Fun Outdoor Games for Preschoolers

Dale Davidson/Demand Media

If your preschooler has become bored with swings, monkey bars and other playground equipment, gather a group of his friends and teach them how to play simple variations of “Tag,” an all-time favorite game in which children avoid being tagged by one or more people, who are designated as “It.”

What's Your Favorite Food? Tag

This game requires at least six preschoolers, three sheets of paper in different colors, a marker, double-sided tape and a large, open playing area. Before the game, turn the three sheets of paper into simple signs. On one sheet of paper write “Don’t Like It” and draw an sad face. On the second piece of paper write “I Don’t Know” and draw a puzzled face. On the third piece, write “Love It” and draw a happy face.

Place the three signs in different sections of your playing area. Attach each sign to the ground with double-sided tape if it is a windy day. Ask preschoolers to stand in a straight line approximately 100 feet from the closest sign. Select someone to be “It” and ask her to stand in the center of the playing area.

When It calls out the name of a food, each player runs to a sign that describes how he feels about that food. For example, if It says “watermelon” and Johnny likes it, he runs to the sign that says “Love It.” If It calls out the word “okra” and Mary has never tried it, she runs to the sign that says “I Don’t Know.”

While the players run to the appropriate signs, It chases them and tries to tag one person before he reaches the sign. If someone is tagged, that person becomes the new It and the game starts over.

Watch Out for the Tiger

Select one child to be the tiger and another child to be his handler. The tiger and his handler stand inside a large plastic hoop approximately 200 feet from the rest of the players.

The players begin the game by chanting “Tiger, tiger come out of your cage.” At any time the handler can yell “The tiger is loose!” The tiger jumps out of the plastic hoop and chases after the other players, trying to tag them before they reach the other side of the playing area.

If he catches someone, that person stands inside the plastic hoop and is out of the game. The tiger returns to his cage and the game continues until the tiger has caught all of the players. The first and last person caught become the new handler and tiger.

Billy Goat, May We Cross Your Bridge?

Use this game after telling preschoolers the Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale.

Select one person to be the billy goat and have him stand in the center of the playing area. The other preschoolers stand approximately 150 feet from him. Set up a finish line on the other side of the billy goat. Together, they yell “Billy goat, billy goat, may we cross your bridge?” He answers by saying “only if you are…” and describing something worn by one of more players. For example, he might say “You can cross only if you are wearing a red shirt.” Anyone wearing a red shirt runs across the playing area toward the finish line, avoiding the billy goat, who tags as many players as possible.

Tagged players become goats and help catch other preschoolers. The game continues until everyone is caught. The last child becomes the new billy goat.