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Our Favourite Outside Games for Children

If you're looking for ways to keep your children occupied in the summer holiday, and would like them to go outside and play more often, teach them some of these classic games

 

Chances are, whether you grew up in a city or in the countryside, you spent a lot of time playing outside as a child. However, many children today spend more time in front of a screen than they do playing in the street outside - but it doesn't have to be that way.

We've rounded up some of our favourite games that have been passed down from parents to children through generations, and that you can teach your kids - whether you need something to do while on holiday with your family, or you want to encourage them to go outside and play with their friends more often. These timeless games require little equipment, and will keep your children occupied and active for hours out in the sun (or dodging raindrops).

Tag

All children know how to play tag, but there are dozens of variations you can make to the game to make it more exciting:

  • Stuck in the mud: the child who gets tagged have to stand on the spot with their legs wide apart, and wait for someone to crawl through them to be released.
  • Freeze tag: when you're tagged you have to freeze on the spot. Another person can 'un-freeze' you by touching you.
  • Shadow tag: can only be played on sunny days. Instead of touching someone to tag them, you have to touch their shadow.
  • Blob tag: kids who get tagged have to join hands and continue chasing people together, in a 'blob'. The game ends when everyone is holding hands.

Outside games for children: hopscotch Hopscotch

All you need is some chalk, a sidewalk, and a stone. There's a bunch of different ways to play hopscotch, but the basic rules are the same - a player is only allowed to touch the ground with one foot, can only touch a square once, and have to avoid the square with the rock in it. If a player tosses the rock and miss their square, their turn is over. Teach your children the games of hopscotch you played as a child, or look for new variations online.

Skipping rope

Playing skipping rope is fun, good for learning coordination, and excellent for burning off some of that pent-up energy.

  • Helicopter: one child stands or squats in the middle, swinging the rope around like a helicopter, so that it's touching the ground. The other players have to gather around in a circle and skip over the rope. If they trip or they touch the rope, they're out.
  • Double Dutch: requiring two ropes, this game is for the more experienced skip-roper. Two people swing the ropes in opposite directions, and the person skipping has to hop in between them.
  • School: two players spin the rope, while the other players take turns skipping through the grades. For pre-school, they run under the rope once without jumping. Then they turn around and skip once for first grade, run around and skip twice for second grade, and so on. If a player skips or stumbles before reaching twelve, they lose their turn, and have to start over again on their next go.
  • Skip rope rhymes: teach your children some of the rhymes you used to chant while skipping rope as a child. If you can't remember any, you can find plenty online.

Hide-and-seek

Tired of playing hide and seek? Spice it up by adding new elements to it. As with hide and seek, these games are more fun to play the more people join in.

  • Kick-the-can: a can, a rock, or something else is placed in the middle of the playing area. One child counts, all the other players run and hide. The child goes around looking for them, and when they tag someone they have to go and stand around the can. Someone who has not been tagged can release the tagged players by knocking the can over - but they have to avoid being tagged while doing it. When the can is knocked over all the tagged players can run and hide again. The game is over when all players have been tagged.
  • Sardines: in a way, this is the opposite of hide and seek. One person runs to hide, while everyone else covers their eyes and count to a pre-determined number. Then they go and look for the missing player. When they find them, they quietly join them in their hiding place - until they are crammed together like sardines. The game ends when the last person finds the hiding place.

The ground is lava

Outside games: skipping rope

This game is most fun when it's played on a large playground or other area where the children can jump from spot to spot without touching the ground. Players need to move around without touching the ground - creative solutions like standing on rocks or newspapers that they move around are to be encouraged. This game is better played outside than inside as it gets less rowdy that way!

 
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