Old school backyard games to introduce to your kids.

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Close your eyes and picture your childhood summers. Long days, ice in your drinks, blue skies, always outdoors, always making our own fun. The summer holidays seemed like they’d never end.

These days our children’s lives can be so structured, with every moment catered for, that they almost don’t know what to do with themselves for an unaccounted for stretch of time.

Here are 6 simple games we used to play as kids, that our kids would also love today.

1. Water fights.

Long before complicated super soakers, you only needed 3 ingredients for a good old-fashioned water fight:

  1. A hose,
  2. Water balloons or simple water guns,
  3. Kids.

These water fights could go on for the whole afternoon, aided by some serious, stealth-like hiding, ambush water-bombing and the all important access to the hose. (If you had access to the hose, combined with a water-depleted moving target, you were King).

backyard games
When all else fails, unleash the bucket. Image via iStock.

2. Bike riding.

I used to have this set up at my suburban home, where I would ride around the perimeter of the house on my little gold bike, including riding down a plank of wood laid down over couple of stairs (the highlight of each lap, obviously), and then I would shoot off down the driveway, swing out onto the footpath and loop around the dead-end of the road, coming back to do it all over again. It was bliss, it was fun and it was freedom – and I could do it for hours on end.

3. Four-square.

Ah, the humble tennis ball. Thrown against walls for a solo session, or hit against walls with friends and tennis racquets. Or, at its finest, mastered and manipulated with the thrills and spills of a game of Four-square, or its simpler version, Two-square.

All you needed for this was some distinguishable lines – a couple of skipping ropes would do the trick – and you had yourself a tournament.

With one simple rule, that the ball must bounce in your own square and then your opponent’s, the key with Four-square was getting down low and angling the ball to make it almost impossible to return. Spectacular.

backyard games
“All you needed for this was some distinguishable lines – a couple of skipping ropes would do the trick – and you had yourself a tournament.” Image via iStock.

4. Backyard cricket.

The best thing about backyard cricket at your house? It meant your backyard cricket rules. Families would pass down these rules to be accepted by all players on the field that day. Hit the fence on the full and you’re out. Howzat! The old ‘one hand one bounce?’ Classic. You have to run even when you hit a six? Yep, that’s the rules around here.

5. Marco Polo.

A classic game for friends or relatives with pools at home, or if you were lucky enough to have one yourself – Marco Polo. The person who’s ‘it’ has to be in the pool, with their eyes closed, the object being to touch someone when you find them. You shout out “Marco” and all other players must return with “Polo” which gives you a clue as to their whereabouts…

You have to maneuverer carefully around the pool so that you can skim someone as they glide by, often coming tauntingly close to you – it really is a game of perception. The trick is, the other players can’t leave the water, and if they do, the hunter can call “Fish out of water!” and get them out that way, to be the next who’s ‘it’. Deceptively simple.

backyard games
“You shout out “Marco” and all other players must return with “Polo” which gives you a clue as to their whereabouts…” Image via iStock.

6. Slip ‘n’ Slide.

Ah, the most sophisticated of the outdoor activities we had in the 80s – the Slip ‘n’ Slide. Sprinting across the lawn, launching onto your belly and sliding as far as you could along the yellow sheet of plastic, landing on the wet grass at the other end, and of course getting up to have another go immediately.

This was the ultimate in backyard fun, and the best thing is, they’ve had a recent resurgence so kids today can experience the thrill of this backyard classic.

What are your favourite backyard games?