Adults Featured Kids — 15 July 2016

Learn the rules for playing your child’s favorite summer games.  First of a three-part series.

By: Jodie Shield, MED, RDN

School’s out for summer!  Parents, are you looking for some fun activities to do with your kids that don’t cost an arm and a leg?  Let me make a suggestion: play games. I’m not talking about virtual games like Angry Birds or Xbox. I’m talking real games where kids get to actually use their arms and legs to run around, burn up energy and have a blast. You know, games you used to enjoy when you were a kid such as Kick the Can or Macro Polo. But if it’s been awhile, you may need to brush up on how to play them. I’ve decided to do a series of blogs featuring the rules for playing kids favorite summer backyard games, pool games, and sidewalk games. To find out what games are hot, I polled neighborhood kids between the ages of 6 and 16 and came up with the top 3 most popular for each category. So everyone, grab your sneakers and let the good times roll!


Kids’ Top 3 Favorite Backyard Games

#1: Red Light, Green Light

One person directs a human traffic jam of stopping and starting until one player crosses the finish line.

Requires: 3 to 4 players, but the more the merrier.

How to Play: One player gets to be IT and stands at the far end of the yard while the other players stand in a horizontal line at the opposite end of the yard.  When IT calls, “Green Light!” all the players run as fast as they can toward IT.  At any time, IT can call; “Red Light!” and all the players must stop immediately.  Anybody caught moving, has to go back to the starting line.  The first player who successfully crosses the finish line is the winner and gets to be IT.

Recommended for: kids of all ages especially younger children. This game will give kids a great cardio workout and helps improve balance and speed.


#2: Flashlight Tag

Night owls love this game.  It’s kind of like hide-and-seek except it’s played at night and one person uses a flashlight to tag other players.

Requires: at least 3 or more players.

How to Play: One player is IT and counts to a designated number while the other players hide.  Armed with a flashlight, IT searches for the other players.  When IT finds someone, IT shines the flashlight on the player who then becomes IT.  Or another way to play, as IT finds and tags players with the flashlight, they sit out until everyone is tagged.  The last player found becomes IT.

Recommended for: kids of all ages, but works best for kids not afraid of the dark.  This game will give kids a great cardio workout.


#3: Kick the Can

One player guards the can while the rest try to kick it over before being caught.

Requires: at least 5 players, but more people make for more fun.

How to Play:  An empty can is place in the middle of the yard.  One player is IT and with eyes closed, counts to a designated number while the others hide.  IT then tries to find and tag the other players, but always keeping an eye on the can.  Any player who is tagged is sent to “jail” usually in plain sight of the can.  The rest of the free players try to kick the can before being tagged out, If they can kick the can without being caught, they set all the captured players free.  The game is over when all of the players are captured.

Recommended for: kids of all ages, particularly older kids.  This game gives kids a great cardio workout and helps encourage team-building skills.


There you have it! The rules for this week’s top picks for kids’ favorite backyard games.  Next week on to pool games.  In the mean time, what was your favorite summer backyard game?


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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N. Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

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