Want to bring something new to your outdoor play while maintaining good social distancing practices? These six ideas will help you have fun while getting outdoors and allowing children to play hands-free (or with their own equipment) and staying several feet apart! And many of the games use simple Hula-Hoops, which you can pick up at the dollar store. (Bonus: You can find more ideas to keep your family entertained and connected each day on our daily blog.)
1. Hula-Hoop Long Jump
Get three Hula-Hoops and spread them a few feet (or more) apart. They can be in a single line or in a variety of directions. Players try to jump across all three hoops without stopping, like long jumpers would. If they make it, spread the hoops farther apart (they can be moved with their feet if needed). ;)
Or, place the hoops in a circle and come up with new tricks for jumping in between them.
A variation for older kids could be playing this like “H-O-R-S-E” in basketball, where one player does a cool trick across the hoops and the next person has to mimic it. If they can’t complete the tricks, they get a letter. Be the last person to spell “H-O-R-S-E” to win.
2. Obstacle Course Jar
Set up five or more pairs of cones (or use shoes or rocks or whatever is handy). Come up with silly or challenging ways to get from one pair of cones to the next. You can download a list of ideas to cut out. For example, doing heel clicks forward, crab walking backward, hopping on one leg, doing a popular dance move, or trying to pat their head while rubbing their tummy. Each round, pull out a paper strip for each section in the obstacle course and have players race to see who can complete it first. Whoever wins gets to choose the requirement for one section in the next obstacle course while the other requirements are pulled from the jar (by a designated person if needed). ;)
3. Circle of Friends Tag (a Twist on Friendship Tag).
Normally in friendship tag, two people link arms and one person has to leave to be chased as soon as the person currently being chased links arms with his partner. In this version, the Hula-Hoop represents the partner. As soon as someone being chased approaches the Hula-Hoop (several feet away), the person inside it has to leave the circle and is now being chased. Spread the hoops far apart to cover more ground.
4. Paper Airplane Golf
Set out a Hula-Hoop for each person, or designate a spot and mark it with a rock. Have everyone make a paper airplane with their best engineering skills. Then have players fly their airplane and try to have it land inside their Hula-Hoop hole. Count how many throws it takes to reach their target. Or, to simplify it, play where whoever’s plane is farthest from their target each time gets a point, and as with golf the lowest score wins.
5. A Swinging Target
When kids want to practice football or play Frisbee but don’t have anyone to throw to, use the swings for target practice! Try to throw the ball or Frisbee between the two chains on a swing to score a point. If you have multiple players, have everyone choose their own ball or Frisbee, and set out five rocks spread out in various locations. The first person to make it through the chains from all five stations wins.
6. Nature Word Scramble
If you want something slightly educational combined with outdoor play, try a natureword game. Write down the letters in the alphabet on cardstock (or print out our free download) with letters about the size of a sticky note and spread apart Print five sheets. Place the sheets spread out across the park or yard. Take turns being the leader. When you’re the leader, think of a five-letter word. Cover up one letter of the word with a sticky note on the various sheets of cardstock. Then have everyone else run to find out which letters are used in the word (heading in different directions), unscramble them, and be the first person to return to the leader and say what word they’re thinking of. The first person with the correct answer gets to be the leader in the next round. Not only does this activity help with word association, but it’s also great memorization practice since they have to remember the letters from all five spots.
Share your favorite outdoor games in the comments below to help other parents bring outdoor play to their family!
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