When I was growing up, my friends and I would disappear for hours on end, building dens in the surrounding woods, playing hide-and-seek, tag, dodgeball and British bulldog.
But today's children spend roughly half as much time playing outside as their parents' did and are more inclined to stay indoors and watch television and play computer games
It's time to take a stand, fire our children's imaginations, limit their engagement with the virtual world and inspire them to get out and about and have some REAL fun.
Here's a print-out-and-keep guide to the rules to some of the best outdoor games for your children and their friends.
All they need is a field, playground or park, plus lots and lots of energy...
In a nutshell: Bulldogs chases kids and turn them into fellow bulldogs.
One or more kids are selected to play the parts of the 'bulldogs' who stand in the middle of the play area. The rest of the players stand at one end of the area (home).
The aim of the game is to run from one end of the field of play to the other, without being caught by the bulldogs.
When a player is caught, they become a bulldog themselves.
The winner is the last player or who hasn't been caught.
In a nutshell: Kids try to avoid being 'tagged' by child who is 'it'.
Tag couldn't be more straightforward: one person is chosen to be 'it'. Then 'it' runs around chasing the others players. When 'it' tags (touches) another player then the tagged player becomes 'it'.
CAPTURE THE FLAG
In a nutshell: Teams compete to find and secure rival team's hidden flag.
Separate the players into two teams. Team One has one half of the field, while Team Two has the other half.
The two teams are given five minutes to hide their flag in their part of the field. At the end of the five minutes, both teams return to a neutral starting point and simply try to get the other team's flag.
If a player is caught and tagged by an opponent, she must go to 'jail' and can only be freed by a teammate who rescues them when the opposing team isn't looking. The first team to capture the other team's flag wins.
In a nutshell: Chuck a stone onto a numbered square then hop, skip and jump to pick it up and move on.
Hopscotch may be the oldest of these classic kids' outdoor games - it was even played by Roman soldiers ancient Britain.
It's easy-peasy to play, but difficult to explain so watch this video to see how it's done:
In a nutshell: Teams duck and dive to avoid being hit by balls hurled by rivals.
Divide teams of six to 10 players into two sides.
The object of dodgeball is to eliminate everybody on the opposite team by throwing a rubber ball at them.
There's a centre line, which nobody's allowed to cross, so you have to throw the ball from your side of the court. If a player gets hit with the ball, then they're out.
But, if a player catches the ball, then the person who threw the ball is out.
HIDE AND SEEK
In a nutshell: Kids hide from a friend who counts to 10 and then tries to find them.
To start, choose one person to be 'it' and leave them at the 'base'.
'It' then turns around and closes their eyes and counts to 10 while the rest of their playmates hide.
When the person who is 'it' finishes counting, they call out 'Coming Ready or Not' and then sets off to find everyone.
The rest of the players try to get back to base without getting tagged or else they are 'It'. If 'It' doesn't tag anyone, they stay 'It' for the next round.
STICK IN THE MUD
In a nutshell: Tagged kids get stuck in metaphorical mud until a teammate frees them.
This is a game for up to 20 kids. Two are designated 'on' and they have to chase the rest of the group who aren't 'on' and tag them.
When they have tagged another kid who wasn't 'on', that person is 'stuck in the mud'.
They stand with legs and arms out and they cannot move.
The only way to release them is if another person who isn't stuck goes under the child that is stuck to free them.
They can go through the playmate's legs, or under their arms. This continues for about 5-10 minutes until everybody is stuck.
In a nutshell: Teammates hold hands in a line and a child from the rival team tries to break through.
First, split kids into two equal teams. The teams then line up holding hands parallel to each other with lots of space in between.
The first team chooses a player from the other team to try and break through their line. After the child is chosen the team will shout: 'Red Rover, Red Rover ... let Johnny/Jenny/whoever come over.'
The chosen child will then run to the other team and try and break through the hands of any two children.
If the runner breaks through then they choose someone from that team to take to their team. If they don't break through then they must join that team.
The game ends when all the children are on one team.
Strategy: Break through at the weakest point and take the strongest player with you.
WHAT TIME IS IT MR WOLF?
In a nutshell: Children avoid being tagged by the Wolf.
To play, choose who will be Mr Wolf. Mr Wolf and the kids then line up at different ends of the playground. Make a line at the children's side of the play area to be 'home'.
Mr Wolf then stands with their back towards the other children. The children then ask together: 'What time is it Mr Wolf?"
Mr Wolf then answers with a time - such as: 'It's 9 o'clock'.
The kids then take that many steps towards Mr Wolf.
At anytime Mr Wolf can answer: 'Supper time!'
When the wolf answers 'supper time' Mr. Wolf turns around, chases and tags as many kids as possible before they reach their 'home'.
Whoever is tagged by Mr Wolf then also becomes a wolf and lines up with Mr Wolf to begin play again.
The last person to not be tagged wins and becomes the new wolf.
In a nutshell: Hungry shark chases shipwrecked kids as they cling to wreckage.
One child becomes the catcher – the hungry shark – and the rest of the players pretend to be shipwrecked in the sea (playground). There are bits of wreckage to cling to, but not enough for everyone.
1. First decide what to use for wreckage. Choose things like trees, bushes, drainpipes or shapes painted on the playground. Identify one piece of wreckage less than the number of shipwrecked sailors.
2. Now run away from the shark. Grab hold of a piece of wreckage so that the shark can't get you.
3. If someone else arrives at your piece of wreckage, you have to move on because only one player is allowed on each piece of wreckage at a time.
4. If you are caught you become the shark.
5. There is always someone in the water for the shark to chase and the game goes on until tea time!
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