Charging out of bed, grabbing a bowl of cereal, shoes on and out of the door. The long hot days of summer stretching endlessly ahead, meeting up with friends and playing from morning until dusk. When we were younger, holidays were spent outside and they were fantastic.
Well, shake off that nostalgia! It’s time to make summer all about playing again. Turn off the Wi-Fi, separate the kids from their screens. Let’s introduce some of our favourite classic outdoor games to the next generation. Here’s a reminder of some of those games from your younger years. And the perfect setting to play them? In the woods and meadows on a Forest Holiday, of course!
Blind Man’s Buff
A simple variant on the game of tag, one person is blindfolded whilst trying to buff, or bump, into the others. This is a great game for a wide-open space, free of obstacles.
There are a number of variations. In one, the other players have to find their place and then stand still, giving the ‘blind man’ a better chance to find them. Another is that the blindfolded player calls out "Marco" and the others reply "Polo", helping him to locate them. Introduce whatever rules you need to and get seeking.
A firm favourite, this game has been played in schools across the UK for decades. A few players are selected as the 'bulldogs', and placed in the centre of the field. The rest of the players line up on one side and charge across to the other, while the 'bulldogs' try to tag them out.
Cat’s Cradle is a game for two people, using a piece of looped string. One player threads the string around their fingers and passes it to the other player, with the aim of creating different shapes and working through a sequence without making mistakes.
This is the perfect, simple game for a little bit of time out and calm between activities, as is another old favourite, making daisy chains – do kids still do this?
Duck, Duck, Goose
A great game for younger children, this is one way to tire them out before bed. All players sit in a circle. One player walks around the outside and taps the other players on the head, naming them Duck, before randomly naming one Goose.
The Goose then has to chase the original player back around to try and tag them before they reach their place in the circle. The Goose is then ‘it’.
Light the barbecue, and, while the food is cooking, enjoy a game of French Cricket – it’s a casual, relaxed game best suited to a wide open field, with no limit to the number of players who can drop in or out to keep an eye on the sausages and burgers.
One player holds the cricket bat in front of their legs, whilst the others bowl the ball to try and hit the leg below the knee. If the player hits the ball, they can turn to face the next bowler, but if they miss they must keep the feet firmly planted and try to avoid the next bowler from any direction. The batsman is out either by being caught out or hit by the ball.
Gather some sticks from the wood and lay them out on the floor to create the hopscotch grid. Then, using a pine cone or stone, gently throw it into the grid and hop or jump through the grid to retrieve it, making sure you don’t put your foot in the square containing the pine cone or stone.
If you’re feeling a little bit more energetic, this is a fantastic game as you wind your way along the forest path. Every player bends over to touch their knees, while the last one runs up and places their hands on the bent back to leap over, legs akimbo like a frog.
After leaping the last bent back, the frog bends down to join the end of the row, and the next player takes their turn.
Relax on your decking after dinner with the children and play a family game together. All you need is a pile of thin sticks of the same length. Drop them into a random, tangled pile, and players have to try picking up individual sticks without making any others move. Each player picks up as many sticks on their turn as they can, until a stick moves and it’s on to the next player. The winner is the player with the most sticks at the end.
Take this game out into the woods for a little bit more of a challenge. Find sticks from the forest and create a giant, outdoors version of the game.
Who doesn’t love Poohsticks? All you need is a bridge over moving water.
Each player drops their stick on the upstream side of the bridge, and the winner is the stick that comes out from under the bridge first. An easy, quick game that breaks up a walk through the woods or gives you an excuse for a rest on a cycle ride.
If you are looking for an excuse to lie down in the sunshine and close your eyes, then this is the game for you. Used by generations of parents to calm children down, the aim is simple. The lions lie down in a row and pretend to sleep, while the hunter creeps around trying to encourage the lions to move or giggle.
Stuck in the Mud
A group game to get your children running about in the fresh air, this involves one or two chasers trying to tag the other players. Once tagged, the player must stand still, stuck in the mud, until released by another child running either under their arms or through their legs.
Let’s bring back these classic outdoors games and help our children create fun-filled memories of long hot summer days – just like ours. Book your summer break now for some forest fun.
Are there any of your former favourites missing from this list? Let us know what they are in the comments below!