A birthday or other party outside in the summer months can be the perfect opportunity to allow your kids to indulge in some boisterous or messy fun that would be a nightmare to consider indoors, and almost any summertime outdoor activity can be adapted into a fun party game.
The best outside party games are those that are keyed to a child’s age group. Little ones will be confused and intimidated by the very same things that may delight older kids, and bigger kids are easily bored by “baby stuff”. If you’ve got a range of ages to entertain, try to offer up a little something for everyone—toddler games for the 4 and unders, and slightly more advanced games for the five and ups.
Outside Party Games for Toddlers Through Age Four
Little ones in this age group are still very actively engaged in exploring their worlds and learning to utilize all their senses. To entertain the younger set at a party, consider some of these games:
- Bubbles: using either store bought bubbles and wands, or crafting your own home made versions, toddlers will be entranced by the pretty, delicate structures that emerge with a wisp of breath or a swipe through the air. A group of toddlers with various sizes of wands will produce enough spectacular bubbles to keep the wee ones fascinated for hours
- Rope games: encourage balance and ingenuity by laying a length of rope on the lawn and encouraging your toddler to walk along it; or figure out ways to cross it (jump, step over, walk around, pick up and duck under)
- Walking games: Challenge your toddler to copy your movements as you alternatively march, slide, skip, or hop.
- Puddle Jumping: Normally jumping and splashing around in puddles is actively discouraged—–so how better to entertain toddlers than to allow them to engage in this forbidden activity? Under controlled circumstances, of course! Use uneven parts of your lawn or grassless area, water thoroughly then allow the little ones to jump around and play to their hearts content. On a hot summer day, if they get dirty doing it, you can cool them off and clean them up using the garden hose set to gentle spray!
- Ice blocks—turn the toddlers loose on ice from several trays—and keep the fun contained by setting them up inside an empty wading pool. Liven up the fun by freezing water in a milk carton, coloring the water before hand. Or slip small toys (non swallowing hazard only!) into pans of water before you freeze them and letting the little ones figure out how to get them out!
Outside Party Games for Kids Five and Up
Kids in this age group will benefit from outdoor games that are more organized –and this is the perfect age to introduce the concept of team play to your youngsters. Try the following games for the slightly older crowd:
- Relay Race – if you have a big yard or a park nearby, this one promotes physical activity with team cooperation. Set up a course and position teams of runners with members every few yards. Not only must the winning team run fastest, they must also successfully transfer the baton without dropping it.
- Red Rover—the famous “call over” came consists of two opposing teams linking hands, forming team chains. A member of the opposite team is “called over” and must try to break through the opposing team chain. If he/she does, they return to their own team—if the attempt fails, the loser must join the opposition.
- Capture the Flag Tag—outfit your group of children, each with a brightly colored bit of fabric, a scarf or other piece of cloth which are slipped into back pockets or waistbands. Then let the mob loose the objective of the game being to capture as many “flags” from other players without losing one’s own.
- Traffic Light: Appoint one child to be the “traffic light” with the rest of the group at the opposite end of the yard. The Traffic light faces the group or turns their back; when facing the group “Red Light” is shouted and all players must freeze in place; when the traffic light turns their back, “Green Light” is called out. The object of the game is for the children in the group to get as close as possible to the traffic light child to tag them—anyone moving after “Red Light” is called, is sent back to the beginning of the course. The winner who tags the light becomes the next traffic light.
- Blind Man’s Bluff: A very time honored old game and still a good group activity. This is a type of tag game where the “it” person must wear a blindfold. The object of the game is to for the blindfolded player to tag other members of the group.
It may take a little doing to get the kids—especially the slightly older crowd, away from the computer, video games or TV and out into the fresh air—but The great outdoors presents a vast array of ways to entertain kids—especially during the warm summer months when older kids are off from school and easily bored. The benefits of getting your children outside into fresh air and sunshine cannot be underestimated, and even the most fun game can be turned into a learning experience.