The job of every kid is to play. Playing games, especially physical ones, ensures that your 6- to 8-year-old builds muscles and strong bones, maintains a healthy weight and benefits from social interaction. Sixty minutes of moderate to brisk activity every day is a necessary part of your child’s healthy development, according to a 2005 study reviewing the side effects of physical activity on health led by William B. Strong, M.D., et al., appearing in the “Journal of Pediatrics.” A good way to get that exercise is through outside games.
A Real Soaker
Tossing water balloons is definitely an outside game. You’ll need a good supply of balloons and water to fill them all. Divide the group into two teams. Have each team stand in a line with each child about four feet apart from his teammate. The idea is to place the children far enough apart so that they have to toss, not hand, the balloon down the line. On the word “go,” have each team begin tossing water-filled balloons down the line. At the end of the line, the kids have to start tossing the balloons back up the line to the beginning. The team to get the most filled balloons back to the beginning of its line is the winner. If you don’t have enough kids for two teams, have everyone stand in a circle and toss the balloons around the circle in both directions.
Catch Me, Catch Me
This outside game requires a “tail” that can be tucked into the “monster’s” waistband. The tail should be long enough that a good portion hangs out. Sit all your kids on the ground in a big circle. Choose one child to be the monster. The monster starts circling the group touching everyone’s head as she says “ghost, ghost.” Arbitrarily, the monster will touch someone’s head and yell “monster!” That child will rise from the circle and try to grab the monster’s “tail” before the monster can take the child’s place in the circle. If the child can’t grab the tail in time, she becomes the monster. If she does grab the tail, the original monster starts over again.
Ridin' the Line
This skill testing game is a peddler’s delight. Draw a 50-foot double line that twists and curves, using chalk on asphalt. Ensure that there’s enough space for a bicycle to reasonably navigate between them and that the curves aren’t too tight. Using a stop watch, time each child as he peddles his bike between the lines from start to finish. The child who successfully stays between the double lines and finishes fastest wins.
Pass the Popcorn Please
Messy games are good games for playing outside. This relay race requires lots and lots of popcorn, two scoops, four plastic cups, four large rubber bands, four large paperclips, two large shallow boxes and one tack. Take each plastic cup and put a small hole in the bottom using the tack. Insert a large rubber band partially into the cup and place a paperclip on the part of the rubber band that's in the cup so that the band does not fall out of the cup. Divide the group into two teams. Select one child from each team to fill the cups with popcorn. Slip a cup filled with popcorn over each shoe of the first runner of each team. Position the rubber band around the ball of the foot, holding the cup in place on the player's shoe. At the starting whistle, the runners sprint for the box trying to keep as much popcorn in their cups as possible. When they reach their box, they empty the popcorn into the box without removing the cups from their shoes.