12 Fun Yard Games for Kids
Do you need some fresh activities to entertain the kids at your next playdate or birthday party? If you would like to get your kids to spend less time on their tablets and more time outdoors, try one of these 12 fun yard games for kids that are sure to pique their interest and help them release some of that extra energy.
12 Fun Yard Games for Kids
1. Red Light, Green Light
This old-school favorite requires no equipment and no preparation, aside from making sure your lawn is free of tripping hazards.
Have the kids form a line at one end of your lawn and have one child go to the other end of your lawn to be the stoplight. When the child playing the stoplight says, “Green light!,” the other children run towards them. When the child playing the stoplight says, “Red light!,” the other children freeze. If any of the kids do not freeze, they return to the start line, and the game continues. The first person to reach the child playing the stoplight wins that round and becomes the stoplight for the next round.
2. Simon Says
This is another one you probably played when you were growing up. You won’t need any equipment or prep time, so this is one you can do for impromptu playdates or backyard parties when you run out of fun activities for kids.
First, pick one child to play Simon. Have the rest of the children gather in a group facing Simon. Simon then tells the group to take specific actions, such as touching their knees or spinning around. The key to the game is that group must only follow the commands that start with, “Simon says…” Anyone who follows a command that did not start with “Simon says” stops playing and sits down until the next round. The last kid standing becomes Simon for the next round.
3. Bean Bag Toss
There are a few ways you can organize a bean bag toss, and all of them are fun games for kids. If most of your party guests are younger children, simply set out large, plastic bowls and have the kids toss bean bags in the bowls. If your guest list includes older kids, try playing a more challenging bean bag toss game with a board with multiple holes cut it in for targets or cornhole, which involves a board with a single hole cut out to use as targets. Cornhole is taken very seriously in some parts of the country, so a quick online search will produce how to make a regulation cornhole board and how to score the game.
This ranks among the all-time favorites in yard games for kids. Not only is it a great way to kill time while the adults talk or prepare food; it is also a great way to let the kids release energy. To play, simply start off with one child being “It.” Once that child is able to tag another child, the child who was tagged is now “It” and the game continues until the kids are worn out and ready for another activity.
Tag involves running, so it is important to make sure the kids play this one on a level surface that has been checked for tripping hazards. This is where an artificial turf lawn comes in rather handy in your backyard or your kids’ play area. The level, even surface and lack of mud makes a synthetic lawn the perfect place for games like tag.
5. Freeze Tag
This variation on the traditional game of tag involves the person who is “It” running around and tagging as many people as possible. Once tagged, each person must freeze where they are and cannot move unless they are unfrozen by another player tagging them. The game continues until everyone (except for “It”) is frozen. Then, if the kids still have the energy, select another person to be “It” and start up another round.
6. Backyard Scavenger Hunt
This one does not require any special equipment, but it does require a little prep time. Mostly, you just need to print out lists of objects for the kids to find in your backyard. This is a great one to do as teams and can also help the kids learn about nature. Some items you might include on the list are leaves, twigs, oranges (or another fruit you have growing in your backyard), rocks, or a particular type of flower.
There are large checker games that can be played on a patio and even larger checker games that require so much space, you need to play them on the lawn. You will need to purchase one of these outdoor checker games beforehand, but once you have it, it will be perfect to pull out when you need easy yard games for kids. Checkers is usually played with just two players, but you can divide the kids into two teams and encourage learning social skills as they work together to win.
8. Hide and Seek
One child (the seeker) counts to 20 or 50 or 100 (whatever works for the age group) while everyone else (the hiders) finds a place to hide. When the child is finished counting, they start searching for the other players. Once they find another player, that player becomes the seeker and begins looking for the other hiders. The last hider to be found wins that round and starts off the next round as the seeker.
9. Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe
Paint a Tic-Tac-Toe grid on a sheet or tarp, lay it out on your lawn, and give the kids a stack of Frisbees in two colors. This is another of many yard games that can either be played by two people or by two sets of people divided into teams. Each child (or team) takes turns tossing a Frisbee to try to get it to land in the squares needed to achieve three in a row.
10. Water Balloon Toss
A water balloon toss is one of those fun games for kids that takes a little prep and cleanup but is well worth it. You will need to purchase and fill water balloons beforehand. Make sure you have at least one balloon for every two kids that will be at the party or playdate, but you should really have more on hand, since this might turn into a water balloon fight or you might want to play more than one round.
Once you have your water balloons ready, have the kids line up in two lines facing each other. Each child will be partners with the child facing them in the other line. Give a balloon to all of the kids in one of the lines. After they have all tossed their water balloons to their partners, have all of the kids take a step back, and then toss them again. As you continue this, some will begin to miss or drop their balloons, and they will pop. Once a team’s balloon has popped, that pair is out of the game. The winners are the last partners with an intact balloon.
Twister is a fun, silly game that has been around for decades. To make this a yard game for kids, you can use a regular twister mat for a small group or paint rows of colored dots on a large tarp to play with a bigger group.
12. Soda Bottle Bowling
Save your two-liter soda bottles until you have at least 10 to set up like bowling pins. The game will be more fun if the bottles are painted, so you can get two activities out of this one. First, make it a craft project and let the kids decorate the bottles. Once they are dry, they will be ready for some soda bottle lawn bowling. Put just enough sand of gravel in the bottom of the bottles to keep them standing but still easy to knock over. Set them up like bowling pins and give the kids a soccer ball or volleyball to roll to knock over the pins. Keep score as you would in conventional bowling.
Like most of the yard games on this list, soda bottle bowling requires a level, even surface, which makes artificial turf an ideal choice as a ground cover where these games will be played. Of course, this is not the only reason to choose synthetic turf for play areas and backyards. Here are four other benefits to consider:
1. Artificial turf does not require chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, which means you can reduce your family’s exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals.
2. You never have to mow, aerate or edge a synthetic lawn, which means you have more time to play and your lawn is always ready for action.
3. It is common for natural grass lawns to have dips, mounds and divots from clumps of grass or from kids and dogs playing. This leads to tripping hazards that can be avoided with artificial turf.
4. Even if your kids play outside on the lawn after it rains, there are no wet blades of grass or mud for them to track in if that lawn is synthetic turf.