Summer Throwback: "Classic" Outdoor Games

Teach your kids some of your favorites!

By Melissa Hucal August 7, 2023
Think back to the summer when you were eight or nine. Does it bring back memories of gathering with all the kids on the neighborhood and playing games in someone’s backyard (or across several yards!) until the street lights came on? Share that experience with your kids this summer by creating a little summer “throwback” when you share some of your favorite “classic” outdoor games. It's a great way to get your family active and get connected with the families in your neighborhood as you spend time outside.

Whether you're in your own backyard or venture to a local park or open field, we’ve got seven games (with variations) to get started. 

#1: Freeze Tag/TV Tag
There's nothing more classic than a good game of Tag! Choose one person to be "it" while the rest of the group runs away, trying not to get caught. Once a player is touched by the person who is "it," they are "frozen" until another player touches them to "unfreeze" them (Freeze Tag). The "TV Tag" version requires a player to not only touch, but also call out the name of a television show to "unfreeze" another player. If the show name has already been used, both players are now frozen!

#2: Simon Says/Mother May I?
Simon Says and Mother May I? are great games for all ages as the only skill required is listening! Simon Says has the group following commands together, but only when "Simon" says. In Mother May I?, players ask for "permission" to hop, skip, jump or run a certain distance in pursuit of a pre-determined target or base. 

#3: Relay Races/Three-Legged Races/Potato Sack Races
Relay races aren't only for picnics and family reunions! Plan a few in your own backyard. Or, better still, create an obstacle course using the natural landscape.

#4: Horseshoes/Bags
Although it requires a little more equipment, Horseshoes is probably one of the earliest backyard games. Its modern day cousin, Bags, requires bean bags and a board with a hole. Points are scored when a player/team "sinks" a bag in the hole.

#5: Hopscotch
Move your activities to the sidewalk! Use chalk to draw your board and hop, skip and jump to your heart's content!

#6: Kick Ball
Two teams and rules similar to baseball make up this classic backyard sport. Not enough people? Incorporate "ghost runners" on the bases!

#7: Water Bucket/Balloon/Squirt Gun Wars
Get a little crazy with some water games! Fill up buckets, balloons or squirt guns (purchased at the dollar store). Keep score or determine winners by how wet (or not!) someone is!

What backyard games did you play as a child that you would love to see your kids play? Let's keep the list going!