Five Backyard Games the Kids Love


It’s not always convenient to get the kids to the park, and most kids already get too much television and video game time. But the backyard is almost always accessible. Classic kids’ games teach kids to get along, take turns, cooperate and can sometimes give caregivers a short break while they sit by and watch. These classics will keep kids moving and healthy even when you don’t have time to drive them to the playground.

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Perfect for little kids, this one still pleases kids of all ages. One player is designated “It” and walks around the other children sitting in a circle. The player taps players’ heads and saying “duck” or “goose” each time. Most players will repeat “duck” several times before dubbing a player “goose.” When “goose” is called, it’s time for the case. The “goose” player jumps up and chases after the original player. The “goose” must tag the player before he can take the “goose’s” place in the circle. If he succeeds, the player remains “It.” If he fails, the “goose” becomes “it.”

Honey, Do You Love Me?

Less familiar but just as much fun, in this game, players form a circle around one person designated as “It.” The designated person walks up to someone in the circle and asks, “Honey, do you love me?” The player must respond, without smiling, “Honey, I love you but I just can’t smile.” If the player smiles while answering, he becomes “It” and enters the circle. If a player successfully answers without smiling, the center player must try another player. While touching is not allowed, any sort of silly faces and voice changes are allowed in trying to get a smile.

Red Light/Green Light

In case you are unfamiliar, this is a game based on traffic rules. The parent or nanny needed for playing this game with small children is the “traffic light.” Stand facing away from the kids while they form a horizontal line about 15 feet away. The game begins when you call out, “Green light!”

There’s usually a lot of giggling as the children begin forward toward you. The objective is to tag you. At any point, you can call, “Red light!” and spin around. Advancing kids must freeze. Any kids caught still moving are out of the game. Keep playing until someone tags you or only one player is left.

Four Square

A square with four equal quadrants is drawn on the playground surface. Many playgrounds already have an area to play this game, but chalk on pavement works just as well. In this classic game, a player stands in each quadrant, or smaller square, while the rest form a line outside the playing area. One of the four players, the server, begins play by bouncing the ball in his own square once and then bouncing it into another player’s square. The receiving player allows the ball to bounce only once in his square before catching it and bouncing it into another player’s square. The ball must bounce no more than once in each square, but receiving players may catch the ball even before it bounces into their squares. A player is “out” if the ball bounces more than once in his square, or if it bounces outside the boundary of the square he tries to bounce it into. When three of the four players are out, three new players join the game.

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