Looking for ideas for encouraging your children to spend more time playing outdoors? Check out this collection of 21 classic old school yard games. These are old fashioned games that have stood the test of time, and they’re great for families, schools & community groups, and we might just have included a few, newer twists on the classics too!
21 Classic, Old School Yard Games for Kids
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1. Egg and Spoon Races
Grab some fresh eggs and soup spoons for a traditional egg and spoon dash across the yard. For larger groups, form relay teams to really get family and friends working together.
And, for the more mess-averse, this fun games pack includes both plastic eggs and spoons as well as sacks for our second yard game pick, which is…
2. Sack Races
You will need a hessian or burlap sack for each racer (you can also play in relay teams to reduce the number of sacks needed). To race, guests stand with their feet inside the sack and on ‘Go’ race to the finish line (or to their teammate if you’re playing relay style). The first player to cross the finish line, or the first team to have all members jump home, is the winner.
It is always a good time for a sack race if you have the bags! This pack of six bags is like an invitation to have a party!
RELATED: For more like this, yard games for kids that also make great party games, be sure to check out our huge collection of forty five fabulous birthday party games for kids.
Frisbee is one of those classic backyard games for families that I remember with such fondness from my own childhood. Nowadays there are all sorts of cool Frisbees available too! While my memories are of just throwing and catching a frisbee in the backyard or on the beach, the official game of Ultimate Frisbee is a fun outdoor game to play with kids. You can find instructions on how to play here at Active for Life.
4. Four Square/Hand Ball
A popular playground game for children ages 8+ years, Four square is typically played with a small, bouncy ball, on a square hard court space, divided into four equal squares.
Click through via the link to find full instructions on how to play Four Square/Handball.
For a mobile four square option that can be played more easily on grass, check out the Wicked Big Sports Four Square Game.
Played since the 1800s, Volleyball is popular the world over. Requiring agility, fitness and speed, it is a great game to keep kids and families moving for physical fitness, with the bonus that if can be played virtually anywhere, from the beach to the backyard, outdoors and in.
Click through for instructions for play with kids at Kidzworld.
If you need a very active, action packed game that is sure to be tons of fun, look no further than spikeball! Invented in the late 1980s, Spikeball has experienced a recent rise in popularity. It is a fast moving game for tweens, teens and adults that combines elements of Four Square with Volleyball.
7. Elastics/Chinese Jump Rope
Played with a large loop of elastic made into a rectangle with two children standing inside the elastic with it stretched around their ankles, this classic childhood game is played with groups of 3+ children. A third player -the jumper – stands in the middle of the elastic to perform a series of increasingly difficult jumps.
Jumps include landing with both feet inside the elastic loop, outside the loop, one foot inside and one outside, and landing with both feet on top of the elastic rope. The elastic loop is raised as each sequence of jumps is completed without error, moving to mid-shin of the holders, then the back of the knees, mid-thighs, hips, armpits, and neck.
This classic yard game has been entertaining families for generations – literally – so why not add it to your backyard as a form of screen free fun for all!
For those with younger children, try a game of kick croquet, combining soccer and croquet.
9. Totem Tennis or Tether Tennis
For Totem Tennis, two players use short handled paddles to hit a tennis ball that is tethered to a string and attached to the top of spiraled coil atop a vertical pole. The aim of the game is to get the ball to the top or bottom of the coil by hitting the ball either clockwise or anticlockwise around the pole to make it move up and down.
You’ll need a broomstick for a limbo pole, one person to hold each end and some classic tunes for a game of Limbo! Hold the pole horizontal to the floor, at about chest height. Players line up and take turns to dance under the limbo pole without knocking or touching it – if they touch it, they’re out. Players must lean backwards, not forwards, as they pass under the pole. Once all the players are through, the pole is dropped about an inch and the players again must pass under the pole without touching it. The pole continues to be dropped for each round, with the last player standing the winner.
RELATED: For more games like Limbo, check out our collection of Classic Party Games for Tweens and Teens.
11. Ring Toss
A ring toss set is a timeless yard game, suitable for play with both kids and adults of all ages. It’s an easy game to take on a picnic or a camping trip too.
For more game ideas for your next camping trip, check out our collection of family camping games.
Horseshoes are another longstanding, traditional yard game and this modern family friendly set makes pitching horseshoes fun for everyone. The game is played by alternating players throwing horseshoes with the intent to get them as close to, or even sitting wrapped around a wooden stake in the ground. The closest horseshoe scores a point, and those wrapped around the stake score three points. The first player to an agreed score (generally 15 or 21) is the winner.
13. Badminton Set
A fun racquet game for two to four players, the simple rules of badminton make it a great game to play with tweens and teens. The first player (or team of two) to reach 21 points by causing their opposition to fault – ie. not return the shuttlecock successfully – is the winner.
14. Bocce Ball
Believed to be first played in ancient Egypt, Bocce certainly qualifies for a list of classic yard games. Played with two to eight players on a team, each player receives two balls. Points are awarded for each ball that ends up nearest to the pallino ball – the small ball that is thrown onto the field before play begins. As balls can be displaced by players, it’s a constantly moving game of strategy, perfect for playing with tweens and teens.
15. Wooden Yard Toss Game
A hilariously fun game of log-tossing originating from Finland, that is more than a little addictive to those who are a little competitive, this is one game your family should definitely invest in.
16. Ladder Toss
This sturdy ladder toss set is great for all sorts of outdoor gatherings, including family game night on a warm night! It is made to assemble in about two minutes for portable fun for all!
17. Giant Tic Tac Toe
This larger than life look at tic tac toe is so much fun for your backyard! Make it a team sport and super active with the instructions in the video below.
18. Giant Jenga
This twist on Jenga is larger than life and so much fun for any outdoor game night! No one will want to tumble this tower! Play in teams, just like the Tic Tac Toe video above, to make it co-operative and more active.
19. Giant Yard Dice
Yahtzee is fun as is, but when it is played at this size? It becomes instantly memorable for everyone!
20. Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a really fun way to entertain a group of people of any age, and is a great way to get people of different ages working together. Plus there really is a scavenger hunt for any outdoor location! Check out our collection of free outdoor scavenger hunts for all ages.
21. Lawn Bowling
Lawn Bowling is an easy game to play with children and adults of all ages. It’s easily mobile, making lawn bowling suitable to play at home or when traveling.
Looking for even more ideas for inspiring children to spend time outdoors? Check out our collection of Outdoor Gifts for Kids.