There are plenty of outdoor sports games for kids, but when you just need to keep a group of kids busy for a few minutes while waiting outside it can be difficult to organize a soccer match or baseball game. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for kids of all ages and ability levels when it comes to fun outdoor games for kids. Try these ideas the next time you need to fill a few minutes of outdoor time.
Capture the Flag
This is a great game if you have a large group of kids and a large amount of time to fulfill. Get two pieces of cloth, and divide the kids into two teams. Establish the boundaries of the game, then give the leader of each team one of the “flags”. The teams can hide it where ever they want, and use whatever means they can think of to keep it away from the other team. The goal of the game is to take the flag from the other team.
This game can take just a few minutes in a small area, or the entire afternoon in a large area. It’s also possible to make this one of the outdoor water games for kids by playing in boats on a lake or river.
Apple Core, Baltimore
This is a game that was originally designed to be played in canoes, but it can be adapted for just about any venue. Start by passing out apples to every kid. Have them eat their snack as they paddle out to the middle of a lake or other body of water. As soon as they have eaten everything but the core, have them call out a friend’s name and shout, “Apple Core!”. The friend responds, “Baltimore!”. The first child answers, “Who’s your friend?” At this point, the second child can name anyone in the boats. The first child then throws his or her apple core at that person. If successful, the core lands in the water next to the “victim” and splashes him or her with water. If unsuccessful, the apple core will splash far away or land in the boat, giving the child an additional “weapon” to fight back with.
Apple core fights tend to only last a few minutes, and since the only items used are apple cores, it is a game that won’t harm the environment. Just make sure that there is nothing in the boats that can’t get wet, since these battles almost always involve getting someone wet or a boat overturned.
The Wolf and the Sheep
This game is originally from Germany, and it can be adapted to large and small groups of kids of just about any age. It’s one of the easy outdoor games for kids because the rules are simple to learn. Start by picking one child to be the wolf. Everyone else is a sheep.
Take the kids to a field or other large open area. Designate a small portion of the field to the wolf’s “den”. Typically, this is done by drawing a line in the sand about 1/4 of the way down the field. Have the wolf stand in his her den while the other kids spread out across the rest of the field.
When the game starts, the wolf’s job is to tag as many sheep as possible. The sheep need to avoid the wolf while running towards the den. Anyone who makes it to the den without being tagged is considered to be safe. Anyone who gets tagged becomes a wolf.
In the next round, there will be several more wolves and a few less sheep. This makes the game harder for the remaining sheep, but easier for the wolves. The game continues with each tagged sheep becoming a wolf until there is only one sheep left. This child is the winner and can become the lone wolf to start the next game.
Depending on the group, you might want to consider making the den smaller or larger or starting the game with more than one wolf.
This is a good game in a large open field with a large number of kids. Start by designating one child to be the octopus. The other kids are runners. When the game starts, the octopus has the job of tagging as many kids as possible.
In this version of tag, instead of the tagged children being out of the game, they have to join hands or link arms with the octopus. The chain of kids is the octopus, and any child who is tagged by any member of the octopus has to join the chain. The last child left is the winner and gets to start the next game.
Depending on the group, you might want to start the game with a larger octopus.
This is another great game for a large group of kids in an open field. It works best with children old enough to know their directions.
Designate one child to be the catcher and another be the runner. The other children will make the maze. Have the kids stand in a grid (several rows and columns). Then have everyone stretch their arms out and hold hands (or at least touch fingertips) with the person standing next to them. After everyone spreads out enough to do this, have them turn ninety degrees and repeat the process.
If you’re playing with a group of kids who has never played before, take a few minutes to make sure that everyone knows how to pivot. When the caller shouts “Front” the kids should all face the same way with their hands out. This will create several rows of human chains. When the caller shouts “Turn!” the kids should all turn 90 degrees and stretch their arms out, turning the rows of human chains into several columns of human chains.
Have the kids face front, and have the catcher start chasing the runner. Every few seconds, call out “Turn” or “Front” so that the grid changes from columns to rows and back again. As soon as the catcher gets the runner, pick a new catcher and runner.
This game is only fun if the kids who are making up the grid get to turn often. It can also be a good idea to designate several runners so that the catcher has a couple of different targets. Swap out player s fairly often so that no one gets border being stuck as part of the grid.
This is a classic children’s game, but it has recently fallen out of favor at many schools because of the potential for kids to get hurt if it isn’t played correctly. Have children form two lines facing each other. Then have the kids in each line clasp or hold hands together. It’s important to make sure that no one has their fingers interlaced with someone else’s or has anything else in their hands.
The first line of children start by shouting “Red Rover, Red Rover send (name of child) right over”. The child whose name was called should start running towards the team that called him or her. The goal is break through the line. If the child breaks through the line, he or she gets to pick a child from the opposing team to take back to his or her team’s line. If the child can’t break through, he or she should join the other team’s line.
It’s important to monitor this game closely to make sure that the same group of kids isn’t being called all the time. Also make sure that as the game progresses everyone is following the rules about holding hands. Kids should be breaking the kine with the middle part of their bodies. Arms should not be raised to hit other kids in the head.
Outdoor games are a good way to fill time and ensure that kids get some exercise. Just make sure that proper safety precautions are taken.