By nature, 5- and 6-year-old kids are playful and love being outdoors. To keep them busy, you can tap into plenty of time-tested games. Many of these games do not require much outdoor space, and kids can enjoy them in all types of weather. Feel free to adapt these games and their rules to suit your needs and interests. During all outdoor play, make sure children of this age have adequate and appropriate adult supervision so that they stay safe. Monitor kids throughout game playing for any squabbles, and use your own discretion in handling these.
Physical Activity for Kids
Getting young kids involved in fun physical activities can boost their overall health and fitness profile. The American Heart Association currently recommends that children age 2 and older participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity of moderate-to-rigorous intensity every day. Since those 60 minutes can be broken into smaller chunks, even one or two age-appropriate outdoor games can help a child of 5 or 6 fulfill his daily requirement. Being physically active offers kids a host of health benefits, according to the AHA, including weight control, reduced blood pressure, increased HDL cholesterol and lowered risk of diabetes and some forms of cancer. Exercise can also build self-confidence, boost self-esteem and improve coordination, all of which are important for young kids.
When choosing activities for outdoor play, it helps to understand what physical and social skills children of this age have typically mastered. By the age of 5 or 6, healthy children are generally able climb, hop, skip on alternate feet and jump with relative ease, but they might lack the agility and coordination of an older child. By the age of 6, children often enjoy playing in small groups, but leading and winning becomes noticeably more important at this age. Keep this in mind as you assign roles, insist that kids are civil and offer positive and encouraging feedback to boost kids' confidence.
Tag is one of those outdoor games that is synonymous with childhood. Any size of group can play this game. Have the kids decide who is "It." All of the kids start running in various directions, and the person who is "It" also runs around, attempting to touch one of the other kids. Whomever he touches becomes "It." That player then runs around chasing the other kids, trying to touch someone to make him "It." Continue the game for as long as the kids are enjoying it or until they are worn out.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is another rite of passage for all kids to enjoy. The kids decide who will be "It," and while all of the other kids quietly hide behind trees and other objects, "It" closes and covers her eyes and counts to 10 or 20. She then calls, "Ready or not, here I come," uncovers and opens her eyes and begins searching for the hiding children. Whomever she finds first becomes "It," and the game begins anew.
Duck Duck Goose
All of the kids sit on the ground in a circle. One child is "It" and stands and walks around the circle behind the other kids. As he does, he lightly taps each child on the head while saying "duck." At some point, he says "goose" instead. The "Goose" stands and begins chasing the child who is "It" around the outside of the circle, being careful to keep safe by not running too closely to the circle. The "Goose" tries to catch and tap "It" before "It" sits down where "Goose" was originally sitting. If "Goose" does not do this, she is "It" for the next round of the game and repeats the steps described above. If "Goose" does tap the child who is "It," "It" sits on the ground in the center of the circle and stays there until someone else is tapped in a later round of the game. "Goose" becomes "It" and the game continues.
All of the kids stand in a circle and an adult begins to play or sing music. While the music is playing, the kids throw a ball or other soft object around the circle, pretending it is a hot potato that they want to throw back to someone else. At some point, the adult stops the music, and the child who is holding the ball when the music stops is out of the game. Repeat the steps until only one child is left in the game.
- Game Ideas for Kids: Outdoor Games
- Fun Games Kids Play: Outdoor Games
- Games Kids Play: Tag
- Games Kids Play: Hide and Seek
- Games Kids Play: Duck Duck Goose
- Games Kids Play: Hot Potato
- National Institutes of Health: Developmental Milestones Record -- 5 Years
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Middle Childhood (6-8 Years of Age)
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity and Children