Three games to play outside
If you’ve got children you’ll know filling their days can be a challenge and often expensive, so why not encourage them to have fun on a shoestring with some of the great outdoor games you used to play as a child?
Here are three ideas to get you started (and if you’re short of outdoor space yourself, Danbury Common, Blakes Wood and Hatfield Forest make fantastic playgrounds):
What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?
This classic game is lots of fun for younger children, and can be played in groups of three or more. The game starts with one player being selected as Mr. Wolf.
Mr. Wolf stands at one end of the playing field with his or her back turned, while the other players stand at the opposite end of the field. In unison the players call out: “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” and Mr. Wolf replies with a time of his or her choosing (e.g. “It’s two o’clock”).
The players can then take that many steps towards Mr. Wolf as they count out loud (“one, two”). This continues until Mr. Wolf gets hungry and decides to stop telling the time and say: “It’s dinner time!” at which point he or she turns and chases all the other players back to their starting point. If Mr. Wolf manages to catch a player, they then become Mr. Wolf in the next round.
Top tip: Practice your growl and get into the part of Mr. Wolf.
Rounders is a popular summer sport, and a great way to keep children active during the holidays. You need at least five players, a rounders bat, a ball (a tennis ball will do fine) and some jumpers. First set up the makeshift pitch, using the jumpers to mark four posts, each around 12m apart. Using another jumper mark out a line for the batter to stand behind when batting. The fielders should spread out across the pitch, with the bowler in the centre and a backstop stationed behind the batter to collect any missed balls.
The aim of the game is for the batter to hit the ball as far as they can, and while the fielders retrieve it, to run round as many of the posts as possible (the batter still has to run even if he or she misses the ball). They can continue running until the bowler has the ball again; if by that time they’ve reached second post, they score a half-rounder, and if they’ve run round all the posts they score a full rounder.
The fielders can get the batter out at any time during the game by touching the ball to the post that the batter is running towards.
Top tip: Bring lots of water – rounders is a thirsty game!
This variation on hide-and-seek always leads to lots of laughter. The game begins with one player finding a hiding place while the others count to 90 with their eyes closed. When the 90 seconds are up, the other players can go in search of the hidden player.
Unlike traditional hide-and-seek, in Sardines when a seeker finds the hidden player they join them in the hiding place. As more players find the hiding place and squeeze themselves in it becomes cramped, like a tin of sardines.
The last person to find the hiding place is the loser, though depending on the state of the hiding place they might not mind!
Top tip: Shouting “olly olly oxen free” ends the round, meaning all players can come out of their hiding place.