50 Fun Backyard Games for Kids

 If you are looking for the best backyard games for kids of all ages, look no further!  These outdoor activities are perfect for those hot summer days where all you want to do is be outdoors and in the sun.

backyard games for kids and the whole family

Classic Backyard Games for Kids

You’ll find some creative and maybe new-to-you games with directions below.   After this section, you will see lists of some more classic game ideas. 

Sprinkler Tag and Flashlight Tag

Just like the traditional version of tag, the object of the game is for one person to get all of the other players “out”.

In the traditional version of tag, the main player does this by touching and tagging the other players. In both of these special versions of tag, the person that is “it” tries tagging the other players with a hose, sprinkler, or flashlight. You can play where once a person is tagged, they become “it” or they have to sit down. Then, the first or last person who was tagged becomes “it” next.

Water Balloon Baseball

For this, you can fill up some water balloons and play regular old baseball. If a full baseball game is a little complicated for your group age-wise, just do batting practice with some water balloons! This baseball variation is perfect for a hot summer day when you need some water fun.

Squirt Gun Painting

This activity is a great way for the little artists in your home to spend some time outdoors. You can do some free painting with the squirt guns or turn it into a game!

Draw or paint a target on to the painting surface and then see who can get their paint closest to the middle of the target. If you are looking for a creative game, see who can draw the best animal or fruit standing a good distance away from the painting surface.

Ghost in the Graveyard

For this fun game, you need at least five players. Once you have a group, you need to decide where home base will be and who will be the first “ghost”.

When the game begins, the ghost will go hide somewhere while the rest of the players stay at the designated home base. The players count to 30 and then go look for the ghost. If someone finds the ghost, they yell, “Ghost in the graveyard!”. Once that is heard, everyone tries to run back to home base before the ghost has a chance to tag them. Whoever the ghost tags is the next ghost. If no one is tagged, the first player that made it back to home base is the next ghost.


Many of you probably had a great time playing this one during your childhood! For this, you need a group of at least four or five people. One person is designated as “it”. That person goes to hide while the rest of the players count to at least 30. Once they are done counting, they go and look for the person hiding. As each player finds the hider, they hide with them! The last person to find the group is the next “it”.

Kick the Can

This is a great game if you have a large driveway or flat open area in your backyard!

One person is selected to be “it” and a tin can or soda can is placed in the center of the play area. The person that is “it” guards the can and counts to 30 while the other players go to hide. The players that are not “it” try to reach the can while the guard tries to tag them. If they are tagged, they have to freeze where they were caught. The guard is trying to protect the can while also trying to tag and freeze the other players. If the guard tags all of the players, they win. If someone kicks the can over without being tagged, they win!

Hospital Tag

There are so many different ways to play tag! Just like in traditional tag, one player is selected to be “it” and they have to tag the other players. However in this version, when someone is tagged, they have to hold their hand over the spot where they are tagged in order to stay in the game. If they are tagged a second time, they have to use their other hand to cover that spot.

Depending on where they were tagged, this could make running around very interesting and hilarious to watch! If they are tagged a third time, they have to go to the designated “hospital”. This means they are out of the game. The person that is “it” wins when all of the players are in the hospital. The first or last person in the hospital is the next “it”.

backyard games for kids and the whole family

Red Rover

For this classic outdoor game, you need at least ten people to play this game and will divide the players into two different groups. Place each team on opposite ends of the yard. Each team should be standing in a line holding hands. This is their starting line. The opposite team is their finish line.

One team will start the game by yelling, “Red rover, red rover, send (someone on the opposite team’s name) right over”. The name they said then has to run from their team’s side to the other team and try to break through their line. If they are unable to do so, they have to join that team. If they are able to break through the line, they choose someone to come over and join their team. The game is over when all of the players have joined into one line.

Mother, May I?

Mother, May I was probably one of your mother’s favorite games! For this, you need at least five children. One of them is designated as “mother”. Have mother on one end of the yard and the rest of the players on the other end.

The players are trying to make it across the yard to tag the mother. They do so by asking the mother if they can move across the space in different ways. For example, they may ask, “Mother, may I take three hops forward?”. The mother tells them “yes” or “no”. The mother can adjust their request too! If they want to say no, they can say, “No, you may not take three hops forward, but you may take two”. The person to tag the mother first is the next mother.

Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course

All you need for this is some sidewalk chalk and concrete! This obstacle course has children following a path of shapes and lines. The lines are for walking. You can zig zag them or swirl them for extra fun! Add circles to the path for jumping. The children can jump from circle to circle and use them to rest or stand on before they move to the next spot. Add rectangles and use them as obstacles! They can be something to jump over. You can add whatever shapes you like to the course and make them represent a different required action. It’s all up to you!

Moving Beach Balls

This game is a great thing if you have children that love swinging bats around, but are looking for a calmer, gentler game. All you need are pool noodles and beach balls! Younger ones can just run around and hit the beach balls with noodles as they like. For older children, make some makeshift goals and teams and keep score!

Sponge Bomb Toss

This is a fun outdoor game if you are looking for something with a super soft ball. If you are looking to cool off a bit this is also great!

Make the sponge bombs by cutting up some cheap sponges into strips and use a hair elastic to group together nine of those strips. Easy peasy! You could just use them for a water fight or implement them into a simple game of baseball!

Ice Bowling

This fun twist on outdoor bowling is great if your kids love different colors! You can make the ice bowling balls by filling up water balloons with water, a few drops of food coloring, and then freezing them!

When they are frozen, peel or cut off the water balloon and you have a colorful ball of ice. If you don’t already have bowling pins, take some old water bottles, fill them up, and add some food coloring for fun! This game is best played on a driveway, sidewalk, or any concrete area you might have in your front or back yard.

Now, let’s move on to the outdoor games for younger kids.  Some may be new variations of classic games, but they keep the core goal of the original games we know and love. 

Outdoor Games for Younger Kids

backyard games for kids and the whole family

Depending on what ages you work with or have living in your home, it is smart to have a lineup that includes games for a variety of levels. Most backyard games are fairly simple and straightforward, but younger children may need other options. For younger groups it can also be helpful to play the most traditional version of a game! When you are setting up playtime for a younger crowd, start with traditional tag instead of one of the newer varieties. The games below all are incredibly simple and you have likely played them before. Ones that may be less familiar only have a few rules to follow!

  •  Hopscotch – A great way to practice large motor skills and learn counting!
  •  Hide and Seek – Little kids and big kids both love this classic game.
  •  Simon Says – Perfect if you have a large group or not a lot of space. 
  •  Tag – Likely a favorite from your own childhood, traditional tag is perfect for even your tiniest players.
  •  Duck, Duck, Goose – This is a great time indoors and outdoors. Playing outdoors gives you a little more space to run around!
  •  Red Light, Green Light – This game can get a little crazy if you have fast runners, so it is perfect for days when you need to get outdoors.
  •  Monkey in the Middle  – For younger children, play this classic game with a foam ball instead of a hard or big one.
  •  Hula Hoop Contest – Simple directions: who can hold their hula hoop up the longest?
backyard games for kids
  •  The Grass is Lava – This outdoor version of the floor is lava is great if you have a lot of outdoor furniture or a play gym. If you don’t, it’s a great way for kids to get creative.
  • Sink or Float Activity Tub – This is a fun way for children to learn about what sort of items sink and what sort of items float. Grab a variety of household items, a large tub, and fill it with water. You have an easy, tame game for the afternoon!
  • Bean Bag Bowl Toss – Games like this are great for outdoor birthday parties or outdoor events. The point system makes it easy to give prizes.
  • Bean Bag Ladder Toss – If you have a house, you likely have a ladder! After that, all you need are a few bean bags and those are easy to come by. Try Amazon! You can label each rung with a different amount of points to up the stakes.
  • Giant Lawn Matching Game – While this one may take a little preparation, the efforts are well worth it! When you are done with playing this game, it is easy to store away and bring out again another day.
  • Color Golf – This DIY golf game is perfect for youngsters learning their colors. Plastic balls, paper plates, paint, and golf clubs are all you need!
  • Pom Pom Run and Sort – Looking to get your kids moving and learning? This game has them running around the yard searching for pom poms and then sorting them by color.
  • Balloon Tennis – Children can make their own tennis rackets out of paper plates and then use them for the game.
  • Marble Water Slide Race – This is such a creative idea! Such an easy way to make a little friendly competition.

Outdoor Games for the Whole Family

backyard games for kids and the whole family

Check out these games that are well-rounded enough for the whole family! This list includes some variations on classic outdoor games, like freeze tag or glow-in-the-dark capture the flag! These games have enough going on to entertain your older children and are perfect for younger children if they have adult or older sibling guidance.

  •  Nature Scavenger Hunt – Use this free printable to find in your backyard or neighborhood. 
  •  Backyard Obstacle Course – An obstacle course is great because you don’t have to prepare unless you want to. Use what you have around your house or yard.
  •  Kickball – This classic outdoor game is so much fun – even for adults!
  •  Jacks 
  •  Freeze Tag – This easy outdoor game is a fun variation on a run-around classic.
  •  Shadow Tag
  •  Marbles – If you aren’t sure how to play marbles, ask your child’s grandparents!
  •  Tug of War – This is perfect for older children, younger children, and a wide number of players.
  •  Firefly Catching Contest – Looking for something to fun to do in the evening? Grab some jars or Tupperware and send your kids on a hunt.
  • Outdoor Giant Jenga – The “giant” aspect of this one adds a fun twist to this traditional indoor game.
  •  Capture the Flag – You can make the flag anything you have around the house! Split into two teams and try to keep the other away from your team flag.
  •  Glow-in-the-Dark Capture the Flag – Follow the same rules as above, but add a glow in the dark flag and some team-colored glow sticks for extra fun.
  • Ring Toss – This is simple and all the pieces are included for you!
  • Glow-in-the-dark Lawn Darts -Glow in the dark lawn games are great if the weather is too hot when the sun is out.
  • Giant Checkers – There’s just something about giant versions of classic games!
  • Soda Bottle Ring Toss Game – Buy a pre-made version like this or gather plastic rings and classic, glass soda bottles for this easy-to-explain game.
  •  Cornhole – You may need to order the game platforms and bean bags, but this game is always a crowd pleaser.
  • Giant Lawn Tic Tac Toss Another giant version of a classic lawn game!
  • Giant Lawn Scrabble – This indoor game takes on another level of fun when you make it giant and take it outdoors!
  • Lawn Bowling – You need a driveway or concrete area for this one, but everyone loves bowling!
  • DIY Football Toss – Football lovers will love this easy-to-make lawn game.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these fun backyard games. From jump ropes to a simple rubber ball, there are lots of inexpensive ways to have fun in your own backyard. If you have another great idea for outdoor fun, leave it in the comments below.

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Backyard Games for Kids