15 Fun Yard Games for Kids

kids playing

Finding a new yard game the whole family can enjoy can be tricky–– you’ve tossed the frisbee, played hide and seek, and thrown the baseball countless times. We did the brainstorming for you and gathered 15 fun yard games for kids and adults to enjoy. Use these ideas for a backyard barbecue, birthday party, or everyday use. 

Many of these yard game sets are available at your local sporting goods store or can be ordered online. And remember, a nasty bite or sting is a fast way to end outdoor fun, so we’ve also included some easy tips on how to make the yard a comfortable play area for everyone.

1. Cornhole

cornhole game
Photo Credit: Ian Hughes / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cornhole is a game in which people or teams toss bean bags to a platform across from them, aiming for the hole to score the most points. Even though kids will have to get much closer to toss the bean bags, they’ll enjoy being a part of the fun. If you have more than one cornhole set, you could have an adult game and a kids’ game going simultaneously.

Custom cornhole boards and bean bags could be a great addition to backyard family fun.

Tip: Some cities offer cornhole leagues or tournaments if you want to take your backyard game of cornhole up a notch.

2. Spikeball

Spikeball is a yard game with a small net and a ball in which the two teams aim the ball at the net back and forth to each other. Older kids and adults will enjoy the original size Spikeball in a two versus-two format, but there is also a Spikeball Rookie Set that has a larger net for younger kids or beginner players. Both options are compact and relatively small, so it won’t take much room to store, and you can easily set it in your backyard again. 

Spikeball saves space compared to volleyball since you hit the ball toward the net in the middle of the teams instead of hitting it over a larger net in volleyball. Spikeball is available in various colors and the number of balls that come with the game.

3. Bocce Ball

Bocce Ball is a yard game that you can play as an occasional thing. Or, if you’re more serious about it and your yard allows for it, you can build a Bocce Ball court. A level space is needed if you want to set up a permanent court or if you want to go out and play a few rounds.

Depending on how many people you have that want to play Bocce Ball, you could have two people playing against each other or have teams with a few players each. The objective is to get your larger ball closer to the smaller ball than the opposing team.

Traditional Bocce Balls could be difficult for little hands, but there is a kid’s size Bocce Ball set with smaller and lighter balls. A bonus with the kid’s size Bocce Ball is that kids can play it inside or outside–– so even on a rainy day, the kids would still be able to play.

4. Croquet

Croquet mallets
Photo Credit: Santeri Viinamäki / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

You can play Croquet with two, four, or six players, and each player will use a mallet to hit the ball through curved stakes. Lawns are the popular choice for playing Croquet, although it can be a game played anywhere in your yard that is flat. The best part about Croquet might be that it’s a fun and simple yard game for any age, from kids to grandparents and everyone in between. 

5. Huge Lawn Size Games

Everything is a little more fun when it’s enormous. Jenga, Yahtzee, Four in a Row, Checkers, and Tic-Tac-Toe are all games you can play at a table, but when you get colossal lawn-size games, it’s an instant increase in fun. Adults and kids alike will delight in the nostalgia of these games.

6. Lawn Bowling

Sure, there are pre-made lawn bowling sets, but why not get creative with a DIY lawn bowling setup? The aftermath of a recent birthday party or barbecue left you with many 2-liter plastic soda bottles. You can reuse them to create the pins and use a beach ball as a bowling ball (or any large ball). You could also use tin cans as bowling pins.

If you plan to make lawn bowling a staple family fun backyard game, get crafty with the appearance of your pins. You could use spray paint or acrylic paint on the tin cans or plastic bottles. Kids can join in with painting with acrylic paint. 

Tip: Don’t forget to add a small number of rocks or sand to your plastic bottles to keep the wind from knocking them over. But don’t add too much; otherwise, your bowling ball won’t knock over your pins.

7. Ladder Toss

Photo Credit: Wolff83 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Ladder Toss, aka Ladder Golf, is another yard game with various color options and can be a fun yard game for both kids and adults. Players will stand on opposite sides and toss a rope at the ladder (the rope has a golf ball attached at both ends). When the ladder balls land on the ladder, the thrower receives points. 

Younger kids might have a more challenging time keeping the ladder balls untangled and adding their points, so they might need a little more assistance. Nonetheless, they will still enjoy participating in Ladder Toss.

If DIY is your thing, you can make your own ladder toss set using PVC pipe, golf balls, string, and paint colors of your choosing. 

8. Horseshoes

Depending on the space you have available to play, you can play Horseshoes with or without pits (or even just a single pit). One or two stakes will suffice. It’s entirely up to you. 

Horseshoes is a simple game that even the youngest of kids can enjoy, with the goal being to toss your horseshoe closest to the stake. You might want to opt for different weights for the horseshoes if you have a wide variety of ages playing this backyard game.

9. Twister

Twister is a classic game to play with kids. Bringing it outside to a new environment adds a different level of fun. Opt for putting your Twister game on your lawn for a soft landing when someone gets too twisted up and takes a tumble.

Is your Twister game getting tangled up outside? You could paint your own Twister on your lawn using spray paint in different colors for the circles. Use stakes and string to create a perimeter for your game and a cutout circle from cardboard to create a uniform circle shape. 

Note: If you make the circles too big, it could make the game take over a larger space, making it too big for kids to partake in fun.

10. Obstacle Course 

Obstacle Course
Photo Credit: Matthew Bellemare / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Let the kids use their imagination to help come up with a backyard DIY obstacle course. Since younger kids and older kids have different agility levels, you might need to incorporate various difficulty levels.

You could use hula hoops or pool noodles to create spots to hop into, and you could set up cones so kids can run weaving in and out of them. Jump ropes are an excellent item to use as a starting point. Get creative with an obstacle course, and don’t forget to have fun!

11. Scavenger Hunt

A backyard scavenger hunt would have to be divided into a younger kid crowd and older kids and adults. For the younger crowd, prepare a list of items for the kids to hunt for. Some ideas for a scavenger hunt include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A leaf
  • A butterfly
  • A feather
  • A cloud
  • A flower or a few flowers of different colors
  • A bird

For the older crowd, make the scavenger hunt more challenging with difficult-to-find items or additional items, such as three different kinds of leaves or snap a selfie with someone wearing a collegiate shirt.

12. Capture-the-Flag

Anything can be used as a flag if you don’t have an actual flag, such as bandanas, socks, or t-shirts. Younger kids might not engage in capturing the flag nearly as long as older kids, so when you’re deciding on teams, try to split ages and ability levels evenly. Your Capture-the-Flag game rules will vary depending on your yard space.

Note: Since bushes and trees are common places to hide a flag, ensure younger kids are aware of the lay of the land–– know before the game begins if there are any harmful bushes, like thorny roses or poison ivy. 

13. Water Balloon Activities

playing with water balloons
Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Summer means spending all day outside. What better way to stay cool than some fun water balloon games with the kids? Yard games with water balloons could include:

  • Water balloon toss–– to another person or a target
  • Water balloon dodgeball
  • Water balloon baseball

Tip: Self-sealing water balloons save time (and your fingers) from having to tie balloons all day. Don’t forget to pick up the scraps from the water balloons once you’ve finished your fun. Your lawn might appreciate the extra water from the water balloon fun, but it won’t enjoy the water balloon scraps sprinkled like confetti. Although it won’t be as fun of a game as playing with the water balloons, you could race to see who picks up the most water balloon scraps.

Tip: Reusable water balloons are an alternative option for backyard water balloon activities. 

14. Red Light, Green Light

Red Light, Green Light doubles as a game and listening activity. Kids could play running around the lawn, or you could incorporate a soccer ball to dribble around on the grass while the kids listen for the callouts of Red Light, Green Light.

15. Sidewalk Chalk 

sidewalk chalk
Photo Credit: W.carter / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The possibilities are endless when you bust out the sidewalk chalk. Maybe you don’t have an enormous tic-tac-toe set, but you could draw out tic-tac-toe on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Hopscotch is always a fun game to play, too. 

Bonus: In the summer, you could incorporate water guns or water balloons with the chalk and add in some learning fun. First, write out some letters, numbers, or words with the chalk. Ask the kids to correctly target the answer (with their water gun or balloon) when you call out the letter, number, or word. Kids might not even realize they’re learning when water and chalk are involved.

While drawing might not be a yard game, let kids’ creativity fly by using chalk on the driveway. You could also have competitions of who can draw something the best of a specific category if you’re looking to add a competitive edge to sidewalk chalk.

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Yard Games

When you and your guests are playing lawn games, the last thing you want to worry about is bites, stings, and rough terrain–– they could all put a damper on the fun. 

Survey your yard for the following pests to ensure an ouch-free zone: 

Yard safety should also be top of mind. Establish safety rules, remove tripping hazards, and control poison ivy patches. 

Protect your kiddos from rough tumbles by providing them with a cushioned surface. A lush, dense lawn can help ensure a soft landing. Overseed the lawn to thicken the turfgrass, aerate the soil to promote new growth, and water the lawn to help prevent stiff and itchy grass. 

Tall grass could also make backyard games a little complicated–– game balls could slow down, or snakes could be hiding. If your lawn needs some TLC to get it in tip-top shape for your yard games, connect with a local lawn care professional so you can focus on prepping the activities. 

Main Image Credit: Latino Life / Canva Pro / License

Janae Soules

Janae Soules

Janae Soules has a newly discovered love of gardening with her kids. She enjoys spending time in nature hiking, biking, or playing sports.