Outdoor Games for the Summer

The summer months, filled with long school holidays and bored children. Finding new and different things to keep them occupied is a challenge, but summer games outdoors are a great way to get kids out of the house, getting some fresh air and exercise and having fun. Summer games need to be adaptable, especially when the weather is less than predictable. Most of the games can be adapted, with a little fiddling, to be played indoors if the clouds roll in.

Kids will only play bat and ball games for so long before the novelty wears off. Changing the way the games are played is a good strategy for using available equipment with one or two added extras.

Water tennis rings the changes instantly. Set up a net,  old sheets or curtains are good, and set up teams (one against the other or an adult for smaller numbers). Fill a water balloon, but be careful not to overfill it, keep it soft, not taut, or it will burst too quickly. Using hands for bats, let the tennis begin. Rules can be flexible, but first person to bust 5 balloons on the opposing side wins is a good one to begin with.

In a similar vein, stand a few empty soda bottles on a wall, table or just on a path. Fill them with varying amounts of ballast, sand, water or small stones for example and then choose ammo. Water balloons are good if the game is played like target practice, the winner being the one who bursts the most balloons on the bottles. Rolled up socks are the alternative and the aim would be to knock down the most bottles.

What about giant tiddlywinks? This game requires a bucket or baby bath, one no longer needed, and a collection of paper plates or Frisbees, and harder plastic plates or small stones with which to flip the plates. Arrange the plates at a chosen distance, flip by pressing down on one side of the plate with the stone and aim for the bucket. Winner is the one with the most shots on target.

For a vertical version, suitable for teens as well as little ones, gather up the same equipment but proceed as follows. Decide on how many shots each player gets, how far they stand from the bucket (try a handicap system for mixed age groups) and a time limit for taking throws. Again, the winner is the person with the most ammo in the bucket. Pop the bucket up high on a wall or in a tree for a basketball style version.

Chalk is the adult’s friend in the summer. Not only can it be used to draw pretty much anything in the garden, it also washes away with the minimum of fuss. This makes it the perfect medium for outdoor games. Use the sidewalk or patio to draw giant games of Snakes & Ladders, Ludo, Tic-Tac-Toe and it is even possible to draw out a chequers board, although using cardboard pieces is a better bet than trying to draw the counters. Chalk also makes those great hopscotch grids, and can be used to play marbles (if adults don’t know the rules for marbles, kids will; if they don’t try this resource).

Chalk rings can also be used to play a variety of throwing and retrieving games. Fill the circle with shoes or toys from the house, get the kids to stand round the circle, at a distance, give a signal and get them to retrieve their personal property, but they can only fetch one piece at a time. Make up rules to suit the family, but the winner is the one with everything brought back to their spot.

Alternately, get kids throwing soft balls, rolled up socks or frizbees into the circle. Or give them weighted socks, put something in the end such as pasta or more socks and have a shot put or discus competition. Collect a few foam bats and use them as javelins, set up a chalk running track, complete with cardboard box hurdles and hold the family Olympics.

For many, many  more ideas about how to get kids out of doors, active and having lots of fun in the summer, try this resource.