Kids are amazing explorers – wherever you live, you can trust them to find all kinds of imaginative ways to make the most of their environment. When it comes to families in cities, however, parents may wonder what kids’ outdoor games may work best in an urban environment.
The Persil Kids Today project, which talked to children and parents around the world, found that cities can be exciting places to explore and play:
Connecting with the freedom of the outside world, getting messy, and having fun – all these activities give children memories to treasure. This article has some great tips for outdoor fun for kids in a city, along with some fantastic outside games for kids your little ones will love.
Fun Places for Kids’ Outdoor Games
There are a number of places families can go for outdoor games for children. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started!
- Supervised playgrounds are great places for children to make friends, and an extra pair of eyes means that you have help to look after your little ones. To find one in your area, try NetMums’ Local to You section or your local council website.
- After School Clubs. The best thing about living in a city is that there’s always something going on! There are plenty of clubs for outdoor games for children; see your local council website, and the noticeboards or websites of gyms, parks and schools nearby.
- Parks. You don’t have to leave the city to find some green space. There are a number of beautiful city parks across the country. For example, in London‘s Hampstead Heath or Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, you can often forget the city exists! If you’re looking for a park near you, it’s a good idea to use your local council website or tourism sites to find somewhere local to you.
Outdoor Games for Children in a City
Outside games for kids in the city can offer your kids an exciting play experience! Here are our favourites:
- Skipping games can be expanded to include as many players as you like, so they’re a great way for your kids to make friends. They’ll also stay close, letting you keep an eye on them. Things can get a little muddy if they’re playing on grass, but along with the rhyming and the challenge of keeping up, that’s actually part of the fun!
How to play: One easy skipping game to start off with is called Blue Bells, Cockle Shells, and dates back to at least 1957. You’ll need three or more players, and a 7.5 metre rope.
For the first part of the rhyme, the rope is swung back and forth rather than round, as the players chant:
Blue bells, cockle shell
Eevie ivy over
There are many variations of the rhyme that comes next –The James T. Callow Folklore Archive has more than a few examples. Turning the rope all the way around, the kids can chant a verse like this while mimicking the actions:
Charlie Chaplin went to France,
To teach the ladies how to dance,
With a heel and a toe around we go,
Salute to the captain,
Bow to the Queen,
Touch the bottom of the dirty submarine!
Birthday jump-ins are a good way to involve lots of players: Everyone chants the months (‘January, February, March’, and so on) and players jump in when their birthday month is called. Once all the months are called, the days are chanted (“1,2,3,4” up to “31”), with the players jumping out again on the day they were born.
- Treasure hunts are perfect city-based outdoor games for kids because of the exciting range of landmarks for clues. You can also plan ahead where your kids will be, keeping them out of harm’s way. Stay with them as they go along (dropping a subtle hint here and there) – watching them work clues out is very rewarding!
How to play: First, decide where you’re going to start the hunt, and where you’ll finish; you can play in a large park or in a quiet area of the city. Find interesting places to visit along the way, and use them in your clues. For example:
I rhyme with the word ‘maker’, My sign is blue and red, With flour, yeast, and butter, too I make something called bread!
Read out the clues until they reach the end – then you can give them the treasure!
- The parachute game is perfect for keeping lots of kids engaged (and stop them from wandering off) in a big park area. It’s best to use an actual parachute or fabric with a big surface area (the bigger the better), but small-scale versions work well with smaller kids. Aside from this kids’ outdoor game, the parachute itself is very versatile; you can use it to make dens or as a fun picnic blanket afterwards.
How to play: Everyone takes hold of the edge of the parachute, and is given an animal. The game master calls out instructions: “Animals with fur, change places!” means that all children assigned animals with fur must dive under the parachute and come out again in a different spot, while the other players wave it around. Optionally, you can have a “Monster” under the parachute to catch them! You could also have all the children wearing a particular colour change places, or those whose names begin with a particular letter. There are many variations that you could try! You can be inventive with these games – a lot of fun can be had just by making waves in the parachute together. Adapt the game to suit your kids – it’ll make the day even more special.
As you can see, living in a city doesn’t mean a dull life for kids; they can still go outside, get messy and have fun! If you liked these, try one of our fantastic nature activities down at your local park.