The cooler days of spring & fall are a great time for kids to head outside for parties. The following party games from Penny Warner's book, "Kids' Outdoor Parties" (Meadowbrook Press), are great to get kids outdoors and having fun.
1. Big Foot Relay. Have the children bring two shoe boxes with them. Tape the lids onto the boxes, then cut a one-inch-wide and four-inch long slit in each top. Have the contestants slip their feet into the slits in the boxes and race.
2. Batty Bowling. Find a number of silly or odd items that can be knocked over by a ball, such as a plastic milk carton, a candlestick, a stand-up doll, a plastic vase of flowers, a pizza box, a tower of empty cans, an umbrella stand, an empty oatmeal container, and a book. Line them up like bowling pins and let the bowlers try to knock them over with volleyballs, tennis balls, or golf balls.
3. Name-It Ball. Have players form a circle. Give one player a rubber ball. That player selects a category, such as "candy bars." He or she then bounces the ball to another player in the circle, who must catch the ball, state an item from the category, such as "Snickers," and keep the ball moving to the next player. If the player can't name an item, holds the ball too long, or repeats an item, he or she is out.
4. Frisbee Tower. Purchase a bunch of mini Frisbees and place them in a pile in the middle of the yard. Have the guests divide the Frisbees among themselves. The first player begins the activity by placing one of his or her Frisbees on the ground. Each of the following players places his or her Frisbee on top of the first Frisbee, and the action continues until someone causes the growing tower to topple.
5. Blind Walk. Create an obstacle path from one end of the yard to the other. Line up the contestants and let them have a good look at the path. One at a time, blindfold the children and have them walk the path without looking. Note each player's time on the scoreboard.
6. Cross Step. Draw a ten-by-ten grid on the sidewalk or patio with chalk. Have each player stand on a different square. One at a time, each player must move to a new square after crossing out the square she or he was formerly standing in. The trick is that players cannot step into a square that is occupied or crossed out. If a player cannot move to a new square, he or she is out. The game continues until one player is left.
7. Pick Pocket Tag. Put a strip of cloth in each player's back pocket. Have the players try to grab each other's strips without having their own strip taken. The player with the most cloth strips wins the game.
8. Kill the Cockroach. Divide the players into two teams. Line them up, one in front of the other and set an odd object in front of the first players in line. They must kick the object across the yard and the across the finish line to win a point for their team. Kick things like a pillow, empty can, a sock, and so on.
9. Drag the Body. Divide the group into two teams. Give each team a blanket. Have one player from each team lie down on the blanket. The teams must drag the body on the blanket from one end of the yard to the other. Whoever crosses the finish line first, wins.
10. Blind Snakes. Set up a number of sprinklers in between a starting line and a finish line. Have the kids try to run from one end to the other without getting sprayed. Have one of the kids control the faucet, turning it on and off at random. Award ribbons to the kids who play the longest without getting wet.