Get everyone off the couch with some fun active games! Kids love rowdy or spirited games, be it as simple as chasing after a ball or as organized as team soccer. You do not need equipment or even a playing field for many classic active games that kids have historically played in streets, playgrounds and backyards.
Something for Everyone
Active games run the gamut of competitive sports, like kickball or stick ball, to cooperative games and open-ended activities, such as hopscotch or bicycling. Circle games, like Spud, are popular, as are line games like Octopus and Red Rover. Ball games like dodgeball and ping pong often require good motor skills. Drama games, like the Hokey Pokey and Freeze Dance, accommodate children of diverse ages and abilities.
Don’t Keep Score
Many active games involve keeping score, getting someone out or being "it." These games can frustrate younger or less skilled children, so consider leveling the playing field by mixing up the teams, giving an extra chance to younger players, allowing do-overs or not bothering to keep score. Games like animal charades, follow the leader, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Mother May I and Blob Tag, in which people who are tagged become part of a giant, running blob that tags remaining players, focus less on winning and more on participating.
Fun active games keep hearts pumping and players smiling. A simple game of hide and seek can expand to include large numbers of players and can take place inside or outside. Try a simple yet inventive game like Hot Lava, in which players jump from spot to spot or base to base, without touching the ground.
Alternative Options for Outdoor Games
Active games need not be outdoor games. You can play Duck Duck Goose in the living room or dodgeball with balloons instead of balls anywhere. Chinese jump rope works fine on the kitchen floor, while a carpeted floor provides enough cushioning for crab soccer played with a beach ball.
If you supervise an active game, it can last up to 15 minutes for preschoolers and 20 or 30 minutes for primary grade children. Unsupervised, most active games fizzle out sooner, or eliminate too many players to keep the game interesting for the whole group.