10 Classic Outdoor Games for Summer

Photo: amynrobc/Flickr.

1. Red Light/Green Light: To play, choose one person to be the "stop light." The object for the rest of the players is to try to touch the stop light. Start the game with all players lined up about 15 feet away from the stop light. The stop light should have her back to the rest of the players. The stop light begins the game by calling "Green light!" At this point, all players are allowed to move towards the stoplight, but they must stop immediately when the stop light turns around and calls out "Red light!" Anyone caught moving after the red light is called is out. Play resumes when the stop light turns back around and again says "Green light." The first player to touch the stop light wins the game and earns the right to be "stop light" for the next round. The stop light wins if all the players are out before anyone is able to touch her.

2. Hide and Seek: Hide and Seek goes down in the record books as probably the most popular outdoor game of all time. To start, choose one person "it." The person who is "it" must then turn around, close his eyes, and count (usually to 10) at the "base" while the rest of the players hide. When the person who is "it" finishes counting, he calls out "Ready or Not, Here I Come" and rushes to "seek" everyone. The rest of the players try to get back to base without getting tagged or else they are "It". If the person who is "It" doesn't tag anyone, he remains "it" for the next round.

3. Capture The Flag: This is another all-time favorite outdoor game. To play, separate the players in to two teams. Team 1 has one half of the field, whole Team 2 has the other half (or you could use front yard/backyard.) The two teams are given 5 minutes to hide their flag in their part of the yard. At the end of the 5 minutes, both teams return to a neutral starting point and simply try to get the other team's flag. If a player is caught and tagged by an opponent, she must go to "jail" and she can only be freed by a teammate who grabs her when the opposing team isn't looking. The first team to capture the other team's flag wins.

4. Obstacle Course: The basic rules to playing Obstacle Course are that there really are no rules! Just use what ever you have on hand: hula hoops, baseball bases, frisbees, logs, balls, jump ropes, hockey sticks, etc. Set these objects up so that players must jump/run/hop/or crawl through/around/under/or over them. In other words, have players jump over a hockey stick, crawl through a hula hoop, walk over a log, run around a base, etc.

5. Kick The Can: Over the years, this classic backyard has taken on several different variations, but basically, all you need is three or more players, a can (or a ball or box), and a little room to run and hide. You also need a “jail:” any area within sight of the can where tagged players can wait to to rejoin the game. To play, select one player to be "it." Place the can in the middle of the open area, so that there is some space between the can and the hiding spots. The person who is "it" stands with one foot on the can and closes her eyes while counting out loud to (usually to about 50) to give the other players time to hide. When the time is up, the person who is "it" opens her eyes and begins searching for the other players. Meanwhile, the other players must attempt to get past it and "kick the can." If "It" tags someone before he kicks the can, that person must go to “jail” and wait. If "It" catches all the players, she wins the game.

8. Horse: If you have a basketball hoop in your yard or driveway, you have everything you need to play a game of Horse. The start, the first player is allowed to shoot from anywhere on the court (for more difficulty, the player must also call the shot he hopes to make). If he makes the first shot, all other players must make the same shot from the same position. If a players misses, she receives an "H," the first letter from "horse." Then it is the next person's turn to go first, calling a shot that all remaining players must follow. The game continues until someone has received all five letters in "horse." (Little kids might enjoy P-I-G, the shorter version of this game.)

7. Tag/Flashlight Tag: Tag is about as basic as it gets when it comes to backyard games. All you need is a group of kids and a yard or field to run around in. One person is designated as "it", and that person runs around and tries to touch (or "tag") someone else. If she succeeds, the person they touch is now "it" and tries to chase everyone else. The game continues until everyone is exhausted! Flashlight tag is a fun variation that can be played at night with ... you guessed it ... flashlights!

8. Hopscotch: Hopscotch may be the oldest of these classic kids outdoor games — if you believe what you read on the Internet, which says Roman soldiers played it in ancient Britain. It's easy to play, but difficult to explain in text. This video does a good job of showing you how it's done:

9. Kickball: To play kickball, you'll need a medium-sized soft ball, a handful of kids, and some space to run around. The rules and setup are similar to baseball, but you use your feet to kick the ball instead of a bat.

10. Duck, duck, goose: In this game, kids sit down in a circle facing each other. To start, one person is selected as "it" and walks around the circle. As she walks around, she taps people's heads and says whether they are a "duck" or a "goose". Once someone is selected as the "goose" he get up and try to chase "it" around the circle. The goal for "it" is to run all the way around the circle and sit down in the "goose's" spot. The goal for the "goose" is to tag "it" before she sits down. If he can't, he becomes "it" for the next round and play continues. If he does tag "it," then she has to sit in the center of the circle until another round when someone else is tagged and she is replaced.