Kids today get a LOT of screen time.
And sure, it’s entertaining! And sometimes even educational.
But studies show too much screen time makes it difficult for kids to engage in non-electronic activities.
For example, it limits the children’s ability to explore outdoors, play with toys to trigger creativity and imagination, or play with other kids to develop good social skills.
But outdoor play has its own risks — kids can get bumped, bruised, or even injured from careless running around or rough contact with their friends.
So let’s look at some of the best games to play outside without contact — to encourage more outdoor play but limit the spread of germs and risk of injury.
The best outdoor games for kids with no contact are:
- Nature scavenger hunt
- Chalk challenge
- Animal hide and seek
- Three flies up
- Simon Says
- Traffic on the road
- Run… Statue!
Let’s break down the rules of each game, what equipment you need, and why your kids will love ’em!
1. Nature Scavenger Hunt
Forget about playgrounds with slides, monkey bars, and tunnels.
Natural playgrounds are where the party’s at.
Playing outdoors without any toys or equipment allows children to build a positive and healthy relationship with nature.
And a great way to immerse children in nature is by letting them play Nature Scavenger Hunt .
What you need: a piece of paper, pencils, and a cardboard
How to Play Nature Scavenger Hunt
- On your paper, write a list of things for your kids to find out in nature
- If it’s in the backyard, include things like ants, sticks, leaves, grass, flowers, etc.
- In the woods or on a trail, get more creative: berries, thorns, butterflies, etc.
- Be sure to mix easy-to-find and more challenging items. Keep the list to 20 items or less.
- Give each kid the scavenger hunt list and a pencil and send them off on their scavenger hunt!
- Ask them to mark X on the list next to each item they find. The kids will have a blast finding items in the wild and marking them on the sheet
- Once the kids are back, let them compare notes to know who found which items
You can even offer a prize to the kids for completing the challenge, like a glass of cold lemonade or other treat.
2. Chalk Challenge
This game is a real thrill and helps children to learn how to follow instructions, exercise, and take turns.
What you need: sidewalk chalk and an open, paved area (sidewalk, driveway)
How to play Chalk Challenge
- Choose a starting point and begin drawing an “obstacle course” with the chalk
- You can use varying shapes and lines to signal specific movements (like a zigzag line for skipping, dots for tiptoeing, or a circle for spinning around)
- Draw in areas the kids must avoid at all costs like water, lava, and sharks to make it more fun!
- Kids must reach the end of the course without any mistakes to win!
Think of it as a suped-up version of hop scotch, with more creativity and artistic flair thrown in.
3. Animal Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek is an excellent outdoor game for any occasion.
But if your kids are bored of it, try adding a twist by hiding some of their favorite toys for them to find.
You can even add a theme like “animals that escaped from the zoo!”
What you need: Rubber or plastic animal toys as they’re easy to clean.
How to play Animal Hide and Seek
- Hide a number of animal toys around the playground or backyard before asking the children to get outside for some play!
- Start telling them how the toys escaped the previous night and that you need their help in finding them
- Request the kids to volunteer to help bring the animals back home.
- Make sure to remember how many animals you hid and where
Not only does the concept of “animal escape” excite kids, but they’ll also feel happy to help you solve a problem – a rare opportunity for children.
4. Three Flies Up
“Three Flights Up” is the other name for this game. It’s also sometimes called “Three Flies” for short.
Its aim is to teach great concentration and catching skills.
What you need: a football, handball, tennis ball or any type of ball that doesn’t require a lot of equipment to catch.
You also don’t want to use a very hard ball as it might hurt a child.
How to play Three Flies Up
This game has one thrower and all the rest are catchers.
- Let the thrower stand approximately 20-30 feet away from the catchers.
- The player tosses the ball upwards, high in the air toward the catchers
- The game continues until someone catches the ball three times
- When this happens, the person scores three points and qualifies to be the new thrower
In some versions of this game, heavy contact is encouraged as catchers box each other out and jostle for the ball.
To keep contact to a minimum in this game, have the catchers stand a few feet apart and have the thrower aim the ball at specific catchers — focus the game on concentration and catching rather than competing for position.
5. Simon Says
Kids getting bored of running around outside?
A classic game of Simons Says will crack them up in no time.
Be prepared to hear tons of goggles and outbursts of laughter from this one.
What you need: Nothing!
How to play Simon Says
- Pick one person to be the leader (Simon) and call out the actions.
- Everyone else has to listen to what the leader says and perform the action
- But there’s a catch: you only perform the action when it comes after the words “Simon says”
- If someone does an action without the leader saying Simon says, that individual is out of the game — until the next round, anyway!
For instance, if the leader blurts out “touch your toes!” and someone goes ahead to touch their toes, they’re out.
The leader may try to make it hard for the team by calling out the actions at a faster pace.
Here’s a list of Simon says actions you can use. Simon says:
- Clap your hands
- Sit down
- Touch your knees
- Pretend that you’re sleeping
- Hop to the left
- Hop to the right
- Touch your ears
- Hop on your left foot
- Quack like a duck
- Hop on your right foot
- Moo like a cow
- Place your hands on your hips
- Do a silly dance
- Wave hello
- Pat your belly
- Make a sad face
- Make a happy face
- Act you’re driving a car
- Roll on the floor
- Wink your right eye
6. Traffic on the Road
This game is perfect for kids that love pretend play and enjoy flexing their imagination.
Consider playing in a safe and open place so the pretend “traffic” has adequate space to move.
What you need: Make some simple traffic lights out of cardboard and/or construction paper… and that’s it!
How to play Traffic on the Road
- Have a team of three players minimum. Assign one player to be a cop and the others should pretend to be vehicles
- You, the parent, can be a humble pedestrian
- Using the craft traffic lights, the policeman directs traffic and stops all vehicles so the pedestrians can pass and vice versa.
Add a twist to this game by letting other children in the neighborhood come with their toy cars, bicycles and whatever else they own, so they can experience a pretend day on an imaginary road.
This one is a classic and, though it’s simple, never ceases to entertain kids.
It’s a bit like Red Light, Green Light, if you’re familiar.
What you need: Nothing at all!
How to play Run… Statue!
- Through mutual agreement or toss, one player becomes the leader
- The player should direct everyone to start running around
- While people are running all over, the leader then calls out “Statue!”
- Runners should stop immediately when the word ‘statue’ is said
- Whoever makes even the smallest motion is out!
Kids love it when the parent is the statue yeller and they get to focus on running around like lunatics!
Play until only one kid remains, and then start the game over again until everyone is exhausted.
Kids adore running around outside, but heavy contact games can lead to injuries and an unnecessary spread of germs.
Try some of these outdoor games with no contact to keep everyone a bit safer during the spring and summer.
Most of them don’t even require any equipment!
And if you’re looking for more ideas, check out:
- Games to play in the kitchen
- Games to play outside with 3 players
- Games to play outside without running
Hope this helps!