Easy Backyard Games to Play With Your Kids

July 27, 2021

Outdoor play is just plain good for your child’s mind, body and spirit — and consequently, their behavior.

If your kids tend to reappear at your door with complaints of “But there’s nothing to do,” not to fret. We’ve got plenty of fun, low-maintenance ideas for backyard entertainment that all ages will love!


Lawn bowling 

Challenge the little ones to a bowl-off outdoors. You can purchase plastic bowling pins for cheap, or create your own with empty soda bottles filled with gravel or rice (just don’t make them too heavy to knock down). If your kids enjoy art projects, they can even decorate the bowling pins themselves with spray paint or acrylic craft paint. Then, try to find a ball roughly the same size as a bowling ball, set up your pins on a smooth patch of grass and let the fun begin.


Tail tag

Tail tag is exactly what it sounds like…a silly game of tag with tails involved! You can fashion a tail out of a scarf, long sock, tie or cloth, and then each player stuffs it on the inside of their shorts. Blow a whistle to kick off the chase and allow hysteria to ensue. The last player with their tail on wins!


Make an obstacle course

The best part about backyard obstacle courses is that they can be designed with just about anything. Invite your kids to raid the garage and shed for items like cones, hula hoops, balls, tires, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, boxes, pool noodles chairs, etc. Your whole family will have a blast feeling like Ninja Warriors!


Water play

No pool? No problem! Here’s a few ideas to let loose and enjoy water play in your own backyard:

  • Bring out the slip ‘n slide, or DIY it with a big tarp or plastic sheet and sprinklers. You can even coat it in baby shampoo to add some suds.
  • Two words: Water. Balloons. Water balloon dodgeball is always a hit with all ages. Ditto with a balloon toss.
  • Create your own backyard beach! A baby pool, a bit of sand, some buckets and shovels, and of course, a beach chair and good book for you.
  • Make a water balloon pinata and take turns whacking it! It’s the ultimate refreshment on a hot day.
  • Enjoy a good ole-fashioned water gun battle.

Sack races

There’s something about sack races that gets the adrenaline (and giggles) going. Potato sacks can be found at Five Below or on Amazon, or you can just as easily use pillow cases for little ones or sleeping bags for older kids. To add an extra challenge, you can always add a twist, such as balancing an egg on a spoon. On your mark, get set, go!


Giant tic-tac-toe

We love, love, love this idea from “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit.” All you need is a shower curtain, roll of colorful duct tape and six frisbees (three of one color and three of another). Use the duct tape to create a tic-tac-toe grid (nine squares) on an old shower curtain. Then, lay it down on your lawn; if it’s windy, you may want to pin it down with some rocks. Then chose a point for players to stand behind to toss their Frisbees and both sides take turns tossing them into the squares.


Dry land Marco Polo

Who said Marco Polo was only for the pool? Play this classic pool game in your backyard as a guaranteed way to tire the kiddos! If you have a lot of trees, it may be wise to section off a boundary of the yard with rope. Then, choose a player to be ‘it’ and place a blindfold over their eyes. Appoint another player to be the leader; this is the person who calls ‘Marco.’ The other kids have to respond ‘Polo’ as the person who is ‘it’ tries to catch them. The players can only take one step from their current position once they call ‘Polo.’ The last man standing is the new ‘it’!


Plan a playground crawl

Your kids might just love you forever for this one. While it’s not technically a backyard game, it’s a super fun way to get some fresh air and explore nearby parks that you may not have visited before. Pick out a few different playgrounds, and then round up the kiddos to experience each one (don’t forget to pack snacks!). On your way home, take turns voting on the best features of each playground!

For more family-friendly tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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