Most parents worry about children spending too much time cooped up indoors plugged into their devices, especially through the summer holidays. But once children are outdoors and racing around with friends and siblings they’ll feel happier and be healthier.
We’ve come up with some taster suggestions for persuasive ways to tempt your kids outside, whether into your garden or the local park, every day, all summer long. Some don’t cost a penny, while there might be some initial outlay for other ideas but you’ll be rewarded with easy entertainment for weeks.
Fun outdoor games to try this summer...
1. The frozen T-shirt game
Find some old T-shirts (the bigger the better), one for each player. Soak them in water and wring out. Fold the T-shirts neatly into as small a square as you can, pressing out the water. Place each T-shirt in a freezer bag and into the freezer overnight or as long as you need. On game day, the winner is the child who gets their T-shirt on first. Cue a lot of laughs and an easy way to cool off.
2. Water balloon dodgeball
Fill a stack of balloons with water and let mayhem ensue. (Depending on your children’s ages, you may want to make a ‘no faces’ rule.)
3. Ladder ball
Retrieve a step ladder from the shed or garage and set it up in the garden. Compete to throw tennis balls between the different rungs for points. The lowest step could be 5 points, the highest 50.
4. Glow sticks Capture The Flag
This is a great game to play in a large group, upping the fun by running around in the dark. (The winning combination of sneaky manoeuvres, teaming up and running like crazy appeals to even the most desperate-to-be-cool teenagers.) You will need at least two glow sticks of different colours as flags and glow bracelets in two separate colours, one for each member of the two opposing teams.
You can see full instructions for how to play here. Divide into two teams, get your glow on by attaching team wrist bands, hiding the glow stick flags and activating your glow bracelets when you’re ready to play. (No hiding arms under clothing.) The first team to capture the other team’s glow stick flag wins.
5. Giant Jenga
Pulling the blocks away without making the castle collapse is so much more exciting when the tower is up to 5ft tall!
6. Rounders and relay races
Ramp up the fun at big family get-togethers or outdoor picnics with a classic game of rounders. Kits with four coloured bases, the bat, ball and carry bag can be bought cheaply, or simply use piles of clothing.
Relay races have endless possibilities - egg and spoon, three-legged, fancy dress changeovers - and are perfect for big groups.
7. Boules and croquet
For a calmer, more considered outdoor family game, boules (when you aim to hit the small ball with your big balls) or croquet are both winners and easily transportable to your local park. You’ll be surprised at how competitive you all become.
For little ones, it’s well worth investing in a sand pit (the ones on legs with a cover minimise sand spillage) and a paddling pool (the no-inflate hard plastic sided ones are easier to set up and store) if you’re lucky enough to have garden space. For older active children, a swing ball set, trampoline or water slide are all great investments for keeping kids active and outdoors.
Enjoy the summer!