11 DIY Outdoor Games That’ll Get the Kids Moving

It’s finally warm enough to get the kids outside, and what d’ya know—they’re already tired of the swing set. Don’t fret. There’re plenty of ways to keep them entertained outdoors. Here are some fresh ideas for outdoor fun, along with some old-time favorites to keep the kids busy. If you have extended family nearby or neighbors, ask them to join in. And don’t forget to include yourself in the fun as well!

1. Balloon Hops

Just mention balloons and kids go nuts! This simple game can be as active as you want, and there’s only one rule: keep the balloon in the air. Bop it around hacky sack style, dive for it or jump for it. It’s perfect for all ages. Use a timer to try to beat past records. If you have access to a pool, this game can be played in the shallow end. Heads up – it’s a lot harder to move fast in the water!

2. Homemade Skee Ball

Build this arcade classic in your backyard! Grab an old cardboard box and break it down to create a flat surface. Elevate the back of the box like a ramp, tilting it toward the point baskets. Line up a few containers (boxes, laundry baskets, baskets) and mark them with different point values (50 points, 100 points, 500 points, etc.) Gather whatever balls you have around the house and start rolling them up the ramp and into the baskets. The person with the highest number of points wins!

3. Move to the Music

Get your groove on! This works for all ages. Have kids take turns making up a workout routine to their favorite song. Put the stereo outside and get your heart pumping in the sun! Mix in push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, pretend jump rope and stationary running. BONUS: You’ll get an extra abdominal workout laughing at each other—or maybe just the kids laughing at you!

4. Ping Pong

Who is the next Forrest Gump? Take an unused ping pong table outside, or make your own by placing a slab of wood on an outdoor table with a mesh divider running along the centerline. A player gets a point every time the other player misses the ball or cannot return the ball to the other side with his paddle. Play best out of five, or make a tournament board with outrageously goofy team names and ridiculous prizes, like stuff from the kitchen junk drawer.

5. King-Size Kerplunk

Enlist the kids to help you make a homemade version of this classic — you know the one, the tube with sticks that you remove one-by-one without letting marbles fall down the tube.

Break out a tomato cage, balls, a plastic bag or plastic wrap and dowel rods or PVC pipes. To make it, first tie the cage closed and place a plastic liner around the top 1/3 of the cage to keep the balls in. Place the PVC pipes horizontally through the tomato cage at different angles and levels below the plastic. Once all the pipes are in place, add the balls to the top.

To play, players take turns pulling out a pipe or rod. Each ball that falls when a player pulls out a rod equals a point. For example, if a player pulls a rod and three balls fall to the bottom or out the side, the player gets 3 points. Once all the balls have fallen, the player with the fewest points wins. Visit YouTube for further instructions on how to play. On hot days, replace the balls with small water balloons for an extra splash of fun!

6. Let’s Twist Again

Channel your inner Gumby for this game! Create a giant version of the classic indoor game Twister by using spray paint on an old bed sheet—or just bring your own game outside.

7. Giant Jenga

Make tall, teetering towers with life-size blocks! Invest in a store-bought set or make your own as a family project using 2x4s and a saw (six 8-foot long 2x4s will create 54 Jenga pieces). Be sure to have a flat and steady base to stack the pieces on and watch out for the ensuing CRASH.

8. Jump, Duck and Roll

Make an obstacle course with items you have laying around the house or yard. Lawn chairs, deck tables, benches, logs, rocks and brooms can all be used to create a challenging course. Have all the players complete the course once. Then let each player have a turn at being “course designer”—that includes mom and dad; they need to sneak in exercise any way they can!

9. Do You Play Croquet?

If you have an old croquet set, break it out! No set? Make your own! Use tennis balls or golf balls, plastic baseball bats and spray-painted clothes hangers. Cut the hangers and form them into “U” shapes that can be stuck in the ground.

10. Dodge Ball

Not the movie—the gym class classic! Create two teams of even players. Line soft foam balls up in the middle of the yard. On the count of “three,” the two teams run to the center to retrieve the balls. Watch as total chaos ensues while players try to make contact with another person from the opposite team. If a player is hit by a ball, they are out. The game is over when one team loses all of its players.

11. Flamingo a Friend’s Yard

This is a fun way to nicely prank friends. Know anyone with a collection of garden flamingos? See if you can borrow them for some fun. Have the kids dress up in covert costumes and sneakily place all of the flamingos in a friend’s yard without them knowing. The next time they come outside, their yard will be full of the pink birds! Then, it’s their turn to prank a friend.

The next time you turn the kids loose outdoors and the pull out the old, “I’m booored,” give one of these activities a try and spend the afternoon having some good old-fashioned family fun.

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