It seems like kids are playing on phones, iPads, and computers everywhere you look these days. Sadly, having too much screen time has been linked to issues surrounding sleep deprivation, mental health, and motivation. However, it’s not all gloom and doom for the next generations! Research has proven the negative aspects of being attached to too many screens, sure. But it has also proven the benefits of outdoor games for kids. Plus, we’re being given more and more tools to help our kiddos spend time in the Great Outdoors every day!
To help you get your youngsters outside, we’ve created a list of fun outdoor games for kids. This was inspired by our favorite childhood games as well as new trends that have popped up over the past few years. Most of these games can be played with very little equipment or props, which makes them particularly great games if you’re going on an epic All-American road trip. Let’s play!
Quality Time Together With Let’s Roam
Don’t stop at just checking out outdoor games for kids. Spending time with your family and friends is crucial for you to live a happy, healthy life, too! As such, we’ve created a slew of resources to help you make the most of your precious time together. From exciting scavenger hunts to inspiring scratch-off adventure books full of fun activities that are designed to get you out of your comfort zone, our activities are perfectly designed to bring people together. Check out the link below to learn more!
22 Awesome Outdoor Games for Kids
Below, you will find a list of some of our favorite outdoor games for the little spuds in our lives. This list is a combination of classic outdoor games, DIY activities, and a few arts and crafts projects. They’re perfect for party games at a birthday party, a family get-together, or even a boring old evening at home. We’re sure there will be something perfect for every group of kids!
1. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are one of our all-time favorite activities for kids. They can be as basic or as complex as you want. That means they’re perfect for kids of all ages! You can totally DIY your scavenger hunt using items you have around the house. Alternatively, you can purchase one of our fun-filled app-based scavenger hunts. These hunts are expertly designed to promote interaction and teamwork as players solve interesting trivia questions and complete wacky challenges!
2. Scratch-off Adventures
One of the best things about being alive is that you never really know what your day will bring. Ordinary days can become extraordinary at the drop of a hat. One minute, you’re doing a mundane chore, and the next, you may be heading off on your next adventure!
Here at Let’s Roam, we love living in a world where anything can happen, and we want to bring that joy to you! That’s why we’ve created a series of scratch-off adventure books that are perfect for families, couples, or friends. These books are specially designed to enhance your day and are full of indoor and outdoor activities that are great for kids. Each book has more than 50 different adventures to choose from. But you won’t know what you’ll get until you scratch one off!
3. Hide and Seek
An oldie but a goodie, Hide and Seek is about as old-school as they come. During the game, one person is the seeker while everyone else hides. After counting to a pre-decided number while covering their eyes, it’s time for the seeker to find their friends and siblings. Hide and Seek is a great way to teach kids patience and critical thinking. Best of all, you don’t even need any equipment to play! You simply need some good hiding spots and at least two players.
If possible, try to have kids play with other children roughly around their age. For example, it may not be super fun for a 10-year-old to play with a 4-year-old. On the other hand, the 4-year-old probably doesn’t stand much of a chance competitively.
4. Marco Polo
Marco? Polo! Marco? …Polo! Marco Polo is a fun outdoor activity where one player keeps their eyes closed while they attempt to “catch” the other players. This player continuously calls out “Marco” while the others shout back “Polo.” They are then able to follow the sound to try and find the other players. The first player to get “caught” then becomes Marco. This is a great way to help kids heighten their senses as they are relying on sound to find one another.
5. DIY Obstacle Course
Another fun DIY game, an obstacle course is anything you want it to be! Depending on where the kids are playing, this could be anything from climbing up and over a tree trunk, running around a garden, skipping over a puddle, doing jumping jacks, and more. The first person or the first team that finishes all tasks and crosses the finish line is the winner. The sky is truly the limit here when it comes to the different obstacles you incorporate into the game! This is an awesome activity to play either in a public park or in the comfort of your yard. You can even create your obstacle course just by walking down the sidewalk!
Besides taking advantage of what is already outside, you could incorporate different things that you have lying around the house or even pieces of furniture. Hula hoops, bean bags, ping pong paddles, jump ropes, and beach balls or volleyballs can all play double duty here. When you’re finished with the obstacle course, you can easily incorporate them into another game. That means you have less to carry around with you.
When you’re creating your obstacle course, always make sure that it is safe for kids to play on and around and that it doesn’t inconvenience other people who are using the same space. This will make it much easier to relax and let the kids do their thing as they compete to be the first or the fastest to complete the obstacle course.
If the kids have a wide age range, don’t forget to make obstacle courses for all levels. This will make it more fun for everyone involved. It will also make it safer for younger kids since they won’t be trying to keep up with the big kids the entire time.
6. Water Balloon Fight
Remember the thrill of having a water balloon fight when you were a kid? The fun of dodging water balloons as you try and drench your opponents? The feeling of the cool water on a hot summer day?
Water balloon fights are a fun way to get some relief from the summer heat. It’s a low-cost activity—all you need is a few bags of water balloons and some water! You can get started by finding a big container to store the balloons in. Then start filling them up. While there’s no specific number of how many water balloons you need, you will definitely want to have enough to keep the game going for a while. Once you build up a large enough pile of balloons for a full-on water war, it’s time for the fun to begin!
You can start the fight by laying down some ground rules. Depending on the ages of the kids, you can decide how far away they must be from one another and how hard they can throw the balloons. It’s also a very good idea to say what is off-limits (i.e., no throwing them at each other’s heads, etc.). Keep a close eye on them when they’re playing. If the kids break any of the rules, they need to be taken out of the game.
7. Red Light, Green Light
Another of the many great outdoor activities you can do without needing any equipment, Red Light, Green Light is a game during which one person stands with their back to the group, who are all gathered together at a starting line. They then either yell “red light” or “green light.” Just like a traffic light, when it’s a red light, the players need to stay in one spot. However, when it’s a green light, everyone tries to move as fast as they can to reach a specific point. If a person is still moving when the player yells “red light,” they must move back to the starting line. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner.
8. Hula-Hooping Competition
Hula-Hoops are an excellent way to get kids in shape and help them build up their coordination. These simple plastic rings are lightweight and relatively easy to carry around with you. That makes them a convenient toy for any outing.
To make things a little more exciting, you can organize a pop-up Hula-Hooping competition based on who can Hula-Hoop the longest or has the most creative Hula-Hooping moves. Beyond just being a great form of exercise, this can also teach kids creative thinking skills and help them figure out different ways to move their bodies. Since they may not know what to do with a Hula-Hoop right away, you better be prepared to show them the ropes. Make sure to limber up beforehand!
Famous on college campuses around the country, cornhole is a bean bag toss game where players stand in front of a wooden or cardboard board and attempt to throw bean bags through a hole in it. Teams stand on either side of the wooden stands and take turns tossing the bean bags into the opposite stand. Whichever team is able to get the most bean bags into the hole wins.
Like many of the outdoor activities on this list, a bean bag toss is a very good way to improve hand-eye coordination. For younger kids, it is a good idea to keep the wooden stands just a few yards apart. As kids get older, you can move them further and further away from one another to make their outdoor play a little more challenging.
10. Sidewalk Chalk Art Show
If you have youngsters who love to show off their creative sides, sidewalk chalk may be just the thing you need for hours of fun! Much like blackboard chalk, sidewalk chalk is easy to wash off of clothing and skin. It usually wears off of concrete within just a few days. This allows the artwork to last just long enough for the kids (and your neighbors) to admire their handiwork before leaving them with a whole new blank slate to work with.
One of the best things about sidewalk chalk art is that kids have a huge canvas! Whether it be a driveway, sidewalk, or road, they have plenty of space to bring their imagination to life. This makes it a wonderful way for them to show off their skills on a much bigger medium than they would have access to otherwise.
When the kiddos are done playing Picasso, you can use their sidewalk chalk in different colors to make a DIY hopscotch board. This board consists of a series of boxes that kids can jump on as they make their way from one of the boxes to the other. The boxes are drawn on top of one another, alternating between one and two boxes. The first player must jump on each box as they hop on one foot or both feet, depending on the boxes.
Hopscotch is an excellent way to promote coordination, stability, and leg strength, and since there is very little contact or competition between players, it can be played by both younger and older kids together. The only thing you need to look out for is that the boxes you’ve drawn are the appropriate size for the players’ feet.
If the youngsters need a little bit of a break after an energetic game of hopscotch, you can tone it down by drawing an enormous Tic-Tac-Toe board using the aforementioned sidewalk chalk. A Tic-Tac-Toe board consists of nine squares drawn three by three. The first person puts either an X or an O in one of the squares while the second person puts the alternate letter in another square.
The object of the game is to make a line of three squares either going horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. The aim of the game is to try to block the other player from completing their line. This is another great way to hone kids’ critical thinking skills while they learn more about the cause and effect of putting an X or an O in certain boxes. Tic-Tac-Toe helps them see the bigger picture and think more logically about their actions.
The last (we promise!) sidewalk chalk activity on this list is the game of Hangman. During a game of hangman, one player thinks of a word. They then draw several spaces that correspond with the amount of letters in the word. The other player then has to guess what the word is. They can do this by calling out letters they think the word may contain. If the letter they choose is not in the word, the other player draws one body part of a stick drawing of a man.
Playing hangman is a good way for kids to practice spelling and reading in a fun, constructive way. You can adapt it for older kids by making the words longer while making the drawing of the man more and more detailed.
14. DIY Twister
Twister is a favorite childhood game that is normally played indoors. The object of the game is for players to put a hand or foot on a colored circle on the ground. As the game progresses, the players get more and more pretzel-like. The first person to fall loses while the last person to remain upright is the winner. This is a good game for promoting coordination, mobility, and flexibility!
While the artists are at work with their sidewalk chalk, you can also have them create their own DIY twister board. This can be done by drawing a very large square and then having different colored circles inside, just like a twister board. You can then use the spinner from another game to call out different colors. Add a few pieces of paper with body parts on them in a bag, and then pick them out randomly. This certainly puts an interesting little spin on the original game!
If you would love to find an outdoor activity that is good for a group of kids, kickball could be a good choice. All you need is a fairly large amount of space, like a park, and a rubber ball. Much like baseball, the game is played by having a home base where each player takes turns kicking the ball while the opposing team members stand out in the “field.” After kicking the ball, the player will then try and run between the bases in order to score a home run.
If a player on the opposing team catches the ball, the kicker is out. Likewise, if the person guarding one of the bases gets the ball before the kicker gets there, they are out. After three outs, the teams switch places, and the other team gets to kick. The team that has the most points after a pre-decided amount of rounds is the winner.
Played by people around the world, dodgeball is a fun ball game that requires very little skill but can be an amazing way for the little ones and older kids to burn off some excess energy. To start the game, you need to put several balls in the middle of the playing area. The amount of balls you use should directly correlate with the number of players you have. Divide the players into two teams. The game begins when three players from each side rush to grab a ball from the center. They then pass the balls back to the other players on the team, and the fun begins!
Each round of dodgeball lasts just two minutes, but during that time, each team tries to eliminate the opposing team’s players by hitting each player with a ball or by catching a ball that a member of the opposing team threw. The winner of each round is the team that has the most players on the field or the one that has been able to eliminate all the other players on the opposing team.
Competition can make kids do crazy things, so keep an eye on the kids as they are playing to make sure the game doesn’t get too rough or that one team doesn’t gang up on one particular player.
17. Freeze Tag
When you’re a kid, there is nothing quite as exciting as a game of tag. After all, you’re jumping and twisting out of the way while the other player tries in vain (hopefully) to tag you before the time runs out. If a player is tagged, they are then frozen until another player untags them or until the round is finished.
To start the game, set a timer for a few minutes. You then choose the player or players that will be it. When the timer starts, they can then run around tagging the other players as quickly as possible. Make sure the tagger doesn’t sit around and wait for other players to be tagged, or the game won’t be quite as fun!
18. Duck, Duck, Goose
If you have a large group of preschoolers and aren’t quite sure what to do with everyone, why not start a game of Duck, Duck, Goose?
The rules of the game are simple. The kids sit in a large circle. One person stands up and starts to walk around the circle. As they go, they call out “duck” and tap the other children on the head or the shoulder. They can call out “goose” instead at any time. When they do, the “goose” needs to stand up and start chasing the first person around the circle. If that person makes it all the way around the circle to where the “goose” was sitting, the “goose” begins walking around the circle, tapping the other players as they go. However, if the “goose” catches the first person before they get to their seat, the first person has to continue walking around the circle.
This is a very easy game to explain and play, which makes it perfect for young children. It’s also great for helping them develop quicker reflexes and coordination.
Frisbee is a good way for older kids to work on hand-eye coordination. It can help them aim more accurately. Since it is also slightly slower-paced than some of the other activities on this list, it is a good warm-up or cool-down activity. You can play by either having the kids simply toss the frisbee back and forth with each other. Or you can make it a little more challenging by adding more players or by having the kids move further and further apart from one another. You can find your own ways of scoring the game, or you can just let them play until they get bored or tired.
One of the best things about playing frisbee is that you really only need a plastic frisbee, which is usually pretty low weight, and an open playing field. Since frisbees seem to have a mind of their own sometimes, it is also a good idea to steer clear of where other people are hanging out to avoid any head-on collisions.
20. Water Games
Water-based games are another great way to stay cool on a hot summer day. Like many of the activities you see here, you’re only really limited by your creativity! From jumping in and out of sprinklers to playing jump rope with a spraying hose, you can make this one as wet and wild as you want. You can even DIY your own ring toss game using pool noodles!
Whenever there is water involved, always double-check that there are no slippery surfaces on which kids can fall and get hurt. The last thing you want to do is have to spend your day in the emergency room. You should also keep a very close eye on any games they are playing to ensure the kids don’t start trying to move a little too fast.
21. Simon Says
Great for little kids who are working on developing their listening skills, Simon Says is a game where one player calls out commands starting with “Simon says,” such as “Simon says touch your nose” or “Simon says do a dance.” The other players must do the command. The first player then unexpectedly calls out a command without saying “Simon says.” All players who do that command are out. The last person left is the winner and gets to be Simon.
The commands can be as basic or as complex as you want, which means they can also help with coordination, flexibility, adaptation, and other useful skills!
22. Tug of War
This relatively basic game pits two teams against one another as they both pull their hardest on a long rope. The object of the game is to pull the other team past a line drawn between the two teams. Although it originally just appears to be a game of strength, once kids play a few rounds, they start to develop strategies on how to beat the opposing team, which helps develop their critical thinking skills.
So, Ready to Roam?
We hope this list of fun outdoor games for kids has left you inspired to grab your little ones and take them outside for a day of fun! If you want to read about more great activities to do with kids, make sure to head over to the Adventure from Scratch Blog. Here, you’ll find hundreds of posts on family-friendly activities, travel guides, and building and maintaining strong relationships with friends, families, and your community!
Don’t forget to download the Let’s Roam app before you start your next adventure. This will give you access to all of our fun-filled scavenger hunts as well as user-generated tips and tricks for destinations around the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the best games to play outdoors?
Old-school outdoor games for kids are great for preschoolers. They’ll have a blast playing games like Duck, Duck, Goose, Red Light, Green Light, and Tic-Tac-Toe.
Some of the best outdoor games for kids are the ones that don’t need a lot of equipment. Consider games like Hide and Seek, Simon Says, Red Light, Green Light, Duck, Duck, Goose, and Tug of War.
If you’re heading outside with youngsters, you may want to bring a ball and some sidewalk chalk. These can open up tons of great outdoor games for kids, like Hopscotch, Kickball, or DIY Twister.