lemonade learning Outdoor
Game Rules

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Can your child swim?

If your toddler falls into a pool or pond, does he or she know what to do? Babies even less than a year can learn to turn and grab the side of a pool. Babies very rarely have any fear of the water, making it easier to teach them skills and avoid panic behaviour that can lead to drowning in an emergency situation.
If you are uncomfortable teaching your child these skills, try infant or preschool swim classes at your local recreation centre. A good class for the very young will emphasise safety skills including submersion, pool entry and exit, exercises in and out of an infant pfd, and first aid instruction for the parents as well.
Many centres also offer beginner classes for older children, and even teens and adults.
For safety's sake, teach your child to swim.

Hide and Seek


First, decide on the boundaries you will use. Will you be allowed to go into people's houses? What about their back yards? Be sure that everyone is clear on what areas are ok, and what ones are off limits.

Next, you will need to figure out how you will call in players once someone has been found. A whistle works well for this.

To play: choose a person who will be "it". This person covers their eyes and counts to a pre-determined number (100 works well for most games), while the others all scatter and hide and try not to be found. Once "it" has reached 100, they call out "ready or not, here I come!" and begin to search for the other players. Once a player has been spotted, "it" calls out "1,2,3 on _______ (caught person's name) and races him or her back to the starting point. If the caught person reaches that point first, the search continues, if not, the whistle is blown (or for smaller areas, "it" can call "ollie ollie in free" and the players return to start again with the caught person now becoming "it" for the next round.

Kick the Can

This game is quite similar to hide and seek. First decide on your boundaries and areas that are "off limits". Next, determine which player will be "it". A different player kicks a can as far as possible, and while "it" retrieves the can and places it on the "home" area, the other players run and hide.

"It" must search for the players, and once a player is found, "it" calls out their name and location and races them back to the can. If "it" wins, the player must wait in a jail area. If the player wins, he or she kicks the can.

At any point in the game, a player who is not it, whether seen or not, may sneak back and kick the can to free anyone from the jail. While "it" retrieves the can, the others all hide again until eveyone is caught.

Variation: For larger groups, have more than one person as "it". Draw a chalk circle around the can (a few metres wide). The guard must guard the can but can only enter the circle when chasing a player. The other "it" team member(s) search for players.

Capture the Flag

First, define your area of play being sure that everyone is clear on what areas are off limits. You will need to define a boundary line that divides each team's territory.

Next, divide players into two teams and give each a distinctively coloured "flag" (a scarf or handkerchief works well) to hide in a way that keeps the flag visible (not buried or such). Each team hides theirs and works to defend it from capture by the other team through deception, blocking, etc.

When in the other team's territory, a player may be captured by being tagged. The tagged player must go to that team's jail, which is set back about half way from the territorial border for each team. A jailed player may be freed by a teammate who tags them, at the risk of also becoming captured.

The play ends when a flag is captured or when an entire team is jailed.

Tag and Variations

Perhaps the simplest group game ever, tag still remains a playground favourite.

Basic tag: Decide on your boundaries and areas to be off-limits. choose one player to start being "it". The other players try to avoid being tagged by "it". If they are tagged, they become "it" and the previous "it" becomes a regular player.

Time out: add a place that is considered a time-out area in which players cannot be tagged.
Last player standing: "It" stays "it" along with all the people who are tagged until there is only one person left not "it".
Freeze tag: When a person is tagged, they must freeze until another player unfreezes them by circling them three times.
Partner tag: Players run holding a partner's hand. When they are tagged, they form a bridge by joining hands until another pair frees them by passing under their bridge.
Tail tag: Each player will need a "tail" such as a handkerchief, bandanna, towel, etc. This is tucked into the back of each player's waist band. The object is to capture other people's tails but keep your own. The last player with a tail wins.

Trail Blazers

This game was invented by my son for our family. For this you will need a large # of popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks) and two containers (for holding the sticks).
The entire group first agrees on boundaries and a time limit, as well as a meeting place if the searching team fails to find the first team.
The first team lays a trail using the popsicle sticks through the neighbourhood by laying the sticks in arrow (/\), forked path (Y), dead end (X) or "search" (triangle) patterns. After a 5 minute head start, the second team follows the trail and tries to find the other team by following the trail and retrieving the sticks as they go. Once the second team reaches the "end point" with the triangle, they must begin searching the area nearby for the first team's members, who are hidden in such a way such that they can see the end point from their hiding spot. Once the team is found or the time has run out, the teams switch roles.
An alternative version uses sidewalk chalk instead of popsicle sticks and the symbols are drawn as indicated above (this version only works where the entire game will be played on paved surfaces).

Marco Polo

This game is essentially Blind Man's Bluff played in a pool or at a beach. First, choose a player who will be "it". This player closes his or her eyes and counts to ten, while the others scatter around the pool or beach area. Then "it" tries to tag the players without opening his or her eyes. To help, "it" calls out "Marco" to which all players must answer "Polo". When a person is tagged, they become "it" and the former "it" joins the rest of the players.

Treasure Dive

You can use anything that sinks, has no sharp edges and does not foul the pool for this game. We've used jewelry that is large enough not to get caught in the filter, coins, and shiny pebbles.

Begin with all players out of the water. Decide on teams, if playing with teams, or play individually. If using teams, determine where the gathered treasure will be put. While the players' backs are turned, one person scatters the treasure throughout the pool. On their signal, players begin their treasure hunt and continue until all the treasure is gathered. The team or person with the most treasure wins the game.

Variation: Some toddlers and preschoolers may find it hard to dive deep enough to reach the bottom, so you may wish to add some floating treasure for them to chase.