3 Outdoor games your children can play all day!


It is that time of the year again –school holidays! Your child is not only happy to be away from school and expecting a Christmas present you cannot afford, they happen to have a lot more time on their hands and are exceedingly prone to boredomiosis –the state of being perpetually bored.

The one thing that differentiates this school holiday from others, however, is that you are probably going to be home too, on an end of year break or annual leave. You know you are probably going to get quite irked by their lounging all day watching Disney Channel or CeeBeeBies, gaming with Phineas and Ferb on PlayStationPortable or playing Christmas Candy Ho-Ho on your tablet. And when they are not doing any of the above –and are also not in the mood for toys –you know that they are probably going to be whining, ‘Mama what can I do? I’m so bored.’ Hmmm?

If you are already kind-of-dreading this aspect of the holidays, you might want to refresh yourself with some ideas on outdoor games that can keep them out of your way (yay!) and inevitably do their bodies and lungs a world of good! If you have more than one child or if they are going to have friends or cousins visiting, here are three traditional and universal outdoor games that you can be guaranteed will keep them laughing and entertained for a good part of their day. You probably loved them yourself, back in the day, and you might even be tempted to give in to some of their fun this festive season!

Source: en.wikipedia.org
Source: en.wikipedia.org
  1.  Hopscotch (We called it ‘Pada’)
  • Number of Players: 1 or more
  • What you need:
    • Markers for each player (a flat stone, a bottle top, a button, anything that is safe to throw)
    • Chalk or masking tape or a stick to draw a line in the sand
  • Preparation:
    • Use chalk, a stick or masking tape to draw a hopscotch pattern on the surface to be played on. Each of the eight boxes should be numbered. Each player should be ready with his/her own distinguishable marker. Decide on who starts the game
  • Playing the Game:
    • The first player stands behind the starting line and tosses his/her marker into square 1; hops over square 1 into square 2 and continues hopping to square 8, turns around and hops back again –all on the same one leg; pauses in square 2 to pick up the marker, hops over square 1 again –and out. The other players get a turn and when it is the first player’s turn again, they proceed to the next level by tossing the marker into the next square and resuming the same procedure.


    • All hopping must be done on one foot except where there are two side by side squares. Here a player can place both their feet down, one in each square
    • A player must always hop over the square with their marker (before and after collecting it)
    • A player must bend to pick their marker while still balanced on one foot
    • The marker must fall within the box and not on a line. The player, also, must not step on a line when hopping
    • If any of these rules are broken, a player is either disqualified from the game or waits until every player has had their chance and resumes the game at the same level at which they broke a rule.
Source: archive.tennesean.com
Source: archive.tennesean.com
  1. Dodge-ball (We called it ‘Dunhu or Maflawu’)
    • Number of players: 3 or more
    • What you need: A ball and a fairly large outdoor space
    • Preparation: Demarcate the boundaries where dodge-ball will be played. Decide who is going to dodge the ball first and this person goes into the middle. The other two must stand at opposite ends of the boundaries to throw the ball to each other
    • Playing the game:
      • The aim is for the outside players to hit the inner player with the ball as they throw the ball to and fro across the dodge-ball space. The inner player’s sole purpose is to dodge the ball. This game can also be played in teams, where those in the outer team aim to hit those dodging the ball in the inner team. When the person or team dodging have been hit by the ball, another person or the other team, enters the dodge-ball space to dodge the ball.
    • Rules
      • The players throwing the ball must not cross over the boundary lines when throwing
      • Whoever is hit by the ball is out
      • If a person dodging the ball catches a ball that is meant to hit him, he redeems one of his disqualified team members back into the game. If he is playing alone, he just continues playing.
      • The throwers take their turn to the dodge ball after those who were dodging are out

This how we used to play dodge-ball but it is slightly different from the dodgeball game played nowadays, which is actually a sport. 

Source: Archive.tennesean.com
Source: Archive.tennesean.com



  1. Tag or Touch (We called it ‘Chisveru’)
    • Number of Players: 2 or more
    • What you need: An open space
    • Preparation: Appoint who among the players is ‘on’ and this will be the first person responsible for tagging others
    • Playing the game: Whoever is ‘on’ gives everyone else a 10-sec head start before running to tag a person. Whoever gets tagged is the person who is now ‘on’ and has the responsibility of tagging another.
    • Rules:
      • Tagging should be a gentle slap and shouldn’t hurt another
    • Other ways to play tag are Hide and Seek Tag and Freeze Tag
      • Hide and Seek Tag – The game begins in the same way as regular tag except that the person who is on gives everyone else time to go and hide by counting up to a certain number (say, 20), whilst standing at the ‘homebase’(which can be anything –a tree, a pole or a wall), before heading out to find them. When a person is found, he/she has to run and touch the home base before he/she gets tagged by the person who is on. If they are tagged, they become ‘on’ and everyone comes out of their hideout for the game to start all over again. If they don’t get tagged, the ‘on’ person has to keep on seeking those hiding until he/she has tagged someone.
      • Freeze Tag – This game is different from the regular tag in that when a player gets tagged he or she cannot move. The game ends once all the players have been tagged and whoever was tagged first becomes the person who is ‘on’ and the game resumes all over again.


I am pretty sure these games ring a lovely bell? What names did you give them, back in your day? Any other outdoor games you could share with us?


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