Outdoor games that adults and kids find enjoyable help make a picnic, family reunion or a day at the park memorable. The best games are those that reinforce developmental skills, promote good sportsmanship or include friendly competition. Play these games on warm, sunny days, where there is plenty of space to roam.
Play a competitive activity that's simple enough for kids, but enjoyable for people of all ages using a large game board and two sets of beanbags. Cornhole is a classic outdoor game that adults and kids can play in teams of one or two. The object of the game is to score the most points by throwing the bean bags into the holes on the board, which have different values. Another competitive option, "500,” reinforces math skills in the younger players and incorporates the spirited edge that adults enjoy, using a ball. In this game, the person who is “it” stands about 20 feet from the other players, throws a ball into the air and calls out a number between 50 and 450. The player who catches the ball earns the number of points that the “it” person called. However, if a player attempts to catch the ball and drops it, he loses the number of points announced. The first person to accumulate 500 points wins.
Teach kids to work with others and bond with your children as you collaborate toward a common goal -- getting to the finish line -- with a classic three-legged race. In addition to having adults partner with a child, mix it up with teams of children competing against teams of teens and/or adults. A game of water balloon volley using a regular balloon partially filled with water requires the same amount of teamwork as the traditional game, which adults will appreciate, but has simpler rules and an element of surprise that kids enjoy. The participants play the game while standing or sitting, and a team earns a point when the balloon bursts on the opposite side of the net.
A relay race that will cool off all the players on a hot day uses two milk jugs with 10 holes punched out of the bottom, clean trashcans filled with water and buckets. After the kids and adults form two teams and lines, the first person in each line fills the milk jug with water, places it on his head and runs to a big bucket that’s 40 feet away. After emptying the remaining water into the bucket, the players run to the front of the line and hand the jugs to the next person on their respective team. The first team to fill the bucket wins. The “Grab Bag” relay race from the Spoonful website uses two paper bags that contain paper slips with written instructions. After forming two teams, the first player on each team runs to the paper bag and pulls out a strip of paper. The person must complete the instructions on the slip. The instructions may say to do jumping jacks, sing a song or hop on one foot. The first team to go through the instructions in their bag wins.
A new way to chase the kids around and have them chase you is with a game of "Elbow Tag," which give you and the other players an occasional break. The Spoonful website explains that to start the game, all but two or three players, depending on the number of participants, choose a partner. The pairs form a circle and link elbows with their partner, but stand at least 10 feet away from another couple. The “it” person chases the one or two players who aren’t paired. If she touches a player, that person is the new “it.” If the person being chased gets tired, he can touch one of the players who are paired up and link elbows with them. The person that the player didn’t choose becomes the next person that the “it” person chases. The fun doesn't have to stop when the sun sets when you play a game of flashlight tag in an enclosed, flat area, like a yard. The game is like a mix of tag and hide-and-go-seek, but you play in the dark. The activity is simple enough for younger children and it gives you a chance to bond with your kids as you find hiding spots together or rescue each other from "jail." In this game, the “it” person’s goal is to find and tag the players with the flashlight, and send them to “jail,” which is an illuminated area. As the “it” person looks around for people to tag, players can release those who are in “jail” by tagging them.
Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.