Old-Fashioned Summer Games for Kids

These tried-and-true games will make any summer day even better for the little ones.

It’s summer and the heat (and AC) is on. Tell the kids to turn off the video games and step outside for some vitamin D and good old-fashioned fun. Remember Mother, May I and Duck Duck Goose? We’ve rounded up the best outdoor games that require nothing but a small group of kids—and some enthusiasm.

Sardines

How to play: Unlike hide and seek, the goal of this game is for each person in the group to find the one person who is hiding and join them. Count to 20 and let the search begin! The last person left looking loses. Fun tip: Try playing with glow sticks at night.

Kick the Can

How to play: This classic game is great for all hours of the day. One person is in charge of guarding the can (or bottle filled with rocks) and counting to 10 while everyone else scatters and hides. The goal is to kick the can before getting tagged by the person guarding it. If you do get tagged, you join the protector’s side and help tag the kickers. Whichever side is left with the most players wins.

Jackpot

How to play: Games with monetary value (whether real or not) are always exciting. In this game of catch lottery, the thrower begins by establishing a jackpot number such as $1,000. Each time the thrower tosses the ball, they yell out how much the catch is worth. Whoever reaches the jackpot first wins. Throw in “Jackpot” (automatic win), “Bomb” (lose a certain amount of money), “Bankrupt” (lose everything), “Iceball” (lose a turn), and “Fireball” (steal money from an opponent) to liven things up.

Sidewalk Bowling

How to play: Gather 10 (or fewer) plastic bottles from the recycling bin, fill them with rocks or liquid to weigh them down, and set them up on the sidewalk as if it’s a bowling alley. Roll a ball down the center of the sidewalk and try to knock down as many pins as you can. Consider the grass and street as gutters! Fun tip: Add glow sticks to the bottles and play at night.

Four-Square

How to play: All this game requires is a bouncy ball and a big square court with four equalsized squares drawn using chalk or tape. Each kid stands in a square; the one in the designated top square starts by bouncing the ball into another square. Whoever is in that square makes sure to hit it into a different square before it bounces twice. If someone hits it out of the square court or lets it bounce more than once, they’re out.

Silent Ball

How to play: This simple game is sure to keep the kids quiet for a bit. Gather a small group in a circle, give them a ball and have them toss it around. If they make a bad pass, drop it, or make a noise, they’re out! The last to remain wins. Fun tip: Try using cold water balloons instead of a ball for a refreshing thrill.

Double Dutch

How to play: Not only does this game keep the little ones on their toes; it also teaches coordination. It requires two long jump ropes and at least three kids. Two kids swing the two ropes in opposite directions while the third stands in the middle and jumps over them without tripping. Once they’re comfortable with the basics, they can add songs to help keep the rhythm going (and add to the fun).