(originally published to Helium writing site, now gone)
If you have a group of people that includes a number of children, you might like to consider one or more lawn games to give them something to do and let off a bit of steam. There are many lawn games suitable for children. The game or games chosen will depend on the number of children, their ages, and how much room you have at home, at the park, or wherever the gathering is held. Perhaps consider soccer, rugby, volleyball, quoits or cornhole.
Soccer can be a great outdoor game played on grass between hastily arranged teams of boys and girls of various ages. The object of the game is simple, that is, to kick goals, and can be understood by quite young children.
In official competition, the game has 11 players from each team on the field. In the back yard or at the local park, it doesn’t matter how many to a side. About 3 to 7 players to a team is a good number for lawn soccer in a confined area.
All you need is a soccer ball and a reasonably flat grassed area that is large enough for kids to run around on. Trees or bushes can be used as goal posts if they are in the right place. Otherwise, chairs or other objects could be used. At school, we used bicycles as goal posts.
There’s no need to worry about a net, as long as the ground isn’t near a road or other dangerous area. Minimal supervision is required, with perhaps a couple of adults to settle any arguments and ensure no rough play resulting in injury.
Rugby is another game that can be played on a lawn area by children of various ages. Again, this would not involve professional match conditions with fierce tackling and charging.
A popular game in some parts of Australia is touch football. It is based on the game of rugby league, with the tackle being replaced by a simple touch or tag. About six players to a team is the ideal number. A try or touchdown is scored when a player places the ball over the other team’s line. The only equipment needed here is a football, usually oval, although its shape doesn’t really matter.
We played a similar game at school called British bulldog, without a ball, and this would be suitable as a lawn game for children. Someone is picked as the bulldog. All the other players line up on one side of the field and attempt to run past the bulldog to the other side. If they are tagged, they join the bulldog. Participants run back and forth across the field until only one child remains untagged as the winner. There are a number of variations.
Volleyball can be a lawn game suitable for a largish number of energetic children. This game is normally played by two teams of six on a court with a high net strung across the middle and held up by two posts. In a children’s game, there can be any number of participants, although things get a bit crowded with more than nine a side.
Nets can be bought fairly cheaply. If you don’t have a net, one can be made quite quickly with rope and old netting or with other bits of material hanging down from the rope. Suitable posts may be a problem for impromptu matches. Possibilities are fixed objects such as a fence, tree, clothes line, or side of a shed or house.
The only other thing needed is a volleyball. Don’t use a soccer ball as these are too hard and heavy, and will cause soreness or injury, especially to young hands. The object of the game is of course to keep the ball from hitting the ground on your side of the net and trying to hit the ball to the gaps on the other side.
If it’s time for a quieter game or if you don’t have a large enough number of children or the room to play other games, quoits or cornhole might be suitable lawn games.
Quoits has been around for centuries and is played with rings of metal, rubber, or synthetic material. These are thrown at a pin or stake in the ground over a distance of 30 to 60 feet depending on the version of the game. For a children’s lawn game, this distance should be reduced considerably, depending on the age of the children.
Quoits of a lighter weight than competition quoits can be readily purchased, along with a pin that comes with a stand, so that the game can be played indoors too.
Anywhere from two to about six children could play this game, either individually or as two teams. The simplest scoring method is to award one point for each quoit that lands over the pin.
Cornhole is a lawn game played with corn bags, which can either be bought or made at home. They can be made from two squares of colored fabric stitched together and filled with corn kernels or beans or some other stuffing material. The size should be about six inches square and the weight about one pound, so they are nice and light for children to throw.
You can buy a cornhole board with hole cheaply or perhaps make one. In competition, players throw from about 30 feet but this could be shortened, perhaps to 15-20 feet, for a children’s social game. A bag that goes in the hole scores three points and one that lands on the board earns a single point.
There are many other lawn games for children, apart from the ones here: soccer, rugby, volleyball, quoits and cornhole. The important thing is to get the children out into the open air and have them running around or exercising in some way. This is a good way to keep them fit. Lawn games will also encourage them to socialize and will promote the development of teamwork and various sporting skills.