As parents, we love to tell our kids stories about how we played outside until our moms called us in for dinner or it turned too dark for us to see. Then, we tell them how the whole neighborhood played together in each other’s backyards without formal invitations or organized play dates. And, while our kids might roll their eyes or let out a big exasperated sigh, truth is it was not only really fun and but it was also really good for us.
Kids today are so busy on their phones and video games that they are missing out on all of the classic outdoor games that we played that encouraged physical activity and teamwork. It’s time to bring back these outdoor classic games and more outdoor playtime. That may mean changing up some of the rules or adding a new dynamic twist to them to make them more appealing to our kids. And, there’s no harm in cheating with the names of them a little to get kids to try them out. Try these twists on the old classic outdoor games to up the fun factor in your backyard.
Freeze tag is the ultimate backyard game because you can play without any equipment and with almost any number of players. It’s basically a version of tag, except when the person who is “it” tags you, then you have to freeze and stay frozen until another player untags you. One variation is called “TV Tag,” when the person who is about to be tagged can call out the name of a TV show to prevent being frozen. Another new variation could be called “Video Tag,” where the person has to call out a video game to save themselves from being frozen. Because you can only use each title once, it makes kids think on their feet while they’re getting exercise.
Who remembers the thrill of an extra long throw or an amazing snag in a backyard game of catch? One way to get your kids to experience the same thrill is with the Djubi Classic. Djubi, pronounced joo-bee, is a modern twist on the classic game of catch that combines specially designed rackets with nets and a unique ball called the Djubi. Simply slip the loop of the Djubi over the launch hook on the racket, pull it back and aim. Let it go and watch the Djubi soar – it can launch up to 100 feet. And, catching the foam ball is easy with the deep net pocket on the plastic racket. Perfect for the backyard or park, it’s available here.
How many times did you cover your eyes and count to 30 while your friends ran and hid in your neighborhood? Hiding and seeking is fun. Add face paint to it, and it is really fun! Hide five small containers with a different color face paint crayon in each one. Have the players count to 30 and then race around to find the colors. When they find each one, they use the paint to draw a war paint line on their face and continue on to find the others. One additional player – the Rainbow Warrior – lurks to tag the players. Every time they are tagged, they must wipe one color off of their face. The first player to have all five colors on their face is the winner and the Rainbow Warrior for the next round.
Cruising around your neighborhood on your scooter was carefree and fun. Now your kids can get this same carefree experience on the Ezyroller Classic, a new twist on a classic scooter. It is an innovative riding machine that lets you sit low to the ground with hands free while you curve your way using an instinctive reptilian movement and push back and forth against a foot bar. Your kids will be curving and swerving up and down the sidewalk. It’s so easy to ride and race! See it here.
Back in the day, kids loved to learn new tricks with hula hoops and they were entertained for hours. Kids today want more of a challenge. They love to compete and keep score. To improve coordination and dexterity – try this competitive twist on hula hooping. Lay three or four hoops on the ground three feet away from each other and have kids stand in them. Then, give each kid a stack of bean bags. At the word “go,” the players try and toss their bean bags into the other players hoops while blocking bean bags from landing in their hoops. It’s easy to set up and fun for all ages to play and can be as competitive as they want.
Just when you think an old classic can’t get anymore fun, the Capture the Flag game gets revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Just like the traditional game, players split into teams and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the flag. But unlike the classic, the flag is now a glowing orb and players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members and glowing jail markers. You can purchase Capture the Flag Redux here.
For some of us, dodgeball brings back terrifying memories of being the easiest target. This modern take on dodgeball uses a soft or foam ball and more civilized rules. One person is “it” and the other players all pick a number one through five (or however many kids are playing). The person who is “it” throws the ball in the air and calls out one of the numbers and then runs away. The person whose number was called tries to run back to catch the ball and then they yell “freeze” and the other players all freeze. The person with the ball tries to tag one of the players with the ball while they try and dodge it without moving their feet. If they get hit, they get one strike against them. The players all play until they have three strikes and are eliminated. The last player standing is the champion.
Steal the Bacon was a neighborhood favorite. After all, you could use anything as the “bacon” – an old shoe, a stick, even your sister’s barbie. But how cool would it be to play now with glowing foam swords that look like a high quality lightsaber toy. Glow Battle is a great game where players use harmless, glowing swords to team up and attack down their opponents, and send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. Teams are distinguished with light-up bracelets and bases are marked with LED lights. To play the “Steal the Bacon” variation, you start with all of the weapons scrambled in the middle of the playing filed, then countdown to race for the weapons. Instructions for this variation, along with others come with the game, which can be purchased here.
Capture the Flag REDUX
Experience this classic game with a modern glow-in-the-dark twist
Battle like a ninja samurai using harmless glowing swords
Wizards & Werewolves
Transform your backyard into an imagination-fueled competition of mythic proportions
Check out our other award winning active games and expansions