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5 outdoor games ideas for summer: how to keep the kids occupied for hours

From busy toddlers to bored teens, here's how to transform your garden into an activity hotspot for the whole family to enjoy. That's what we call winning...


Chalk it up

You can’t get more old school than chalking up a hopscotch grid on a path or pavement and getting the whole street involved. It’s an easy-peasy DIY game that won’t break the bank and needs very little space. Pick an object such as a bean bag or a small stone that will be thrown on the squares. Then draw up the board with colourful chalk – that will simply wash away if the heavens open – and you’re ready to play. All you need is good weather, good balance and good friends. Hop to it and let the competition commence! 

TOP TIP: If there’s a big group, chalk up a noughts and crosses board for an extra outdoor activity. Get the kids to decorate pebbles to use as colourful counters

Photo credit: Buy this ready-made noughts & crosses kit, £19.99, 

Garden game

DIY mini golf

Bring the holiday mood back home by setting up a DIY mini golf course in your back garden. Make the game fun-filled and tricky by gathering up bits and pieces from the house. Lay paper cups on their side for the holes and make winding paths with ropes or a hosepipe. Let the kids get inventive by creating obstacles. Shallow bowls of water become instant water features, propped up books on their side transform into slopes and toilet roll cardboard tubes make the best makeshift tunnels. Grab any bat, any ball (any size will do) and aim for a hole in one! 

TOP TIP: Set up a garden picnic so the children can play outside all day. An outdoor rug and bright paper cups and plates is all you’ll need 

Photo credit: Waterproof Paisley Outdoor Rug, £15, Talking Tables, 

Giant pairs

Who doesn’t love a game of pairs? And the beauty of making your own, is that the kids can spend half a day making the cards. From toddler handprints to adolescent works of art, everyone will adore playing with their own set of bespoke cards. Get out the pencils, paints and crayons so everyone can create bold and beautiful images – times two. Stencils are the perfect artistic tool to ensure you get two-of-a-kind images. Get ready to flex your memory… 

TOP TIP: If you’re feeling fancy, laminate your homemade cards so you can use them again and again – even if the weather is a little soggy 

Photo credit: Stencil Kit, £12.99, Laurence King, 
Garden game

Bean bag toss

Competitive souls will adore this game. Prop up a ladder against a wall and label each opening with a score card. Alternatively, set up a few buckets at varying distances and score each one depending how far they are placed away from players. Next, grab a few mini beanbags or soft balls and take it in turns to throw. Not only will it boost good hand eye co-ordination skills but encouraging the kids to add up their scores is like a summer maths lesson (without them realising it!). Win/win all round. 

TOP TIP: You can play bean bag toss with as little as two players. But why not set up teams to foster a team spirit and go the whole hog with team mascots and your own anthem.  

Photo credit: Just remember to remove the plants! Aldsworth Shelf Ladder Large Natural, £129.50, Garden Trading, 
Garden furniture

Outdoor movie night

After all the activity of the day, don’t stop there. Now it’s time to relax, chill out and take in a film by setting up an outdoor film screening. You will need to buy a projector for this activity but it’ll be a worthwhile investment for family fun all summer (and cheaper than weekly outings to the cinema). Line up favourite movies and shows and vote which one you get to watch first. Then have score cards at the ready to find out which movie everyone has enjoyed the most. Lights, camera, action… 

TOP TIP: Make homemade popcorn and serve in striped cartons to get the full movie experience. Grab some beanbags, floor cushions and blankets and enjoy 

Photo credit: Pro Connect 5m 10 Multi Coloured Connectable Festoon Lights Black Cable, £49.99, Lights4Fun, 
Garden lights