School is out! As the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, the kids are eager to get outside. Kids can finally take advantage of their long-awaited yearly break from homework and classes. Summertime is the perfect time for long, elaborate outdoor games. Keep reading to find the best 24 summer games for kids.
Exciting Water Games for Kids
Most kids look forward to water games during the summertime. Incorporating water into a game ensures that the kids stay cool even when playing in the hot sun. Here are the top ten water games for kids.
1. Magnet Fishing
Magnet Fishing is a great game for young kids. For this game, you will need the following items:
- Fish shape plastic toys or wooden blocks
- Toy fishing poles
- Hot glue
- Bucket or a small kiddie pool
Glue magnets to the top of the fish-shaped toys and to the end of the toy fishing poles. Practice with the toys to ensure that the magnets are strong enough by placing them on the ground and lifting them with the magnet on the toy fishing rod. Then, fill up the kiddie pool with water and throw all of the fish in.
When bringing out the kids into the backyard to show off your new fishing pool, make sure to act excited. Pretending to be excited about "a pool of fish that appeared in the backyard" will make the kids eager to play the game.
Give each kid one fishing rod and show them how to connect the rod's magnet to the fish's magnet. Then, let the kids catch and release all of the fish in the pool. The kids will love this game because it helps them stretch their imagination.
2. Life-Size Battleship
Life-Size Battleship is the perfect water game for older kids. To play, you will need:
- A bucket or two full of water balloons
- A volleyball net
- Two or three sheets
Start by setting up the volleyball net and draping the sheets over the net. Once you finish draping the sheets, you shouldn't be able to see the other side of the net, even when on your knees.
Next, fill up plenty of water balloons and place a bucket full on either side of the net. The water balloons will act as the "missiles" to shoot at the other team's ships. Once it's all set up, bring out the kids.
Split the kids into two teams and have them spread out on either side of the net. They can choose any position as long as they're within the bounds. Each kid will lay down flat on their back with their knees up.
Have the starting team toss a water balloon over the net. If they hit one of the kids (the battleships), they get the point. If a child is hit with a water balloon more than once, their ship sinks and they must move out of the playing field.
The first team to sink all of the ships on the other side wins.
3. Duck, Duck, Splash
Duck, Duck, Splash is a hilarious twist on the classic game Duck, Duck, Goose. To play this variation, all you will need is a cup of water. Have the kids sit in a circle and choose one child to be "It."
The chosen child holds a plastic cup of water and walks around the circle, patting the other children on the head and saying, "Duck, duck, duck…" When the child picks someone to be the Goose, they scream, "Goose!" and dump the water cup on their head.
The rest of the game is played just like Duck, Duck, Goose. This variation is perfect for the summer because everyone will want to be chosen as Goose to get the cold water poured over them.
4. Water Balloon Baseball
Water Balloon Baseball is an easy way to get older kids playing with younger kids, and it's a game that never grows old. To play, you will need:
- Lots of water balloons
- Water squirt guns
- Baseball bat
- A large space for playing baseball
Set up a regular baseball triangle in your backyard and fill up as many water balloons as you can get your hands on. Separate the group of kids into two teams. One team will start infield, and the other will start outfield. Those playing in the outfield will take their places on the bases and as the pitcher while the other team gets ready to hit the water balloons.
The pitches toss the water balloon at the batter while the batter tries to hit and break the balloon. The batter gets three chances to break the balloon. As soon as the balloon breaks, the batter runs to first base. At the same time, the pitcher tries to hit the batter with a new water balloon. The kids standing on the bases will also spray water guns at the other team -- just for fun.
After everyone has hit at least once, switch the teams. If you want to play a noncompetitive version, don't keep score!
5. Water Balloon Hunt
Kids love Easter Egg Hunts. Most kids say that having an Easter Egg Hunt is one of their favorite activities. For this game, host a water balloon hunt. For your water balloon hunt, you will need:
- Water balloons
Fill up as many water balloons as you want, ensuring that there's enough for each participant to find several. Then, hide them in your backyard. Bring the kids out with buckets and send them looking for the water balloons.
To make the activity even more exciting, put small, single-wrapped candy in the water balloons (but make sure that the candy you use is sealed and won't get wet). This activity is perfect for a birthday party or a simple yard game to get the most summer fun.
6. Water Gun Bowling
One of the best backyard games to play in the summertime is water gun bowling. For this game, you will need a squirt gun and some water bottles. Set up the water bottles in a bowling pin formation. Then, fill up the water guns.
The activity is simple. The kids will have to shoot at the water bottles and try to knock down as many as possible. However, they can't refill their water gun. The kid with the best aim wins!
Another variation of this game is to use water balloons instead of water guns. Set up your bowling pins on a flat surface and then roll or throw the water balloons at the bowling pins. Give the kids bonus points if they can throw the water balloon hard enough to pop it when it hits the bowling pins.
7. Fill the Bucket
Fill the Bucket is a classic outdoor game. You will need:
- Gallon buckets
Fill half the buckets with water and put half on the opposite side of the field. Put the other half on the starting side of the field. Because this is a relay race, make sure that the area is cleared of any obstacles that would make the challenge unfair.
The goal is to fill up one bucket with the water from the other. The kids will have to race across the field, dip their sponge, and then run back to their empty bucket. The first kid to fill the bucket to a predetermined line wins.
To make the challenge easier, you can use cups instead of sponges. Cups will hold more water and will make it easier to carry water back and forth on the grass.
8. Pass the Water
Pass the Water is similar to Fill the Bucket but will twice the laughs. By the end of this game, everyone should be soaked from head to toe.
Separate the group into two teams. Have the team stand in a line where they all face one direction (so one person is staring at the back of another person's head). Give the first person in line a cup of water and give everyone else an empty cup of water.
The first person will raise the cup over their head and dump it behind them. The person behind them will try to catch the water in their own cup before dumping it onto the next person. The line with the most water left by the time they get to the final person in line wins.
Outdoor Team-Building Games for Kids
Playing team-building games with young kids is essential. Collaborative games help young kids learn how to share and work together towards a common goal. Here are the best team building games for the summer.
1. Nature Scavenger Hunt
Summer is the best time to get kids out into nature. Studies show that spending time in nature is one of the best things a kid can do. To make a nature walk more entertaining, set up a scavenger hunt.
Nature scavenger hunts are easy and informative. Give each child a paper with a list of plants and wildlife specific to your location. An example of a good scavenger hunt might include:
- Blue jay
- Tree roots
- Evergreen tree
- Monarch butterfly
- Honey bee
Your list should be specific to what you can find in your area. Before making your scavenger hunt list, go for a walk and look for the plants and wildlife on the trails. Make your list based on what you find.
When on the scavenger hunt with the group of kids, talk about each thing that the kids find. Show the difference between an oak leaf and poison oak or show them the difference between a wasp and a honey bee. This activity is perfect as one of your summer camp games.
2. Treasure Hunt
Kids love using their imagination. Young kids have wonderful imaginations and create whole worlds in their minds. Because of their great imaginations, try incorporating imaginative games.
Treasure hunting lets the kids put their imagination into the real world. Here's what you'll need for a successful treasure hunt:
- Treasure box
- Candy and small items
- DIY treasure map
Fill a treasure box with candy, treats, and toys, and then hide it in your backyard or park. Then, create a treasure map leading to the location. Ensure that the map is detailed and includes all significant sites so that the kids can follow the map to the treasure box.
Once the map is complete, rip the map into several different sections. Place one part of the map at a starting line with a clue. The clue should lead to another part of the map. When the kids find the next section of the map, they can follow the second clue to the map's next portion.
Have the kids search until they have a completed map. Tape the map together and express your excitement over looking for the treasure. Go with the kids to find the treasure and help them open up the treasure box.
3. Angry Birds
Angry Birds is a classic mobile game. You can spice up your summer activities by making a DIY life-sized version in your backyard. To do this, you will need:
- Cardboard boxes of various sizes
- Bouncy balls
Start by painting the cardboard boxes in different colors. Although this step isn't technically required, it will make the game seem even more exciting to the kids playing. Next, blow up several balloons as large as you can and paint the faces of pigs on the balloons, trying to mimic the style of Angry Birds. Then, set up the boxes so that the balloons are trapped between the boxes in a tower.
With your bouncy balls (which can be painted to be the angry birds), have the kids try to knock down all of the balloons in the tower. For every balloon freed, the kids get a point.
Parents should invite the kids' imagination by creating a narrative similar to Angry Birds. In the game, the birds are taking revenge on the pigs. Tell the kids how the pigs did something bad to the birds or create an entirely new narrative.
If you love crafting, but a small mini-golf course. Mini-golf courses are all about creativity. From small castles to replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World, mini-golf courses enchant everyone who sees them. So, why not make your own.
Bring your kids into the construction process and build paper mache buildings and paper towel towers. Bring out the paint and stickers and let the kids be as creative as they want. When the mini-golf course is set up and ready to go, invite friends over to play on the mini-golf course with the kids.
5. DIY Obstacle Course
Creating an obstacle course in your backyard will keep the kids entertained for hours. An obstacle course is a simple series of jumps, climbs, and crawls that prevent someone from getting to the other side. To get to the other side, the person will have to finish the challenges that lay before them.
Kids love obstacle courses. The different jumps and hoops are exciting because they can pretend they are spies attempting to complete a secret mission. Obstacle courses let their imaginations roam free, and they create games to get from one side to the other.
It's easy to make a great obstacle course from simple materials found around the home. If you want to go with the espionage theme, you can tie up strings from one pole to another, pretending that the strings are laser beams. To get through the obstacle course, the kids have to work around the "lasers," or they will trigger an alarm.
There are endless ideas to fuel your summer obstacle course. The happy hooligans in your home will have a blast running up and down your creative course.
6. Sidewalk Chalk City
One of the best ways to encourage collaborative work is by letting kids create together. Sidewalk chalk lets kids use their imagination and build off the kids' ideas around them, teaching them to work as a team.
For this activity, all you need is sidewalk chalk. Tell the kids to create a city with farms on the outside rims of the town. The city could be towering skyscrapers or a simple town that you might see in a Christmas Hallmark movie.
While drawing the city or town, kids will build off one another and create tiny lives for the people they draw, walking on their imaginary town streets. Chalk drawings will interact with one another, and this activity will take on a life of its own.
7. Beach Ball In the Sky
This game is easy, simple, and has few rules or restrictions. The only rule is that the beach ball can't touch the ground. Give the kids a beach ball and have one of them throw the ball into the air. Another can hit it with their head, hands, arms, feet, or any other part of their body as long as the ball doesn't touch the ground.
Another way to play is to have everyone lay down on their backs with their feet in their air. The kids then have to use their feet to keep the ball up. This is a great game for when there's an extra-large group, such as a party game.
8. Nighttime Tag
In places where it's too hot to play outside during the day, try playing nighttime tag. To play, you will need a lot of glowsticks. To make sure that no one gets lost while playing outside in the dark, equip everyone with several glow sticks.
Make glow stick necklaces, bracelets, and belts so that everyone is nearly dripping in the glow-in-the-dark materials. This makes the tag game more fun because there's a unique twist on the game.
If you're playing in a backyard where it's safe to run around in the complete darkness, you can play another variation of the game. In this variation, everyone starts with glow stick bracelets and glow stick belt except for the tagger. Because the tagger isn't wearing any glow-in-the-dark materials, he or she is the "ghost." The ghost's role is to grab the glow sticks from other players. When someone loses all of their glow sticks, they also become a ghost.
Outdoor Competitive Games for Kids
Here's a list of the best outdoor games that combine creativity with competitiveness for those looking for slightly more competitive games.
1. Tic Tac Toe
Tic tac toe can be an indoor game or an outdoor game. For the summer, make tic tac toe more fun by creating your own tic tac toe sets. To do this, you will need smooth rocks and paint.
Once you've found ten rocks for each tic tac toe game you're designing, start painting. Paint five of them with the same design or color pattern and paint the other five rocks a different pattern. Do all of the painting outside and then let the rocks dry out in the sun.
When the sets of tic tac toe are finished drying, draw up a board with chalk and play tic tac toe with the homemade set! Kids will love painting their own rock sets.
2. Pool Noodle Car Race
For this activity, you will need several long pool noodles and a toy car for each child. Start by cutting the pool noodles in half, revealing the groove down the center of the noodle. The groove acts as the track for the cars to race down. Depending on how long you want the track to be, you can tag or glue multiple noodles together.
Raise one end of the noodle by taping it to a raised platform. Have the kids put their cars on the tops of the racing track. One a countdown, have the kids release their cars. Because of the angle of the noodles, the cars will race down the tracks quickly.
This is a fun, easy way to get the kids invested in a competition. The kid will cheer for their car, urging it to go faster.
3. Watermelon Seed Spit
For this activity, all you need is watermelon and a piece of chalk. Have the kids eat the watermelon. Each time the kids come across a seed, they spit the seed as far as they can. With your chalk, mark where the seeds land to make it a competition to spit the watermelon seeds the furthest.
This is a sweet game that allows the kids to enjoy summer watermelon while having fun outdoors.
4. Outdoor Scrabble
Outdoor Scrabble is a perfect game for kids who can read and spell simple words. For the game, you will need to DIY large scrabble pieces. Cut out large squares using old cardboard boxes. Draw letters on each of the boards. In a traditional game of scrabble, there are 100 scrabble letters. Depending on how frequently a letter is used when spelling, that letter will appear more or less frequently in the game.
For your game, you don't have to have 100 cutouts. Adjust your game to the group. Once your pieces are ready, head outside. Have everyone pick out five tiles. The first person to think of a word from their five tiles gets to lay down the word on the grass.
The next person has to build a new word off of the old word. The game continues until no one can make any more words. You can keep count by awarding more points to those who put down more tiles.
5. Nine Square
Nine Square is one of the best summer games to play because it gets the kid laughing and having fun. To play, you will need a Nine Square court. The court is a three by three pipe square lifted above the heads of the players. Each player stays in their own square.
The game is similar to four square in that the players must hit the ball out of their square and into another player's square to win the game. Because the game is always moving and rotating, it's perfect for large groups. Both younger kids and older kids will have fun playing Nine Square.
6. Hula Hoop Race
To host a hula hoop race, all you need is a hula hoop for each participant. Start everyone on the same line. When you're ready to race, yell, "Ready, set, go!" Everyone in the race must start hula hooping as they run to the other side. If the hula hoop falls at any point, they have to start over.
This game is hilarious to watch and is perfect as part of a larger relay race. Both young kids and adults can participate in the game. To make it part of a relay race, simply split the group into teams. When one person gets to the other side, they will pass off their hula hoop to the next team member.
Cornhole is a classic outdoor summer game. To play, you will need a cornhole set. Cornhole typically uses two boards, each with three holes, and beanbags for either team. The teams try to land each beanbag on the cornhole board or get it to slide through a hole. The team with the most points wins.
Cornhole encourages children to work on their hand-eye coordination. It's a great game to play with younger kids as well to teach them how to toss objects to a target.
8. Jump Rope Splash
Jump Rope Splash is a fun outdoor game that gets the kids moving and laughing. To play, all you will need is a long jump rope and a cup of water for each participant.
Two kids will take the ends of the jump rope while a third person takes their place in the middle, holding a cup of water. As the rope turns, the person will jump, trying to keep their water from spilling out while also jumping with the jumping rope. After jumping ten times, it's the next kid's turn.
This pattern continues until everyone has had the opportunity to jump in the jump rope. When everyone has jumped, line up the waters and see who has the most water left in their cup. That person is the winner.