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Backyard Games for Kids

Warmer weather and end-of-the-year school activities leave me thinking about summer. When I think about summer, my mind turns to spending time outdoors with the kids.

If we are playing outside, I definitely need something fun and creative to keep us all entertained.

We can always fall back on riding bikes, blowing bubbles and trampoline jumping. You know, the usual. However, with long, hot days approaching, I want a few new summer activities no one gets tired of playing after a couple of days.

Luckily, National Backyard Games Week takes place the last full week before Memorial Day, just a few weeks before summer vacation begins providing all the inspiration I could ask for in the area outdoor entertainment. (This year it's May 21st - May 28th.)

In honor of playing outside and staying away from the TV screen, I decided to put a twist on a few classic childhood games by drawing inspiration from some of my family's favorite movies and television shows.

Smurfin' Hide and Seek

My four-year-old loves the tiny blue people from Smurf Village and her favorite game is hide-and-seek. Put the two together and you have a smurf-tastic game to play outside, no equipment needed.

In the movie, The Smurfs, they are always hiding from the evil Gargamel. For this version of hide-and-seek, one person pretends to be Gargamel and counts to ten or whatever while all the other players, or smurfs, hide. For special effect,  consider playing after dark and giving each "smurf" a blue glow-in-the-dark necklace to wear when hiding.

Keep Away from the Shark

While my girls may not be old enough to watch the movie Jaws, their Dad is. It is the ultimate summer movie and really easy to use as a spin-off on the classic game of keep away -- in a non-violent, less terrifying, kid-appropriate way, of course.

All you need are a few plastic baby pools and enough people to make it fun.

Start by placing two pools side by side at one end of the yard. Do the same on the other side. Choose one person to be the shark who stands in the middle of the yard. Everyone else stands in the pools on one side.

When ready, these players run to jump into the pools on the opposite end of the yard while trying to keep away from the shark. If tagged, the player also becomes a shark, and the game continues until one person is left in a pool.

Slippery Pillowcase Relay

Combining traditional potato sack races and basic water-soaked slip 'n slides, this game finds inspiration in the television game show, Wipeout.

This is one show my family, toddler and preschooler included, watches and laughs at together. If you aren't familiar with it, contestants on the show race to complete messy, tricky and, often difficult, obstacle courses in the fastest time.

For the easy backyard version, set up a basic slip 'n slide with a sprinkler or water hose nearby to keep it wet.

Instead of simply sliding down, each player jumps in a pillowcase and tries to keep from falling down. The person to make it to the end in the fastest time is the winner. You could also use two slip 'n slides and let two players race to the end.

As the season of spending time outdoors approaches, I plan to keep these creative backyard  games in my arsenal of things to do when the usual gets boring. They are a great way to enjoy favorite shows and movies without being stuck in front of a screen while encouraging lots of fun times outside with family.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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