Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Whew. We’ve made it through the time change (can we just get rid of Daylight Saving Time already?) and spring is officially on its way, which means two things for dads: March Madness is in full swing, and it’s still light enough at the end of the day to get outside and run off some energy with the kids after work.

Honestly, we could all use the fresh air and endorphins after a long, cold winter. And sure, you can always kick a ball around together, or shoot some hoops, or even try one of these great ideas for a nature scavenger hunt—ultimately, your kids won’t care what you do as long as they get to spend quality time with you.

RELATED: 10 Ways Dads Can Give Mom a Break When You’re Stuck Inside

But if you’re looking to try something new and different, it’s fun to introduce them to some of the games you played when you were their age and roamed the neighborhood with your pack of friends. Who can forget the thrill of getting called over during a game of Red Rover or sneaking past the guard in Capture the Flag to break your teammate out of jail?

Ah, those were the days.

Without further ado, here are 8 classic outdoor games from your childhood that you can play with your own kids. They can be easily adapted to appeal to any age and ability level, and you can always change or make up your own rules to fit your needs.

Just one piece of advice before you start: make sure all players are on the same page so you avoid hissy fits or meltdowns. Trust us on this one!

Red Light, Green Light. One person is the designated traffic cop. All remaining players stand on the starting line, with the traffic cop’s back turned to them. When the traffic cop says “Green light!” players try to run to the finish line. When the traffic cop says “Red light!” the other players have to stop before the cop turns around and catches them. The first player to pass the finish line wins and becomes the traffic cop.

Red Rover. This is a fun call and response game that uses teamwork and strategy, but absolutely zero equipment. The only downside is that it tends to be more fun with bigger groups, so you might need to recruit some neighborhood friends to join.

To play, everyone is divided up into two groups who stand in parallel lines facing each other, with each line holding hands. One line decides on one person they would like sent over and yells, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jenny over!” The designated person, Jenny, runs at the line trying to break through the arms of two players. If she can’t break the line, she must join the opposing team. If she can, she can go back to her own team and bring a player from the opposing team with her.

Hopscotch. A classic that’s easy to pick up and can be played solo if necessary. Use some sidewalk chalk to make a hopscotch grid, similar to the picture below. Number the squares from 1 to 10 and pick a small object that is good for tossing—this could be a rock, a bean bag, or a small toy. Start by tossing it onto Square 1. Jump over it and hop with a single foot or both feet depending on the hopscotch pattern all the way down to the end of the grid. Turn around and come back, stopping on Square 2. Balancing on one foot, pick up the marker in Square 1 and hop over Square 1 to the start. Continue this pattern with Square 2. And so on. If you toss your rock and miss the correct square, your turn is over.

Fun side note: Did you know that a man named Ashrita Furman holds the Guinness World Record for completing the fastest game of hopscotch, coming in at 68 seconds? 

Sergey Hramov / Shutterstock.com

Monkey in the Middle. This one’s pretty simple—no points, no one wins, you just have to keep away! You only need 3 players, so it shouldn’t be hard to get a game going. Not to mention, it will definitely get your heart rate pumping! The objective is to try to keep the ball away from one person while throwing it back and forth with the other participants. If the person in the middle manages to get the ball, whoever threw it is now the monkey in the middle. Try to be fair and avoid picking on people by making sure everyone takes a turn being the monkey.

Capture the Flag. A childhood favorite that even adults can enjoy, this game is largely about strategy. There are several different variations and it’s important to make sure ground rules are established before play begins. Participants are split into two teams, and each has a designated flag at their base. The object of the game is to run into the other team’s territory, capture their flag, and make it safely back to your own territory. You can tag “enemy” players in your territory, sending them to your jail. They can be sprung from jail by a member of their own team running into your territory, tagging them, and running back. It’s important to decide how to utilize each team member: Who will guard your team’s flag? Who will make the attempts to steal it? You must carefully plan your modes of attack and work together to win.

Duck, Duck, Goose. A classic that has been played for generations and involves a lot of running (read: wears them out faster!). Everyone sits in a circle, while one person is designated as the tagger. The tagger walks around the outside of the circle touching each player’s head and says either “Duck” or “Goose.” If they say “Duck,” things continue as is. If they say “Goose,” the person tagged must try to catch the tagger before they get back to the tagged person’s spot and sit down. If the tagger makes it, the tagged person becomes it. If he doesn’t, he’s out.

Hide and Seek. Straight forward, easy-to-learn, and no equipment needed. The real challenge is finding an area to play with ample good hiding spots. Someone is designated as the seeker. He or she must count to a designated number with their eyes closed while everyone else runs off to find hiding places. Once the seeker has finished counting, he or she yells, “Ready or not, here I come!” At this point, they must try to find all of the other players who have hidden. The first player found becomes the next seeker.

Air Images / Shutterstock.com

You can jazz this one up a little by playing a few different variations. Try adding a home base that the hiders must get back to without being tagged. Or play Sardines, which is just like Hide and Seek, but in reverse! This is where one person hides and everyone else must find them, but rather than tag them, they join them in the hiding place until there’s only one person left trying to find all the others “sardined” together in the same spot.

Tag. Really need your kids to sleep well tonight? Tag’s your game. One person is “it” and runs after the other players trying to tag them. Whoever gets tagged becomes “it.” If the traditional version isn’t exciting enough, try a variation like Freeze Tag or check out one of these fun and unusual ways to play.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like:
20 Easy Ways For Dads to Spend Quality Time With Their Daughters

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

His View From Home

Real stories for real men. We're His View From Home.

My Dad Showed Me the Greatest Lessons Are Taught Through Example

In: Fatherhood
grandpa holding donut box with grandson

Waiting at the window, I arranged the blue ruffles on my brand new dress and flipped my hair around to look just right. It was a night to be fancy. It was my first date. My face was flushed as I looked forward to the night ahead. I knew it was a big deal to be taken out and I would get special treatment. I would pick the restaurant and maybe we would have some ice cream and walk around downtown before the sun went down. After that, I was pretty sure we could go to the store and that...

Keep Reading

It Doesn’t Matter How Old I Am—I’ll Always Need My Daddy

In: Fatherhood, Grown Children, Living
Vintage photo of little girl on bike with her dad

I have always been a Daddy’s girl, much to my mom’s frustration.  She always said my dad and I were wired the same, and that’s why it’s always just “worked.” Sure, we have had our struggles and frustrations—when two people think almost the exact same way, certainly there will be battles. But my dad has always had my back, without fail.   Whether he had to question a school decision or staff my senior class retreat (yes, my dad is featured in my high school yearbook), I knew he would be there. He thought he would lose me someday, that having...

Keep Reading

I’m Just a Little Boy, but Daddy You’re Teaching Me How to Be a Man

In: Fatherhood, Marriage
Daddy on the floor playing with son, color photo

I’m only a little boy, still too young to tie my own shoes or make my own breakfast. My days are filled with playtime, snacks, lots of hugs from Mommy, and plenty of tickles from you, Daddy. Right now, my life revolves around me and you and Mommy. I don’t know much about the world outside our home yet. I haven’t learned about responsibility or self-discipline or sacrifice. I haven’t had to find my place in the world yet. But I guess I’m pretty lucky because even though you may not know it, you’ve already begun teaching me everything I...

Keep Reading

You’re the Father You Never Had and I’m So Proud of You

In: Fatherhood, Marriage
Dad and kids walking on beach

Can I tell you about my husband? He’s amazing. He’s kind and doting and loves Jesus, but perhaps his most endearing trait is the absolutely incredible father he is.  In our early days of dating, he was crippled by the fear of what type of father he would be. To him, fatherhood was burdensome, grumbling, abandonment, and fighting for the final dollar during tax season. His experience as a son crippled his anticipation as a father.  But I knew it all along—what an incredible dad he would be. Although I must admit, he has often far surpassed what I even...

Keep Reading

To the Stay At Home Mom From Your Husband: I See You

In: Fatherhood, Marriage

To the woman who sacrificed her comfort zone—leaving her family, friends, and everything she’d ever known—to follow her new husband across the country for his job: I see you. To the wife who pours herself into making a house her home, only to have to move again: I see you. To the wife who put her career, education, and personal pursuits on hold for the sake of her family: I see you. To the mom who went through pain and misery for nine months, only to have motherhood turn out to be nothing like she’d dreamed and longed for it...

Keep Reading

I Struggled With My Son’s Diagnosis, But Found Hope in the Special Needs Community

In: Fatherhood, Tough Times

When I found out I was going to be a father I was beyond excited. My wife and I had been trying to conceive for years before she got pregnant. So, when she told me I was going to be a father I wanted to shout it to the rooftops! I made sure to call my wife every day at work to make sure she ate lunch. I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of her. We later found out that we were having a boy, and started to plan everything. We started to paint the baby room with blues...

Keep Reading

My Son is Growing Up, But I’ll Hold On To the Pictures Forever

In: Fatherhood

A certain part of my heart longs for these moments to never change. I look back on pictures like this one, where my oldest son tastes the salty breeze on his lips for the first time, feeling the sand underneath his toes and laughing out loud at this wholly new experience. I look back and want to freeze it, but in something more than a single picture, more solid than a flimsy memory, more lifelike in substance than what a camera can fashion. RELATED: Stay With Me a Little Longer, Daddy Because that little person who could not stand without...

Keep Reading

I Want My Sons to See How Important It is to Cover Your Wife

In: Fatherhood, Marriage

Transparent moment—I did not always do the best job of covering my wife. Early in our marriage, I was often guilty of being selfish. Our first of four childbirths had contentious moments. From the whistle I jokingly wore on our first trip to the hospital while she was in labor, to me telling her in the midst of her frustration that if we didn’t have the baby that night, she could decide if she’d go into work the next day—I’m not proud of the way I handled some of the challenges. RELATED: 5 Ways To Love Your Wife After the...

Keep Reading

Dads: Your Kids Love Doing Things Because They Get to Do Them With You

In: Fatherhood

This piece was co-written with the author’s husband, Nathan Glenn. I remember my husband taking our daughter golfing for the first time and wondering if she’d enjoy it like he did. He’d dress our kids up in Pittsburgh gear, hoping they’d love the Steelers and Pirates and Penguins as much as he does. When we imagined our someday kids, he hoped he’d have someone that would want to play catch with him and go sit on the banks for hours fishing. Now here we are over a decade into this parenting three thing, and our oldest has her own clubs...

Keep Reading

This British Dad’s Parody of Orlando Bloom’s Daily Routine Has Us Cracking Up

In: Fatherhood

Two men on the same parenting journey see things a bit differently. Read to the end for this British dad’s hilarious take on what it’s like to be a father if you’re not a famous A-list celebrity. Ever since his cinematic debut as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings film series, celebrity actor Orlando Bloom has been capturing hearts around the world. Let’s be honest, we all know why our wives were so excited when Pirates of the Caribbean hit theatres. Outside of fantasy, there’s not much that makes Mr. Bloom relatable to the average Joe. However, parenthood tends...

Keep Reading