When balmy evenings beckon kids outdoors, there's nothing like a round or two of a game in the back yard or at a park. The three classic games described here are suited primarily for children ages 5 and up and are for four or more players.
- Getting started: Choose a safe park or quiet street. Section off a five-foot square, which will serve as the "jail." Players divide into two teams and select captains.
- Rules: Team A stands in the square area (the jail) with their eyes closed as Team B hides. When everyone is hidden, Team B's captain shouts, "Ready!" Team A then searches for Team B members to tag and bring back to the jail, where Captain A guards them. The only way prisoners can escape is if a still-free teammate puts both feet in the jail, yells, "Ring-O-Levio," and runs out again without being tagged. If Team A's captain touches her, she stays in jail.
- Game over: When all the members of the opposing team are captured (the two teams then switch roles).
- Getting started: Take a coffee-size can (one with no sharp edges) to the backyard or a nearby park.
- Rules: One child kicks the can as far as possible, and the other players scatter to find hiding places. A child labeled "it" retrieves the can, brings it back to the kickoff spot (home base), and counts to 100 with his eyes closed. Next he shouts, "Ready or not, here I come," and begins to search for the hidden players. When "it" spots one, he calls out that person's name and rushes to beat her back to the can. If "it" gets there first, the other child becomes a captive at home base and is released only if another player comes out of hiding, kicks the can, and shouts, "Home free!" Any time that "it" calls a player's name and that player beats "it" back to home base and kicks the can, all the prisoners are freed.
- Game over: When "it" captures all the players.
- Getting started: Bring a large rubber kickball to a playing space.
- Rules: Everybody makes a loose circle around one child, who tosses the ball in the air and calls out another participant's name. The group scatters, and the player whose name was called runs to catch the ball. Once she does, she yells, "Freeze!" Then she tries to hit someone (gently) with the ball. The person who is "tagged" is assigned the letter s. (When a player collects the letters s-p-u-d, she's eliminated from the game.) If the catcher misses her target, she gets a letter and the person she tried to hit tosses the ball in the air.
- Game over: The last player, the one who has avoided spelling the word spud, wins the game.