written by: Janelle Martel
• edited by: Aaron R.
• updated: 8/6/2015
The nice weather brings many opportunities to play games outdoors. Many outdoor standards, including tag, bocce ball and water-balloon toss, can seem outdated by the time the last days of summer roll around. Keep things fresh and get your whole family involved with these unusual outdoor games!
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While these games will just seem like a fun way to help while away the summer days outdoors, all of them work on fine and gross motor skills. Younger children will be learning about cooperative play, competitiveness and team building. And best of all, the whole family will be having fun!
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Bolo Toss, also commonly known as ladder golf, is one of several fun games that can be enjoyed outside. It is a game that is growing in popularity and is great at parks and campgrounds because of its portability. The equipment consists of two "ladders" - free-standing pieces that have three differently colored rungs that stand for different point values. There are also differently colored sets of bolo balls to differenciate each player or team. Bolo balls are two rubber balls that are connected by a nylon rope. They are tossed (underhand) at the ladders and players earn points depending on what ladder rung - if any - their set of bolo balls hang over. The top rung is worth three points, the middle two, and the bottom one. Players can also knock off their opponent's bolo balls, erasing their points for that round. Each round consists of three bolo tosses per player or team. The first side to reach exactly 21 points wins the match.
The ladders are traditionally placed 30 to 40 feet apart, but this can be adapted depending on your space restrictions and the skill level of players. Softer bolo balls can also be purchased that are designed for kids to use. This is a good outdoor game for the whole family because it is so adaptable. Make sure everyone is throwing underhand to protect from injuries.
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Clothespin tag is another variation on the wide number of tag games that are available. This game is ideal for a large group of people and is convenient as the only supplies necessary are clothespins. Each player clips a clothespin onto his or her shirt, and at the start of the game, tries to grab other players' clothespins. Anyone who loses their clothespin is out, and the last player with a clothespin remaining wins.
If you wish the game to be longer, players could either receive more clothespins at the start of the game or could 'steal' other's clothes pins by pinning the ones they grab on their selves. Both options call for the same rules outlined above.
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Driveway golf, or circle golf, is the game of disc golf adapted for at-home play. "Goals" can be purchased or drawn onto the driveway with sidewalk chalk. The only other item neccessary is a frisbee. Players shoot their frisbee towards the goal from a designated tee. The game is then played out like golf. Players take turns throwing their frisbee towards the circle or goal. The player that lands their disc inside in the least amount of shots wins.
A number of "holes" can be created to turn this into a full-out game of frisbee golf, or players can simply move between goals playing to a designated number. This game is also a great way to gain practice before going to a disc golf course.
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Cornhole toss is an adaptation on the classic game of horseshoes. Instead of using pegs, cornhole platforms are used. Cornhole platforms are sloped platforms made out of wood or plastic with a hole at the top. Players take turns shooting at the platform with cornbags - small fabric bags filled with corn that are similar to bean bags. One point is awarded for your cornbag landing on the platform and you get three points if you get your bag through the hole. A game is usually played to 21 points.
This game is more family friendly and also more portable than horseshoes. As soft bags filled with corn are used, children are more easily able to throw these than horseshoes and there is also less risk for injury if a young child happens to run through the playing field unexpectedly. Also, as the platforms can be placed on any surface - cement, grass or sand, for example - this game can be taken more places than horseshoes, and you will never have to search for a rock to hammer in your horseshoe poles again!
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Squareball is an alternative way to use your bocce balls to add some variety to a tried and true fun yard game that is seen outdoors all summer long. To play squareball, you need 6 bocce balls (3 of each color), ropes or straps and stakes to keep the ropes in place. To set up, you need to create a 7-by-7-foot square playing area and a throwing area about 12 feet away. Players (or teams) take turns throwing their balls towards the square playing area. The main goal of this game is to "capture" your opponent's balls between a triangle of your balls and avoid being captured by your opponent. The game is played to 15, and there are a few ways to score.
3 Points are awarded for each opponent's ball captured in a triangle by your balls
2 Points are awarded for each ball that avoids enemy capture
2 Points are awarded for landing your ball between two enemy balls
1 Point for every enemy ball captured in one of your "V's"
1 Point for every ball that lands in the playing square