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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Backyard Games Week May 20th- 26th

Now that the days are getting longer and the bugs are still at bay (barely), this is a great time to put on the sunscreen and head outside for some well deserved game time. Who said exercise had to be all work and no play? Even the youngest family members can get involved as long as they can toddle. Make it extra fun by trying something new. Whatever you decide, let your inner child shine. Here are some backyard game ideas to get the giggles and endorphins flowing:

Red Light! Green Light! (18 mo+)One person gets to be the traffic director and the other players line up at the far end of the yard. When the traffic director yells, "Green light!" all the players run, skip, dance, speed walk, or whatever motion was previously determined, to the opposite end of the yard. Whomever arrives first gets to be the director on the next go-round. The traffic director keeps things exciting by yelling "Red light" or "Yellow light" to try to trick the other players into not following traffic rules. Players who break the rules have to go back to the starting line. This is a great game for teaching colors and direction following. Don't underestimate the abilities of your younger players. I've witnessed a group of 18 mo olds having a blast with this game

Shark! (3 yrs +):Place hula hoops (these toys serve multiple purposes in the backyard game dept) around your yard to serve as "home base". Every player finds a hoop to stand in while one person gets to be the shark. The Shark starts the game by saying, "Fishie, Fishie, cross my ocean" and on cue everyone takes off for a new hula hoop home while the Shark tries to tag as many "fishies" as possible. The last remaining "fishie" gets to be the Shark for the next game. Make the game more difficult by adding some of your own rules such as "two fishie" to a hoop at one time or by removing some of the hoops as the game progresses.

Scavenger Hunt (9mo+/5 yrs +):Not just a game for Easter, this game can easily be played with any set of items. The player who finds the most items wins and gets to hide the items for the next hunt. If you have an older group of players, make the game more challenging by making a list of clues that have the players deciphering first and then hunting for the item. Items can be as simple as an o2dd shaped tree branch or a type of plant in your garden.

Maybe you're ready to invest in some games, but aren't where to start. Here are some ideas for the next stage in backyard games:

Bean Bag Toss (aka: Corn-hole) (4 yrs+):
This game is played with one to two slanted boards at opposite ends of the field of play and bean (or synthetic bean) filled bags. It can be played in teams of doubles or as single players. With adults, the general rule is to stand 30 feet from the board whereas with seniors and juniors, the distance from the board can be 21 feet. Each "inning" consists of the throwing of 4 bags in the attempt to get the bags into the hole of the cornhole board. Points are also earned if your bags land on the board. Any bag that doesn't land on the board or hits the ground before landing on the board is considered a foul. The goal is to be the first team/person to get or exceed 21 points by the end of the inning. The game does not stop when a team reaches 21 but continues until all players have completed the inning. There are actual official rules to the game and there are even tournaments. Check out for official rules and further details

Ladder Golf (5 yrs +)Ladder Golf is another game that requires equipment to play but is fun for any family member that can toss a ball with control. The game is played for a three step ladder and a nylon rope, with a ball attached to each end, called a bola. The toss line is set a minimum of 5 paces from the ladder (youngest players) up to 15 feet. Each rung is worth a set number of points: the top rung is worth 3 points, the middle rung is worth 2 points, and the bottom rung is worth 1 point. Every player gets 3 bolas to attempt to ring the bola on a step of the ladder. The first player to hit on exactly 21 points, wins. A max of 10 points can be earned in each round so points are carried over to subsequent rounds in an attempt to land on 21 points. If a player goes over 21 points by the end of a round (the bolas remaining on the ladder after a round are used to determine the winning points), their points are not counted for that round and players continue on to the next round. For official rules, visit www.laddergolf.come

Bocce Ball (3.5 yrs+):Bocce is another game that can be played by any family member who can toss a ball. This game is played with 2, 4, or 8 players and 8 large multi-colored and patterned bocce balls and 1 small ball,  the pallino. The 8 larger balls are split evenly among the players. The first player throws the pallino ball and then attempts to throw one bocce ball as close to the pallino ball as possible. After this players bocce ball toss, the other players are then allowed to throw their bocce balls in attempt to be the closest to the pallino. The player who gets the closest to the pallino is considered "inside" and thus gets to have any ball that is closer to the pallino than any other "outside" player, counted toward his/her points. The person to earn 13 points at the end of a frame, is the winner. Players continue the "frame" from the beginning process until someone reaches the magic number. The player who was closest to the pallino, or "inside" is the player who throws the pallino in the next frame. More info be found at

The purpose of Backyard Games week, is to get outside and play as a family. Use these ideas as a starting point but whatever you do, have fun with it! Backyard games have been around for many years so chances are you have a few of your own from your childhood memory toy box. Doing an internet search will produce hundreds of ideas. You don’t need to spend lots of money (or any, for many games) to have a good time in the backyard.  

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