Get-Active Games for Kids and Families

Have some healthy fun with these all-ages activities!

Everything in this slideshow

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Photograph by William Geddes

Flying Saucers

For a homespun version of disc golf, hang a hoop from a branch or clothesline, then grab a Frisbee and try these spins on the game.

D-I-S-C

The game's the same as H-O-R-S-E in basketball. One player throws a disc through the hoop, then the others have to match that shot or earn a letter; last one to spell D-I-S-C wins.

Baseball

Set out four bases (cardboard squares work well) with home plate near the hoop. Players start at home and work around the diamond, shooting from each base. Three "strikes" (misses) and you're out; complete the circuit to earn a run and another turn (with three strikes).

Obstacle Golf

Starting and ending with a disc shot through the hoop, players race to complete a course of challenges (jump rope 25 times, kick a soccer ball into a net, and so on). Keep time; fastest player wins.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Mark Mantegna

Boost Your Family's Memory Skills

This after-dinner activity is great for building brain power. Cut out a dozen or so newspaper or magazine pictures of fun objects (flowers, a cookie, and so on), then have an adult moderator secretly sort them into groups of three to five, based on something the images have in common (all are related to water, say, or all are green). The moderator then shows the other players each picture in a group, holding them up one at a time for about 3 seconds. Players must remember what flashed by as they try to guess what the objects have in common. The first to make the connection takes the round.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by William Geddes

Hop to It!

Stretch the life of an old yoga mat by turning it into an indoor version of a classic sidewalk game. With a ruler and pen, lightly outline a hopscotch board on the mat, then cover the lines with duct tape strips (we used duct tape rolls and sheets purchased from a craft store). Use more tape to add designs to each square. To make an indoor tossing "stone," fill a child's sock halfway with rice and knot the end.

Bonus: Find the traditional hopscotch diagram and play instructions at parents.com/hopscotch.

Originally published in the December/January 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Sabrina Helas

Balancing Acts

Get active with balancing exercises that provide multiple health and fitness benefits for kids.

Originally published in the April 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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David Roth

Snowball Scramble

Bring the fun of snowy weather indoors with a zany (and energetic!) game fit for the whole family. Clear a large open area for play and lay down a length of string or rope to create a center line. Gather small sponge or Ping-Pong balls and distribute them evenly between two teams, which take positions on either side of the line. Set a timer for two minutes (a phone timer with an alarm works well). At "Go," players start tossing balls into the opposing team's side, gathering and returning any balls tossed into their own. When the timer sounds, play stops, and balls are counted. The team with the fewest balls wins.

Originally published in the December/January 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ty Milford

Jumping Jack Class

If lousy weather is producing a bumper crop of couch potatoes around your house, try injecting some movement into your family's day with a classic exercise: jumping jacks. "They're a great cardiovascular exercise that helps you use a lot of your muscle mass, consume a lot of oxygen, and burn calories," explains Neal Pire, Director of Sports Performance at Volt Fitness in Glen Rock, New Jersey. Even better, a good cardio workout can "help control blood sugar and mood, and balance your energy," says Pire. To see for yourself, try these with your kids.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Joe Polillio

Jump to It

With PVC pipe, pipe fittings, and colorful tape, you can build a set of hurdles just the right size for your family. Jumping over and crawling through the hurdles will help your kids improve their agility, and they can use them as goals for backyard ball games.

Originally published the September 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by David Roth

Counting on Exercise

Get your kids' fitness plan on a roll with a set of homemade movement dice. To make a pair, use duct tape to seal the edges and cover the sides of two small, cube-shaped boxes (we recycled tissue boxes). With a permanent marker, write numbers on one die (numerals no higher than ten are best), and various movements ("Hop on one foot" or "Spin around," say) on the other. Players take turns rolling the dice, then performing the movement for the number of times shown.

Originally published the May 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Idea by Katie Farwel, Photograph by David Roth

Memory on the Move

This fast-paced fitness game, based on a simple sprinting drill, gets kids exercising bodies and minds.

Originally published the March 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Blend Images/Getty

Time for Fun

Need a fun trick to get your kid's heart pumping fast? All it takes is a stopwatch to transform simple activities like running, skipping, and balancing into fitness challenges that will have everyone racing to do their best. Below, we share a few of our favorite timed games.

Originally published the October 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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iStockphoto

Be a Summer Olympian!

Challenge your family to sprint, walk, or swim in the spirit of the Games by completing an Olympic distance endurance event, but over the course of the summer. You might try a triathlon (swim, bike, and run a total of 32 miles), 1,500-meter swim (30 laps in a 25-yard pool), men's 50K speed walk (31 miles), or women's cycling road race (87 miles). Use a handy log to keep track of your activities. When you're done, treat yourselves to a special prize.

Originally published the June/July 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Idea by Katie Farrell, Photograph by Andrew Greto

Chase a Rainbow

This fast-paced game gives traditional tag a colorful twist. You'll need several sets of rubber bracelets or bands, one color for each player (so for six players, you'll need six red, six blue, and so on). One player is chosen to be "It." At "Go," players start trading their bands, trying to collect one band of each color. It, meanwhile, tries to tag a trader. When she does, the trader must trade a bracelet with her and becomes the new It. The first player to collect a bracelet in each color wins.

Originally published the May 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Have a Ball!

Three active games that teach the value and the fun of working together:

Toss and Tag
A bouncy ball serves as a shared shield in this riff on classic tag. The player who is "it" can tag any player without the ball. The other players work as a team, tossing the ball to any player in danger. Time each round to see which group of players lasts the longest before all are tagged.

Sardines
This game is hide-and-seek, set up in reverse. One player hides, and the others set off to find him. When a seeker discovers the hider, she quietly joins him in his spot. The game ends when everyone has crammed into the hiding place. The first to find the hider gets to hide in the next round.

Amoeba Tag
In this test of teamwork, players join forces to form one long chain. Tagged players must hold hands with "it" and help catch the others. The game continues until all are linked and caught.

Originally published in the May 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Fly the Backyard Skies

Now departing:? your kids' boredom, courtesy of this nonstop paper airplane game. Begin by having everyone fold a plane. In an open area, mark start and finish lines with plastic cones or other bright objects. At "Go," the players launch their planes toward the finish. When the aircraft land, players race to toss them toward the line again, continuing until both planes and players reach their final destination. Repeat until a lemonade refueling stop is needed.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Pool Noodle Hockey

Give a winter game a silly, summery twist by replacing the usual pucks and sticks with swimming toys. Place goals at each end of a rectangular play area (use pairs of cones or make our pool noodle goals; directions below). Divide the players into teams and give everyone a pool noodle (cut in half for smaller players), then set them loose trying to hit a beach ball into the goal.

If you like: Use hollow pool noodles to make goals for your game. For each, hammer 2 chopsticks or 1/4-inch dowels (cut 10 to 12 inches long) halfway into the ground about 3 feet apart. Slide the noodles into place.

Originally published in the June/July 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Fly the Backyard Skies

Now departing: your kids' boredom, courtesy of this nonstop paper airplane game. Begin by having everyone fold a plane. In an open area, mark start and finish lines with plastic cones or other bright objects. At "Go," the players launch their planes toward the finish. When the aircraft land, players race to toss them toward the line again, continuing until both planes and players reach their final destination. Repeat until a lemonade refueling stop is needed.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Tune up Your Brain

Looking for a fun way to help build memory skills? This cooperative word game fosters powers of recollection--and helps pass the time when your gang is stuck in traffic.

  • The first player says, "We're going on a trip and we need to pack one ..." and then names an item ("suitcase," for instance).
  • The second player repeats the statement and the first item, then adds another: "And two pairs of underwear."
  • The next player adds to the list, and so on.

If a player cannot recall the entire list, other players can offer hints. If no one remembers, empty that imaginary bag (and your memory) and start again.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Splash Tag

This version of tag pulls double-duty: it's both an energy burner and a cool-off game. Give one player a plastic water bottle and have him try to tag other players with a squirt of H2O. Last one splashed is the winner (although everyone wins on a hot day). For an added challenge, give each player a bottle, then tape a piece of toilet paper to the back of their shirts. When the toilet paper is wet enough to fall off, they're out.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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