Backyard Games for Kids

Remember back to your own childhood. Did you play classic games like tag or hide and go seek? They are a great way to get the kids outdoors. You can encourage outdoor play in your children with this list of backyard games for kids.

Help your family enjoy greater happiness and health. Learn more about the benefits of outdoor play and how to integrate it into your daily life.

Backyard Games for Kids – What are the Benefits of Outdoor Play?

There are many reasons to get your kids out of the house. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children play outside as much as possible. They even urge doctors to prescribe playtime as part of wellness visits.

Increase physical activity

Children move faster and burn more calories when they’re outdoors. They also form habits that can help them manage their weight and reduce their risk for heart disease and other conditions linked to sedentary lifestyles. These habits can support strong health throughout their lifetime.

Develop your children’s coordination

Whether you’re tossing a ball, walking around the block, or riding bikes, your child’s dexterity and coordination will grow when you regularly play outdoors together.

Promote learning

Research shows that children are more attentive after recess. Playing outside sharpens thinking by providing sensory input that helps link body and mind.

Offer quality time

Spending time outside with your kids provides wonderful opportunities to see what they like to do. You can also offer them activities from your own life. Teach them how to play freeze tag and all those other “old-fashioned” games you used to play outdoors.

Connect with nature

Green spaces give us energy and brighten our moods. As your child builds their self-esteem and confidence, they may also become more interested in protecting the environment.

Backyard Games for Kids Help Them to Socialize and Make friends

Any unstructured playtime is an opportunity for your child to practice their social skills and interact with their peers. They learn how to share and negotiate.

Manage stress

There’s no better way to teach your children how to discharge stress than to go outside and connect with nature every day. You’ll feel better, calmer, and more relaxed, and so will your kids.

Make memories and traditions.

Being outside together is a family activity you can practice all your life. Whether your kids are 5, 15 or 25 years old, if they grew up playing outdoors with you, you’ve got an easy family tradition you can do anywhere. The family traditions that we have created with backyard games (like kickball and scavenger hunts) are by far my most favorite.

Best Backyard Games for Kids

These fun outdoor games are completely based on experience. I am the youngest of seven children who grew up in a neighborhood where we played outside all the times with our friends. Now, I am the mother of six children and am sharing our favorite games to play right in your own backyard.

Classic Game of Hide and Go Seek

There is no way that you can not start the list of the best backyard games without this simple game of hide and go seek. It is great for kids of ages. That is why it is #1 on my list. Obviously, you know the object of the game. One person is it and the rest of the players hide. The last person to be found is the winner!

We have added a fun twist to the game and included tag. Our birch tree in the yard is the home base. The person who is it counts to 30. Everyone hides. The object of this version is to run back to the base (our birch tree) without getting tagged by the person who is it. If you get tagged, you are it for the next round.

Kickball and Waterslide Kickball

Through the years, this is absolutely second place for us. This fun game is great for younger kids and teenagers. Separate into teams. We play with a few as two people (just use ghost runners). Roll the ball and kick it. Run to first base. The object of the game is to get all around the bases to score a run.

Often we don’t have a ton of time to play so we will decide before we start the number of innings we are playing or the score we are going to – for example 3 innings or first team to five ends the game. Allow only one out per side if you need to shorten the game.

On hot summer days, we have played waterslide kickball. Cut up huge tarps to run the length between the bases and put sprinklers over them! So much fun!

Classic Outdoor Game – Red Light, Green Light

This one is a great game for a large group of little kids. One person is the traffic light. The rest of the kids stand at the starting line. The traffic light turns their back to the kids and calls out “RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT, 1, 2, 3” and then turns around quickly. When their back is turned, the kids try to run towards the “traffic light”. When the player turns around, everyone must freeze. If they see you moving you have to go back to the start. The first person to touch the “traffic light” player without getting caught moving is the winner! Read more about games like this one here.

Sidewalk Chalk Games

Grab a bucket of sidewalk chalk and start drawing any games like hopscotch, tic tac toe, or four square. The possibilities are endless. Draw targets and throw water balloons at them on a hot summer day.

Scavenger Hunt

This is another popular game for kids of all ages. You can make them super simple for young children or more complex for older kids. We have made it a great time for the whole family.

You can list things like a green leaf, brown rock, anything orange, etc. Or make it much harder with clues and treasure hunts to follow. When we play with the entire family, my husband and I each drive a car with two different teams. The hunt includes taking pictures at random spots, sometimes catching a fish, buying a candy bar, etc. Through the years, it has become one of our favorite traditions by far. Especially as the kids get older and the scavenger hunts get more detailed and challenging.

Obstacle Courses

Another fun way to enjoy backyard games for kids is to create different obstacle courses. Use pool noodles, jump ropes, bean bags, or anything you have available to create different stations. Jump into a hula hoop, run in circles around a tree, jump rope 10 times, and make it to the finish line. How quickly can you complete the course? Encourage the kids to make up their own obstacle courses and time each other.


This is another perfect game for a group of children. You need one ball and a large outdoor area to play. You can read all the directions for that game here.

Wait One More Backyard Games for Kids – Running Bases

An all-time classic backyard game for kids that requires two trees and a ball. Read how to play running bases here.

Although letting your kids play endlessly with their computers or video games may seem easier than a battle of the wills, physical activity is still crucial, especially for growing bodies. Make an effort to squeeze outdoor time into the schedule, even for 30 minutes a day. You’ll feel better, connect more, and discover all kinds of wonderful things about yourselves and each other!

Outdoor play is essential for your child’s physical, mental, and social development. Spend more time outdoors, where your family and friends can connect with each other by playing these backyard games for kids.

Need Indoor Game Ideas?

 This download is a collection of 25 different fine motor, gross motor, oral motor and visual motor challenges. Pick a challenge and see who can set the record for the fastest, longest, most, shortest and tallest skills! Write down the top scores to keep track of who holds the records for each challenge. Print as full size pages or smaller cards for travel size. You will need some household items to complete the challenges such as paper, pencils, coins, etc