4 Classic No-Cost Games for Kids

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You’ve likely heard of that revered outdoor game of long ago, Kick the Can. Why was it such a hit? Because it was fun back then — and it still is now.

Here are some classic no-cost and fun games for kids that can get them active the way they used to — no screens or game systems required.

1. Kick the Can (four or more players)

Materials: an empty can and a designated “jail” area.
The can is placed in the jail area. One player is chosen as “It” and another to kick the can. The kicker kicks the from the jail area. “It” must retrieve the can, place it back in the jail area, then cover his or her eyes and count out loud to a predetermined number while the other players run and hide. Once “It” completes counting, he or she seeks the other players. When “It” sees another player, he or she races to the can, picks it up, taps it three times and calls out the spotted player’s name and location. If “It” correctly names a player and location, that player must move to the jail area and stay there until “It” catches all the players in the same manner. Once all players are caught, the first one caught becomes “It” in the next round.

Goal: To not be caught.

2. Capture the Flag (10 or more players)

Materials: two flags, chalk or other markers to designate team boundaries and joint “jail” area.
Play area is divided into two even territories (say, back yard and front yard or inside and outside) and players divided into two even teams. Each team hides their flag somewhere in their territory. “Spies” from each team can spy in “enemy” territory for intel on where the flags are hidden, but if captured, they must go to “jail” and are freed only when tagged by a teammate. After the predetermined “flag hiding” time is up, players line up and one designated leader announces “Go!” All players then search for the opposing team’s flag. If an opposing team member tags players in the “enemy” territory, those tagged must go to jail and are freed only when tagged by a teammate.

Goal: Capturing the opposing team’s flag and bringing it to own team’s territory.

3. Red Light Green Light (three or more players)

Materials: none
One player is chosen as the “stoplight” and stands with his or her back to the other players. Other players line up side-by-side (arm’s length between) about 10 feet behind the stoplight. The stoplight can say two phrases at his or her whim: “green light” or “red light.” When he or she shouts “green light,” the other players move as quickly as they can toward the stoplight. When the stoplight shouts “red light,” other players must immediately stop as the stoplight turns around to catch those in motion. When players are caught moving during a “red light,” they must return to the starting line.

Goal: Be the first player to tag the stoplight to become the stoplight in the next round.

4. Sardines (three or more players)

Materials: none
One player is designated as the first sardine. Just like in hide-and-seek, this player hides — while all the other players close their eyes and count to a predetermined number. When those seeking are done counting, they search for the “sardine.” As each player finds the sardine, he or she quietly joins the original sardine, packing themselves together into even the tightest of spaces. (Hence the “Sardines” name.) The last player to find the hiding sardines is the first to hide on the next round.

Goal: To not be the last sardine… or the one giggling so loudly the hiding spot is revealed.

Lisa Carpenter is a Colorado-based freelance writer. She publishes the Grandma’s Briefs website, where she shares bits on life’s second act and strives to smash the outdated “grandma” stereotype. Lisa has been married to the same man forever; together they have three adult daughters and two grandsons, children of the middle daughter and her husband. Lisa is easy to find online as she’s known as GrandmasBriefs wherever she goes: TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and others.

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