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Playground Equipment Blog
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Blast from the Past: Classic Yard Games to Play Today

Classic games remain so for a good reason; they’re a ton of fun, require few materials, and can be modified to accommodate different group sizes. For this series, simplicity and physical activity are the names of the game, literally! Explore our list of backyard/park favorites, complete with rules, and relive your childhood favorites with your own kids.

Kick the Can


This game requires at least five participants. But, the more, the merrier!
  1. Designate one person (or team if you have a substantial showing) to be “it.” Next, place an empty can—a medium coffee can works—in the center of an open field or yard.
  2. Closing their eyes, the person who’s “it” counts to fifty while the other players run and hide. (So, it's is an ideal game for parks and outdoor spaces with lots of clever hiding spots.) At this point, essentially, a game of tag ensures, in which the person who’s “it” attempts to locate and tag each player while simultaneously keeping an eye on the can in the middle of the playing field.
  3. Players who are successfully tagged are sent to timeout or “jail,” a designated location usually within eyeline of the can. The goal of the players or teams is to kick the can before being tagged. Doing so sets all the jailbirds free.
Kick the Can is a fabulous game because it engages children and adults in lots of cardio and physical play without them really realizing it. It’s team-oriented and facilitates the development of gross motor and strategy skills. If you have a large group and want to make the game even more challenging, add more cans and obstacles to the playing field. The more dynamic elements, the more fun you’ll have!

Capture the Flag


This game features similar elements to Kick the Can but can accommodate a huge group of people, making it perfect for large family cookouts, vacations, and neighborhood meetups. Ultimately, each team seeks to capture the opposing team’s flag, which rests on the other end of the playing field. However, the “field” doesn’t have to be an open space in the traditional sense. For example, it could be on one end of a park or even a neighborhood.
  1. Designate a line separating the two territories. And place markers across the border to remind participants of the boundary.
  2. Players attempt to tag team members who’ve ventured to the other end of the playing field, in enemy territory. Once a player is tagged, they’re sent to “jail” or “limbo” and can only be released if a team member crosses into enemy territory and labels them individually.
  3. The first team to capture the other team’s flag is declared the victor.
Like with many of these classic games, the more participants, the rowdier the game. Tip: if you have a large number of participants, use some physical marker to identify teams. For example, use shirt colors, hats, or even colorful wristbands to designate groups.

Sly Fox


This game is a great one for incorporating kids of varying ability levels.
  1. Pick one child to be the “fox.” The fox faces in the opposite direction from the other kids, who stand either beside a wall or behind a line, some distance away from the fox.
  2. When the fox has his or her back turned, the children run, walk, or move to get closer to the fox. But if the fox turns around, the kids must freeze on the spot, no matter how goofy their position!
  3. If the fox catches someone moving, that child must go back to the starting spot. And the first child who tags the fox without being caught wins that round and gets to be the fox in the next game.
This one is fun, easy, requires no materials, and makes for some very silly and photogenic moments as kids try to remain frozen in awkward positions. Tip: enlist an adult to be the "judge," to make sure everyone follows the rules and gets a fair shake.

Hide and Seek


This one is so ubiquitous that it’s hardly worth explaining. However, it’s a great game to play in parks and natural areas that feature lots of magnificent trees and hiding spots. Just make sure that you’re in a safe space with designated boundaries.

Reliving Your Childhood


Just writing this list made us nostalgic for family gatherings gone by, and that perfect, secret hiding spot that always came through in a bind.

Do you have a favorite childhood yard game? Leave your comments in the space below.

Written by: Parker Jones

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