Six Playground Games To Play With Your Kids

We’ve all done it. We pull up to a park or playground, unload the kid(s), and look around for the closest bench that is not occupied. We saunter over, brush off the “stone soup” collection of rocks and leaves that a previous park visitor left behind, and take a seat. After one more look around to put eyes on the kids, we pull out the phone. Guilty? This hand is certainly raised. 

We frequent multiple playgrounds and parks with our kids in an effort to get them outside, get them moving and stimulate their creativity. If your kids are anything like ours they can play for hours at the park, especially when their friends are present. Sometimes, though, we find ourselves with bored, lazy children when they are on their own. We might say, “Go play! Go do something! We came to the park to play. Go play unless you want to go home.” An empty threat, because we still need to browse Instagram, order something from Amazon, and look up a recipe for dinner on Pinterest. The reality is that they want to play with YOU. Yes, it has been said before but it is true that you are your child’s favorite toy.

At Raising Rookies we completely encourage active play and kids running from point to point on a playground, covering every dirty inch. It is recommended that kids get 60 minutes of active play a day! Active play involves body and mind alike. Imaginations soar, hearts pump and smiles last the whole day. Time away from you is good for them and boosts their confidence.

We ALSO really support parents who make efforts to engage with their children. For the times when there is a lull at the park, here are some easy activities you can do to be involved with your child in an active way. 

    1. Obstacle course. This is one of our favorite things to do. The kids even get creative and give ideas of what can be done next. (“If I twist my body through this tiny hole, then hop up and down three times on this step, then slide down this firepole...”) We incorporate pulling, climbing, jumping, balancing, and running. We also promote concentration and focus as they move from task to task. Timing them through a set course twice or more gives them a sense of accomplishment. Parents, this is a great way to interact and observe. 
    2. Hide and Seek. This is a great activity for all ages. Set parameters so the game has well understood boundaries. We suggest hiding with toddlers and younger children who may not be able to hide safely or effectively.
    3. Don’t touch the Lava/Water/Quicksand. We used to play this game in our backyard, stepping from swing to swing or swinging from bar to bar. The goal is to not let feet touch the ground as one maneuvers through the playground equipment or swing set.
    4. Swing It.  Kids LOVE the swings. Am I right? “We come to the park and all my kid wants to do is swing!” Put the phone down and ENGAGE. Pushing for 30 minutes (yes, mine have gone that long) can be a great time to talk and ask your child questions. Our kids laugh and laugh when we do under-doggies or tickle tease them as they swing. Challenge older kids to start from a dead hang using only their legs.
    5. Monkey Moves.  We were a little concerned when our kindergartner daughter told us she did not like to play with anyone on the playground, she just wanted to do the monkey bars every day. Then we realized how strong she was getting and how it translated to gymnastics. (We also discovered she did have friends, phew.) Monkey bars - you either love them or hate them. They are the adult equivalent of pull-ups, and they take consistent practice to be capable and strong enough. If your kids do not naturally gravitate toward the monkey bars or rings, try to encourage them to improve. See how far they can get each time they visit the park. Challenge them by having them try a pull-up on each rung. Build their upper body strength through play. Look for our monkey bar posts on Instagram for creative techniques.
    6. Tag.  You are it. Yes, you, mom or dad.                  The best think you can give your children is your time. Use our #take20 tips to spend that time moving and improving athletically. We hope to see you out there on the playground!