Making More Out of the Great Outdoors: Age-Old Games for Your Kids

Three girls playing jump rope Children have access to far more technology than ever before, often spending hours glued to the screen of a computer, smart phone, tablet or other tech product. Although this recent phenomenon can be great when it comes to education, it is also causing children to spend far more time indoors than outdoors.

Studies show that because today’s children spend less time outside, they are missing out on the valuable health benefits that come with taking a break from the Internet to play under the sun. It’s therefore important for parents to encourage their children to spend more time outdoors.

One way to accomplish this is by sharing games with your child that you played as a child, as had generations before you. If age-old games are new to your child, that may make them even more fun.

Here are some fun outdoor games from the past that current youngsters will enjoy:

Red Rover

What’s needed: Six or more players

The players should divide up into two teams of at least three players each, with players on each team firmly holding hands to form a “chain.” One team then calls to the other team, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let (a player’s name) come over!” The requested player then runs to the other team in an attempt to break through the “chain.” If the player breaks through, he or she can capture a member of the other team. If not, he or she remains with the new team and becomes a member of that chain. The game ends when one team has captured all of the players from the other team.

Four Square

What’s needed: Four players, a court or hard surface, chalk, rubber playground ball or kickball (a basketball could work as well)

Use the chalk to draw four squares on the court or a hard surface, each 8 feet by 8 feet.  Label each square “1,” “2,” “3” or “4.” Once that the court is set up, a player should stand in each of the squares. The player in the “1” square bounces the ball once, into the “4” square, which should be diagonally across from it. This action starts the game. From this point on, when a ball is hit into their square, the players must hit the ball into an opponent’s square, using only the hand (backhand is allowed). If the ball bounces more than once in a square, or if a player hits it out of bounds or hits it with any other part of the body than a hand, then that player is eliminated. When a player is eliminated, the remaining players move to the highest available square and a new player fills the “4” square. It’s OK for players to create custom rules, as long as all players agree to them.


What’s needed: Two or more players, chalk, a small rock, a court or hard surface

Hopscotch has a specific court design, with numbered rectangles or squares and a large rectangle or half moon at the top. Use chalk to make a hopscotch pattern on a court or hard surface. To begin the game, the first player throws the rock into square 1; it must land without touching any line or bouncing out of the square. The player then hops on one foot onto each successive square, without stepping on any line or out of bounds or hopping onto the wrong square. On the way back from the top square, the player, still on one foot, reaches down to pick up the rock, and then hops over that square. If completed successfully, the player throws the rock onto square 2, to continue the game. If any error occurs, the first player must hand the rock to the second player, and then wait for his or her next turn.

Fun outdoor games from your childhood, and the fun of being outdoors, may intrigue your child and spur him or her to want to play outdoors with friends more frequently. Here’s a link to some more age-old great outdoor games.

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Categories: Parenting Tips
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