10 Best Classic Backyard Games for Kids

It’s time to ditch the phones and drag the kids away from those tablets! Head out to your backyard to play some classic yard games to get them moving and to earn that popsicle. Since larger groups aren’t really a thing right now, you’ll need to jump it to make some of these games work. Or, invite members of your expanded social circle — to join in on the fun.

Here are some fun no-tech games that you may have enjoyed when you were a child.

This is a game where you end up laughing quite a bit, so if you're in the mood for silliness, give it a go. Players sit in a circle. One person thinks up a sentence or phrase and whispers it to the next person. That person repeats it to the person next to them. This continues around the circle. When it finally reaches the last person, that person has to say the sentence out loud. The ending sentence is usually quite different from the beginning sentence, since mistakes tend to be made as you go around the circle. You'll get a good laugh!

Potato Sack Race
Each player puts both legs into a sack and hops around a cone, or some marked point, and back, tagging the next person in line. Then, the next person in line gets into the sack and repeats the once-around the cone course. The first team to the finish line wins. Or you can simply run the race individually with each person in a sack. You can purchase burlap sacks for this purpose online.

Red Light, Green Light
Create a 'Start Line' and a 'Finish Line'. Everyone starts at the starting line, When you say ‘Green Light’ everyone will move towards the finish line. When you say ‘Red Light’ everyone must immediately stop. If players are still moving when you call ‘Red Light’, they must go back to the starting line. Start a new round when one child reaches the finish line.

Mother May I
One child is designated the “mother” or “father” or “captain.” The other kids stand in a line at a distance. Each child takes a turn asking the mother if they may make a certain movement, always preceding their request with, “Mother may I …” (i.e. “Mother may I take five steps?”). If the child forgets to say, “Mother may I …” before the request, he/she must return to the starting line. The mother either says, “Yes, you may,” or “No, you may not, but you may … instead.” The first person to reach the mother wins and becomes the mother in the next round.

Use sidewalk chalk (or paint, if you’re at home and want a permanent fixture on your driveway), and draw a hopscotch design. The traditional objectives of this classic game are to toss a marker (a flat stone, a beanbag, etc.) onto each numbered square consecutively, to hop onto the single squares without putting the second foot down, and to skip the square where the marker has landed.

Capture the Flag
This game requires a few players, so it’s good for larger families. Each team attempts to capture the other team’s flag, located at the other end of your backyard, at “home base.” Players can tag members of the other team when on their side, sending them jail. You can get your teammates out of jail by crossing into enemy territory and tagging each one. The first team to capture the flag wins!

Simon Says
One person is designated Simon, the others are the players. Standing in front of the group, Simon tells players what they must do. However, the players must only obey commands that begin with the words “Simon Says.” If Simon says, “Simon says touch your head,” then players must touch their head. But, if Simon simply says, “sit,” without first saying “Simon says,” players must not sit. Those that do sit are out. The last player standing wins and becomes the next Simon. If you’re Simon, the object is to try to trick the players into following your commands when they shouldn’t.

Kick the Can
This game is a variation of tag and hide & seek. One person or a team of people are designated as "it" and a can is placed in the middle of the playing area. The others run off and hide while the "it" person covers his or her eyes and counts to a certain number. "It" then tries to find everyone. If a person is tagged by "it", they go into a holding pen for captured players. If one of the un-captured players manages to kick the can, the captured players are released. The game is over once all the non-"it" players are in the holding pen.

Shadow Tag
This fun version of Tag makes you tag each other's shadow with your feet instead of tagging their body. Therefore, it must be played on a sunny day. The closer to noon, the more difficult.

Freeze Tag
This is also another variation of Tag where if the person who is "it" tags you, you have to freeze where you are. Another participant can tag you to unfreeze you.

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