7 Simple Outdoor Games to Play with Kids in the Backyard

Classic Games Kids Can Play By Themselves

Right now kids are stuck at home–or rather, safe at home–not able to play with their neighbor friends. I get it, it sucks. But kids still need to get outside and burn off some energy. What can kids do if they’re an only child? Or their little brother is just too young to make a good playmate?

One Kid playing hopscotch

Ready to kick it Old School?

Here’s 7 screen free games that kids can play outside in their yard or sidewalk, with no fancy gear…and by themselves. Or maybe with you. Or a little sister. If they have too.

Hopscotch

Gear: Sidewalk Chalk & Concrete play surface

Kids can set up a nice hopscotch grid on their driveway, patio or yes, even the sidewalk. *Just remember to social distance if any neighbors walk by!

Personally, I love the idea of putting a hopscotch pattern on the sidewalks near my house and see how many people decide to top and play!

How to Play:

Use the sidewalk chalk to draw a grid in a hopscotch pattern. Number the squares from one to nine.

Toss a marker — usually a rock — onto the grid, aiming for Square One. Hop to the rock, pick it up, turn around and hop back to the start.

Now try to toss the rock onto Square Two.

a hopscotch grid written in chalk

You get the idea.

Normally this game is played with multiple players, and your turn would be over when you miss the number you were aiming for. If you’re playing solo, you can really just toss the rock onto any square, hop out and grab it.

Indoor Variation: You can totally play hopscotch INSIDE with a grid made from masking or painter’s tape and a beanbag for a marker.

Side Walk Chalk Obstacle Course

Gear: Side Walk Chalk, Concrete play surface

You’ve probably seen those Pinterest posts where you can make a “super simple backyard obstacle course” with just a chair, a blanket, a hula hoop, 15 yards of rope, 3 pallets, a plastic slide, a couple beach balls, a dump truck of sand…. Yeah. This is not that.

All you need to do is write the directions of silly things to do — in chalk — on the sidewalk. Check out the full directions here. And remember your social distancing!

side walk chalk obstacle course

Jump Rope

Gear: Jump Rope

Jumping Rope is a really fun way to get your exercise in. If you don’t have a good skipping rope sitting in the closet, you can make one! Don’t have rope? You can make one by braiding plastic bags or from braided t-shirts. Now you’ve got an upcycling craft AND a game!

mother and daughter jump rope together

Jumping rope is such good exercise you’ll want to join your kid — and you can both log in a little PE time!

Backyard Scavenger Hunt

Gear: Free printable

I’ve got quite a few Scavenger Hunts that kids any age can play right in their own yard. Just print one out and let ’em go! If you’re one of my local people, here’s a St. Louis themed scavenger hunt they can play indoors!

Bean Bag Tic Tac Toe

Gear: Sidewalk Chalk and Markers

Ok, you will definitely need a partner to pull off Tic Tac Toe! And I know, I know, you’re tired of playing this silly simple game. But when you add an element of skill — tossing the markers — you make the game a little more challenging.

First, find some markers. You can use two colors of bean bags if you have them, or poker chips or rocks vs sticks. Want to take it up a notch? Paint some rocks for your game!

tic tac toe with painted rocks

Next, draw a tic tac toe grid on your driveway or patio. Now take turns tossing your markers onto the grid!

Nerf Blaster Target Practice

Gear: Nerf Guns, Plastic Cups

Ok, I said you didn’t need anything fancy, but if you have boys…you have Nerf. Give your kids at least 6 cups to stack into a pyramid and let them knock them down with their blasters.

Kids playing with Nerf blasters and plastic cup targets

This is not only a great way to get the kids outside, but it keeps them from aiming Nerf darts at you…or each other. Just make sure they clean up their darts before the yard gets mowed.

DIY Lawn Darts

Gear: Pie pans, balloons, dried beans, plastic bags

Remember Jarts? It was a really popular 80’s lawn game involving giant darts you threw at targets, like horseshoes. It was super fun until someone got hurt…

Instead of tossing around big metal spikes, lets make our own soft darts from bean bags stuffed into plastic bags. We made a set around Halloween — so they had little ghostly faces. You can skip the faces — the game is still fun!

Play Halloween bean bag toss games

Once you’ve made some soft darts, you can set out a pie pan for a target and practice throwing them.