15 Classic Outdoor Games Revisited
15 Classic Outdoor Games Revisited

Retro Romp: 15 Classic Outdoor Games Revisited

Jettison the video games, banish social media, and head outside!

Use this list to quash any summertime cries of boredom—it’s a quick reference guide to some timeless games that will get the family outside and having fun!

1. tag/freeze tag

You need only a group of people to play this game. To play, one kid is "it" and tries to touch or tag another kid. Whoever is tagged becomes "it." With freeze tag, if you’re tagged, you’re frozen until another teammate “melts" you with a tag.

2. jacks

You’ll need jacks and a ball to play this classic game. Toss the jacks onto the floor and then, using one hand, toss the ball up and grab one jack and the ball before it bounces again. Move on to "twosies" (grabbing two jacks), "threesies" (three jacks) and so on.

3. hopscotch

This can be played solo or with a group. Draw a traditional hopscotch design and toss a rock or beanbag (the “marker”) onto the first square. Hop over the bean bag or rock and jump onto each part of the diagram until the end and then turn around and jump back, retrieving the marker.

4. hide + seek

Just like it sounds. All players hide except the one who is "it." That child closes his or her eyes, counts to ten or more, and then seeks the other children. Adults can play too! Game ends when "it" finds the last hiding player who then becomes the new "it."

5. marbles

Draw a circle on sand, dirt or concrete and take turns trying to knock your opponent's marbles out of the circle with your big marble. For safety’s sake, keep marbles away from little ones.

6. jump rope/double dutch

This fun activity, which is great exercise, can be played alone or in a group, with two kids twirling a long rope and another child jumping. Double Dutch is more challenging, as you have to jump over two ropes twirled one after another.

7. kickball

Similar to baseball, but instead of hitting a small ball with a bat, you kick a larger ball and run the bases.

8. parachute

Grab an old sheet and let kids take turns being the leader and giving directions. Kids can walk or jog in a circle, switch directions, hide underneath or play "popcorn" by putting balls or beanbags on top of the parachute and waving it up and down. An adult should supervise this one, especially if small children are involved.

9. Freeze dance

Everyone dances until the music stops, then everyone freezes. Whoever moves is out. The game continues until there’s only one person left, and they win.

10. simon says

One person acts as "Simon," and tells other players to do something, e.g., "Simon says touch your nose." If the order is given without saying "Simon says" first, anyone who follows that request is out.

11. red light, green light

Players line up opposite one child (the “stoplight”), who runs when they say "green light,” and freeze when that child says "red light!" Those caught moving must go back to the starting line. The first one to tag the “stoplight” wins.

12. "mother, may I?"

One person, the "mother," goes to one side of the room or yard. Players take turns asking, "Mother, may I take [insert number] steps forward?" The mother replies, "Yes you may," or "No you may not." Players may ask to take baby steps, giant steps, spinning steps or jumps. The first to reach the mother wins.

13. foursquare

Draw a large square on concrete with chalk and divide it into quarters. Two, three or four players can participate by bouncing the ball into another player’s square. If a player allows the ball to bounce twice or fails to hit it back, they’re out.

14. capture the flag

The more players the better for this game involving two teams, each having a flag or marker for the team base. Each team tries to capture the other team’s flag without getting tagged by opponents.

15. marco polo

Usually played in a swimming pool, this game involves one person closing his or her eyes, calling "Marco" and trying to tag one of the other players, who must reply, "Polo." Make sure to keep this to the shallow end and have an adult or lifeguard supervise. Need more inspiration? Get glowing and try these 3 backyard games to play at night.