26 Fun Outdoor Games And Activities For Kids To Stay Active

Parents always look for fun outdoor games and activities for kids to keep them physically fit and less dependent on screens and gadgets. Remaining active is essential for good health, and active children tend to be smarter and more alert. Additionally, ample sunshine exposure provides positive stimulation to the body and mind. Furthermore, engaging in fun outdoor activities can promote endurance, coordination, strength, and agility by encouraging active movement. And what’s good for their health and wellbeing needs to be encouraged. So, read this post to find interesting outdoor games and activities that can keep children active for hours and motivate them to play outdoors.

In This Article

Outdoor Games And Activities

1. Digging dinos

This adventure from the past with a modern twist is a perfect garden game for kids to have a fun competition.

How to play:

  1. Dig up some mud from the backyard of your house, or any outdoor play area.
  2. Place the toy bones in the mud, and shovel it well.
  3. Smoothen the rough edges from the ground, so that the kids cannot figure out where they are hidden.
  4. Now, give the shovel(s) to your kids and ask them to find out the dinosaur bones.

2. Suikawari

Suikawari and outdoor games and activities

Image: Shutterstock

Suika is Japanese for watermelon and wari means splitting. This is a traditional Japanese game very popular with kids.

How to play:

  1. Blindfold the child and give them a wooden stick.
  2. Ask the child to hit the watermelon with the stick.
  3. Give a time limit such as 1 minute for each player.
  4. Spin the blindfolded player three to five times before they begin to whack.
  5. Within the time span, a player can try several times to crack it open.
  6. The player who cracks the watermelon open wins.

3. Hide and seek

Hide and seek is one of the most traditional outdoor games to have been played with joy since generations.

Hide and seek, outdoor games and activities

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  1. One of the kids has to be the ‘It’.
  2. ‘It’ will have to count numbers from 1 to 10 or more while the other players will hide.
  3. Make sure that you have set up some rules so that the kids do not end up hiding in some unsafe places.
  4. As soon as ‘It’ stops counting, the other kids have to remain hidden.
  5. ‘It’ starts the search, and tags the kids who get seen.
  6. The team who manages to avoid their discovery within the stipulated time, wins the game.
  7. The game continues with some other player being the ‘It’.
protip_icon Point to consider
From babies to adults, people of all age groups love this game. Moreover, you do not need any props to play this game. However, ensure to child-proof your surroundings to avoid mishaps.

4. Freeze or laugh

An ideal childhood game with a twist, freeze or laugh is known by different names.

Freeze or laugh outdoor games and activities

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  1. One player will be ‘It’, and he or she will take each of the other players by their hands and spin them around.
  2. Just as ‘It’ stops, the player will freeze as he or she lands and retains that posture.
  3. Once everyone is a statue, ‘It’ will enter their madhouse and try to make the kids laugh.
  4. ‘It’ cannot touch any of the kids.
  5. The first kid to giggle or laugh will be the next ‘It’.

5. Ghosts in the graveyard

Play this in the night to achieve the maximum fun and excitement.

Ghosts in the graveyard outdoor games and activities

Image: IStock

How to play:

  1. One kid will be the ghost and will remain hidden.
  2. If the game is being played at night, give kids some torches.
  3. The rest of the players will count numbers for the ghost to hide somewhere.
  4. Once the ghost is securely hidden to find prey, the other kids will join arms and walk.
  5. The players will chant something, for sprucing up the ambiance. Something like: “Star light, star bright, hope I see a ghost tonight.”
  6. This chant is the signal for the ghost to now attack.
  7. The ghost can pop out anytime, and then it’s a straight game of tagging.
  8. As soon as the kids see the ghost, they’ll have to run back to not get tagged.
  9. The ghost will have to tag someone to be the next ghost before all of them escape.

6. Chalkway Picasso

For this activity, all your kid will need is a couple of chalks and a lot of imagination.

Cahalkway Picasso outdoor games and activities

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  1. Give your kids color chalks of their choice.
  2. They can draw any pattern or figure they like, from a snake-n-ladder road game to long waves and a beach in the middle of the park paths. But make sure the paths are not busy with people.
  3. Have a group of children unleash their creativity and encourage some skill-building.

7. Sack race

Outdoor races are fun and an excellent physical exercise. Sack race adds laughter to it.

How to play:

  1. Give one sack to each participant.
  2. They have to stand inside the sack and hold the edges.
  3. When you say ‘start’, they have to hop ahead, keeping the sack as close to the waist as possible.
  4. If it falls below the knees at any time, the player will be disqualified.
  5. The kid who races to the finishing line first wins.

8. Hopscotch

Hopscotch is an all-time favorite playground game for children.

protip_icon Did you know?
Hopscotch dates back thousands of years, and many variations of the game have evolved over the years. However, the basic theme of the game remains the same even today.
Hopscotch outdoor games and activities

Image: IStock

How to play:

  1. Draw a pattern of numbers from 1 to 9 in the shape of blocks.
  2. Those will be the landing steps for each player.
  3. Give a pebble to the kid and ask them to throw it in one of the blocks.
  4. Once you whistle, the player will hop with one leg through the blocks.
  5. If a kid lands on the wrong number sequence or outside the line, they will stand disqualified.
  6. When a kid reaches the block where they threw the pebble, they will bend on one leg and pick it up.
  7. Upon reaching the last block, they will turn and return to block 1 still on one foot.
  8. You can allot a time slot to bring variations to the game.

9. Piggy in the middle

Outdoor ball games never bore children. Try this game!

Piggy in the middle outdoor games and activities

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

1. One player will stand in the middle.
2. The other players will stand surrounding the middle player — either in a circle or straight line.
3. The players will toss the ball to each other, and the middle player will attempt to catch it.
4. The players have to make sure that the middle player doesn’t catch their throws.
5. But if and when a throw is caught, that thrower will be the next to stand in the middle.

10. Tug of war

Let this war be all about tugs, pulls and fun.

How to play:

  1. Divide kids into two teams.
  2. The teams will stand at an equal distance from the center line.
  3. Once the whistle blows, the two teams will try to pull the other team across the line.
  4. Whichever team crosses the line first loses.

Taking responsibility for your conduct both on and off the pitch is part of good sportsmanship.

11. Ring toss game

Ring toss is everyone’s favorite game that can be played both outdoors and indoors.

How to play:

  1. Keep the stakes in a chosen spot.
  2. Draw boundaries around the stake.
  3. Each player has to stand opposite to the boundary line and aim their rings toward the stake.
  4. If all the rings are successfully dropped on the stake, the player wins.

12. Kick the can

Apart from kick and fun, it also gives your child good physical exercise.

Kick the can outdoor games and activities

Image: Shutterstock

How to play:

  1. Find a bench or seating area that will serve as the jail.
  2. One player will be It, who will challenge the other players to hide, and guard a can.
  3. It has to find the hidden kids. Once It deciphers where a player is hiding, It will call out the name along with the hiding place.
  4. If It is correct, the player has to come out and get “jailed”.
  5. All the players will be called like this and jailed.
  6. When It is busy finding the hidden players, one of the players should come out and hit the can.
  7. It has to stop the player from kicking by running after him and saving the can.
  8. If the player kicks the can successfully, all of the jailers will be freed.
  9. If not, the first player to come out will be the next It.

13. Marbles

These small spherical balls hold your munchkin’s attention for long.

Marbles outdoor games and activities

Image: iStock

How to play:

  1. Draw a circle first to set up the game.
  2. Place 10 to 15 marbles in the center of the circle.
  3. The player has to choose a shooter marble, which will be used to shoot the marbles inside the circle to throw them outside.
  4. The player has to keep shooting the marbles until none are left in the ring.
  5. Whoever succeeds in throwing all the marbles in the shortest time, wins the game.

14. Dodgeball

Dodgeball is a beautiful team sport that teaches children fundamental skills like dodging. It also encourages bonding with their teammates.

How to:

  1. Divide the kids into two teams.
  2. Each team will be throwing balls to eliminate the opposing team.
  3. It can be done in two ways: One team will eliminate a player from the opposite team by either hitting them with the ball or catching the opponent team’s throws.
  4. Whoever gets hit by the ball, or their throws caught will be out.
  5. The game can be timed, and whichever team outs with the maximum number of players wins.

15. Capture the flag

This team game brings in energy and teamwork together.

How to play:

  1. Divide the kids into two teams.
  2. Pick up flags of different colors for each team.
  3. Divide the play area equally for each team. Put flags in each territory.
  4. The flags have to be partially hidden.
  5. Once the game starts, the players will try to cross into the opposing team’s territory and snatch their flag.
  6. If a player of the opponent team gets captured while trying to snatch the flag, he or she will have to either perform some task asked by the other side or go to ‘jail’.
  7. If a player gets the flag and flies back to their territory, he or she is safe, and the team wins.

Deena, a mother of two and a teacher with a decade of experience recounts her recent experience playing capture the flag. She remarks, “I recently played capture the flag with my nephew and his friends at his 8th birthday party, and they had SO much fun! They actually didn’t want to stop playing! They would have played the entire party, I think (i).”

16. Balloon dart game

This is an exciting water game for kids and they will be occupied with it for a long time.

How to play:

  1. Fill up some balloons, and tape them on the headboard.
  2. You can fill the balloons with either air or water.
  3. Each player must stand 4ft away from the balloons.
  4. Hand over darts to each player.
  5. Assign a color or number to each player, like “target the red balloons” or “blow at least eight balloons” and that player has to blow the identified balloons with their darts.

17. Jump rope

What’s a better game than jumping and landing fine?

How to play:

  1. Divide the kids into two teams.
  2. Hand them each a glass filled with water.
  3. One group will move the rope for the opposing team’s players to jump with the water glass in their hands.
  4. While they do so, the water will keep dripping off from the cup.
  5. Players have to continue the jump without landing on the ropes or throwing their cups.
  6. Players will continue their rounds as decided by both teams, for example, 8 leaps make one round.
  7. The time taken to make the eight jumps will be counted to decide on the winning team.
  8. The team who performed fastest, and with the most amount of water in their cups stands as the winning team.

18. Ice block treasure hunt

Let the kids cool themselves off with this super fun treasure hunt.

Ice block treasure hunt outdoor games and activities

Image: IStock

How to play:

  1. You can use big plastic containers to make a huge chunk of the ice block.
  2. Fill up the container with water and add some plastic toys, chocolates, and other trinkets.
  3. Add food coloring and let the water freeze into an ice block.
  4. Give the players some supplies to excavate the treasures out, such as spoons, water, spray bottles, brushes. Do not give salt or hammer to young kids.
  5. Allot time and let the kids experiment with the tools and find their way to the treasure.
  6. Whoever recovers the most number of toys in a given time is the winner.

19. Pool prize search

Pool activities and games are a must on a beautiful sunny day.Pool activities and games are a must on a beautiful sunny day.

Pool prize search

Image: IStock

How to play:

  1. Divide the kids into teams of two in the swimming pool.
  2. Keep them separated using any pool divider.
  3. Put bath bubbles or foam in the pool, if you want.
  4. Have the kids jump in and take their positions.
  5. You will have to put one gift on each side of the pool, for both the teams.
  6. Keep the gift secured tightly with a string or something sturdier so that it remains at its place.
  7.  Whichever team finds their prize first is the winner.
protip_icon Quick tip
To boost your child’s interest in outdoor games, learn their preferences, encourage them to play daily, expose them to various outdoor places and toys, and motivate them with rewards and appreciation.

20. Red Rover

Want some fun and run? The Red Rover is a great running game for kids.

How to play:

  1. Divide the kids into two teams.
  2. The teams will line up opposite each other with a distance of minimum 20ft.
  3. The first team will form a chain by holding their hands, and will chant, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (a player’s name) on over!” and demand that the player from the opposite side come to their territory.
  4. The player, who has been called, will run to the other line and attempt to break the chain formed by the team.
  5. If the player fails to do so, they will have to join the opposite team.
  6. However, if the player breaks the chain, he/ she may capture two players whose link was broken and bring them back to his/ her team.
  7. Each team will take turns in calling Red Rover and challenge one player.
  8. The team left with the maximum number of players wins.

21. Rainbow tag

Rainbow tag makes for perfect fun races outdoors.

Rainbow tag outdoor games and activities

Image: IStock

How to play:

  1. Designate the corners of your playfield as the two ends of the rainbow. Place some object, like a cone, to mark that end.
  2. One player, called the “leprechaun,” will stand in the middle of the field.
  3. The rest of the players will line up in the field shoulder to shoulder, facing the leprechaun.
  4. The leprechaun can call out any color, such as “red”.
  5. Anyone who is wearing red or has red in their clothes must race past the leprechaun to the other end of the rainbow.
  6. If the player gets tagged by the leprechaun, they have to stand on the sidelines.
  7. The game will continue with the leprechaun returning to the middle of the field, calling out new colors.
  8. The player who remains to the last is the winner.

22. Water-can bowling

This is one of the best outdoor games that children can play.

How to play:

  1. You can use your old plastic bottles (ideally ten) to stack up.
  2. Choose ten different colors.
  3. Squirt a little bit of paint at the bottom of each container and then fill it up with water so that the bottles look colored, resembling bowling pins.
  4. Now give a ball to each player and let them have a fun outdoorsy day.

23. Squirt gun painting

This all-time favorite outdoor activity can be played anywhere, even in schools.

How to play:

  1. Take some canvas papers and stick them on a wall using double-sided tape or board clips.
  2. Give your child a squirt gun filled with paint and let them create any painting they want.
  3. Keep changing the paints to bring variations in the art.
  4. Tell your kid that they can keep trying different variations of colors and patterns for each canvas paper.
  5. The board will look different and uniquely contemporary.

24. Balloon pinata

This is a perfect DIY outdoor activity for children.

How to play:

  1. Fill a lot of balloons with water so that you can reload your pinata just as the balloons are popped.
  2. Tie your rope ends to a tree branch or at any hook. The balloons need a firm stand, as they will be water-filled and, therefore, heavy.
  3. Attach five balloons at a time to the rope or string.
  4. Give all the kids their turn to whack and burst the balloons.
  5. The player who gets drenched the least will win.

25. Hang in there

Hang in there outdoor games and activities

Image: IStock

The game teaches balancing skills to children.

How to play:

  1. Hang tough nylon ropes on two poles or anything strong.
  2. Tie these ropes both on the top of the pole and below, leaving a good amount of space for the kids to hang.
  3. The players have to balance themselves and stand in that given space by resting their feet on the bottom rope and holding the top rope with their hands.
  4. All the players will be timed.
  5. When all the players step in, the balance will go awry and the kids will struggle.
  6. You can also add a twist by spraying water at the players with a hosepipe or water gun.
  7. The player who stands on the rope the longest wins.

26. Hula hoop games

Hula hoop games

Image: Shutterstock

The hula hoop is one of the favorite games among children. They can enjoy hula hoop in different variations.

Basic waist hooping

How to play:

  1. Stand inside the hoop.
  2. Hold it against your back at waist level.
  3. Give it a firm spin around your waist.
  4. Move hips forward, backward, or side-to-side to keep the hoop spinning.

Hand hula hooping

How to play:

  1. Hold the hoop in one hand.
  2. Swing it in a circular motion to spin around your hand.

Passing the hula hoop

How to play:

  1. Start with the hoop spinning around your waist.
  2. Gradually move it up to your chest and then over your head, continue the motion.
  3. Lower it back in a smooth motion.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does outdoor play contribute to the overall well-being of children?

Engaging in outdoor play activities is beneficial for children in various ways. It promotes exploration, encourages physical activity, and facilitates socialization and independence. Additionally, outdoor play has been linked to improved academic performance, reduced stress levels, and enhanced mental, emotional, and physical health.

2. How do outdoor games and activities help children appreciate nature?

Children can think creatively and holistically while playing outside. It fosters the growth and development of their imagination and provides them the much-needed relaxation from a hectic school life. It makes them realize their responsibility towards nature and the need to protect it.

3. What safety precautions should I take when my kids are playing outdoor games?

You should first inspect the area where your children will play. Check for bugs, other insects, and reptiles. Next, you must apply mosquito repellents on your child to prevent mosquito bites. Make them wear light-colored full-sleeved shirts and full pants. If your child is prone to falling, make them wear protective gear such as elbow and knee guards. If they are biking or skating, wearing a helmet is mandatory. If your children are too young, make sure you or some responsible adult is supervising them. Instruct them about what to do when they get lost. You should also educate them about road rules and ensure they do not run on the road.

4. How can I organize outdoor games for my kids and their friends?

Talk to all the parents about your outdoor games session and book an open space for the activity. Get all the things you may need for different activities. Take the help of your family members and other parents to organize the games. Each parent could organize certain games so one person doesn’t have to do everything.

5. How can parents encourage their children to play outside and engage in outdoor games?

Ask your children to invite their friends to participate in a common activity like running or jogging. You can also go hiking or trekking as a family to encourage your children. Other activities like building a treehouse or a den, having your sports day, camping, and water play encourage children to play outdoors.

6. What fun and challenging outdoor games can help develop children’s physical abilities?

Simple activities like walking, running, and jumping can improve your toddler’s physical abilities. However, older children still enjoy unstructured play, such as playing tag and running.

7. How can outdoor games help children improve their social skills?

Outdoor play encourages your children to socialize and make friends. They learn to deal with physical interactions and start looking for ways to entertain each other.

8. What are some strategies for adapting outdoor games to accommodate children with different skill levels or physical abilities?

You can make several changes to make outdoor games fun for all children. First, you can modify the rules to include children with different skill levels and physical abilities. For example, if a child in a wheelchair participates in the game, ask other children to sit and perform the activity. Moreover, change the timer to allow children with different skills to finish their activity comfortably. You can also set up other activities so that children of all abilities can choose the activity of their choice and participate in the game. Finally, concentrate on having a good time than winning. Encourage all the children to cheer for each other.

Outdoor games and activities for kids keep them entertained, healthy, and strong. They make children more alert, creative, positive, and confident. Playing new games can also help develop their motor skills. Therefore, it is good to let children play outdoors and enjoy the fresh air amidst a lot of learning. You may introduce them to interesting games and activity ideas such as digging dinos, hide and seek, and freeze or laugh. These games are enjoyable and help children interact with each other. So, if your children have been busy with gadgets at home, encourage them to go outside and play. Once they start going outdoors, they will have fun and create beautiful memories.

Infographic: Popular Kids Outdoor Games And Their Origin

Outdoor games are beneficial for a child’s development and an integral part of their routine. But do you know the origin of some popular outdoor games that have been most loved over generations? We bring you an infographic with some interesting facts about the origins of the famous outdoor games.

outdoor games and activities for kids to stay active (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Engage children in fun outdoor games to promote physical fitness and reduce screen time.
  • Outdoor activities enhance cognitive development, making children smarter and more alert.
  • Various outdoor games and activities, like hide and seek, hopscotch, and capture the flag, are listed.
  • Playing outdoors enhances motor skills, fosters positivity, and builds self-confidence in children.
  • Encourage children to play outside to help them socialize and have fun with others.
Outdoor Games And Activities For Kids_illustration

Image: Dalle E/MomJunction Design Team

Encourage your children to ditch the digital screens and spend some fun time outdoors. Here are five outdoor activities that your children will enjoy as they splash cool water in the pool.

Personal Experience: Source

Was this article helpful?
Like buttonDislike button
Elisa Yi
Elisa YiEarly childhood educator
Elisa has 17 years of experience in early childhood education as a teacher and a director. With a passion to work with young kids, she did her post graduation in Education and received her online teaching certificate from California State University, East Bay.

Read full bio of Elisa Yi
Harshita Makvana
Harshita MakvanaB.Com, PG Dip
Harshita is a graduate in commerce and holds a PG Diploma in Patent and Copyrights Law from NALSAR University. She has also pursued CA and has more than three years of internship experience in auditing. Her love for travelling has taken her to various parts of the world, and writing the travelogues was what brought out her love for content writing.

Read full bio of Harshita Makvana
Deepa Thomas
Deepa ThomasMA (English)
Deepa Rachel Thomas holds a master’s degree in English from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. She has done a certification course in Child Development and worked as a mentor for young children at an NGO that focuses on helping children develop their language and soft skills.

Read full bio of Deepa Thomas
Nisha Bharatan is a writer with six years of experience. After completing her engineering from Savitribai Phule Pune University, she did content marketing courses to complement her interest in writing. Nisha discovered her passion for writing in 2016 when she started documenting her journey into motherhood.

Read full bio of Nisha Bharatan