Thursday, February 9, 2012

Outdoor Games For Kids

Outdoor Games For Kids

Kids are spending more and more time inside playing computer games and watching TV on average 6 hours a day, compared to generations before them, who spent the majority of their free time playing outside often in large groups. Some of the best outdoor games were created by children and passed down throughout the ages. These games are now in danger of being forgotten. However, even modern kids would not only benefit from the lessons taught within these games, but the social interaction and simple fun that these games provide. This article serves as a reminder of some of the great outdoor games that can be passed down to your own children. 

Have your children invite some of their friends over. A group of 4 to 8 children or more if you’re feeling up to it, creates more fun for these games. Go through the rules of the games with them and supervise for the first 2 or 3 rounds. Once they have understood the rules, and have no more questions, leave them to play alone, and just stay within earshot. Rules being broken and arguments during play are part of learning to get on each other, so give them the chance to resolve their differences alone. Only intervene if it is truly necessary. Children enjoy new games and ideas, and it’s even better if there is an emotional connection to it, so teach them some of your favourites from childhood. 

The games below are some of my own childhood favourites with their rules: 

1.    1. Red Rover
Personally, I recommend starting with this game, as it’s a good way to get the children to all        interact with each other, and gets them used to the different style of play that outdoor games require. The rules are simple: Divide everyone into two teams, each forming a long line, holding hands, and facing the other team. The distance between the teams should be around 20 feet, or simply enough space to be able to run from team to team without it being too easy. The teams take turns calling out, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let ‘insert child’s name’ come over!” The child called leaves their team’s line, runs as fast as they can toward the other line and tries to break through the held hands. If they break through the opposing team’s line, they get to take someone back to their team. If they don’t, they join the new team. When a team only has one person left, that person tries to break through the other team. If they do not, then their team loses. If they do, they gain a player and play continues.

2.   2. Freeze Tag
Freeze tag is just like your traditional tag, except that when someone is caught, they’re not ‘It’. Instead they have to freeze where they are. They can be unfrozen by another player, but whoever is ‘It’ can also catch the player trying to free the frozen one. This game requires a lot of tactics for the one being ‘It’, and team work for the players, otherwise they will find themselves being outsmarted by the one who is ‘It’. 

3. 3. Pirate Ship
This game is different to the others, and needn’t necessarily be a pirate ship. The idea is to have a calmer game in between the games, which promotes social interaction between the children and which needs them to be creative. Pirate ship is an imagination game wherein the children pretend to be pirates. They decide who the Captain is and who the first mate is etc., and act out a typical pirate adventure of finding treasure or fighting other pirates. To give them an authentic setting for this game, why not let them take over your garden shed for a while. If you clear it out a bit beforehand and give them some wooden crates and some old bed sheets to use in their play, they could soon create their very own pirate ship.

4.   4. Wolf’s Dinner Time
This game requires both speed and patience, as timing the key to this game. One player is Mr Wolf, and the rest of the group faces him from a distance of about 15 feet. Mr Wolf has his back to the group. The group shouts ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’, and the Mr Wolf turns to the group and must answer with a time. If Mr Wolf says ‘6 o’clock’, the group takes six steps toward him. The wolf then turns his back on the group again. He may only face them when answering. Once the wolf believes the group to be close enough, without looking, his answer becomes ‘Dinnertime!’ and he chases the group. The idea is that whoever is caught gets ‘eaten’ by the wolf. The next player to be Mr Wolf is whoever gets eaten by the current wolf. 

Children’s spending more time indoors is often due to the fact that our lives are changing, and these games aren’t being passed on as naturally as they used to be. We have to make the time to teach them to our children. These classic outdoor games are not only great fun, but teach social skills through play, too, and can strengthen friendships between the children. 

this article was written by Sarah Oxley on behalf of Tiger Sheds.



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