10 Outside Games to Play With Kids

It’s summer time and we’re using any excuse to get outside and have some fun!  During the summer months, we disband our formal small group and head outside instead for some serious fun!  Of course, we try to use water whenever possible, but many of these games are adaptable for indoor playing (in a gym) on a rainy day as well.

1.  Sponge Bullseye: Draw a bullseye on the ground and assign a points value to each circle of the target. Stand the kids along a starting line and have them toss their sponge at the target. You can also put the kids on teams and let each person on the team toss a sponge. Then have the kids work together to add up their points. You could use any number of points to differentiate this for the age of your child. 
 
2.  Hole in the Bucket: Get two large coffee cans, three large trash cans or 30-gallon tubs, and a water source. Punch several holes in the sides and bottoms of the cans using a hammer and nails. Be sure to hammer from the outside of the cans to prevent sharp edges on the outside of the cans. To make sure there are no sharp edges around the top of the cans, hammer around the inside edge against a hard surface. To play the game, divide the children into two teams. Fill up one of the large trash cans or 30-gallon tubs up with water and place at the starting line. At the finish line, place the other two large trash cans or 30-gallon tubs as receiving containers for the two teams. The first people on each team go to the container filled with water, dip their cans into it, put their cans on their heads or carry them, and go down to their team’s receiving container and dump in whatever water is left in their cans. Then they run back to the starting line and pass the cans on to the next players. This continues until a receiving bucket is filled. The first team to fill their receiving bucket wins.
 
3. Baggie Toss: Get some resealable plastic bags and buckets of water. Dip each bag into a bucket of water to fill it up and then seal it. Make enough bags for each player and to have back-ups. To play, establish a line at which players can toss the bags across at each other. Divide the children into two teams, and put each team on opposing sides of the line. Players throw the bags at each other. If a player gets hit, she is out of the game. Play continues until only one player remains. The last player remaining is the winner.
 
4. Fill Up the Bottle: Get a large bucket, enough 4-oz cups for each player and one 20-oz plastic soda bottle for each team. Fill the large bucket with water. One person from each team lays on ground while holding the bottle on their forehead. Teammates run to the bucket to fill up their 4-oz cup, then they attempt to pour it into their teammate’s bottle while standing overhead. First to fill the bottle wins!
 
5. Boats and the Lighthouse: One player is designated to be the lighthouse. One quarter of the players assume the role of “rocks” scatter in a bounded area. All the other students become “ships” and “boats” of various sizes. The ships, blindfolded, navigate their way about, attempting to reach the safety of the lighthouse. If a boat bumps into a rock, the boat becomes and extension of the existing rock and makes the noise “swish” (water lapping against the rocks). The lighthouse constantly goes “Beep! Beep! Beep!” to help the ships reach the safety of the lighthouse.
 
6. Catching Stars: Divide the players into two groups: Stars and Catchers. Set up two boundaries about twenty feet apart. Catchers stand in the middle of the two boundaries while stars stand on one side of the boundaries. Stars say “Star light, star bright, how many stars are out tonight?” Catchers either give a number (of stars) or say:  ”More than you can catch!” If they give a number, Stars take that many steps.  If they say “More than…” Stars run to one end of the boundary or the other without getting caught.  The winner is the last person to get caught or first person to successfully cross.
 
7. Leaky Ladder: Put a ping-pong ball into a two-gallon bucket. Assemble the kids about ten feet away, next to another bucket full of water. Give each player a paper cup and tell them that they have to put enough water into the ping-pong bucket to make the ping-pong ball float out of the bucket. Let kids try to fill the bucket on their own. If they don’t make it within the time limit, explain how a bucket brigade works, then give them another try.
 
8. Hop in a Hoop: Scatter hula hoops of varying sizes around the yard or gym. Call out an instruction for travelling around the hoops (not going in them yet, though). When you call out a number, that is how many children must get into each hoop.  Children must not push other children out of the hoop, even if they have too many. All parts of body must be in hoop—no toes over the edge. If there are too many children or not enough in the hoop, all those involved are out. When the hoop has the required number of children, have kids pull the hoop up to waist height. This saves anyone else cheating and trying to get in the hoop.
 
9. Tail Tag: Use flags, bandanas or strips of cloth to be used as tails. Players have a tail inserted into his/her belt or pocket that is hanging at the back-side. All players chase one another trying to collect tails while protecting his/her own. Players with the most tails collected in a specified time are the winners.
 
10. The Big Chill: Divide kids into groups of three, as many groups as you have jump ropes.  Have one player hold a cup of cold water while jumping rope three times (the other two kids swing the rope for them). Whichever group has the most water in their cup at the end wins.  
Previous articleKari Jobe – "Let the Heavens Open" (LIVE
Next article7 Ways to Lead Worship for Small Groups
Lindsey Whitney is a home day care provider, Children's Ministry director and blogger over at Growing Kids Ministry. She lives with her husband, Mike, and their two children in Erie, PA.