::: games for the great outdoors
Sarah is a follower of ours who works for a firm in the UK which produces garden sheds and cubbies. She is very keen on outdoor play, in particular group games, and has shared with us three games she knows are tried and true.
Not that long ago, children spent the majority of their free time playing outside. Discovering secret hideouts, catching frogs, crickets and glow worms, and inventing fun games together was part of everyday life. Now, they’re spending up to 5 hours a day watching TV. But we can’t blame it all on TV as our busy lives sometimes get in the way, as well as the fact that kids often don’t know what to play outside. Furthermore, their safety is becoming a large issue. However, there is a simple way to teach them some great team building and reaction developing games in the safety of your own garden.
A group of 4 to 8 (or more, if you feel you can handle them) is ideal for these games, so consider inviting some of your children’s friends round or the neighbours to make up the numbers. Once you’ve taught them the games, I’ll introduce below, you can supervise the play for 2 or 3 rounds to make sure there aren’t any questions and then leave them to it. That way they will learn to solve problems among each other regarding rules and helping those who don’t understand. Bring out some refreshments for them to keep them going. Your garden shed or cubby can serve as their snack area, as well as a fun HQ for them to discuss the next game. Just clear out some room and make sure they know that it’s part of the play area.
“I’ve chosen three of my own childhood favourites to talk about in this article. They all promote team building skills, tactics, balance and general motor skills” says Sarah.
Red Light, Green Light
Personally, I recommend starting with this game, as it starts off slow and then becomes more interesting, so it’s a good option of getting the children used to the concept of playing outside. The rules are simple: One player, the traffic light, has their back to the group and shouts ‘Green Light’. The group takes slow steps toward the traffic light. The steps should be toe to heel to ensure the steps are slow. Tell them to imagine they are walking on a tightrope. The traffic light faces the group and shouts ‘Red Light’. No one is allowed to move during a red light. If someone does move, they have to return to the starting point. The first person to reach the traffic light wins, and becomes the next traffic light. The rules of when to walk and when not to walk are taught and highlighted in this game, as well as balance since the traffic light can catch you off guard whilst walking toe to heel.
Freeze tag is just like your traditional tag, except that when someone is caught they’re not ‘It’. Instead they have to freeze where they are. They can be freed by another player, but whoever is ‘It’ can also catch the player trying to free the frozen one. Whoever is ‘It’ must play very tactically, as they are outnumbered and can be overwhelmed by the others. However, if they keep a frozen player in their sights, they can catch both the player doing the unfreezing and the player who was originally frozen. Likewise the players, who aren’t ‘It’ can develop a tactic to work together and plan unfreezing their team mates. One could distract the ‘It’, while another frees a team mate.
Wolf’s Dinner Time
This game combines the nerves needed for the first game with the speed and tactics needed for the second. One player is Mr Wolf, and the rest of the group faces him from a distance of about 15 feet. Mr Wolf has his back to the group. The group shouts ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’, and the Mr Wolf turns to the group and must answer with a time. If Mr Wolf says ‘6 o’clock’, then the group takes six steps toward him. The wolf then turns his back on the group again. He may only face them when answering them. Once the wolf believes the group to be close enough, without peeking in between his answers, his answer becomes ‘Dinnertime!’ and he chases members of the group. Whoever he catches becomes the next Mr Wolf. Both players and wolf must rein in their excitement. The wolf has an advantage as he dictates how many steps are taken, however, the players are aware of what will happen and should be ready for when the wolf strikes. Timing is everything with this game – if the wolf decides to strike too soon he may miss his chance for an easy catch!
“These three games are merely examples of some of the classic and still fun outdoor games. There are many others and children love learning new things, so tell them your favourite games, too. Outdoors needn’t be boring or dangerous. It can be a fun and safe adventure.”
Thank you Sarah for being a guest blogger – we love your idea of encouraging our children to play outside.