Thursday Thirteen: Back to the Basics

family fun outdoors
I remember when kids would spend most of their days outdoors. I can't recall many TV shows from my childhood because my friends and I spent so much time outside, TV was only for rainy days and after the street lights came on.

I noticed that kids in my neighborhood are nowhere to be seen. Most of them are inside playing video games or watching the tube. Here are my 13 ways to get your child outdoors this summer.

  • Balloon Stomp: You'll need some inflated balloons and some string. Start off by giving everyone in the game a balloon attached to small length of string. The string should be long enough for them to tie the balloon around one of their ankles making sure to leave enough space between their foot and the balloon. Get the team to spread out in a large open space and start the game by shouting ’Go!’ The object of the game is to stomp on everyone else's balloons and pop them without getting your own balloon popped. The last person standing with un-popped balloon wins! Repeat until you either run out of balloons.

  • Dodge Ball: Divide players into two teams. One team forms a circle while the other team stands inside the circle. The players on the outside of the circle throw the ball at the players on the inside of the circle. The inside players should "dodge" the ball to keep from getting hit. If you hit a player he/she has to join the outside circle to begin throwing the ball at players in the inside circle. **Note: Hitting someone in the head doesn't count & the pitcher should get disqualified.** Only players in the outside circle may throw and catch the ball. The last player standing inside the inside circle is the winner. Tip: For children, use a soccer ball or beach ball for a lower impact.

  • Four Square: Draw a large square on the concrete with chalk. Make sure it's large enough to divide the square off into four even sections. Number them 1-4, going clockwise. Draw a diagonal line in 1's box, to mark the serving spot. 1 serves the ball by bouncing it into any of the other three squares, trying to prevent that player from bouncing it back into his box. If a player returns the ball, he stays, and the #1 player is out. If the ball is not returned to the server, that player is out and #1 remains. A new player comes into the #4 spot and the starting players move over one (3 goes to 2, 2 goes to 1).The object of the game is to get into the #1 spot and stay there. Have fun!

  • Blanket Carry: Play this game in a large yard or at the park. Divide the into two teams. Each team is given one blanket. You'll need a cone or some other marker to set at the end of the field go around. The teams will need at least four players to carry the blanket - one player on each corner and the corners will be numbered corner #1, #2, #3 and #4. You'll also need one player to ride in center of the blanket. The players will rotate after each carry so that each player on the team has been at all of the corner positions as well as on the inside. On "GO!" the teams will race down around the cones and back. Rotate positions until all players have had a turn. The first team to complete the rotation wins.

  • Red Light / Green Light: The person who is "IT" needs to stand away from the rest of the players with their back turned to them. When the "IT" player calls out, "Green Light!" the players run as fast as they can until he/she calls out, "Red Light!" They will have to stop in theri track as "IT' turns around and tries to catch anyone who is still moving. If you are caught moving, that player must go back to the starting point. The game continues until someone gets close enough to tag the "IT" player.

  • Horse: It's a basketball game where the players shoot the basketball in sequence. If the first player scores a basket, the next player must shoot the same shot he did. If the second player scores the basket, the next player tries the same shot. If a player misses the shot, he gets an "H", and the next player starts over with a shot of his choice. With each missed shot (only after the previous player makes it), players add another letter until they have spelled "HORSE" and the first to get all the letters is out.

  • Bucket Brigade: Create two teams. Each team will be given two water bottles, one full and the other empty. Each player gets one empty cup. The teams line up front to back in a row sitting on the floor. The person in front will hold the full water bottle and the last person on the team will have the empty water bottle. On "GO!" the first person in line will pour water into his cup and then without turning pour his cup of water into the cup of the player behind him. Each player will pour his/her cup of water into the cup of the next player. The last player will then pour his cup of water into the water bottle. As soon as the first player passes his water he can refill the cup and start passing again. They will continue until all the water is out of the first bottle. The team with the most water in the bottle at the end of the line wins.

  • Family Track & Field Day: Get out there with your kids and show them that you can get down & dirty with them. Have a family track and field day that will get the whole family outdoors for some fun in the sun. Set up obstacle courses and have relay races. Or get some rope (or tape) and have a three-legged race, or what about bobbing for apples? Whatever game you choose the whole family should join in and have lots of fun together. Doesn't that sound like fun?

  • Kickball: You'll need two teams for this. It's governed by most of the same rules as baseball... The pitcher rolls the ball to the kicker, who will kick the ball strategically - and hopefully the ball won't get caught in mid air. Outfield players may tag the runner while carrying the ball or throwing it at the runner and making contact. Be careful of little ones! It should be a fun game, not a competitive contact sport.

  • Hopscotch: Draw the hopscotch grid with chalk - 3 single squares represent numbers 1-3, 1 double square represents numbers 4 & 5, 1 single square for number 7 and 1 double square for numbers 8 and 9. You'll need a half circle connecting number 8 and 9 for the "end" spot.
    Directions: The basic rule of hop scotch is to toss a rock (or coin) into the first square. You must hop on one foot per square - with the exception of the double squares, you can use two feet - and whichever square has the rock in it, you must hop over that square. On the second turn, throw the rock into the second square, and so forth. The tricky part is staying on one foot when the rock is in one of the side-by-side squares. Once you reach the 'end' spot, the same rules apply but in reverse.

  • Chinese School: [Disclaimer: This game is an old game that was played way before the world became 'PC'. Please note that the name/nature of the game is not meant to be offensive to anyone]

    The 'IT' person stands in from of the other players must recite:
    "Chinese (which can be substituted for the word Serious) school has just begun. No more laughing, no more fun. If you show your teeth or tongue, you must pay a penalty."

    The 'IT' then proceeds to do silly things to try and make the other players laugh. Whoever laughed hard for their mouths to open, exposing teeth and/or tongues, had to do whatever the 'It' person tells them to do. For instance, they may have to run around in a circle tapping their head & rubbing their tummy at the same time. (Keep the tasks clean!)

  • Tag: Gather a group of children and a decent sized backyard or at a park. One person is designated as the "IT" person. That that person must chase the other players and try to touch someone or 'tag' them. Whomever get's 'tagged' is now "IT" and the game repeats itself until everyone is exhausted. :-)

  • Duck, Duck, Goose! You'll need a small group of children for this game. They need to sit in a circle facing each other. One person is "IT" and will walk around the circle tapping the other player's heads deciding whether they are a "duck" or a "goose". Once someone is the "goose" they must get up and try to chase "IT" around the circle one full rotation. The goal is to tag the "IT" person before they are able sit down in the "goose's" spot. If the "goose" doesn't tag the "IT" player, he/she becomes "IT" for the next round and the game continues. If the "goose" does tap the "IT" person, the "IT" person tagged has to sit in the center of the circle while the "goose" is now "IT." The circle tightens and the game continues. The former "IT" person can't leave until another person is tagged and they are replaced inside the circle.

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