Traditional Backyard Games For Kids

Back Yard GamesTraditional Backyard Games For Kids

It appears as though many traditional backyard games for kids, which were played outside with little or no gear, gadgets, and the like, are being forgotten. Kids may not be learning these kind of fun, wholesome activities.  It’s also a great way to get them to unplug from technology.

Many of these timeless backyard games provide exercise and fresh air, cost nothing, and best of all make great childhood memories. They can be played for countless hours, providing fun and bonding times that are relational. Many can be played with adults, and various ages, providing a rich, child friendly community of activity. By teaching your children and some of their friends to play these games, it  can foster a more active lifestyle in general.

Backyard Games

Don’t forget to share with your children the backyard games you used to play as a child as well.  It will bring back memories for you, and help pass on some of your legacy to your child.

Red Light Green Light

One person takes on the position of the “stop light person” and the rest makes effort to touch that person. Whoever touches them first wins that game. To begin with, all the children form a line about 15 feet away from the stop light individual. That stop light person turns away from the line of kids, with his or her back towards them and calls out “green light”. At this time the children in line are allowed to move towards the stoplight, some run, a few walk, or creep, their choice. At any point, the stop light individual yells out “red light” and turns around to face the participants. If some of the kids are found moving after this has transpired, they are out. The stoplight person identifies who they see moving after saying red light. This carries on until the first player to touch the stop light person wins the game, thus earning the privilege to be “stop light” for the following game.

Red Rover

The people separate into two teams. They stand in lines looking at each other with a broad area between the lines. The players must hold hands or wrists, and then the players on one team call out: “Red Rover – red rover – let “Billie” come over. Then your youngster who had been called upon by name, must run toward the opposition line and try to break the handhold uniting the line of the opposite team.  If they fail, they join the team whose handhold they couldn’t break. If they do break the rank, they will get to take one of the participants’ hostage, returning to their initial team’s line. The team that gets the majority of players wins.

Kick The Can

This is a mixture of hide-and-go-seek, as well as tag.  Someone designated as “it” closes their eyes and counts to some high number, while at the same time everyone else hides from view. After that, the individual that counted and defending “the can (any can)” runs around the neighborhood, to seek out everyone. The challenging portion is that when a person is found, there is a mad race, where the one who recently was discovered, makes an attempt to run and kick the can over, before the “it” tags or touches them. There seems to continually be individuals who will hide in a obvious, close by place, with the intent of sprinting for the can as soon as they are caught, actually hoping to catch “it” off-guard and out race them.

Mother May I?

All the children line up side-by-side, except the person who is the caller. The caller stands far away from the lined up players. He calls on every player in turn to take a few actions toward him. The steps permitted are:  baby steps, giant steps, or scissor steps (walking each step criss crossing over the previous step.) The participant responses “Mother, may I?” The mother answers “Yes, you may.” The player will take the approved quantity of actions towards the caller. If the person forgets to ask permission after he gets his instructions, and takes steps toward the caller, he gets sent back to the beginning of the line to start over. The first person to reach the caller is the winner and new caller.


A relatively smooth, flat area is needed, usually in dirt. A little hole is formed in the middle of the playing location. Each player antes up a marble, and they’re randomly scattered surrounding the area. Every participant utilizes a large marble called a ‘shooter’ to knock the other marbles into the hole; similar to shooting pool.  People take turns shooting, and when a person knocks a marble in to the hole with his/her turn, they be able to keep the marble they bumped in, and shoot again. Naturally very simple marble exchanging is usually a popular activity too.

Duck Duck Goose

Children sit down in a circle facing each other. One person is “it” and strolls around the circle. As they stroll around, they touch individuals’ heads and pronounce whether they are a “duck” or a “goose”.  When someone is announced a  “goose” they jump up quickly and chase “the it person” around the circle. The aim is to tag that person before they’re able to sit down in the “goose’s” spot. If the goose is not able to make this happen, they become “it” for the following round, and play continues. Should they accomplish the tag the “it” person, the individual tagged has got to sit in the center of the group. Then the goose becomes “it” for the next round. The person in the middle cannot leave until another person is tagged and they are replaced.


Hopscotch is a wonderful hopping game which can be played on a sidewalk or pavement or on a floor indoors. You will find hundreds of versions of the diagram which are then drawn. Use your preferred pattern to get youngsters to play. Use chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground, or masking tape on a floor. Generate a diagram with eight portions and number all of them. Each player has a marker, say for example a rock, beanbag, bottlecap, shell, button, etc.

The first player stands at the rear of the starting line to pitch their marker in square 1. Jump over square 1 to square 2 and then proceed hopping to square 8, turn around, and hop back again. Pause in square 2 to pick up the marker square 1, and jump to the end. Then continue by slinging the rock into square 2. All jumping is conducted on one foot unless the hopscotch pattern is such that two squares are side-by-side.  Only then can two feet touch the ground, one in each square. A participant must always skip over any block where a maker has been placed (theirs or someone elses).

A person is out, if the marker ceases to land in the accurate square, the hopper steps on a line, the hopper looses stableness when bending over to pick up the marker or puts a second hand or foot down. The participant puts the marker within the block they will resume playing on the next turn, and the next player starts.

Sometimes a dome-shaped “rest area” is added on one end of the hopscotch design where the player can rest for a second or two prior to turning around to jump back towards “home”.

Swinging Statue

You only need two players for this activity, but any number can be involved. One player grasps the other by his wrist and gently swings him slowly before letting go. The released player must then stabilize themselves in a statue posture as they landed.  They have to then remain as still as a statue, till all the other players are swung.  This will not have winners or losers. It’s just fun to see the statues made.

Farmer In The Dell

This game needs about 12-15 people or more, to stand up around a circle. One individual is selected as the Farmer and stands inside the middle. Everyone sings, “The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell; Heigh ho, the Derry-oh the farmer in the dell” and walk around in the circle. The next verse is “The farmer takes a wife . . .,” which is sung as the first person chooses another person from the circle to come to the inside as the wife. The next verse is “The wife takes a child . . .,” when the second person inside the circle chooses a third person to be the child. This continues with “The child takes a dog . . .,” “The dog takes a cat . . .,” “The cat takes a rat . . .,” and “The rat takes the cheese . . ..” The final verse is” The cheese stands alone . . .,” when all people on the inside of the circle go back to the outer edge of the circle and sing as the last person chosen “stands alone” in the circle, the game is then finished.

Bobbing for Apples

Bobbing for Apples, although this is traditionally played in the fall and autumn season, it makes an excellent choice for a hot summer day.  Fill a huge tub with water, and toss some apples into the water.  Have players kneel on their knees around the tub with hands clasped behind their backs, and some yells start.  Players must keep hands clasped behind their backs at all times.  They attempt to pick up an apple with only their mouth; they may NOT use their hands in any way.  The first person, who gets an apple out, wins.  You can also do a variation of this game, blindfolded.

Stick Ball

The overall game is enjoyed with a baseball bat and ball, usually a tennis ball to prevent breaking windows. There are no teams, just one individual up to bat and everybody else in the outfield. The person with the bat tosses the ball upward and hits it. Then they set the bat on the ground in front of them. The person who gets the ball, rolls it to the bat from the place in which the ball was picked up somewhere in the outfield. When and if the ball hits the bat it pops up into the air. In the event the batter doesn’t catch the ball, the person who rolled it is then up to bat. If a person in the field catches a hit preceding it touches the ground, they are immediately up to bat.

This can be such rich and amazing family times you’ll remember for years to come. Consider inviting others from the neighborhood to join in and get to know your neighbors better.

I remember playing so many of these games with family and neighborhood kids until it was pitch black, the darkness of night calling an end to our play times.

You might also enjoy my posts Risk Factors for Children Fighting Obesity and Poisonous Plants and Children – Symptoms and Tips to Stay Safe.

Hope you enjoy some of these tradition back yard games from times past.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

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Back Yard Games

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