Say Yes to Summer Fun

15 old fashioned ways to play outdoors

By Pam Molnar


Summer is the best time to be a kid. School is out, the weather is great and each day promises a new adventure. At least that is how it used to be. Today, summer’s biggest rival is the computer screen. With the return of sunny skies, there is no need to bask in the artificial light of a digital display. Instead, encourage your child to gather up the neighborhood kids and show them how to have some old fashioned summer fun.

Tug-o-War: Start summer off with a splash. Break the group up into teams, find a long rope and stand on opposite sides of a kiddie pool filled with water. On go, see who will make the first splash of the summer.

Frisbee Tic Tac Toe: Draw a tic tac toe board on the driveway with chalk or in the yard with spray paint. Gather four Frisbees for each player and try to get the Frisbees to land in the squares to win tic tac toe.

Water Gun Shooting Range: Gather empty water and soda bottles and set up on a deck railing or table edge. Fill your water gun and try to knock them over. On windy days, fill each bottle with an inch of water.

Obstacle Course: Dig out the hula hoops, soccer cones and jump ropes. Use your creativity to set up an obstacle course in the backyard and let the races begin.

Nature Scavenger Hunt: Whether you are in the backyard or a local forest preserve, help the kids make a list of items they can gather and race back to the starting line. Find things like a river rock, pinecone, acorn or a robin’s egg shell.

Pillow Case Race: It’s the same idea as a potato sack race, but easier to come by. Line up the kids and their pillow cases at the starting line and watch them go.

Sharks and Minnows: Line up the players, called minnows, on one end of the yard. One shark stands in the middle of the yard. The minnows try to cross to the other side of the yard without getting tagged and becoming a shark themselves. Play continues until all minnows have changed to sharks.

Watermelon Eating Contest: Cut watermelon into half-moon pieces and set in front of each player on the table. On go, try to eat the watermelon as fast as you can without using your hands.

Five Hundred: One player stands at the end of the yard or street with a baseball bat and tennis ball. He throws the ball up and hits it with the bat into the crowd. They try to catch it on a fly – 100 points, with one bounce – 50 points or two bounces – 25 points. Whoever scores 500 first is the winner.

Dodgeball: Set up several soft vinyl balls in the center of two teams. On go, charge the center to get to a ball and start throwing them at other players. If a player catches it, the thrower is out. If he misses the catch or gets hit with the ball, the player is out.

Kick the Can: Place a metal can in the middle of the driveway or backyard patio. The players hide while the person who is “it” tries to find them while keeping an eye on the can. If he gets too far away from the can, another player can come out of hiding and kick the can. If the player is tagged, he becomes “it”. If not, he is safe. Play continues until all players kick can or until a player is found or tagged.

Clothes Pin Tag: Everyone clips a hinged clothes pin to the back of their shirt. The person who is “It” tries to grab the clothes pin as they run by.

Water Balloon Toss: Stand in parallel lines and pass a water balloon back and forth without dropping it. Change it up by setting one person in the middle of a circle with a bowl on his head. Players try to toss the balloon in the bowl.

Drip, Drip, Drop: Played like Duck, Duck, Goose, this is a fun game for a hot day. Instead of tapping the players in the circle for ‘duck’, drip a little water from a sponge. When you choose a player to “goose”, yell ‘drop’ and squeeze the sponge over their head before you start running.

Kickball: This game is similar to baseball, but it levels the playing field so all ages and skill levels can play. The pitcher rolls a large ball to the “batter” who kicks it with his foot. Like baseball, the batter runs the bases and the opposing team tries to get him out before he gets home.