5 Super-Fun and Totally Free Backyard Games for Kids of All Ages

Family Matters on 07.05.12
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Every year my family holds a big lobster bake with our neighbors and friends to celebrate the Fourth of July. When we were kids, one of my aunts organized a series of games ranging from egg tosses to human pyramids that were so much fun, but as we got older the games dissipated and became minimized to who could hit a golf ball the furthest amongst both the kids and adults. But for the first time in over a decade we brought back the kids games this year as those of us who once were tossing eggs now have both enough children to make it fun and ones that are old enough  to really understand and get into the games. The only problem-or so we initially thought-was that we hadn't actually planned any games until we got there so we had to create them. Here are the five fun games that the kids (ages two to eight) loved!

1. Ball on a spoon- We used to do this with eggs, but to make it age appropriate and less messy for the littler kids we used golf balls from one of the kids' toys and spoons from the kitchen. If you don't have golf balls, choose any type of ball that you have multiples of that are baseball size or smaller. The kids had to balance the ball on the spoon from the starting line to an end point and back (we dragged the hose out to make a line).

2. Three-legged race- We didn't have any rope on hand so we grabbed some ribbon from the gift wrapping supplies in the closet and grouped the kids by height. Tie one leg from each kid together and give them a start and finish line. Surprisingly, the big kids were the worst at this, perhaps because they thought they were too big to have to really think about it.

3. Wheelbarrow race- As long as you've got two kids, you can do this anywhere. The smaller of the two children will lie on their stomach and then push up their arms while the larger child picks up their legs and the smaller child moves them forward with their arms.

4. Around the house running race- It seems so simple, but the kids loved, loved, loved doing this. We threw an around the house race in between just about all of the other games. Line the kids up and yell "GO!" and they'll fly around the house with the biggest smiles you've ever seen. If you've got a wide age range where the little ones will be at a major disadvantage, have the older kids hop on one foot to a certain point before they are allowed to start running.

5. The longest throw- If you have a ball, use that or otherwise you can choose any item from the yard such as a stick or even a rock as long as the kids are being supervised, and see who can throw the item the farthest.

The important thing to remember is that all of these games are in good fun. There isn't really supposed to be anyone crowned a winner, but they're just a good way to keep the kids entertained and get them moving. As a society it strikes me that we spend so much money making sure our kids have the latest and greatest toys, and it's not long before they become uninterested in them. Even if you have little on hand, there are plenty of ways to entertain the kids. And there is something just so enjoyable about watching your children have good old-fashioned fun with nothing but each other and a few household items.  

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