Come summer, parents imagine their kids running around outside with their friends, playing together from sun up till sundown, until their legs tire under the weight of all the fun they’re having. The truth is, that in our 21st-century society, most kids default to screen-time activities indoors, wasting those precious few months of beautiful warm weather. While there are merits to screen-based activities, experts agree that growing children need plenty of exercise, ideally outdoors. Below are five fun physical games to inspire your children to put down the tablet and play outside!
The classic, the original: Tag. There are countless variations of tag, all involving one or more players designated as the “It” person, responsible for chasing other kids down and laying a gentle hand on them before yelling “You’re It!” Popular variations include Freeze Tag, where players are “frozen” in place when they’re tagged; or Blob Tag, where the “It” people link hands to create a blob of players.
We’re talking about any and all manner of water-flinging devices; squirt guns, water balloons, sprinklers, heck, even buckets! As long as your community isn’t calling for water conservation, just get your kids out there with the hose and watch them soak each other for hours. Be sure to have plenty of towels on hand!
Red Light, Green Light
The idea is simple: one player is the traffic light, and they stand on one end of the playing field. All other players line up together on the opposite end and wait for the traffic light to turn around and yell, “Green light!” That’s when the players run as fast as they can towards the traffic light, until that player yells “Red light!” and turns around. If the traffic light sees anyone, they’re out. The first player to reach the traffic light wins and becomes the new traffic light!
Hide & Seek
Oh, the hours I spent playing this game! Hide and Seek works best if you have a big yard with lots of hiding spots or if you live in a community where you feel comfortable having your kids run from yard to yard. My recommendation is to set some ground rules before playing: What is a safe word the Seeker can yell to signal that the game is over? Where are the boundaries for Hiders to hide in? At what time is the game automatically over and all Hiders return home?
Sharks & Minnows
I used to play this game at the community pool, but it works just as well in your yard or in any open space. One player is chosen to be the shark, the rest are minnows. The shark stands in the middle and the minnows bunch up together on one end of the play area. When the shark is ready, all the minnows race to the far side, trying to avoid getting tagged by the shark. Any minnows tagged become sharks for the next round. The winner is the last minnow standing!