Backyard fun: 'Let the children play'

Obstacle courses offer lots of options

Try different games on your obstacle course. (The Gazette)
Try different games on your obstacle course. (The Gazette)

One of the positives during this time of COVID-19, lockdowns and isolation has been families playing together.

We’ve all seen it — mom, dad and children taking walks, riding bikes and playing in the yard.

Getting outside, getting fresh air, is something we’ve been allowed to do since coronavirus arrived in March.

“Look at how the children play,” Dave Matthews sings in his pandemic song “Shadow on the Wall.”

“None of us know what’s to come tomorrow

But I’m not going out today

So dance with me

like the time we’ve got is bottled”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some backyard games for children and adults. Dancing is optional.

Here are some suggestions from

Musical creepy crawlies — Have everyone lie on their backs with arms and legs wiggling in the air. When the music stops, jump up. The last one up is out.

Penguin shuffle — Stand side by side, with a bean bag or something soft resting on your feet. Shuffle across the ground in a penguin-like fashion. The first person to the other side wins.


Tug-of-war — All you need is a rope and two teams. Try different teams among the family to see which combination is the strongest.

Hit the deck — Using a deck of cards, one person selects a card and the family do a different activity for each suit. Something like, jumping jacks for Hearts, burpees for diamonds and so on.

Tightrope walk — Find a line or put out a rope that you can walk along as your tightrope. Walk one foot right in front of the other without falling off the line or rope. See how many times each person can walk the tightrope without falling off.

Freeze tag — When the person who is “It” tags you, you must freeze in your exact position. Frozen people can be freed if another player crawls through their legs. The game ends when everyone is frozen.

Cotton wool race — Each player starts with a bowl of cotton wool balls. At the end of the garden is an empty bowl for each player. Using a spoon, players must move all the cotton wool balls to the empty bowl, one at a time.

Family Frisbee — One of the easiest and most fun games to play, get the family together in the garden for a game of Frisbee.

Blob tag — When the person who is “It” tags someone, they join hands and chase the others together. Eventually you have the whole family (the Blob) chasing one or two. The game ends when the Blob has caught everyone.

You can also set up a simple — or difficult — obstacle course in your yard.

“Get the whole family running, jumping, skipping, hopping and crawling with a fun obstacle course,” notes. “See who can complete it the quickest, and challenge yourself to beat your own time.”

Here are some suggestions for you obstacle course:

— Bounce a ball on a racket 10 times.

— Bounce a basketball 20 times.

— Dribble a ball with either your hands or feet from A to B.

— Toss/kick a ball into a net/target.

— Do a ball toss/beanbag into baskets/boxes.


— Lay a ladder on the ground and run through it, lifting knees up without hitting the rungs. You could also hop through each space on one foot. If you don’t have a ladder, just lay out sticks in a row for kids to hop over.

— Lay a rope in a curved snaky shape and have the kids walk the “tightrope” without falling off.

— Lay two pieces rope in a parallel line and have the kids jump the “river.”

— If you have a sturdy tree, you could hang a rope from it and get them to swing on it for a few seconds. Alternatively, just hang something like a rope/ribbon up high and get kids to jump up to touch it.

— Lay Hula Hoops on the ground in a row/pattern, and kids must hop/step/jump from one to next.

— Lay a hoop on the ground and have kids jump in and out of it 10 times. You could also use inflatable pool rings or tires for this activity.

— Hula-Hoop for a certain time.

— Hold hoop in two hands and get kids to skip with it.

— Roll the hoop from one place to another.

— If you have a plank of wood, place it on the grass for younger kids and get them to “walk the plank.” For older kids, support it on raised solid surfaces (like blocks) and get the kids to walk the beam. Or leave it on the ground and get the kids to “walk the plank” blindfolded or backward or hopping on one foot to make it more challenging.

— Rest one end of the plank on a higher surface and get the kids to walk up frontward and down backward, or balance a beanbag on their head while walking up and down.

— If you have a kids crawl-though tunnel, this make a perfect obstacle. In the absence of that, you could use tires, pool noodles or a large cardboard box.

— You could also limbo under a piece of wood laid across the backs of two chairs.


— Pool Noodles are perfect for many obstacles. You could assemble them like a tunnel and have the kids crawl through or balance them on boxes and limbo under them or jump over them like hurdles.

Learn, Play Imagine has lots more great ideas for use on their pool noodle backyard obstacle course article.

Here are a few more from

Balloon relay — Fill up a few water balloons and get ready to giggle. Line up in two straight lines before handing each line leader a balloon and having them place it securely between their knees. Then it’s time to start the game. Players pass the balloon, knees-to-knees, down the row until it reaches the finish.

Bucket toss — You can’t go wrong with carnival games and the bucket toss is an all-time favorite. Line up the prize-filled buckets in a row. Each kid who power-slings a ball into a bucket is the proud owner of the goody waiting to be plucked up. Opt for three turns each.

Have a sponge ball war — Better than a water balloon fight (sayonara, plastic balloons all over the yard!), DIY sponge balls are reusable, versatile (turn an afternoon of tossing them at each other into an evening of washing your car, perhaps?), and a total blast.

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