Recently my son had a birthday. It’s always a great, joyful occasion, but also a real parenting challenge. Yes, there’s no denying it. When you have a whole band of running, screaming kids charging round your house and yard, it’s a challenge.
There are a lot of things to consider when preparing for a kids party. And a lot of the elements will vary a lot depending on the age they’re at. Today I want to share with you some simple instructions to 5 proven outdoor kids party games that can help make for an unforgettable event. Some you probably know already, some might be new to you. Either way I hope they act as a starting point to get your creative juices flowing and help you to come with some great outdoor games and activities for your own kids party. Tell us what you came up with in the comments below.
Catch the snake’s tail
You need: a big group of energetic kids. This one works really well with larger groups. The more people participate, the more fun the results.
How it works: Everyone forms one long column and puts their hands on the shoulders of the person in front. The first player in column is the head of the snake and the last one is the tail. The “head” has to catch the “tail” and the “tail” has to avoid being caught. One important rule is that the column should not be torn apart. If this happens, or if the “tail” is caught, the “head” becomes the new “tail” and the game continues.
You need: The same big group of energetic kids as the last game + a ball that you’re happy for people to throw at each other (ie. not a baseball/cricket ball!). For a really competitive group, have a stopwatch handy too (most phones have a stopwatch function).
How it works: Split the group into two teams. One team stands in a column (the dragon), each person holding the shoulders of the person in front, the same as the snake in the game above. The second team stands in a loose circle around the first team. The 2nd team has the ball and tries to throw it so that it hits the last person in the dragon (you might want to make it a rule that they should hit below the knee if it seems too rough for your group). The players who make up the dragon are a team, who twist and turn to put themselves between the ball and the player at the end. If the circle successfully hits the person at the back of the dragon, they move to the front of the line. Once everyone has had a turn being at the back of the dragon, swap the teams over.
For young children this is often fun enough even without having a clear winner. If you want to make it more competitive and have a winning team though, simply time how long it takes one side to get the other side all out. Then when they are the dragon, they should try and survive for longer.
Racing Tic Tac Toe
You need: 2 pieces of play chalk and a hard surfaced floor or wall (e.g. a driveway or garage wall) that you’re happy to get drawn on.
How it works: This is a new setting for the well known, classic game of tic tac toe. Draw a 3×3 grid on your playing area. Split the kids into 2 teams one for nought and the other crosses. Now line them up some distance away from the grid (you could even have them around a corner from the play area so they can’t plan their turn in advance). Give each team a piece of chalk. When you say “go”, the first 2 children race to the grid, make their moves, race back to their teams and pass the chalk to the next runner. Once one team has got 3 in a row or the board is full, the game is over.
For a longer lasting (and I think more satisfying) game, make the grid much bigger than 3×3 (eg 12×12). Every time the kids form 3 in a row they should draw a line through it and score 1 point, but keep on playing until the board is full. This variation is also much more likely to end with a winner.
Tug of war
You need: a rope, a bandana, a couple of plastic cones or bottles.
How it works: Another well-known classic open air game. Split all the kids into two teams. Lay out the rope on the floor, tie the bandana to the rope’s mid-point and place the cones or bottles as markers a foot or two either side of the bandana. On your mark, both teams “take the strain” and then “go”, pulling as hard as they can to move the bandana beyond their side’s marker to win.
You need: these instructions
How it works: This game can either work as an icebreaker with everybody playing in one big team or it can be a competitive race game with several teams (only works with teams of at least 5 or 6, preferably more).
You give a category which applies to everybody present and they have to stand in a line in the right order. The trick? They have to do it without talking.
Start off with an easy example round. With no talking, they should stand in height order. They’ll probably manage this pretty quickly.
Now it’s time to make it a little harder. Here are some good categories to try:
- In order of age, youngest to oldest.
- In order of the date your birthday not including the year (if all the kids are in the same school year, these first two rounds are the same, but if you have different ages present they can provide quite a different challenge).
- In alphabetical order according to first name / surname / middle name.
- In order of house number.