Whether you have multiple kids yourself or you are just lucky enough to hang out with a group of kids in various stages of development, these tips for outdoor games for all ages will help you keep things running smoothly! And they will encourage big kids and little kids to play together in ways that are enjoyable for everybody!
I often find myself in the position of facilitating outdoor games and activities for groups of kids of all ages, ranging in age from 2-14 and over the years I have honed in on ways to get everyone playing together.
Tips to Play Outdoor Games for All Ages
Adapt to Give Younger Kids the Advantage
Look for outdoor games that are easy to adapt for individual players, such as Hide and Go Seek. Or that give smaller people a natural advantage, such as Limbo.
You can modify Hide and Go Seek by having only the biggest kids hide and all of the youngest seek, creating buddies or teams so that one team hides and the other team has to seek all the players.
Pair up an Older Kid with a Younger Kid
Pair up an older and younger child for games like tag where younger children may get confused by the rules. Older kids love to be seen as mature and capable; help them set up activities for toddlers and preschoolers such as obstacle courses and hopscotch. Let them know that you value the way they help younger kids and ask them to model the activities by playing with them.
Keep things engaging for older kids by bumping up the difficulty level of obstacle courses, races or hopscotch by having them do it backward, on one foot, or with a stopwatch!
Let Little Kids Lead
Let little kids lead for games like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light; while things might get tedious if they lead too long even two-year-olds can be successful leaders for a few minutes with the right support.
You may have to remind them frequently of what they are doing but even if it means they are basically parroting you they will enjoy the sense of power that comes with leading.
Don’t be afraid to set an arbitrary limit if things go awry such as 3 more directions (Simon Says) and then it’s someone else’s turn to lead.
Switch gears if a game isn’t working; I often call out in a cheesy sports announcer voice something along the lines of “OH NO there is chaos on the field! And the clock is running down! We have just 30 seconds left before we play a new game 30,29,28”
Playing any kind of organized game with children who range in age and development is easier with a healthy dose of humor and a relaxed attitude about the “rules”.
These tips work for your favorite board games too!