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Outdoor Games

The weather is dry and the kids want to play outside. However, in these days of 24-hour TV and wall to wall electronic gadgets, many of today's children have no idea how to entertain themselves outdoors. Here are some ideas for traditional outdoor games that kids can play together and which have been tried and tested by generations of children.

One of the easiest of outdoor games and needs no equipment is TAG, and is great exercise.  One child is designated "it." That child then chases the other kids around, trying to tag one of them with their hand. The newly tagged person is now "it." There is often the rule of "no tag-backs" where you can't tag the person who just tagged you. The game ends when everyone is tired of playing.

Placeholder image Hopscotch is one of the simplest outdoor games. At its most basic level, all you need is a piece of chalk with which to draw nine squares and a small stone to throw. The stone is thrown to land on one of the squares and the player has to hop and jump their way along the squares to retrieve the stone, without losing their balance. There are plenty of hopscotch games available to buy, featuring numbered tiles and plastic counters for throwing, if you want a more sophisticated version of this game.

Find a piece of rope and many hours can be whiled away with skipping games, whether individually or with two people holding either end of a long rope. There are a host of skipping rhymes that involve skipping forwards, backwards or on one leg for example and there are lots of different tricks to practise.

A ball can be at the centre of many outdoor games. Children enjoy kicking a football about and can be organised into two teams with makeshift goals to give the game more focus. Alternatively, try volleyball, particularly if you can find something to use as a net. A large group of children can play fireball, whereby the ball is thrown from person to person in a circle and any child who fails to catch the ball has to race around the outside of the circle back to their place before the ball reaches them again. Another playground favourite is "Queenie, Queenie, who's got the ball?" in which the child who is "Queenie" throws the ball over their shoulder without looking and has to guess who has caught the ball.

There are plenty of team games involving small balls such as rounders or cricket. Rounders needs plenty of space but is easy to set up, as anything can be used to mark out the four bases. A "proper" game of cricket needs wickets but in French cricket, the legs act as the stumps. The person batting must use the bat to defend their legs from the ball, which can be bowled by any of the other players. Only if the person batting hits the ball can they turn their feet to face the next bowler. Otherwise, they have to twist around, which can make things awkward! The person batting is out if the ball hits their legs or if one of the other players catches the ball from a hit.

There are plenty of ball games that can be played by two or three children. Tennis does not need to played on proper courts or with proper rules – children just enjoy the fun of hitting the ball back and forth. Piggy in the middle is an old favourite, if sometimes a little frustrating for the "piggy".