Throw an Epic Backyard Party: 37 Fun and Creative Outdoor Games for Kids
Outdoor Word Game
This party game is F-U-N! Engage kids with this challenging outdoor spelling game.
- For a 72-piece game set, purchase a 4x8-foot sheet of Masonite from a home improvement store. At the store, have it cut into 8-inch squares.
- Apply a letter to each square—you'll repeat the alphabet twice except for letters Q and X.
To play, each player gets 10 letters. The first player spells a word on the ground. The next player must build off that word. The player with the fewest letters at the end wins!
Make art outside! Turn a kiddie pool into a fun outdoor game for kids with white paper, plastic balls, and tempera paint. Tape your paper to the bottom of the pool. Dip balls in paint and drop them into the pool. Have each artist swirl the pool to create their design.
This easy relay race game can work at a birthday party of any size. We think it's most fun with four to eight players.
First, you'll need to make two pairs of shoe cups. Use a pushpin to poke holes in the bottom of plastic cups. Push a wide rubber band through the holes to create a strap.
To play, split the birthday party guests into two teams. The first player straps cups on her shoes and fills them with popped popcorn from a bag at the starting line. Then she hustles to a basket on the other end of the lawn. After she dumps out her popcorn in the baskets and races back, the next player follows suit.
The race is over when one of the bags of popcorn is empty. Measure the popcorn in the baskets to see which team got the most in.
Bubble Wrap Hopscotch
Save your bubble wrap and get hopping! Kids (and adults!) will love popping the bubbles and playing outside. Cut bubble wrap into nine rectangles. Use a permanent marker to give each a number from 1 to 9.
Put a birthday-worthy twist on tug-of-war by elevating the outdoor game for kids. Players stand on upended milk cartons placed 6 to 12 feet apart. Then have players pull or relax a rope, attempting to force their opponent off of her crate.
Silly Sack Race
Kids want to move! This fun game for kids will burn pent-up party energy and get lots of laughs along the way.
Decorate plain potato sacks with felt cutouts to suit the party theme. Use fabric glue or fusible web and an iron to adhere the shapes to the sacks.
Give each child a potato sack. Line the kids up in a grassy area. At the starting signal, have kids hop down a marked path (include a few curves to add a challenge) to the finish line. Keep the path clear to prevent injuries.
Take aim and toss! This simple party game for kids starts with a repurposed cardboard box and gets all ages into the action.
- Cut a rectangular hole on both sides of a cardboard box. You want the hole large enough to comfortably fit your Frisbee.
- Decorate the box with colorful tape, paper, or paint.
- Grab a bunch of Frisbees, and off you go!
Combine playground tag and flag football in this easy birthday party game. Let each child decorate a clothespin with markers, crafts foam, and googly eyes. Clip the decorated pin on the back of each child's shirt. When you say "go," the kids can try to snatch other clothespins without losing their own. The child with the most clothespins at the end wins that round.
Supersize tic-tac-toe is perfect for an outdoor birthday party. Flying disks and a shower curtain transform into an easy party game for kids. Use duct tape to block out squares on a shower curtain liner. Use more tape to mark which disks are Xs, or use color to divide the teams. Players stand behind a throw line and follow the rules of tic-tac-toe. If the disk lands off the board or in an occupied square, the player can throw again.
Wooden Block Stacking Game
A classic party game, this simple stacking set is perfect for older kids and small groups!
- Cut 2x4-foot boards into a total of 54 pieces that are 10 1/2-inches inches long.
- After all the pieces are cut, sand the edges of each until smooth.
- Stack the blocks in alternating directions, and you're ready!
Be careful of tiny toes—the tower will fall at the end of the game!
Pool Prize Search
On a hot summer day, the coolest party games involve water. This wet-and-wild game gives kids a great excuse to get soaked. Fill an inflatable pool ($13.18, Walmart) with water. Hide a weighted ring or other treasures on the bottom of the pool. Fill the pool with inflatable balls and toys to make it difficult to see the bottom. Have a few kids wade around the pool looking for the hidden treasure. Provide them with goggles, or make it more challenging by allowing them to only use their feet.
Editor's Tip: Add a twist by blindfolding the contestants. Have kids wade through the pool using only their feet to discover the underwater treasures. Encourage the onlookers to shout out advice. Make sure to supervise so everyone stays safe.
Star-Shape Bubble Wands
Set up a star-spangled outdoor bubble station with these easy DIY bubble wands. Simply twist wire or wire hangers into desired shapes. We love the star. Next, fill shallow baking dishes with bubble solution and get blowing!
Editor's Tip: This fun game for kids doubles as a DIY party favor. Send each guest home with a wand and a small bottle of bubble solution.
Build-Your-Own Boat Races
Create a fleet of fun sailboats with just a few simple supplies. Cut pool noodles into 13-inch sections with angled ends. Adhere two together with electrical tape. Create a mast and sail with a wooden skewer and a triangle of washi tape. Insert the ship's mast and sail between the pieces of tape. During a summer pool party, have each child sail their boat and see which goes the farthest.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Bugs and bark, pinecones and pebbles, dandelions and dried leaves—kids adore the wonders found in the great outdoors. Set your child's birthday party outdoors, and organize a scavenger hunt. Arm each child or team with a list and a treasure box or bag. Offer tools such as binoculars, magnifying glasses, and disposable cameras ($15.38, Walmart) to inspire close observation. Set a time limit, and let them explore. Display the kids' finds for the remainder of the party. Offer prizes for completing the list and finding unique or difficult items, or let the children select other award categories.
Pickup Bottle Game
Bring the carnival home! This classic game is perfect for small-space areas like a patio.
- First, fill two empty bottles with colored sand, available at most crafts stores. Next, tie a ring with a string long enough to reach the ground. Attach the other end of the string to a wooden dowel.
- Layout hula hoops and place a bottle on its side in the center of each one.
- The game is over when someone can stand the bottle up.
Sweet Scavenger Hunt
The hunt is on during this outdoor game for kids! Ahead of party time, hide small toys and objects for kids to find. Arm each child with a galvanized pail and let them start searching. The first child to find 10 items wins (and gets to keep their prizes!).
Water Balloon Toss
It's time to take aim! This competitive outdoor game for kids is perfect for teams of two. To play, give each child a bucket of filled water balloons. Set out hula hoops and assign each a number of points. Let players take turns tossing the balloons and see who can make the most shots. The player with the highest score wins!
A rowdy game of rocket toss is easy and inexpensive to put together. Use colorful duct tape to decorate 15-ounce metal cans. Fill three small socks with about 1/2 cup of rice, and tie the top with a ribbon. This will be the "rocket" that kids can toss at the cans. Give each birthday party guest three tries to knock down all the cans.
Don't throw away those empty bleach bottles—transform them into an outdoor catching game for kids!
- Cut the end off a cleaned bleach bottle and remove the label.
- Wrap the bottle with colorful washi tape, and you're ready to play catch!
Make a mazelike pathway through fallen leaves, and birthday party attendees can race through it. Rake a curving path through fallen leaves. No leaves in sight? Use rope or grass clippings and sticks to form the maze. Have kids race together through the maze, or use a stopwatch to time each child.
Water Gun Game
Make a splash at your child's summer birthday party with a fun water game. For each team, string a plastic bucket on a length of clothesline; make the lines the same length to be fair. With the buckets at one end of the clothesline, arm each team with a hose or large squirt guns. Using only water, the teams must race to move their bucket to the other end of the line.
Editor's Tip: Make this fun game for kids even wilder. Arm a team with water balloons to use as obstacles and distractions while the other team tries to push its bucket across the finish line.
Foam Racket Game
Little ones will enjoy this fun twist on badminton. Use homemade foam rackets to keep the colorful balloon off the ground.
- Cover paint stirrers or rulers with tape.
- Cut crafts foam into desired shapes—ours are about 8-inches across.
- Tape foam circles to handles.
- Blow up a balloon and go!
Flower Tic-Tac-Toe Game
Nature is calling for a game of tic-tac-toe. Set up simple tic-tac-toe boards on your lawn with small twigs or wooden dowels. Provide flower heads from your garden, or let children explore your yard for flower heads, stones, leaves, or other bits of nature to use as game pieces.
Outdoor Checkerboard Game
You may not have a built-in checkerboard in your backyard, but it's easy to set one up for a birthday party. Cut large squares from sturdy poster board, and tack them to the ground in a checkerboard pattern. Use plant stakes or other stakes with rounded tops for safety. Or chalk up your driveway to create the board. Make big beanbags or use two colors of Frisbee disks for the checkers. Have kids take turns moving their pieces across the board. Set up teams to involve everyone in the fun.
Editor's Tip: You can also use large square flooring tiles to make the board. Inexpensive tiles are available at home improvement stores.
Tag, you're it! Keep kids entertained with an evening birthday party game of flashlight tag.
- At dusk, find a safe place for kids to run around.
- Give each child a flashlight—we added a ribbon necktie to each for easy access.
- Allow the kids to tag each other by turning their flashlights on and off.
Wild Wheels Obstacle Course
On-the-go kids will love wheeling and squealing on this obstacle course. Ask each child to bring his or her favorite set of wheels. It's a good idea to have a few extra vehicles available. To create the course, arrange orange cones or other soft items in your yard or a nearby park. Include curves, turns, and small hills, depending on the ages and abilities of your racers. Fuel the kids' excitement by timing each racer as he or she pedals to the finish line. To make the course more challenging, set up stations along the way where children must stop to perform a task, such as blowing bubbles.
Pumpkins aren't just for the porch! Make the most of the season's harvest with this easy outdoor game of tic-tac-toe.
- Spread a layer of hay in a square.
- Lay sticks to form the tic-tac-toe board.
- Set out a total of 10 pumpkins: five white and five orange.
Who's the fastest of them all? Set up an outdoor course and find out! This birthday party game couldn't be easier—simply set up numbered cones, and it's off to the races.
Beat the summer heat with this cool kids birthday party game. Blocks of ice become the base for this pretty painted game. Simply drip washable tempera paint onto frozen ice shapes and get melting! As the ice melts, it will create cool paint designs.
Pumpkin Ball Toss
Got leftover jack-o'-lanterns? Put them to good use with our pumpkin toss game!
- Stack hay bales in a two-tier square.
- Place pumpkins on each level. We used cardstock to create point labels for each.
- Get a tennis ball and start tossing!
Oversize Pickup Sticks
An old-fashioned favorite, pickup sticks gets a gigantic twist when the sticks are as big as the kids.
Start with 30 wooden dowels; 1/2-inch-diameter dowels in a standard length, such as 48 inches, work well. Paint the ends with bright colors: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple, for example.
To start the game, drop the sticks on the ground in a big messy pile, and let the kids take turns picking up a stick. If a stick other than the one the child is removing wiggles, the child must return the stick and forgo his or her turn. At the end, the player with the most sticks wins.
Editor's Tip: Add a challenge to the game by assigning each player a color. The first player to successfully remove all the sticks of the assigned color wins the party game.
Outdoor Dice Game
All it takes is a few dice to get the party started! You can make these outdoor dice with wood, but we chose small cardboard boxes—perfect for younger children.
- Paint one small cardboard box white and one black.
- After the paint has dried, decorate each with the opposite color. For a six-sided dice, opposite faces are arranged to always add up to seven.