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15 Great Backyard Games for Kids

It can be tough to get the kids out of the house. Indoors can seem so comfortable to them. But the fresh air is good for them, and so is having a bit more activity in life. But what can they do? If you’re stuck for ideas for games or activities they can enjoy in the yard, we’ve got some great suggestions for you!

These are a few favorite kids’ games. And of course, once they get started, their own creative juices will start flowing. They’ll be able to adapt activities to their own interests, or even invent totally original ideas. 

We’ve tried to come up with a wide variety of ideas. Some simply require willing (or semi-willing) participants, while you may need to get materials or equipment for others. We’ve also tried to find ideas that suit a variety of age groups from pre-school up through young teens. 

Want ideas for helping your teens plan a party? Check out these tips!

These games are great whether it’s just for an afternoon party or if you’re going to have a whole camping event in your yard.

It can be a challenge to get them moving, but once they start, they’ll love it! So let’s dive into some fun ideas.

Games Where All You Need Is The Kids

There are a lot of games and activities that can get children moving but don’t require any materials at all – only some space! 

Foot Race

A simple old-fashioned foot race is great for boys and girls of any age. The length of the race depends on the age and ability of the children, of course. It can be in a straight line or in a circle (especially if your yard is too small for a straight run to make sense!).

This can help them stretch their legs and get a bit of exercise. If they’re old enough and capable, you can even have them run around the block – and it’ll give you a couple of minutes of peace and quiet too!

Tag or Freeze Tag

Another old favorite with simple rules, tag – and its many variations – gets children moving and interacting with each other. It’s about both running and agility. 

It may take a little supervision to make sure they learn that “tag” isn’t “hit”. But it can be a fun time that keeps them active and interested.

Hide And Seek

Racing and Tag might lean a bit more on physical ability, but Hide and Seek can be a mind game, too. While there’s always a physical element involved, it also calls for creativity and quick thinking, both for the hider and the seeker.

Duck Duck Goose

This is a favorite especially among younger children, but older kids can get into it out of “nostalgia” for their kindergarten years, too.

Duck Duck Goose

Players sit in a circle facing inward. One person is designated “it” and walks around the group tapping each person on the head. As they tap, they say “duck” but randomly choose one to call “Goose” instead. The “Goose” then has to get up and chase them around the circle and tag them before “it” sits in their place. If they tag them, then “it” remains “it.” If not, the goose becomes it.

Red Light Green Light

One person is “it.” They stand a few yards in front of the other players with their back toward the others. “It” calls out “green light” and the other plays can advance. But if “it” calls “Red light” they have to stop in place. If “it” turns and catches someone moving during “red light”, that person has to go back to start.

The goal is to reach and tag “it” without getting caught moving during a red light. The person who tags them becomes “it”.

Games With Things Around The House 

The above games require nothing other than the children and the yard. But here are some you can create with simple materials that are already in the yard or house.

Have a swimming pool? We’ve got ten more ideas for kids’ games in the pool!

Water Balloon Toss

When the weather’s warm, a water balloon toss is a great activity for kids of all ages. 

The original idea of such an activity is to toss the water-filled balloon back and forth between two partners. After each successful toss, they each take a step backward. The winning pair would be the last ones that haven’t broken their balloon. 

Of course, this is like to degenerate into an all-out water balloon war – but that’s ok too!

Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt does require you to find items for the children to search for – but they can be made from about any item you have around the house!

Simple gather up objects and hide them around the yard. Write clues to help the children find them; of course, they have to be written at the children’s level. Then set them loose and ask them to find or identify as many as possible within a time limit!

Nine Pin

If memory serves right, nine pin was the predecessor of the 10-pin bowling that’s now played in bowling alleys. But the 9-pin version was always played on grass.

You can use empty soda bottles as pins. They’re normally arranged in a diamond. A lightweight plastic ball will work well to bowl with. A basketball or soccer ball is too heavy. A rubber or plastic ball – the kind that is kept in the big “ball cages” in big box stores – is ideal. One that’s about 6 or 8 inches in diameter is perfect.

This can be played by any number of children, but 2-4 is best. Even one child can practice alone!

If you want to keep score, you can give a point for every “pin” they knock over.

Obstacle Course

Almost anything you have around the house can serve as part of an obstacle course. Old tires, furniture, and other objects can be points to climb over, under, or through. Yarn or string can be tied between poles and the kids have to pass through or crawl under.

Of course, be sure there are no sharp edges or hazardous conditions. But an obstacle course is a great way for children to practice their American Ninja skills!

It definitely doesn’t have to be as elaborate as the video below, but this is a great idea, too!

Putting More Effort Into It 

You don’t have to put much effort into these, but it might require a quick trip to the store or a tiny amount of DIY skill. Any of these games are simple to prepare for and enjoyable for everyone!

Wiffle Ball

With baseball season in full swing, it’s great to help kids practice what they see on TV. And it’s much more fun to play than watch!

There are Wiffle ball leagues for all ages, from young children to mature adults. Everyone can take part.

You just need a bat and ball which you can get for a few dollars at the store. Make bases out of whatever’s available – even if first is a tree, second is a rock, and third is the side of the house.

Teams can really be any size – a Wiffle ball isn’t going to fly far o you don’t need a huge group.

Frisbee Toss

There are a lot of ways kids (and adults) can have fun with a frisbee. It can be a simple toss back and forth. But you could also set up other games, too.

One favorite is to take an old sheet and mark off squares on it. Each square should be a bit bigger than the frisbee. Mark each square with a different point value or reward.

The object is to toss the frisbee onto the sheet and get the best rewards. With multiple frisbees, this could be adjusted to be a form of tic-tac-toe or a matching game.

Bean Bag Toss

Sometimes known as cornhole, this game is another simple one that can be played by 2-4 players.

LoveLoud bean bag toss (42462973070)

You simply need to drill one or more holes in a piece of plywood and to buy or sew some beanbags.

Of course, it can help hold the children’s attention if you also decorate the plywood with a favorite character or design!

Twister On The Grass

Twister is an old party favorite that translates great to the outdoors. But instead of using the mat that comes with the game, you can paint the circle right on the grass! Yard paint is fantastic for this. You’ll need five colors. You can cut a circle out of a piece of cardboard to use as a stencil.

If you do have the indoor version, you can use the same spinner to decide what color to put the right hand on. Or you or an older child could simply make it up and call it out, which might work better, even!

Plinko

If you’ve spent any amount of time at home on weekday mornings, you’ve undoubtedly seen The Price Is Right game show a few times. And that means you’re probably familiar with Plinko, one of the most popular games on the show.

This does take a bit of DIY work to construct, but it will provide a lot of enjoyment for young and old alike. The board leans back just slightly from vertical. The player releases a disc at the top that has to slide down as it passes between (and bounces off) pins set at regular intervals. At the bottom are slots with different point values where the disc will eventually end up.

You can find great instructions for building a Plinko board over at 100 Things To Do.

Conclusion

Getting the kids to go out to the yard can be tough, especially in this day and age. If you’re out of ideas of things for them to do, hopefully, some of our favorites can inspire you. It’ll give them some fresh air and maybe allow you some peace and quiet!