Classic Outdoor Games That Kids Still Love

Try These Games That Parents and Grandparents Used to Play

teach the grandchildren how to play hide and seek
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In a simpler time, kids played outdoors all the time. Adair Lara, author of The Granny Diaries, says that kids "were set out in the yard in the morning and brought in at night, like cats." To stave off boredom, children played every game they had ever heard of and invented others. Today, children spend more time with their screens. As a result, many children are seldom outdoors and struggle with obesity. These classic kids outdoor games are just what the doctor ordered, and besides that,...MORE they're a lot of fun. 

  • 01 of 12
    teach the grandchildren to play kickball
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    A playground ball, an open space, and eight or more kids, and you have the makings of a classic neighborhood game of kickball. All ages can play, with a few accommodations, and the neighborhood windows are safe.

    Kickball uses the basic rules of baseball, three chances to kick the ball, four bases to run and three outs to an inning. It's possible to play with fewer players because the ball won't travel as far and as fast as a baseball, so fewer players can cover the field.

    Kickball is great...MORE for family reunions, grandma camp and other occasions involving fairly large groups. 

  • 02 of 12
    grandson playing flashlight tag
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    What kid doesn't love a flashlight? And if it can be used in a lively game of Flashlight Tag, so much the better! Flashlight tag is like hide-and-seek but played at night, when the darkness lends an air of mystery and suspense.

    Going gramping (grandparent camping)? Don't forget the flashlights, and be sure to buy extra batteries!

  • 03 of 12
    teach the grandchildren to play Red Rover
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    There's hardly an adult alive who doesn't have fond memories of playing Red Rover. Although banned in some areas for being too rough, with proper supervision Red Rover can still supply hours of fun.

    Play by dividing the children into two teams. When a player's name is called by an opposing team, that player has to try to break through the opposing team's linked arms. Failure means that the player joins the opposing team. Success means that he gets to steal a player to take back to...MORE his own team. The game is over when all the players belong to the same team.

  • 04 of 12
    teach the grandchildren how to play hide and seek
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    Who doesn't know how to play hide-and-seek? Ah, but have you ever played Chain Hide-and-Seek or Sardines? Why be content with the classic kids game when you can give it a new twist? Preschoolers and up will enjoy this game and all its variations.

    Hide-and-seek can be played indoors or out. Adults should survey the area first to eliminate possible hazards.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12
    little boy playing horse basketball
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    If there's a basketball goal and basketball in the vicinity, you have everything you need for a game of Horse. A game of shooting skill, Horse is ideal for grandparents to play with grandchildren, since it doesn't involve running, dribbling or physical contact.

    The player who goes first chooses a shot to try. If the shot is made, the next player must duplicate the shot. A player who fails to duplicate a shot receives a letter, beginning with H. Five misses and the player has spelled HORSE...MORE and is out of the game. 

  • 06 of 12
    hopscotch is great fun for grandkids
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    Hopscotch may be the oldest of these classic kids outdoor games, as tradition has it that Roman soldiers played it in ancient Britain. Medieval hopscotch courts courts could be a hundred feet long, but a lot of fun can be had with a course a tenth of that. 

    Hopscotch grids traditionally combine single squares, for jumping on one foot; double squares, for jumping with both feet; and circles. Players put their marker in the first square. If they are able to progress through the grid and back...MORE without stepping out of the grid or stepping on a line, they get to advance their marker to the next square. The goal is to be the first to move one's marker to the end of the grid, winning the game. 

  • 07 of 12
    how to play four square ball
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    Just follow the bouncing ball to play the game of Four Square. With quick reactions and a little strategy, players can work their way up from being a peasant to being the king! 

    To play, draw a square on a driveway or other smooth surface. Number the squares 1-4, moving clockwise. A player stands in each square, and the player in the first square bounces the ball into one of the other squares. That player must return it to another square. When a player fails to return the ball, he or she must...MORE move to the fourth square or rotate out of the game, if there are more than four players. The point is to stay in the first square, where one is designated the "king," as long as possible. 

  • 08 of 12
    multigenerational family having fun
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    Kids of all ages can enjoy Red Light, Green Light, a classic kids game that is played all over the globe, in slightly different variations. Modifications allow children of all ages to compete with each other.

    The player who is "it" stands facing away from the other players, who line up about 20 feet away. "It" calls out "Green Light," which is the players' signal to move forward. "It" then calls out "Red Light" and swiftly turns around. Any player...MORE caught moving has to go back to the starting line. The point is to tag "it" without being caught and sent back to the starting line. 

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12
    teach the grandchildren swing the statue
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    A favorite game of the fifties and sixties, Swing the Statue will still be enjoyed by children today. It's fun to try to hold a pose, but even more fun to watch others in their strange positions. Swing the Statute is fun as a non-competitive game, but it can be played competitively, too. 

    The player chosen to be "it" takes the other players one by one, swings them in a circle, and releases them. Those being swung must freeze as soon as possible after being released.  

  • 10 of 12
    Capture the Flag is fun for grandkids
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    Although it's probably been played for a century, Capture the Flag is still a favorite at camp and family reunions. You'll need at least six children to play, and you'll need a large area for the kids to run. For an updated version, play it with Nerf guns.

    Players are divided into two teams. Each team has its own territory and flag to guard, but they also must enter the other team's territory and try to capture its flag. Players caught in enemy territory can be put in...MORE "jail."

  • 11 of 12
    Children run to play a game of kick the can.
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     A can filled with objects that rattle is the only equipment needed to play the classic game of Kick the Can. In this variation of Hide-and-Seek, when "it" spots someone hiding, he or she runs to the can and calls out the person's name. That person must then go to "jail." If the person spotted makes it to the can first, he or she can kick the can and go free. 

  • 12 of 12

    Sneaky Sprinkler

    Grandson Playing in Sprinkler
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    Kids and water are a dynamite duo. Put the kids in their swimsuits or old clothes, and let the good times begin. Even toddlers can enjoy this game, in which you never know when that Sneaky Sprinkler is going to go off!

    Set up Sneaky Sprinkler by connecting a sprinkler to a water hose. Stretch the hose around the corner from the faucet. The children cavort around the turned-off sprinkler until the person manning the faucet around the corner turns it on. At that point everyone has to freeze and get...MORE sprinkled on. The point of the game is to stay dry, but that objective usually gets forgotten as everyone enjoys the suspense of waiting for the water to come on.