18 outdoor games everyone played as a child
Do you remember long hot summers when you would fill your days outside playing games from breakfast until mum shouted 'dinner time’?
Or hours spent playing French cricket with the family you made friends with on holiday? They certainly weren’t spent tapping away in front of a computer, especially if there was even a hint of sunshine. Well reminisce no more. This summer (or autumn, winter or spring for that matter) teach the kids some of the classic outdoor games of your youth and prove that oldies are still goodies.
Here are 18 of our favourite games for you to revitalise in your garden, at the park or on your next trip to Bluestone!
The simplest and maybe the most fondly remembered, also going by the names ‘it’ or ‘tig’ depending on which school you went to. If you really can’t remember the rules of tag it couldn’t be any easier - someone starts as ‘it’ and has to ‘tag’ someone else by touching them - they then become ‘it’. Rinse and repeat until your legs give up or dinner’s ready.
Hide and seek
Surely we don’t have to tell you the rules to this classic of yesteryear? One is the seeker, everyone else hides while they count to 10 with their eyes closed. Last person to be found is the winner!
Kick the can
A kind of combination of hide and seek and tag. Kick the can involves one person standing by an object designated ‘the can’ (this can be anything, lampposts are popular). Everyone else hides while they count to 10 with their eyes shut. That person then has to find everyone who is hiding on one condition - they have to say the person’s name and where they are hiding while they are touching the can. If they call out correctly, the caught person has to stand by the can ‘in jail’. The people hiding can move around as much as they like - and can try to run to and touch the can without being seen and their name called out. If a player makes it to the can they shout ‘kick the can save all’ and everyone comes out of jail and the whole thing starts from the beginning.
Traditionally you would use chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground - but try it with sticks if need be. Create a diagram with eight sections and number them in the usual hopscotch style. Each player has a marker such as a stone, bottlecap, shell, button or pine cone etc.
The first player stands behind the starting line to toss his or her marker in square one. Hop over square one to square two and then continue hopping to square eight, turn around, and hop back again.
Stop at square two to pick up the marker, hop in square one, and then out. Then start again by tossing the stone in square two. Hop on one foot unless their are two squares next to one another.
A player must always hop over any square where a maker has been placed. A player is out if the marker fails to land in the proper square, the hopper steps on a line, the hopper loses balance when bending over to pick up the marker and puts a second hand or foot down, the hopper goes into a square where a marker is, or if a player puts two feet down in a single box.
For small children just the very act of hopping across the squares is fun enough!
Tag but in a swimming pool - Marco Polo is one to play in the Blue Lagoon! The person who is ‘it’ shuts their eyes and calls out ‘Marco’ and everyone else has to shout ‘Polo’ - the person who is ‘it’ can do this as many times as they like in the pursuit of tagging another person using the sound of their voice only.
Can you follow the instructions of ‘Simon’? Whoever is in the role of 'Simon' calls out instructions proceeded by the phrase ‘Simon says’ (eg 'Simon says jump!'). If anyone fails to follow the instruction they are ‘out’. If ‘Simon’ doesn’t say ‘Simon says’ before the instruction then don’t follow it! If you do then you’re out as well. Last one remaining is the winner.
A classic for when you’re outdoors are there are no chairs to play musical chairs with. Run around and freeze when the music stops - if you’re still moving then you’re out. Last one left is the winner.
Another primary school favourite from everybody’s childhood - bulldog involves everyone lining up on one side of a defined area (like, say, a playground) with one person (the bulldog) in the middle. That person shouts ‘bulldog’ and everyone has to run to the other side without being caught. If you are caught, you join the bulldog in the middle. Repeat until only one person remains (the winner).
This is a great game to play in a group - one to challenge the lodge next door to! You need a cricket bat and a ball. The batter stands in the middle of a circle of fielders, who take it in turns to bowl the ball at their legs (the stumps). If the batter hits the ball he can turn to face the next bowler who must bowl from the spot they gather the ball. If it hits the batter's legs then they are out. If a fielder catches the ball when the batter hits it, they are out. If they miss the ball but it doesn’t hit their legs they have to face the next ball without moving from their original stance - which can be tricky if the ball has been gathered from behind you!
Stuck in the mud
The game starts like a normal game of tag, expect if you are tagged by the person who is ‘it’ then you have to stay where you are with your feet spread wide like you’re stuck in mud. The person who is ‘it’ then has to try to tag everyone else in the same manner - but there’s a catch. The other players can free the players who are ‘stuck’ by crawling through their legs - obviously putting themselves at risk by doing so.
Stop the bus
One for playing indoors when it’s raining or sat outside in the evening. Everyone needs a piece of paper and a pen/pencil. Agree on four or five categories - popular examples include animals, colours, countries, clothes and sports. Write these across the top of the paper as headings. Then, one of the group is nominated to choose a letter - everyone then has to write down a word under each category heading. If you’re first to do them all, shout ‘stop the bus’. You then get to choose the next letter.
What’s the time Mr Wolf
An easy one to play outside. One child is chosen to be Mr Wolf, who then stands with his back to everyone else. The other players stand in a line at the other end of the playing area.
The players call out, ‘what's the time Mr Wolf?’ and Mr Wolf turns and answers with a time. He then turns his back again while everyone else gets steadily closer chanting ‘what's the time Mr Wolf?’ - to which Mr Wolf will continue to respond until the players come very close.
Once the line of players is close to Mr Wolf, he can respond to the chant with ‘it's dinner time!’ - at which point, he will chase the players back to the starting line with the aim to catch one of the them, who will then become Mr Wolf for the next round of the game.
Duck duck goose
Everyone sits in a circle, and one player walks around the outside and taps the other players on the head, naming them Duck, before randomly naming one Goose. The Goose then has to chase the original player back around to try to tag them before they reach their original place in the circle. A great game for little ones as it’s so easy to pick up.
Especially fun with a long rope that two people swing around while a third jumps over it. Traditionally sung with a song!
Rock, paper, scissors
If anyone says they don’t enjoy rock, paper, scissors they are lying. Useful for sorting out minor holiday disagreements. Closed hand is a rock, flat hand is paper, two fingers is scissors - rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, scissors beat paper. Any variations with extra hand signals is sacrilege.
Pick up sticks
One to do in the woods - gather a pile of sticks of similar length sticks and drop them in a pile - players take it in turn to pick up a stick without disturbing the other sticks. If you move another stick - you’re out!
One to do while you’re on one of our nature trails! Choose your stick and line up by a stream or river. Decide where the finish point is and drop your sticks in the river - the first stick to reach the finish is the winner.
Great way to calm the children down before dinner. Everyone lies down in the grass pretending to be asleep while the ‘hunter’ stalks around trying to make them giggle or wake up.