Outdoor Games for 4-Years-Olds

Brother With Hands Over His Face Playing Hide and Seek With His Sister in a Garden
No need for complicated rules or fancy equipment when it comes to outdoor games for preschoolers. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Kids of all ages thrive in the outdoors. When summer vacation rolls around, you may find them spending much of their day on the playground or elsewhere outdoors, soaking up the sun and stretching their legs. Get a group of kids together for a play date or park meet-up and try some age-appropriate outdoor games. For 4-year-olds, the rules should be simple and easy to follow. Skip the complicated equipment, too.

Sharks and Minnows

As it happens, there are actually several games that go under the moniker "sharks and minnows," one of which is played in an actual pool, another of which is a well-known soccer drill. But your children can play sharks and minnows on the playground without any special equipment whatsoever. Have the "minnows" line up facing the" shark." Set a goal behind the shark, such as a tree or slide, as the finish line. On the count of three, the minnows must run as fast as they can to the goal, while the shark tags as many kids as she can before they reach it. Any child tagged becomes a shark, and the game is repeated until no minnows are left.

Freeze Tag

Freeze tag is a common variation of tag in which one person is "it" and can freeze other players with a touch. Other players can unfreeze someone by touching them as well. Sometimes this version of tag is played with a safe "home free" spot -- and the last one to reach it is "it" for the next round.

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is best played by kids with close adult supervision, as by age 4 many children are expert hiders -- enough to cause concern to their caregivers if not watched closely. In classic Hide and Seek, one child is "it" and covers his eyes while counting up to 10 or 20 or a similar, arbitrary number. The rest of the children try to find a hiding place. The "it" then seeks out each hidden child. The last one found is "it" for the next round.

What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?

In "What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?" one child plays the part of "Mr. Fox" and stands at the end of the yard with her back to the other children at the other end of the yard. Each child asks, "What time is it, Mr. Fox?" and Mr. Fox answers by naming a time. "Five o'clock" allows children to take five steps forward, "10 o'clock" allows for ten steps, and so on. If Mr. Fox announces, "it's dinnertime!" she will turn around and chase the other children back to the starting line. If anyone is caught before returning to his place, he is now the next Mr. Fox.

Red Light, Green Light

"Red Light, Green Light" is similar to "What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?" in that the child who is "it" stands with his back to the children lined up behind him. The "it" child calls out "green light" to permit the others to move forward and try to sneak up on him; "red light" commands them to stop. The first person to reach and tag "it" gets to call the next round.

Mother May I

Yet another variation on "Mr. Fox," in this case the "it" child acts as Mother and faces away from the rest of the players lined up behind her. Each of the other players takes turns asking "Mother, may I take five steps forward?" or "Mother, may I take one giant step forward?" or "Mother, may I take ten tiny baby steps forward?" or similar questions. "Mother" may either say "yes you may" or "no you may not." The first person to reach and tag Mother wins the game and takes her place for the next round.

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