Top 10 Old School Summertime Family Games and Activities

10. Catching butterflies/lightning bugs: So we’re starting with one of the milder activities more suitable for the younger children, but catching butterflies during the day and lightning bugs at night is not only entertaining, but also requires lots of stop, start running, multi-directional turns on a dime, and did I mention eye-hand coordination? Those insects don’t like to be caught! Don’t forget to nail a few holes in the jar lid for extended life until morning.

Catching Butterflies

9. Four Square: Does anyone else even remember this playground game? It could range from the dainty with girls wearing skirts, to the downright dirty with strategic shots to the corners. Easy to play in the driveway- all you need is 4 squares, and with sidewalk chalk, temporary lines are a quick draw.

Four Square

8. Tetherball: For the persistent and those blessed with great eye-hand coordination (or who needs to work on such), this game could be rigged at the bottom of your ill-used basketball hoop in no time. Just watch out for the… oh no - too late!

7. Wheelbarrow race: What a great picnic event idea - no equipment needed. Since it is just as hard (and good for) adults compared to children, this game is the great equalizer, and core stabilizer, making it one of my all time favorites!

6. Ghost in the graveyard: Does anyone else besides one of the hometown date families on The Bacherlorette still play this game? Take a nice dark evening, choose one ghost to hide, and the first person who finds the ghost is safe, while all the other players run back to the start location before they are tagged by the ghost. First one tagged becomes the next ghost. Sounds more fun than scary to me!

5. Potato sack race: This is the ultimate game of who can best hop like a bunny. Bunny ears and Easter baskets are completely optional. Again, fun for all ages. No, make that even more fun for adults!

Potato Sack Race

4. Nerf/squirt guns: Oh yeah. Trust me, much like dodgeball, this has to be at the top of any politically correct adult’s what not to play list. In my day, it was actually more like old dishwashing liquid bottles filled with water, sneaking up on an unsuspecting sibling on a boring, hot day.  But how many great memories from the 1970’s and 80’s start with, “I had my squirt gun on this really hot day…” However, if the risk of being shot with Nerf bullets or getting soaked to the skin doesn't make you run fast, I don't know what will!

3. Kick the can: This is the game I can remember playing as a kid as being lots of fun, but like you, I can never remember the rules. As a public service to you (since you will only find a deadly warning to avoid all sugary drinks if you actually Google “Kick the can”), the rules are as follows: place a sugary soda can or some other can in the middle of the group, with one person designated as “it.” A player who is not “it” starts the game by kicking the can, while the person who is “it” retrieves the can and brings it back to its starting place. Then the person who is “it” begins searching for the hiders, and calls out the name and location of someone hiding. The person called out needs to run back to kick the can prior to the person who is “it” can jump over the can in order to be safe, otherwise they become the next person who is “it. If the “it” person jumps over the can before the hider, the hider is now in jail, and has to be freed by another person hiding who kicks the can prior to being found. If any hider kicks the can during the game whether or not they are spotted, all of the prisoners become free again to run and hide. The round doesn’t end until everyone is caught. Got all of that? Now get out there and practice!

Kick the Can

2. Capture the flag: Wouldn’t you agree that this is the BEST, GAME, EVER?!! Do you remember dividing into 2 teams in 1st grade PE class, and a flag for each team sitting behind the blue mat that was safe? Only the fast, the elusive, and the brave made a run for the flag, and tagged teammates stuck on the mat who were previously caught, on their way to capturing the flag and returning back to their side. Adrenaline rush, anyone?

1. Dodgeball: What else could be #1 on our list? Nothing could be less politically correct than the sheer joy of hitting others mixed with the simultaneous fear of being hit! Balls are softer than they once were, so don’t tear your rotator cuff while you commence the mutiny!