Written by: Joanne Lowe
It’s very easy to spend a lot of time indoors with your children. Letting them play with toys or gadgets while you work, tidy or see what the rest of the world is doing via your smart phone. As a kid growing up in Australia I spent a lot of time playing outside. We rode bikes together, played rugby or cricket in the street, spent all day in our gardens only coming in to eat and sleep. Today it’s easy to let technology and TV take over. My desire to get our children outside more has been fueled by a recent weekend away. Four families with seven children in one country house, and the thing the children played with the most was a ball outside. So what can we do to get them out and about and playing classic outdoor family games together rather than starring at the TV screen shooting imaginary baddies?
Hide and Seek
Sometimes the simplest games are the best. Children love this old favourite. The excitement as they run off to find a hiding place. The panic as two children run to the same spot and bump into each other with one then scurrying off to hide elsewhere. The anticipation as the person doing the finding stops counting and starts looking. The rules are very easy; one person counts and closes their eyes, the others hide, and the child who has been counting starts to find the other children.
Tag is always a hit with children. It can be played in small or large groups and is easy enough for everyone to understand. One child is ‘it’, and runs around catching the others. They tag another child who becomes ‘it’, and the fun goes on and on usually until the adults get too tired to play anymore. For a variation of the game play freeze tag. If the person who is ‘it’ tags you, you have to freeze until someone else tags you to unfreeze you.
This is more of a girly game now, but in ancient Britain Roman soldiers played Hopscotch. You can draw numbers on the floor with chalk or buy foam hopscotch mats which click together. The child throws a stone on number 1. Then jumps over it onto number 2, and carries on along the hopscotch. At the end the child turns around, hops back, picks up the stone and jumps off. It continues then with the child throwing the stone on to the number 2, 3, and so on. If you throw the stone and miss your square then your turn is over.
This can be played inside or out and with music as portable as ever it’s easy to play anywhere. The children dance to the music and when the music stops they have to sit on the floor. The last one down is out. It continues until there is only one child left.
Follow The Leader
Again this can be done indoors or out and is a great one for smaller children. The children line up behind each other. One child is the leader and moves around however they want to. The other children copy and if they don’t they are out. The last child playing becomes the new leader.
Weather permitting all of these games should give your children lots of fun without too many modern gadgets. If all else fails give them a ball and let them make up their own fun!