20 CLASSIC OUTDOOR GAMES FOR KIDS



There are many fun outdoor games for kids that are seemingly timeless. Below, you will find some of those common classic outdoor games that most kids will play at some point in their lives, as well as some awesome outdoor games that you may have never heard of. Either way, these games are perfect for any outdoor activity or to keep the youngsters occupied while having a get-together with friends.

There is no doubt at all that kids benefit from playing outdoors. Whether they are jumping rope or playing hide and seek, these activities will help them to develop both physically and socially. Some games are more educational than others, whereas others only require speed and physical abilities. There are many different types of outdoor games, so you’ll surely be able to find games to suit every child! Here are 20 classic outdoor games for kids to get you started!

This post contains some partner links for various products.

STEAL THE BACON 

STEAL THE BACON, STEAL THE BACON rules, blog

Steal the Bacon is a classic outdoor game that is easy to play for any age group, from six-year-olds to adults. The best part? There’s little to no planning needed for this game. Steal the Bacon is perfect for those backyard barbecues to keep the kids occupied.

HOW TO PLAY

Two teams face off with one another to attempt to steal the “bacon” from the between the two groups and bring it back to their own team without getting tagged by anyone on the opposing team. Each player on each team is assigned a number.

To play, the adult calls a random number, and the two players assigned that number on opposing teams must race to steal the “bacon” from the middle. The first person to get back across the line to their team with the bacon, keeps the bacon. If a player is tagged by an opposing team member, then they are out! 

Since each player is assigned a number, the game leaves room for variation by adding math skills, such as addition or multiplication, to the game. For example, instead of simply yelling the number 4, you could say something along the lines of: “The square foot of 16!” or “1 plus 3”

WHAT YOU NEED

The best thing about Steal the Bacon is that it is a game that requires little to no preparation. But it doesn’t mean that it’s any less fun! All you need to play is a ball or a beanbag to act as the “bacon” in the middle. If you don’t have these already in your yard, grab one here:

SQUIRRELS AND ACORNS  

SQUIRRELS AND ACORNS , SQUIRRELS AND ACORNS  rules, blog

Squirrels and Acorns is a fun outdoor game that perfectly intertwines mathematical practice with outdoor activity. As the children act as “squirrels”, storing their acorns for winter, they will challenge each other to store more acorns than their competitors. This game is one of the best outdoor games to play with younger kids, as it can be altered depending on age range.

HOW TO PLAY

To begin, roll some dice. Then, the player will either add or multiply the number, depending on their skill level, and jump rope to collect acorns. The answer that they get is the number of successful jumps that they have to make. Unfortunately, if the player either incorrectly adds or multiplies, or misses any of their jumps on the jump rope, they cannot collect an acorn.

Acorns may be balls, toys, or even tasty treats. Use whatever will keep the children motivated!

WHAT YOU NEED

Squirrels and Acorns is a pretty simple game that doesn’t require much. All you need is a jump rope, some dice, and “acorns”.

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT  

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT , RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT  rules, blog

The classic outdoor game, Red Light, Green Light will challenge your kids in every way possible. They will have to play close attention to the commands, just like a traffic light, ensuring that they obey them carefully, while also staying on their toes to act quickly.

HOW TO PLAY

One player acts as the Stop Light while every other player starts behind the safe line. When the Stop Light’s back is turned towards the rest of the group, they will yell “Green Light!”, and everyone must try to get as close to the Stop Light as possible. When the Stop Light turns around and yells “Red Light!”, everyone must stop in their tracks. If anyone is caught moving, then they must go back to the starting line! Who will get the closest? The first person to tag the Stop Light becomes the next Stop Light!

WHAT YOU NEED

Red Light, Green Light is one of those fun outdoor games that don’t require anything! Hurray! But if you want to amp the game up a notch, why not play with a costume?

CAPTURE THE FLAG 

CAPTURE THE FLAG, CAPTURE THE FLAG  rules, blog

Capture the Flag is a classic outdoor game that never seems to get old. It influences children to work in a team, think things through, and plan ahead. It also allows for tons of creativity and imagination for any age group.

HOW TO PLAY

As players break off into two teams, they have to choose their base for the course of the game. The teams will then hide their flags at their base, but they must be visible when you are at the base. Once the two teams have chosen their spot, the game begins!

The objective of the game is to steal the flags from the opposing team, bring them back to their own base, and score points.

Note that if you are tagged at any point during the game, then you must go to the opposing team’s jail. The only way to be freed is to be untagged by a teammate. But make sure not to get tagged once again!

WHAT YOU NEED

You don’t need anything too fancy to play Capture the Flag, just a couple of flags mounted on sticks should do the trick:

While the original game is already plenty of fun, try a glow-in-the-dark version for a game that will really get everyone’s hearts beating!

CORNHOLE 

CORNHOLE , CORNHOLE rules, blog

Cornhole is an outdoor game that is great for any age group, including older kids and adults, regardless of the occasion. Plus, if it’s raining outside, this game is super easy to move indoors!

HOW TO PLAY

You can play cornhole in teams of two or as individuals – whatever works best. First, set up the game by placing the two cornhole boards around 24 feet apart (or closer if needed!) To play, simply toss colored bean bags to the opposing team’s cornhole board with the goal of getting them onto the board or into the hole.  

The number of points that the player scores depends on where the beanbags are at the end of a round. The team with the most points wins the game.

This game is perfect for allowing kids to work on their aim and their math skills at the same time! The bean bags aren’t too heavy for smaller children, and the game can be altered for any age group by moving the boards closer for younger groups and further apart for older groups, making it perfect for everyone.

WHAT YOU NEED

To play cornhole, well, you’re going to need a cornhole board and beanbags!

FLAG FOOTBALL 

FLAG FOOTBALL, FLAG FOOTBALL  rules, blog

Flag football is an outdoor game that is ideal for wearing the kids out after being inside all day! This football game takes the dangers out of tackle football by not allowing the players to tackle one another. Instead, players must steal a player’s flag in order for them to be considered “tackled”. This limits the stress of having to supervise the kids while enjoying your outdoor party.

HOW TO PLAY

Players will follow typical rules of football, minus the tackling aspect, of course. Begin the game by setting it up. Choose the two teams and a team captain for each team. Each player is then given two flags to tuck into their waistband. If you have a flag football set, the flags should be velcroed onto their belts.

To play, simply play football (find football game rules here)! Players must run the ball, pass the ball, and/or attempt to score touchdowns during the game in order to win.

WHAT YOU NEED

To play Flag Football, you’ll need two things: flags and a football!

FREEZE DANCE 

FREEZE DANCE, FREEZE DANCE rules, blog

Freeze Dance is the perfect game to keep all the kids moving for a long time! With a constant change in music, it will keep them busy and happy for the whole course of the game. One adult will have to be involved if none of the kids want to play DJ.

HOW TO PLAY

While the music is playing, everyone has to be busting a move! There are no rules here, and any dance will do, but the crazier the dance, the more fun the game! The DJ can stop the music at any point. And when the music stops, everyone must freeze, not moving at all until the music starts again. If you are caught moving, then you are out!

WHAT YOU NEED

While simply playing music on a smartphone is sufficient, some players may not be able to properly hear the music playing and stopping, especially if they’re having too much fun! To avoid any confusion, we recommend using a speaker, like this one:

GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD 

GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD, GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD rules, blog

Ghost in the Graveyard is similar to the classic game Hide and Go Seek, except in this game, only one person is hiding, and all of the players are looking for them! As the name suggests, this game is best played at night. And make sure you play this in a safe area for kids.

HOW TO PLAY

To start the game, one player hides from the rest of the group. Once they have safely hidden, every other play must begin their search. As they search, they will use flashlights to look for the ghost that is hiding in the graveyard!

Once a player finds the ghost, they must yell, “Ghost in the Graveyard” to alert all of the other players that they found the player who was hiding. Whoever finds the player is the next ghost in the graveyard, and the game continues!

WHAT YOU NEED

While you don’t need much to play Ghost in the Graveyard, one non-negotiable item, or rather, items, are flashlights!

BADMINTON

Badminton is a high-energy outdoor game that is perfect for a smaller group of children – and adults, too! This game allows kids to work on their developmental skills, all while enjoying a fun game. With badminton, the players can work on their balance, agility, hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes without the strain of a typical high-impact sport. 

HOW TO PLAY

Badminton is one of those sports that is easy to play but difficult to master. But for the purposes of an outdoor game for children, this sport is more than sufficient to keep the kids occupied! As it’s a casual game, there’s no need to set up a regulation court. Simply play on the grass!

Set up a net in the middle of the makeshift “court” with one or two players on either side. Then, start volleying the shuttlecock back and forth! If a player fails to successfully return the shuttlecock over the net at any point during the game, the opposing player gets a point. The first player or players to get to 21 points with a 2-point difference wins the game!

WHAT YOU NEED

To play badminton in your backyard, you don’t need a full-on court! A net, a couple of rackets, and some badminton shuttlecocks will suffice.

SPIDER WEB 

SPIDER WEB, SPIDER WEB  rules, blog

Spider Web is a fun outdoor game that requires very little adult supervision once it starts. After the children use the yarn to create a spider web, they have to find a way to escape without getting caught! A pretty high-stakes game if you ask us!

HOW TO PLAY

To play, all that you need to provide is a ball of yarn and orient the kids in a circle. They will then pass the yarn to and fro, ensuring that they keep hold of every piece they touch in order to create a web. The players should not only pass it side to side but also throw it across the circle to make an intricate web. By the time players create the web, each player should be holding one piece of the string.

Once the web is made, all players must sit down. Players must then take turns to navigate through the spider web. Players may not touch the web, and if they do, they are out for that round! Also, keep in mind that there’s no walking allowed in this game: Players must jump! Continue jumping until only one player remains!

WHAT YOU NEED

If you don’t have any yarn at home to play Spider Web, no worries; we’ve got you covered.

GIANT JENGA

giant jenga

Everyone’s played Jenga at some point in their lives, but did you know a giant version of this game exists? The perfect outdoor game for kids, Giant Jenga is super easy and fun to play – perfect to keep kids occupied for ages!

HOW TO PLAY

To play Giant Jenga, all you need is some Giant Jenga blocks, and you can play exactly as you would play normal Jenga. First, you’ll need to set it up by placing three of the blocks together and stacking another three on top, making sure to turn it 90 degrees. Continue alternating until you’ve used all of the blocks, and you’ve successfully built a tower. And now, it’s time to play! Players must take turns taking one block out of the tower. Every time a player successfully takes out a block, they must add it to the growing tower. If a player causes the tower to fall, they lose! That player must rebuild the Giant Jenga tower as retribution.

WHAT YOU NEED

Of course, to play Giant Jenga, you’re going to need Giant Jenga blocks!

TOSS ACROSS

Anyone can fully enjoy a game of Toss Across. It’s a simple game that anyone can play – no matter how young or how old! With some coordination and some luck, Toss Across is a fun outdoor game for both kids and adults.

HOW TO PLAY

Put the Toss Across unit on the floor, put all the triangle targets blank side up, and grab the beanbags. Then simply think: Tic Tac Toe. The two opposing players take turns throwing the beanbags and rotate the triangles to flip to X or O. Whichever player gets three in a row wins the game!

WHAT YOU NEED

Ready to bring this Tic Tac Toe game to life? Grab a box of Mattel’s Toss Across here:

SPIKEBALL

If you’re looking for a fun outdoor game for kids that will definitely get them sweating, look no further than Spikeball. Note that this competitive game is better suited for older kids and younger kids and will involve a lot of running around!

HOW TO PLAY

This 2 versus 2 game is sure to get everyone’s competitive side heated. To start, a player from Team A serves the ball down to the Spikeball net in a way that it ricochets back to Team B. The receiving team, in this case, Team B, has up to 3 alternating hits to return the ball back onto the Spikeball net. Keep spiking the ball back and forth until the ball hits the rim, the ground, or bounces more than once on the net! If any of this happens, a point is awarded to the opposing team.

WHAT YOU NEED

If you really want to get sweaty this summer with your kids, Spikeball may seem simple, but it is deceptively difficult to execute! Join in on the fun by grabbing your own Spikeball kit!

POTATO SACK RACE

sack race, children, jumping

A timeless classic outdoor game for kids, the Potato Sack Race is a must for any yard party this summer. Perfect for a variety of occasions, including picnic, barbeques, block parties, summer camp, school, and even birthday parties, all you need are some sacks, and everyone will be off having a big laugh!

HOW TO PLAY

A game like Potato Sack Race couldn’t be simpler. All you need is to set up a starting line and a finish line. All players put both legs inside their potato sack and line up behind the designated starting line. When the race starts, all players must jump to get to the finish line, making sure to keep their legs within the potato sacks at all times! The first player to cross the finish line wins the race.

WHAT YOU NEED

As you might be able to guess, to play the Potato Sack Race, you’re going to need some potato sacks. And if you want the game to look more official, purchase a finish line banner as well.

BANZAI BUMP N BOUNCE

An easy way to get the kids to burn some energy is to simply let them run around and bump into each other. And what better way to do that than to use a product like BANZAI’s Bump N Bounce!

HOW TO PLAY

There are no rules to this game. Simply put these inflatable body bumpers on the children and let them go at it! The children will be running around, bumping into each other, and rolling around in no time – letting you sip your beer or wine in peace!

WHAT YOU NEED

GIANT CONNECT 4

Some of the best outdoor games kids can play are giant-sized. Just like Giant Jenga, Giant Connect 4 is a must if you have a large outdoor area where you can set it up.

HOW TO PLAY

To play Giant Connect 4, keep in mind that the objective of the game is to connect 4 chips of the same color in a row, whether horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Two players face off against each other, with each choosing one of the two colors. The first player starts the game by putting one chip through the top of the Connect 4 board. The second player then puts one of their own chips into the board. Continue alternating play until one player manages to connect 4 of their own chips!

WHAT YOU NEED

While a regular-sized Connect 4 board would be heaps of fun as well, there’s something about having a larger board that makes the game ten times more fun! Here’s where you can get your own Giant Connect 4 board:

TOSS AND CATCH

Another simple but entertaining outdoor game for kids is Toss and Catch. Who knew a ball and two disks with velcro would be so much fun? Both kids and adults will enjoy playing this game on a sunny day outdoors.

HOW TO PLAY

Two or more players should stand some distance apart, each player holding a disk in their hand by strapping it in. The first player tosses the ball, and the next player catches it. The ball is tossed back and forth until someone is unable to catch it! If you want to make the game a bit more competitive, you can keep score.

WHAT YOU NEED

If you don’t have a set already, to play Toss and Catch, you’ll need to grab at least two disks and a ball. You should be able to find a set in any game store, but you can find them online too:

OUTDOOR BOWLING

Another fun game for kids to play outdoors is Outdoor Bowling. Played just like normal Bowling but on a different surface, this game is a bit more casual, with lax rules and scoring systems. If you’re after a simple ball game that both kids and adults will enjoy – this is it!

HOW TO PLAY

Set up the 10 pins in a triangle form on one end of the yard. All players should stand a distance from it, with a bowling ball in hand. Players then take turns, one by one, to knock down the pins by rolling the bowling ball across the yard. However many pins they knock down equals to however many points they earn for each round. The player with the most points wins the game!

WHAT YOU NEED

To play Outdoor Bowling, grab yourself an Outdoor Bowling kit like these ones:

TUG OF WAR

Tug of War is a must in any list of classic outdoor games for kids. This game is super easy for anybody to understand – just make sure to distribute the strength relatively evenly between the two teams for a more intense game!

HOW TO PLAY

Divide the group into two teams, with each team holding either side of the rope. At the signal, both teams pull on the rope with the objective of pulling the rope over to their side. There should be a flag or some sort of mark on the rope so that you can easily see when a team wins!

WHAT YOU NEED

While you can play Tug of War with any rope you have lying around, just make sure it’s got some kind of marker in the middle so that you know when the rope goes over to one team. But if you don’t have a rope, there are plenty of Tug of War ropes available out there.

TWISTER

A classic party game, Twister is fun for people of all ages. While having some flexibility really plays to your advantage with this board game, it can be just as fun if you simply can’t twist your body in the way you have to to win this game! An active game that really tests your strength, Twister is a must for any outdoor party with kids.

HOW TO PLAY

To set up Twister, set up the mat on the floor. Then, twist the Twister spinner, which will let players know which hand and which foot goes on which color. For example, the spinner may say left foot on green or right hand on yellow! All players must place the corresponding hand or foot on the chosen color. Just make sure to not put any knees or elbows on the mat! And don’t fall! If you do, you’ll be out!

WHAT YOU NEED

There are two versions of Twister: Classic or Ultimate. The Classic game is best played by 2 to 3 players, but don’t worry if you have a bigger party. That’s where Twister Ultimate comes in! Here’s where you can get them:

HAVE FUN, KIDS!

Kids are full of energy, and these 20 classic outdoor games are perfect for any event to keep the kiddos occupied. And plus, these games are a great excuse for getting the kids out of the house and having fun! Not only do these games keep them occupied, but they also give opportunities to grow their team-building skills, their math skills, and their ability to strategize. Implement any of these games for kids into your next get-together and make some fun memories!

If you are looking for a fun card game to play with your youngsters, check out our guide to the best kid’s card games. You should also check out our post on the best 4th of July games for more outdoor game fun for both kids and adults!

Ellie Phillips
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