Beyond the Board: Outdoor Game Night

Ashley Young
September 8, 2011

Family game night is great, but if the thought of another three hours spent playing Monopoly is making this fun weekly event seem more like a burden, then why not move game night outdoors? At this time of year, the evenings are cooler, and the kids have tons of energy from being back in the classroom all day. It's the perfect excuse for getting outside and running around. In addition, most outdoor games don't require much beyond enthusiasm and maybe a ball.

There are so many outdoor games that are a blast to play as a family. If you and your kids love baseball, why not try to put together a game of wiffle ball or kickball? It would be even better if you could rope in another family or two from your neighborhood. If you do gather a group together, Red Rover is another fun large-group game, as is dodgeball.

Sidewalk chalk is another way to liven up an outdoor family night. You could take turns drawing portraits of one another, maybe start by laying down and tracing each other's outline, or work together to create a family mural. Or you could use that chalk to draw a hopscotch course or a four-square court. If your family loves stories, why not collaborate on a sidewalk-chalk short story? One person writes a sentence, then the next picks up the thread. Warning: MadLib-style hilarity may ensue.

Kids of all ages love playing tag and there are as many varieties of the game as there are kids who love them, from traditional tag (with or without a "safe" home base) to freeze tag (players freeze when "it" tags them and remain frozen until another player unfreezes them). You could make up your own variations or try something like freeze dancing that takes the competition out of the activity.

If you have little ones, try a simple game like Duck, Duck, Goose or Simon Says, or Red Light, Green Light. If they don't already know how to play, even preschoolers can pick these games up quickly.

If you need more inspiration, ideas are very easy to find both online and in print. There's information about sidewalk games and activities to get your kids moving elsewhere on Savvy Source. There are also many books on the subject, like Sidewalk Games by Glen Vecchione, which gives directions for many fun outdoor games for kids. Check your local library to see if they have something similar.

Outdoor game night is a great way to take advantage of the late summer and early fall weather and—as they say-—the family that plays together, stays together.

From the Parents

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