Coming up with the top 10 outdoor games for kids is harder than finding ways to waste time indoors. The latter could be a list chosen from about 7.3 gazillion games designed to keep youngsters’ nostril prints on a smartphone screen.
Our list of outdoor games required a bit more thought. We wanted games and activities that are not only fun but actually healthy for mind and body. I’m certain that playing Fortnite 16 straight hours does not lower blood pressure, but I am sure racing through the forest in a state park has proven health benefits.
So let us look at the top 10 outdoor games for kids. This should help you run some energy off your kids for some bonus parental benefits we’ll mention at the end.
Keep it simple. What game requires nothing but kids and their immediate environment? Hide and seek has stood the test of time because it is fun, surprise-filled, uses imagination, and it costs parents nothing. You can’t lose the game pieces either… unless one kid is a virtual chameleon!
Golf. Don’t freak out. You probably don’t want to break the bank to give your children something fun to do this summer. Golf doesn’t have to be expensive to play. You can pick up a set of clubs at a local thrift store for around $50. This game is great for focus, relaxation, and it gives mom and dad time to talk with their kids on the course. No need to rush like in other sports.
Cornhole won’t burn a ton of calories but it is one of the funniest activities around. It is simple and anyone can play. Like golf, this game will show kids how to focus. It will also teach them the importance of practice. No little brother wants to get beaten repeatedly by their older sister. So, little Johnny will practice until his technique is perfect to show he can hang with his siblings. He may even school dad at some point!
Dodgeball is one of my favorite memories from my middle school P.E. class. The worn out bleachers with balls ricocheting off for an epic win. Our teacher with ridiculous red-ringed socks up to his knees. The smell of fear from the kids who would go on to become Google engineers! Pick a yard and buy an $8 ball and your kids are in business. Safety first of course. You don’t want to use basketballs for the “dodgeball” like our insane high school gym teacher did.
HORSE. How did this variation of basketball not become a major sport? I could have gotten a scholarship playing for my local college if the NCAA had been interested in behind the backboard shots. Your kids may love regular basketball games, but HORSE is a different animal. It’s amazing how creative youngsters can be when finding shots that none of their friends can duplicate. Maybe the NBA should replace the now-boring dunk contest with a game of HORSE?
Chicken. OK, you need a pool or a lake to play this outdoor game for kids. But most communities have a public pool, a local beach area at a state park, or a neighborhood pool. So the game is simple. Usually, the adults serve as the person holding the chicken fighters on their shoulders. The kids on the shoulders attempt to knock each other off balance. The winner is the kid left above the water after a friendly tussle.
Geocaching can keep kids busy at camp, on vacation, or around their own neighborhood. Seeking out hidden items from their tribe of friends is an engaging activity that makes them use physical and mental abilities. Of course, they can use electronic devices to find hidden trinkets, but real maps come into play as well. Reading a map is a solid skill any parent can appreciate if you have ever gotten totally lost using your “super intelligent” GPS app.
Badminton is still a great memory for adults who remember playing with their mom and dad on the back lawn. This casual sport is as fun as tennis but doesn’t require a $20,000 court. You can play right on your own property and set it up in minutes. If a kid gets bored with this game then he needs to run a couple miles before playing. He likely has an overload of energy in need of burn off!
Wiffle Ball has been a kid favorite since 1953 when a dad invented the weird ball to help his kid throw a curveball. True story! This “baseball-light” game is easy to start and can be played in a small area. No broken house windows or dents to a car are possible either. Apologies to the hood of my mom’s 1984 Monte Carlo – we only had real baseballs on hand that Sunday.
We thought about Tug of War making the list, but kids tire of it after one single contest. Horseshoes was in contention until we realized grandparents beat the daylights and enthusiasm out of every player under the age of 72. So, we will slot Glow Battle at the top spot for the top 10 outdoor games for kids. Glow Battle is similar to many of the games above in terms of simplicity and fun. It’s not hard to figure out you better dodge hits from the enemy team. And you need to practice striking with your Weapon of Light so your team can dominate.
All of these outdoor games make kids more active and get them much needed sunlight. Studies show that there is a depressing feeling that creeps in when humans stay indoors too long. Those feelings increase with too much time in front of glowing screens.
The extra benefit to parents from all these outdoor kid games is the energy burn off factor. Little Johnny will go to bed easier if he spent six hours ducking speeding dodgeballs or hiking over a small mountain to find a buried geocache treasure box.
Your kiddos will also have less desire to argue with each other in the evening. They will have used up that energy in some competitive fun during the day.