Looking for the best outdoor backyard activities for kids and for adults to enjoy together? These easy outdoor backyard fun ideas are perfect for your family to enjoy all summer long! DIY backyard play for toddlers, for kids, and for adults to enjoy being together!
15 Classic Yard Games for Kids
Playing outside is FUN, not to mention especially beneficial for gross motor and emotional development. Being outdoors is refreshing for kids and grown ups alike, so the more everyone gets out there, the better!
Water Play for Kids
Water is just lovely in the summer! It cools kids off, it’s a pleasant sensory experience, and it can be enjoyed by children of all ages in just about any space from a little patio to sprawling acreage.
Playing in the Sprinkler
Is there anything more iconic than running though a sprinkler in the grass on a summer day? Rub on sunscreen and bring out some popsicles and you have classic summer yard fun ready to go. No grass? Don’t worry! We have set our sprinkler up on every surface from gravel to flagstone, even on the sidewalk in the front yard- the kids still love it!
It can be easy to underestimate the play power of a pitcher of water and some cups, but kids LOVE simple water play activities like this! They can practice pouring, measuring, or just have fun splashing and pouring without any particular goal. Open ended play like this can occupy kiddos for a long time!
They sell massive packs of water balloons at Costco, they sell baggies at the dollar store, they’ve got them at every big box retailer and you might even find them at your local toy shop too. Water balloons are great fun, but be sure to set ground rules before letting a fight ensue (for example, no water balloons at faces!).
Slip and Slide (DIY or store-bought)
Slip and Slides are super fun! This option I really recommend you only use on a grassy or other soft, springy ground covering. Sure, your child might slide across a slippery surface with concrete or dirt under them, but ouch! Slip and slides are the most fun when a running start is involved with soft grass to cushion their bodies as kids fling themselves across the slide mat.
Sidewalk or Driveway Games for Kids:
Important word here, folks: CHALK. Not all of the yard games for kids in this category involve chalk, but many do. It’s a very small financial commitment when you compare it to the hours of play your children will enjoy with it! Amazon sells this fantastic set of chalk, but your local big box stores, drug stores, and dollar stores will have it too if you’d like to start with less pieces!
The most common hopscotch boards I’ve seen tend to start at 1 and go up to ten. There is some room for SERIOUS creativity here, folks! Sure, draw hopscotch boards that go up to 10, but make the squares in an unexpected pattern or who says you can’t make a hopscotch board that goes up to 15 or even 20?!
To play hopscotch, kids take turns tossing out an object, jumping the course without stepping in the box where the object is, retrieving the object on their way back, and completing the course!
Hangman is a fun game for everyone, but kids who have just realized they know how to spell things take a special kind of delight in in! Draw an iconic gallows in your driveway or on your porch, and start teaching your kids hangman with 4 to 5 letter words that you know they’ll recognize. The problem with 3 letter words is that someone can end up “hanged” long before they’ve even guessed one letter correctly!
Like any other art supplies, sidewalk chalk on it’s own provides an opportunity for open-ended creative expression. Kids who aren’t used to just doodling whatever they want may feel more comfortable drawing if a parent sits and draws near them at first. It doesn’t have to be the best work of art ever, just whatever comes to mind!
Any painting can become an outdoor activity if you move it outside, but the link above includes an especially fun recipe for sidewalk paint! It washes away the same as chalk, but the paintbrush experience on the sidewalk is an exciting new sensory experience for kids! Some children (and adults 🙋♀️) don’t love the texture of chalk, and this can be a fun way to start easing into the chalk experience!
Amazon sells these cool beaded jump ropes, but you can also find a jump rope at the dollar store or at your local toy shop or big box retailer! If you have kids of multiple ages (and thus different heights), it can be useful to find an adjustable rope. Is your neighborhood full of children? You might want to invest in a long double jump rope- my experience is that when other kids see people jumping rope, they want to do it too!
Talk about a classic, game! Jacks might just be the original childhood yard game. Britannica Encyclopedia explains that games resembling jacks have been played all over the world, with evidence of the game even being found in prehistoric caves!
It’s simple to play, and while you can buy a fun set of jacks, you can also take a page from children around the globe and use dried beans, rocks, or other household objects that are similarly sized. Fun Games Kids Play has basic explanations for how to play basic jacks (and more variations on their website!):
Throw the ball into the air … pick up one jack … then catch the ball after it bounces one time. Continue picking up the jacks one at a time. When you have collected all the jacks, throw them again and start picking the jacks up two at a time (twosies). When you get to threesies you have to pick up the three sets of three first, then pick up the left over jack. Continue on until you are at tensies. You can then declare the winner as the first one to tens, or go back down again to onesies.
Your turn continues until you either: miss the ball, fail to pick up the jacks, move a jack, or drop a jack that you have picked up. Your turn is then over and the next person goes.
More Yard Games for Kids:
These yard games for kids work just fine in the grass, on a porch, in the dirt, etc.
There are a lot of ways to play catch! There’s the classic version many of us remember from our own childhoods- grabbing a glove and a baseball and tossing it back and forth. No gloves? No problem. Just toss any ball back and forth and catch it with your hands- a hard ball might not be ideal for this option.
Bean Bag Toss
In my family, there’s only one bean bag toss game out there, and it’s corn hole! Players take turns tossing weighted bean bags (like these) onto boards and trying to get them in the hole or at least landing on the board. A person from the opposite team tries to knock off those bean bags or cancel out your points by also landing on the board or making their bag in the hole.
As with many of the other games on this list, you don’t have to go buy or make corn hole boards to play a bean bag toss game with your kids. Set up some buckets or lay down some DIY paper or cardboard targets and assign a point value to each bucket and toss bean bags in (or stuffed animals if you don’t have bean bags)!
Horseshoes is one of those yard games people have been playing for a long time. It is a bit more finicky in terms of supplies- you’ll need a couple of rebar stakes, and some horseshoes (bonus points if they came off of your own horse!). It is also a game best played in a sandy pit, because the horseshoes will tear up an grass you’re chucking them at.
Hula hoops are silly, giggly yard play! Kids don’t usually get it on their first try, and it requires just a pinch of perseverance to not give up when the hula hoop keeps falling down. It’s fun to try it on an arm, around your waist, some people even bob their heads and get it going around their neck! Bonus point for the hula hoop: it can come inside on a rainy day to help burn off some steam and bring some good laughs too!
I’ve never known a child to get tired of chasing bubbles before their parents got tired of blowing them! Kids of all ages seem to enjoy the fascinating appeal of shining balls of soap glistening through the air. No bubble solution around? This recipe for DIY bubble solution makes fabulous bubbles and you can experiment with blowing bubbles from a variety of objects besides the traditional bubble wand (pro tip: waving around empty plastic strawberry containers works surprisingly well!).
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