Outside games give kindergartners opportunities for healthy exercise, stimulating sensory experiences and imaginative play -- an important part of kids' cognitive skill-building. The next time the kids could use a way to burn some energy or cure a case of boredom, head outside for hours of effortless fun.
Tag ... You're It!
A classic game of tag in the yard, playground or park is a great way to help kindergartners get the 60 minutes of physical activity that the National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends school-age children receive each day. Pick someone to be "it" and instruct that child to chase and tag another player, who becomes "it." For a structured, motor-based chase or catch game to play outdoors with this age group, try "Duck, Duck, Goose," "The Farmer in the Dell" or "London Bridge," which are sure to get kids moving and laughing.
The Magic of Make-Believe
Simple role-playing games inspire young children to use their imaginations, which in turn promotes cognitive development. Dress the kids up as pirates, hide treasure around the backyard, make a treasure map drawing featuring clues to the treasure location and send youngsters off on a treasure hunt. Or, get the girls in their best princess costumes and have a fashion show or charm school session out on the deck. Turn it into a game by awarding points to your princesses and crown the winner with a shiny new tiara. Give the other players goodie bags filled with children's costume jewelry pieces and other princess accessories.
Exploring the Great Outdoors
The outdoors provides lots of opportunities for kindergartners to explore nature through their five senses. Play a game of "Nature Bingo" with homemade playing cards that feature pictures of things kids might encounter on a stroll through the park or backyard, such as yellow flowers, a tree or a bunny rabbit. Have kids check off the pictures as they encounter each sight. A game of "Sound Scavenger Hunt" is easy to play with a list of outdoor sounds to listen for, such as birds singing, crickets chirping or a bumblebee buzzing by. Play "Collector" by carefully gathering harmless garden bugs, plant life or other natural relics -- just be sure to release any living specimens after the game is over.
Ready, Set, Skill-Build!
Relay race games promote gross motor development, coordination and control while encouraging youngsters to burn off energy. Establish a simple relay race that requires kids to complete skill-building tasks, such as hopping on one foot, jumping rope or crossing a set of low monkey bars. Homemade obstacle courses that challenge kids to hop through hoops, crawl through tunnels or boxes or climb up playground equipment also encourage motor development, as well as endurance, agility, balance and problem-solving skills.
Debra Pachucki has been writing in the journalistic, scholastic and educational sectors since 2003. Pachucki holds a Bachelor's degree in education and currently teaches in New Jersey. She has worked professionally with children of all ages and is pursuing a second Masters degree in education from Monmouth University.