15 Summer Backyard Games to Play During Quarantine

No public pool this year? Don't sweat it. These outdoor activities will keep everyone entertained.

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The birds are singing; the days are getting longer; and slowly but surely, those temperatures are rising. Summer is right around the corner. But right now, it looks like there's a good chance that many of us will be spending at least part of the hottest months of the year quarantined at home. For folks with kids, that means keeping them entertained without public pools and movie theaters, which will be tricky. But if you're lucky enough to have outdoor space where you live, you can challenge the whole family to some of these fun and easy summer backyard games.

Keep on reading for ideas that will get all of you out in the sun and away from your screens. Whether you're the DIY type or you're ready to spring for something shiny and new that ships quickly, we've got you covered. And for more things to do this summer, check out 33 Fun Family Activities to Do in 2020 That'll Benefit Everyone.

1
Mini golf

Mini golf
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Got any old golf clubs laying around? Put them to use for a few rounds of backyard mini golf! Whether your game is as simple as tapping balls into plastic cups or something more elaborate that incorporates twists, turns, or even water features, mini golf is a fun backyard game that's suitable for family members of all ages. Check out 12 Fun Family Games Everyone Will Get a Kick Out of Playing for more activity ideas.

2
Ring toss

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Ring toss is a popular backyard game for a good reason: You can make it out of just about anything. As long as you've got some sort of ring and something to toss it onto, you're good to go! Rather than buying a set, you can use pool toys, hula hoops, or even rolls of painter's tape as rings. Two-liter soda bottles are excellent for catching the rings, or you could come up with your own unique idea. For activities that will keep kids learning all summer, check out 10 Home Science Experiments Your Kids Will Love.

3
Bean bag toss

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Here's a fun variation on the ring toss game above. If you've got bean bags, you can draw or spray paint a target onto your grass or on the driveway, then label each ring of the target with a different point value. Have each family member toss the bean bags onto the target to see who can score the most points. Need some bean bags? This super simple tutorial from All for the Boys explains how make your own, no sewing required.

4
Cornhole

Cornhole
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Cornhole has become the great American pastime when it comes to backyard games. If you don't already have a cornhole set, it's definitely time to invest in one! We love this sturdy wood set, which comes with eight bean bags and a carrying case. It arrives sans design so you can customize it to your family's liking, by painting, staining, or adding stickers and decals. Alternatively, if you're handy and happen to have some spare wood laying around, cornhole is a relatively simple game to make yourself. This step-by-step guide from DIY Network has all the instruction you need.

5
Lawn Scrabble

Scrabble
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If your family loves the game of Scrabble, summer is the perfect opportunity to bring this time-honored game outside—and we don't mean using your regular board on your patio furniture. Sure, you can buy yard-sized Scrabble tiles, but if you don't want to wait for them to be shipped, why not create your own? You could use card stock, construction paper, or even cardboard from all those Amazon purchases you've made recently. Simply cut a bunch of same-sized squares, then use a black marker to draw a letter on each square, and you're ready to play!

6
Lawn bowling

Lawn bowling
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Bring the fun of the bowling alley right to your own space with a backyard bowling set. This can be complicated to DIY, so if you don't already own one, you may want to consider purchasing a wooden set. This one includes ten pins, two balls and its own carrying case for easy storage. And if you're hitting the road with your family, be sure to check out 20 Free Car Games for Kids to Help Pass the Time.

7
Football toss

Football
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Create a fun game of football toss with a piece of wood or cardboard that you have laying around. Simply cut a larger hole near the top and a smaller hole beneath it for two levels of difficulty, then stand back and toss the football to see if you can get it into either of the holes. It's a great way for your little ones to practice hand-eye coordination and ball handling, assuming summer sports are put on hold.

8
Ladder ball

Ladder ball
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Ladder ball makes an excellent backyard game for the whole family. The object is to toss bolos, which are two balls strung together with a rope, onto a ladder. But it's harder than it looks! What's not hard? Making your own! Ladder ball is a super-simple DIY project that can be done with either PVC piping or wood, or you can opt to purchase a set.

9
Painted rock tic-tac-toe

Painted rock tic tac toe
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This game combines the fun of painting rocks with a classic game everyone knows: tic tac toe. Simply have your kids paint a bunch of rocks with two different designs—they can draw bees and ladybugs, like this example from Chicken Scratch NY, or come up with something totally unique. Then, simply draw a tic-tac-toe board and let the games begin! Check out 9 Fun Indoor Activities for Kids During Quarantine for some rainy day ideas.

10
Water cup races

Child spraying water gun
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When Mother Nature cranks up the summer heat, it's time to break out some water-fueled games! Remember those carnival water race games? You can rig up a similar version yourself with very little effort. Run a string from one tree to another, then poke a small hole in the bottom of a plastic cup. Thread the cup through the string so it hangs sideways from the string. Then, invite the kids to use their water guns to spray the inside of the cup and push it along the string. Best popsicle flavor for whoever wins!

11
Pool noodle toss

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Similar to ring toss, a pool noodle can be thrown into, through, or at just about anything you can think to rig up. We love this setup from While He Was Sleeping, which uses three pool noodles to create a stack of circles to throw another noodle through. It's a simple, fun way to break up those long summer afternoons.

12
Water balloon fight

Little girl preparing for a water balloon fight
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When it comes to the best backyard games for summer, you simply can't beat a water balloon fight. Do it the old-school way or opt for this handy product that allows you to fill and seal a ton of balloons in a snap. Either way, it's a great way to beat the heat!

13
Flashlight tag

Flashlight
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Don't stop the fun just because the sun's going down! Break out the flashlights and gather the whole family for a game of flashlight tag. The rules are simple: One person is "it" and everyone runs away. If the person who's "it" manages to shine their light on someone, that person takes over.

14
Water balloon baseball

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Don't put those water balloons away just yet! You can use them to play a hilarious—and wet!—round of baseball. Grab a bat and let the kids take turns getting soaked as they burst the balloons and run the bases.

15
Ice block treasure hunt

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If you're in search of backyard games for toddlers and younger kiddos, the ice block treasure hunt is for you! Fill a plastic food container with small toys, then freeze it overnight. When the little ones are looking for something to do, simply dump the ice block and hand them some "excavation tools" so they can chip away at the ice and discover hidden treasures. And for more at-home fun, check out 10 Scavenger Hunt Clues to Keep Kids' Brains Busy.

Christin Perry
Christin Perry is a freelance writer covering health, lifestyle, and parenting. Read more
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