Parenting

13 fun backyard games to get kids and parents moving

Ditch the screens for good, old-fashioned family fun.

Family playing outside in the backyard Credit: Getty Images / xavierarnau

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After over a month of sheltering in place, it feels like every child has seen their screen time increase by 500%—and every parent is pulling their hair out over the couch potatoes that have taken up residence in their living room. If you're dealing with a kid that would rather see if they can break the world record for binge-watching than chase a butterfly or break a sweat, you're not alone.

Here are 13 backyard games to help you stand up against the lure of Minecraft and Fortnite and put a whole new perspective on whatever outside space you have to work with.

1. Pool noodle baseball

Never worry about siblings smacking each other with a bat or hitting each other with a curve ball. Pool noodle baseball requires nothing more than a trimmed down pool noodle, a beach ball, and something to mark the bases. It's so fun and ridiculous to play with oversized equipment, and it adds a silly and sluggish element to the game, that this is a favorite "sport" to safely get out aggressions and inspire some giggles.

2. DIY backyard mini-golf

Mini Golf
Credit: Kix Cereal

Make your own mini golf course with cereal boxes and a little innovation.

Half the fun of this backyard mini-golf session is that you get to create it with your family and get as creative and whimsical as you'd like. This DIY mini-golf course shows just how far you can go with some leftover cereal boxes and a quick raid of the toy box. Pull it all together and let tee time begin!

Get the Spectrum Mini Golf Putter and Target Set on Amazon for $53.68

3. Super-size your Twister game

Backyard Twister
Credit: Lillie Austen

Take Twister outside for more space—and more fun.

Twister is already a fun game that gets you moving, but if you turn your yard or driveway into the iconic board, it becomes even more epic. I don't know about you, but every time my family plays Twister in our living room a lamp gets knocked over, a coffee table gets crashed into, or a family pet gets upset that we are taking up his favorite spot to nap.

Take the game of Twister outside where the whole family can stretch out and tumble over with total abandon. All it takes is a few cans of spray paint and a piece of poster board. If you don't have a spinner, no problem: Cut up pieces of construction paper and write which appendage to place down. Have players grab the cards from the bag and get playing!

Get the Water Based Spray Paint 6 Pack at Spray Planet for $24.99

4. "American Ninja Warrior" obstacle course

The best part about creating an obstacle course is you can change it every day. If your kids aren't necessarily athletic, but do like to problem-solve, an obstacle course is a perfect way to get them moving. An obstacle course is a bit of STEM magic and a whole lot of movement. This "American Ninja Warrior" course from Frugal Fun 4 Boys is pretty genius, but you can also change things up with hula hoops or repurpose your kids' pool noodles and swim rings.

5. Pick up a new sport

Whether you were hoping to get your little one enrolled in spring baseball or want to get them prepped for soccer season, social distancing doesn't mean they can't learn a new sport and hone their skills. The sports starter packs from Pickup Sports are a perfect backyard primer to all of the team sports little kids love, like soccer, basketball, flag football, tennis and volleyball. The goal of these kits are to make kids avid fans and active participants in the sports. Each kit comes with kid-sized equipment, game cards, activity books, and cute stickers and other surprises to help make for an exciting introduction to each game. Each kit also comes with virtual training sessions with credentialed coaches, as well as referee and cheerleader garb for moms and dads.

Get a Pickup Sports sports kit for $45

6. Quidditch

You won't be able to ride Harry Potter's Nimbus 2000, and the golden snitch won't be able to fly, but this is as good of a version of Quidditch any Muggle could hope to play. With a few modifications made for fields outside of Hogwarts, you can bring the magic of Quidditch to your backyard.

7. Backyard bowling

if you've been #Quaransnacking your way through the past few weeks, here is your opportunity for redemption. Repurposed tin cans, soda bottles, and Pringles chip cans all make perfect bowling pins for this DIY backyard version of bowling. If you've been sticking to a respectable quarantine diet and don't have an abundance of chip cans, this pre-made set is a cute and colorful alternative.

Get the Lawn Bowling Game Set by Hey! Play! at Amazon for $34.71

8. Kick croquet

Kick croquet is a hybrid of croquet and kickball. This gets the family running around and using their whole body to play croquet, and it's a perfect past time if you're not yet ready to give your kindergartner a croquet mallet and a hard ball to play with.

Here is a run down of how to make a kick croquet course of your own, or you can buy one that's easy to set up.

Get Giant Games Giant Kick Croquet at Dick's Sporting Goods for $21.97

9. Hopscotch

Hopskotch
Credit: jrimagination.com

All you need is chalk and some creativity to take your hopscotch to the next level.

Your kids may yawn at the idea of hopscotch, but wait until they see these new and unexpected twists on the classic game. Take them to outer space, have them turn Hopscotch into a word game—there is no limit to how creative you can get. Add some multi-sensory fun by putting down bubble wrap for a satisfying pop as they jump from square to square.

Get a 48-count of Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk at Michaels for $6.99

10. Clothespin tag

If you have the kind of kid that always claims you didn't catch them when they play tag, here is a fun new version of tag that's also a fool-proof way to stop cheaters in their tracks. The object of clothespin tag is to be the last player with a clothespin still on your back. To play, each player gets a clothespin clipped to the back of their shirt. The object is to steal other people's clothespins without letting them get yours. The last player with a clothespin left on the back of their shirt wins.

Get multi-colored clothespins at Michaels for $8.99

11. Flashlight tag

So the whole day has gone by and your family hasn't left the house? We've all been there. You can still save the day with some nighttime sports. Try a good old game of flashlight tag or glow-in-the-dark frisbee and get those wiggles out before bedtime.

12. Field games

Bring the spirit of field games to your own backyard. The possibilities are really endless: Round up the empty plastic eggs you have around the house and have an egg-and-spoon race, jump in your sleeping bags and have a makeshift potato sack race, race each other doing a crab walk, do a dress-up relay where one person runs to one end of the yard and throws on dress-up clothes before they run back to the finish line. You can mix it up for a new idea every day, or you can host a weekend field day!

13. Water balloon fight

Water balloons
Credit: Getty Images / Imgorthand

Warmer weather offers the perfect excuse to get outside and get wet.

When the weather gets warm, there is nothing better than a water balloon fight. If you have some family members that can get a little overzealous when called to a water balloon battle, try a balloon toss. Grab a partner and start out by standing close to each other and toss the balloon for your partner to catch. With each throw get farther apart; see how far you can go before you break the balloon (and get drenched).

Get the Zuru Bunch O Balloons 280 Rapid-Filling Self-Sealing Water Balloons at Target for $24.99

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