball court to play the game. Grab a bocce set and play in your backyard. The object is to try and get your ball closest to the pallino ball. This is a great game for both kids and adults.
18. Ladder Ball
Ladder ball is such a fun game that has become popular at tailgates and backyard BBQ's. Small rubber balls are attached to a string that is tossed at a "ladder". You score points depending on if the balls land on the ladder. Try playing the official ladder ball game or just practice tossing the balls on the different steps.
19. Hula Hoops
Use hula hoops to simply spin around your body or set up and obstacle course. There are so many fun ways to use hula hoops outside for a fun game.
20. Bean Bag Toss
Bean bags can be used to play games like cornhole, backyard tic tac toe, or bucket toss. You don't need cornhole boards to have fun with a bean bag toss. Try tossing them into buckets, using them for outdoor tic tac toe, or toss them to between kids.
21. Four Square
Proposing a fun backyard game or two can mean the difference between getting outside for some healthy outdoor exercise or staying inside with another "I'm bored" declaration. Backyard games are easy to set up and provide fun for hours. Whether you are looking for some fun yourself for a party or are just trying to keep your kids busy and active, yard games offer fun for all ages.
Make your own mini golf course in the backyard with things you find around the house. This game is both active and creative. Try using boxes, pool noodles, bottles, building blocks, and more to build a mini golf course.
23. Lawn Bowling
Bowling is such a fun game and you don't even need real pins and a bowling ball to play. Find a large ball, like a kickball or beach ball, and set up some empty 2-liter bottles to play your own game of backyard bowling.
24. Football Toss
Throwing the football is a great way to improve hand-eye coordination. You can pass it between people or practice throwing it through a hole. Build your own with plywood like this wonderful tutorial, or make a simple one with something like a pool noodle.
25. Lawn Twister
Grab some colorful spray paint to play yard Twister. This popular board game can be transformed into a fun outdoor game. You will need 4 different colors of water based spray paint and a circle stencil. A perfect game to get your kids outdoors.
26. Hide And Seek
Hide and seek is such a fun, classic outdoor game that has been played for years. It's great to play this game outside because there are always fun places to hide like behind a plant, tree, lawn furniture and more.
One kid closes their eyes and counts to 20. They are the seeker. While they are counting everyone else hides. Then the seeker tries to find everyone. Last one found wins.
Grab a ball and a group of kids to play the game of Spud. Throw the ball up in the air and yell out one of the kids name. That kid then catches the ball while everyone else runs. Once the named child catches the ball everyone freezes in place.
The player with the ball then takes four steps to the closest person spelling out spud, yelling S-P-U-D. The child with the ball then either reaches out to touch the frozen kid with the ball, throws, or rolls the ball to try and touch the kid to "tag" them.
If the frozen player gets touched by the ball then they will have an "S". If they don't get touched then the ball thrower has an "S". The game then starts again and once you have "SPUD" you are out. The last one standing with the least letters wins.
Which backyard game will your kids be trying first?
Backyard Games For Kids
Frisbee Tic Tac Toe
- 6-8 frisbees 2 colors, 3 of each color
- 1 large blanket or piece of square material
- 1 roll duct tape
- Use duct tape to make a tic tac toe board on the blanket or material.
- 2 players stand behind a throw line and try to throw their frisbee in a square.
- 3 of the same color frisbees in a row wins.