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25 Outdoor Games for Kids: Active Play for All Ages

Four kids running down the meadow during summer.

As a child, I spent most of my summer days at my gramp’s house at the foot of a hill, playing outdoor games for kids with my cousins. It was nonstop fun running around, laughing, and creating unforgettable memories—not to mention our epic tree house, which was a perfect spot for our imaginative games and storytelling!

Outdoor games have just too many benefits for kids. That’s why I’m committed to making sure my boys enjoy the same exciting games I did. So pin, save, or share the image below if you’re also looking to get your kids up and moving!

A colorful Pinterest cover photo with kids, a summer theme, and the text "25 Outdoor Games for Kids: Active Play for All Ages."

Benefits of Outdoor Games for Kids

Playing outside is not just about having fun; it benefits kids’ overall development. Here are some reasons outdoor play is essential for children:1,2

  • Physical development: Playing outdoor games helps kids develop gross motor skills, balance, coordination, and strength. Running, jumping, and climbing are all great activities that contribute to building a healthy body.
  • Mental stimulation: Being outdoors exposes kids to new experiences and environments. It encourages them to use their imagination and problem-solving skills while playing different games.
  • Social skills: Outdoor play lets kids interact and communicate with others. While playing games, they learn how to take turns, share, and work in teams.
  • Emotional well-being: Playing outside can boost a child’s mood and reduce stress. It also lets them release energy and unwind for better sleep quality at night.
  • Reduced screen time: With the rise of technology, kids spend more time indoors in front of screens. Outdoor play offers a break from devices and encourages physical activity.
  • Less chances of obesity and myopia: Physical play helps maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity. It also exposes children to natural light, which can help prevent myopia or nearsightedness.
A colorful banner with two kids and the text "Outdoor Games"

There are countless outdoor games that kids can enjoy, from classic ones like tag and hide-and-seek to newer ones like capture the flag and obstacle courses. Here are some popular outdoor games that are perfect for all ages:

1. Red Light, Green Light 

A colorful banner with the text "Red Light, Green Light"

In this game, one person is the “stoplight” and stands with their back to the other players. When they say “green light,” everyone moves forward. When they say “red light,” everyone stops. The stoplight turns around occasionally, trying to catch players moving.

2. Sardines

A colorful banner with the text "Sardines"

Similar to hide-and-seek, one person hides while the rest count and search for them. Once found, each player joins the hiding spot until only one remains.

3. Capture the Flag

A colorful banner with the text "Capture the Flag"

Divide into two teams and set up a boundary line in the middle of the playing area. Each team has a “flag” and tries to capture the opposing team’s flag and bring it back to their side without getting caught.

4. Obstacle Course

A colorful banner with the text "Obstacle Course"

Create an outdoor obstacle course using items like chairs, hula hoops, cones, and jump ropes. Kids can race against each other or try to beat their own time.

5. Nature Scavenger Hunt

A colorful banner with the text "Nature Scavenger Hunt"

Make a list of natural items for kids to find in the backyard or park, such as specific leaves, rocks, flowers, or insects. The first one to find all the items on the list wins!

6. Hula Hoop Games

A colorful banner with the text "Hula Hoop Games"

Kids can enjoy the classic challenge of spinning the hoop around their waist. Moreover, they can use it while racing by rolling hoops across the yard or playing Hula Hoop Limbo by leaning backward under a suspended hoop. They can also use hoops as targets for tossing games or as giant rings for a frisbee variation.

7. Water Balloon Toss

A colorful banner with the text "Water Balloon Toss"

Fill up water balloons and have kids toss them back and forth to each other without breaking them. Each round gets farther apart until one balloon remains unbroken.

8. Hopscotch

A colorful banner with the text "Hopscotch"

Draw a hopscotch board with chalk, numbering the squares. Players toss a small object onto the board and hop through the squares on one foot to retrieve it. The aim is to complete the course without stepping on lines or missing a square.

9. Tug of War

A colorful banner with the text "Tug of War"

Divide into two teams, each holding one end of a sturdy rope. The objective is for each team to pull the opposing team across a designated line in the middle. This game tests strength, teamwork, and strategy as players must coordinate their efforts to overpower the other team.

10. Simon Says 

A colorful banner with the text "Simon Says"

One person is designated as “Simon” and commands players to follow, such as “Simon says touch your toes.” If Simon doesn’t say “Simon says” before the command, players shouldn’t do it. Anyone who follows an incorrect command is out of the game.

11. Duck, Duck, Goose

A colorful banner with the text "Duck, Duck, Goose"

Players sit in a circle while one person walks around, tapping each player on the head and saying “duck.” Eventually, they will tap someone on the head and say “goose,” causing that person to chase and try to tag them before they can sit back down in the empty spot.

12. Balloon Pop Relay

A colorful banner with the text "Balloon Pop Relay"

Divide into teams and have one person from each team race to pop a balloon by sitting on it, then race back to tag the next person in line.

13. Obstacle Course with Water Puddles

A colorful banner with the text "Obstacle Course with Water Puddles"

Create an exciting outdoor obstacle course using buckets or watering cans to strategically place water puddles throughout. Kids will jump over them, hop from one dry spot to the next, and even navigate through mini water mazes.

14. Hide and Seek

A colorful banner with the text "Hide and Seek"

Hide and Seek is a timeless game where one player closes their eyes and counts while others find hiding spots. The seeker then tries to locate each hidden player before they can return to base or safety without being tagged.

15. Sack Races

A colorful banner with the text "Sack Races"

Participants hop inside large burlap sacks or large garbage bags in sack races. Then, they race against others from a starting point to a finish line.

16. Freeze Dance

A colorful banner with the text "Freeze Dance"

Play music for kids to dance to. But pause it randomly, and anyone caught moving after the pause is out. The challenge is to hold the pose until the music resumes.

17. Marco Polo

A colorful banner with the text "Marco Polo"

Similar to Blind Man’s Bluff, one person closes their eyes and calls out “Marco,” while other players respond with “Polo” until the seeker tags someone else.

18. Musical Chairs

A colorful banner with the text "Musical Chairs"

Set up chairs in a circle, with one less chair than the number of players. Play music while the players walk around the chairs; when it stops, they must find a seat. The player left standing is out, and one chair is removed each round until only one player remains.

19. Charades

A colorful banner with the text "Charades"

Charades is a lively party game where players take turns acting out a word or phrase without speaking while others try to guess what it is. It’s a game of creativity, non-verbal communication, and lots of laughter.

20. Hot Potato

A colorful banner with the text "Hot Potato"

Players gather in a circle and pass a ball or object around while music plays. The goal is to avoid being caught with the “potato” when the music stops—if you’re holding it, you’re out

21. Tag Variations

A colorful banner with the text "Tag Variations"

Try different variations of tag, such as freeze tag (tagged players must freeze in place until unfrozen by another player), tunnel tag (players hold hands and try to tag others with their free hand), or shadow tag (tagged players must hold onto the person who tagged them).

22. Mother, May I?

A colorful banner with the text "Mother May I?""

One person plays the role of “mother” and calls out actions for players to take towards her. Players must ask, “Mother may I?” before taking each step; if they forget, they must return to the starting point.

23. Kickball

A colorful banner with the text "Kickball"

Similar to baseball, but instead of a bat and ball, players use a large rubber ball that they kick. Divide into two teams and set up bases. The pitcher rolls the ball to the kicker, who tries to kick it and run to the bases without getting tagged out. The team with the most runs wins!

24. Telephone

A colorful banner with the text "Telephone"

Players sit in a line or circle and whisper a phrase or message to each other; by the end, the message will likely be distorted from the original.

25. Dance Party

A colorful banner with the text "Dance Party"

Put on some music and dance freely—bonus points for silly dance moves!

    How to Make the Most of Outdoor Games for Kids

    A colorful 7-items checklist titled "How to Make the Most of Outdoor Games for Kids"

    Play is an essential part of childhood. And even as adults, we can benefit from incorporating play. Here are some tips for making the most out of your playtime:

    • Be present: Put away distractions like phones or worries and fully engage in the activity.
    • Try new things: Try different games or activities. You may discover a new favorite!
    • Involve others: Playing with friends or family can make the experience more enjoyable and create lasting memories.
    • Let go of expectations: Don’t worry about being perfect or winning every game. Just have fun!
    • Be creative: Use your imagination to come up with new ways to play or modify existing games.
    • Take breaks: It’s okay to take breaks and switch activities if you’re not having fun anymore. Play should be enjoyable, not stressful.
    • Embrace silliness: Don’t be afraid to let loose and act silly—it can make playtime even more fun!

    Wrapping Up

    Outdoor games for kids are a great way to encourage physical activity, social interaction, and creativity. Whether it’s organized games or free play, incorporating outdoor activities into your child’s routine can benefit their development and well-being.

    What outdoor games do you enjoy playing with your kids? Share your favorites in the comments. Happy playing!

    1. Glassy et al. “Playing Outside: Why It’s Important for Kids.” American Academy of Pediatrics, 2024. ↩︎
    2. Lockwood, K. “The Benefits of Outdoor Play: Why It Matters.” The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2024. ↩︎
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