Classic Outdoor Games


Throughout the month of June, we’ll be focusing on the outdoors to complement our reading and discussion of Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.

Here in the States, the school year is drawing to a close and many children are beginning summer break.  Freedom from school work and structured days can quickly turn to “Mom, I’m bored!”  This is the perfect opprotunity to teach your children (and their friends) some of the games that filled the summer days of your own childhood with out-of-breath running, skinned knees, sweaty water breaks, and beloved memories.

Here are some reminders:

* Sandlot baseball (or soccer or football or other “organized” sports) – all they need is a little open space and a few pieces of equipment.  Maybe they’ll keep score, maybe they won’t.  Just make sure no one loses a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

* Kick The Can – there are a few variations to the rules of this game.  Basically, all you need is three or more players, a can (or box or even a ball), and a little space to run and hide.  This article has a clear set of instructions.

* King of the Hill – find or construct a “hill.”  Use eeny-meeny-miny-mo to choose the first “king.”  Ultimate goal is to overthrow the reigning king sometimes using whatever means necessary.  Fun for kids in Arlen, Texas, or anywhere around the world.

I discovered an amazing, comprehensive list of games at a site simply called Kids Games – such a wonderful resource! also has a section for games, and I found a lovely listing of “vintage” outdoor games in the About.Com: Grandparents section.

Share your favorite outdoor game from childhood!

Photo by broma

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  1. I was always partial to outdoor role-playing games, namely being Laura from Little House on the Prairie. I’d make little pies in my patty pans, pretend to live in a cabin, etc, with my friends. It was great fun!

    On the organized front, I also enjoyed flag football, where you used a bandanna for a flag and tucked it into your waistband, but I was a bit older by that point 🙂

    xo, Amanda @ kiddio

    Amanda @’s last blog post..Soap Boats

  2. Thanks for the great resources! Here are a few more I just found out about. (i think they can email you a daily activity as well) (you can see if there is a bowling alley near you that participates)

    stacey’s last blog post..His grand entrance

  3. Kickball, definitely. I have so many memories of playing this in the 6th grade. It was my perfect game, as little athletic ability was required!


    steadymom’s last blog post..Let Your Children Watch More Television

    • @steadymom, Kickball was a go-to favorite for me, too. Probably for the same reason – just connect your foot to the ball and you can take off! Far easier than softball for me. 🙂

      Megan’s last blog post..Classic Outdoor Games

  4. We would play flag football for hours in the yard with my dad on Saturdays. It was our reward for doing the yard work with him…and all the neighborhood kids would arrive to play with us.
    Currently, I have a 2 and 1 year old, so we’re just playing little tykes t ball. And the kiddos are loving it.

    Nicole’s last blog post..Beauty Parlor…Redeemed

    • @Nicole, there are so many fun ways to play outside, aren’t there? And like you mentioned, these are the things that will stick in our kids’ memories as they grow.

      Megan’s last blog post..Classic Outdoor Games

  5. And don’t forget good, old-fashioned Tag, Freeze Tag and Hide and Seek. Tons of fun for all ages and you don’t need any gear.

    • @Megan, (great name!) – so true! Freeze tag and hide-and-seek are by far my four year old’s favorite outdoor games. She would happily play those for HOURS!

      Megan’s last blog post..Classic Outdoor Games

  6. Elizabeth Wyse says:

    So many fond memories of my childhood late 50s and early 60s … kick the can, for sure … then flashlight tag, catching fireflies (which are rarely found where I live now), baseball 500, freeze tag (and really any type of tag), red light/green light, Mother May I?, Red Rover, dodgeball … and the list goes on and on and on …

    My grandson who is four and a half, has just discovered the joy of friends playing after supper when the evening temps dip way down to the low 80s, which brings back many summer memories for me.

    Put down the remote, the Nintendo, and turn off the TV … go outside and play with the kids … well, at least sit down and enjoy their joy … just don’t spill your wine!

  7. Thanks for the ideas I will add to my list. The kids really love the dodgeball and well so do