5 backyard games from around the world
Global game ideas to keep your kids playing outdoors.
Red Light, Green Light (USA, 3 or more players)
The goal: Dash from one end of the yard to the next to tag the “stop light.”
Step 1: The “stoplight” player stands about 20 feet from the others.
Step 2: The stoplight turns their back and yells “Green light!” The other players dash toward them.
Step 3: The stoplight then yells “Red light!” and turns to face the runners. As soon as they hear “red light,” the runners freeze. Anyone caught moving is out. This continues until a runner tags the stoplight. That runner gets to be “it” next round. If the stoplight catches every runner moving before getting tagged, they get to be it again.
Football Tennis (Czech Republic, 2 or more players)
The goal: Score the most points.
Step 1: Your hands will do you no good in this one. Kids erect a fence or net—using a real net or lawn chairs pushed together—and break into two teams.
Step 2: As in tennis, the aim is to get the ball over the net and into the other team’s area without them returning it after up to one bounce. Only here, you use a soccer ball and your feet instead of a handheld racquet.
Cheetahs and Cheetals (India, 5 or more players)
The goal: Like tag in teams, the goal here is for all your players to reach “base” before the opponents get them.
Step 1: Kids split into two groups and designate one player to lead the game. That player is the “prince” or “princess” of the “cheetahs” (spotted big cats) and “cheetals” (spotted deer).
Step 2: The teams each form a horizontal line and stand with their backs to the other team, about five feet apart.
Step 3: The prince or princess yells “Cheeeee—tals” (or “cheetahs”), at which point the team whose name was yelled rushes toward their base as the other team tries to catch them. The goal is for the team whose name was called to get more players to their base than the other team can tag out.
Stretch (South Africa, 2 or more players)
The goal: Be the player who can jump the farthest.
Step 1: The players designate a starting point. Player One places a stick on the ground and jumps from the starting point over the stick.
Step 2: Player One moves the stick to where she landed after her jump. Player Two must then jump the stick in its new location, from the original starting point. If she succeeds, she moves the stick to where she landed. If not, she is out.
Step 3: Player Three (or Player One if only two are playing) takes her turn, now jumping past the stick where Player Two left it. If she falls short of the distance, she is out.
Pilolo (Ghana, 6 or more players)
The goal: Be the first to find the hidden object and carry it over the finish line.
Step 1: Imagine a treasure hunt and race in one. Designate one child a leader and another the timekeeper; the rest are the searchers.
Step 2: The searchers turn their backs as the leader hides small objects in the playing field. These can be stones, coins, or sticks, but they should all be the same. The timekeeper stands by the finish line.
Step 3: When the leader says, “go,” the searchers hunt for an object. The first to find one and carry it over the finish line wins. The timekeeper judges who crosses first.