Tag Archives: summer party games

Bocce Ball

Backyard Games

Bocce BallThere’s a whole host of backyard games you can string together for an afternoon of competitive fun on a nice summer day. Thanks to kyssfm.com for their post reminding me of some of these games. Set a bunch of these up in your backyard or in the park and have the kids circulate between the different activities, with snack and drink stops in between.

You can purchase a bocce ball game set for under $30 at Amazon, as of this date. It’s a deceptively simple game that can be played almost anywhere on grass, and it’s one most kids are probably not familiar with giving it that special appeal of something new.

Buy 4 colors of spray paint and put your twister board right on the grass– no moving plastic sheet to contend with when the game is played!

Badminton is great fun and with kids more than 4 can play at a time if you want. If the kids are older, use the net for volleyball instead or in addition.

Set up a croquet course for two kids at a time. Jarts and horseshoes are other options. Create a target with spray paint rings with different point counts for a frisbee contest where they get points for landing the frisbee inside the rings, more points the closer in to the target.

These fairly old-fashioned games have been around for a long time because they’re fun and kids enjoy them, and theres no reason they can’t work their magic as party games for a fun time outdoors in the sun.


Backyard Golf

GolfLet them test their aim in a summer’s afternoon backyard golf game. You can buy the game for about $20 (as of this writing) at Party City, or create your own, provided you can borrow a few kiddie golf clubs.  If not, consider making it backyard croquet with watchful eyes to insure those substantial croquet mallets don’t get swung around in a dangerous manner. Use wiffle or tennis balls for the game.

Targets can be wire wickets (as in croquet) decorated with party theme clip art. Set up a starting line with duct tape on the grass and have several targets at different distances from the start. You can also make circles with spray paint on the grass around the wickets, denoting different point counts.

Set up two identical targets and the game can be played as a team game, one from each team going at it at a time. Play it once, move the starting line further away, and play again for cumulative points for each team.

Backyard golf is easy to set up and perfect for a summers day.

Feed Me Game

Carnival Ball-In-The-Hole Game

Feed Me GameHere’s a ‘Thank You’ to Mansi over at the Experimenting Mom blog for showing us all how to easily make this old-time favorite carnival game. It’s a great addition to a summer outdoor birthday party as well as, perhaps, your contribution to the next school or church fair.

This clown is drawn on cardboard but you might want to use foam board for it’s rigidity and ability to stand up to a bit of abuse from the kids. While the Experimenting Mom is a graphic designer, you can see how easily even those of use that are artistically challenged can copy these blocks of color with markers or paints to make an acceptable graphic. Remember, your audience here is a bunch of kids, not the local art review board.

If a clown doesn’t exactly fit your theme, go on line for clip art that does reflect your theme and choose something to copy that is similarly simple; if it’s comprised of simple shapes and strong colors (not nuanced) it’s much easier to copy.

Cut your game holes into the cardboard or foam board. If your chosen subject has no mouth, just put the holes outside the image on the board- you can even have more than one with different point values. Cut down and then tape kitchen sized garbage bags to the backs of the holes to catch the balls. Use inexpensive ping pong balls (you can usually get them at the supermarket) for the kids to try to toss into the holes. As ping pong balls don’t have much ‘heft’, Put something in the bags like a plastic container so the bag is open and the balls can get in easily.

Prop your game board up on your easel or just lean it against a tree or the garage door, lifted up off the ground by sitting it on a table. Give each child 3 to 5 balls for their turn. Have extras as they can easily disappear when the kids miss.

You needn’t be an artist to pull off this home-made carnival-style game board, and it’s just as much fun outside in the yard on a beautiful summer day as it is at the church or school fair.

Jump Rope

Jump Rope Games

Jump RopeA blast from the past in our series about summer party games. And I’d bet a fair amount of money that few of today’s kids have actually done much jump roping, so it will feel new and different to them even though it’s all as old as the hills.

While researching this topic, I just learned somewhere that jump rope used to be primarily a boy’s activity, but I’d recommend using it for a girls party in today’s world.

You can undoubtedly pick up inexpensive jump ropes for all your party guests at your local toy store. Everybody can use their individual jump rope to warm up for your bigger jump rope activities, and take them home as your party favor.

These jump ropes can also be used in a jump rope relay game. Set up a backyard relay course using garden hose or duct tape for the two ends of the course.  Divide your group into two or more teams of 4 or more kids. You do need the same number on each team, but one person can go twice if necessary to make things even. On go, one from each team takes off jumping their rope down the field, passes their jump rope to a teammate at the far end, etc. relay style.

Use a big long rope for other group games. If your group are experienced jumpers, they can try their hand (feet?) at double dutch- two ropes required. If that’s too advanced, there are several easier games the group can play that involve kids jumping in and out of the rope.

Invest a few bucks in a Chinese jump rope and give the kids a whole new and different experience. Check out some of the moves you can demonstrate to them (or show them on your laptop) in this YouTube video, and the related videos available there.

Pair these energetic, and probably pretty sweaty, jump rope games with a pool or sprinkler cool off, popsicles or ice cream treats, and you’ve got the making of fun, old fashioned backyard party for your summer birthday girl.


Wheeled Obstacle Course

Tricycle#4 in our series on summer outdoor party games. So simple to do, such fun for the kids, I really don’t know why it’s not done more often. This is for the young ones in preschool or early elementary school (age 6 to 8). Bigger kids will make this too competitive and hence too much risk of physical danger and injury.

Include in your invitation for your guests to all bring their favorite set of wheels, AND their helmet. Just to be safe, have a few extras on hand for the forgetful ones. Wheels can be bikes, trikes, roller skates/blades, scooters- it just doesn’t matter what they bring.

Your job is to set up a somewhat challenging and fun obstacle course for the kids to wheel around. A soft surface like grass is preferable to concrete to keep everybody as safe as possible. Use your backyard or the park and semi-soft cones or other markers to delineate the course. Helium filled balloons that float, anchored in the ground with ‘staples’ (made from cut wire coat hangers), can also be used to mark out your obstacle course.

Include curves, sharp turns, hills if possible,  and tight squeezes in your course to make it appropriately challenging for the age of the kids. You can add interest by having ‘stations’ along the way where the racers have to perform a task like make a basket, twirl a hula hoop, blow bubbles, whatever. You can time each child to give them all a sense of accomplishment.

Use your course markers to set up a wide enough race course that they can all race against each other if or when the obstacle course plays itself out with the kids. Then, have them put their wheels aside and race that course on their feet, backwards!

Lots of energy will get spent with this obstacle course on their wheels, and everybody will have fun doing it.


Summer Outdoor Party Games – 3

BubblesDo some extraordinary things with bubbles to entertain your party guests this summer. All kids LOVE bubbles, so you know this activity will be a hit. Check out the YouTube video from Steve  Spangler Science and you’ll see how easy this is to pull off.

Get out that old kiddie pool, your dish liquid (Dawn was the brand used in the video) and a hula hoop, a funnel, plastic straws, chicken wire or a coarse mesh screen and if you can get your hands on it, plastic pipettes. I certainly didn’t know that the bubble solution will work better if left to sit overnight, so make it up ahead of time.

Let the kids play and blow bubbles with the items you’ve given them. The small end of the funnel gets dipped in the bubble solution, blow through the big end. After they’ve played themselves for a while, amaze them with the hula hoop trick and put the birthday child inside that bubble. Let them try, too.

Then show them some more bubble tricks. Wet your hands wet with bubble solution and then you can hold bubbles in your hands. Let them try it. Wet the end of a straw with solution and you can then insert it into another bubble and even blow a bubble inside that bubble. These cool ideas come from littleshop.physics.colostate.edu as does the suggestion to add glycerin to the bubble solution to make thicker walled, sturdier and more colorful bubbles when they reflect bright light. Check it out!

Bubbles are always a hit and it becomes a group activity suitable for a party when everyone is using the bubble solution in the baby pool and doing these cool ‘new’ things when they make their bubbles. And the hose-down when the bubbles have played out is the perfect ending to a warm, fun-filled summer afternoon.



Sardines on a Summer Night

SardinesThird in the Summer Outdoor Party Games series of posts. This is a particularly good game for the early hours of a summer slumber party, when they’re still full of energy and running around, but it’s gotten dark.

Sardines is a variation on the Hide and Seek theme, and great fun for the kids. WikiHow reminded me of the game, but I strongly advise playing it after dark, outside, with party kids old enough to be running around outside, after dark. That probably limits the game to kids 9 years old and up, maybe 8. They need to be able to understand and to comply with the boundaries you set for playing the game, which need to be set to insure everyone’s safety. If those boundaries extend beyond your own yard, it’s also probably a good idea to clue your neighbors in that the kids will running around.

Put in your invitation to have everybody bring a flashlight– labeled with their name. They’ll have fun playing with the flashlights aside from playing this game.

To play sardines, gather your group together and choose one person to go away from the group and hide somewhere within your boundaries. The obvious choice for this is the birthday child. Have the group count SLOWLY to 50 to give the hider time to find a great spot. Then, turn them loose with their flashlights to try to find the hider.

Now here’s the twist to this game. Everyone who finds the hider quietly gets in the hiding place with the hider. As you can see, it’s best to have a  nice big area for the game so it’s not too easy and the hiders aren’t too obvious. Play continues until only one person is left seeking- that person becomes the next hider.

Sardines in the dark with flashlights can easily morph into other games that the kids will play, making your job that much easier. When the game(s) have played themselves out, gather everybody back together for s’mores or another treat and begin the wind down process. Sardines is a great game to run off some of that energy so they CAN eventually wind down and maybe even get some sleep at your slumber party. And if not a sleepover, it’s still just plain good fun for a summer evening’s outdoor birthday party.


Summer Outdoor Party Games – 2

GhostSummer=Summer Camp=Ghost Stories around the campfire: perfect for a summer slumber party. We even did this in the dead of winter indoors for a summer camp party and it was a big hit with the girls.

It needs to be dark for ghost stories to be sufficiently effective. A good time for this activity is when you’re beginning to get them settled down for the night and the physical, running around part of the slumber party is over.

Instruct your invitees to bring a 2 to 3 minute ghost story with them to the party– it can be either written down to be read or they know it and can recite it. Depending on the size of your party, divide the kids into groups of 3 to 5 kids, separated by some distance so they can’t hear each other. Each child will deliver their story to the small group- 5 kids, 3 minutes each, that’s probably 20 minutes.

The small groups will vote which story is the ‘best’, and that representative of each small group will deliver their story to the whole party group – around your campfire if you’ve got one going. If you’ve got a fire pit, great. If you’re somewhere where you can make a campfire, great. If neither, no matter. Don’t forget the s’mores!!

Not too sure how well this activity will go down with boys, but you moms of boys will know. Upper elementary school aged girls, age 9 to 10, and middle school preteens are developmentally ready for this challenge.

This activity has worked forever at summer camps and it will delight your slumber party guests too.

Super Soaker

Summer Outdoor Party Games – 1

Super SoakerYesterdays’ 80+ degrees here (finally!) got me thinking about fun outdoor games for summer birthday parties. And, of course, warm weather lets kids have great fun with water play.

What could be better that soaking each other with water cannons? A game that lets them shoot those water cannons! If it’s in your budget, buy a SuperSoaker as an ‘early’  (i.e. pre-party) present and buy a second one for the party. They run about $20, but having two on hand all summer long will give your birthday boy (or girl) fun all summer long with friends.

You’ll also need two inexpensive beach balls for the party game. Set up two opposing goals using those orange cones or trash cans or patio chairs. Choose the distance between the goals based on the age of the kids- the older they are, the further apart the goals can be. Load up the water cannons and place one player with a Super Soaker and beach ball in front of each goal.

On go, the kids use their water cannons to drive their beach ball through the opposing goals, all while preventing their opponents beach ball from scoring a goal. Again, depending on the age of the kids, you can say no hands (except on the water guns), and/or no feet.

The winner takes on another party guest, but only twice so everyone gets to play.

It would probably be a good idea to have some inexpensive small water pistols for the kids to play with while they wait their turns. These can easily be your take-home party favor too. Also have some old towels on hand for drying off; you KNOW they’ll be squirting each other, and that’s part of the fun.

‘Tis the season, so we’ll be looking for ideas for fun outdoor, sometimes wet, party games.

Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk Chalk

SidewalkChalkRemember the magic when Jane, Michael, Bert and Mary Poppins all jump through Bert’s wonderful sidewalk drawings? And after their adventure in the country, the rain washed all the drawings away.

Jane Lake’s blog post not only beautifully evokes the magic and transience of childhood, as witnessed by activities like sidewalk drawing, but provides a recipe for homemade sidewalk chalk.

You can certainly purchase big buckets of sidewalk chalk, for not a lot of money, but what a great kids activity to do together with your child some rainy or lazy day. Quality time together that teaches the joy of doing something for others, in this case to give as a birthday gift. It’s a win-win.

Purchased or home-made, sidewalk chalk makes a simple gift that bestows the simple pleasure of creativity… another win.

If you do choose to make the chalk as per the recipe given in the post, be sure to make enough to give that gift of creativity to your own child as well.