With schools across the country about to break up for 6 weeks, how are you going to keep your young ones entertained? I am sure there will be holidays and day trips planned, but these can prove expensive. With the best will in the world, there will be days at home.
Whilst your children may be happy to be indoors either watching TV or playing on their computer games, you may be itching for them to get outside in the sunshine (presuming that this great weather we have had so far this summer continues. Never a given when it comes to school holidays!).
So how do you tempt them outside? How about some of these classic garden games – hopefully one or more will prove to be the lure that works and you benefit from from some laughs and sunshine together.
There is only one place to start – that old classic that comes out every July as Wimbledon is played, Swingball.
The number 1 in racket games, Swingball is played in back gardens across the country. Whilst normally played as a pair, you can play on your own too.
Players hit the ball that is attached by a string to a central pole. Each player hits in a different direction, and the winner is the one who gets the ball to the top or bottom of the pole spiral.
The great advantage of Swingball is the fact that you will never lose the ball or have to knock on your neighbour’s door to ask for your ball back. It teaches hand-eye co-ordination and a love of racket sports.
Quoits is a game that has traditions dating back to Ancient Greece. In fairgrounds you will see variations of the game on hoopla stalls.
This set contains 6 rope quoits with the aim of throwing them over one of the 5 wooden pegs. Each one is worth a different amount of points.
A basic set in some aspects, but at a price that will be appealing. Even so, almost half the reviewers gave it 5 out of 5.
Croquet has often been seen as a posh sport, but it is also a good game that can be played by anyone.
This set for 4 people contains mallets, balls and hoops. The aim of the game is to propel the balls through the hoops using the mallets.
I would point out that some reviewers felt the hoops were not good enough quality, but I chose this set as some of the more sturdy sets cost way more money. Croquet tends to be a game that children won’t want to play every day, and so I felt this gave the best value for money.
The mallets are a great height for children but adults may need to bend down a little.
I admit I had to include this boules set. As a bowls player, but aware that children don’t always get my obsession, I opted for boules instead. This French version of the game is similar to the game I play, but has a French feel to it that gives it a certain something.
The metal versions are so much better in quality than their plastic counterparts, and at very little extra cost.
The idea of the game is to get close to the white jack. Hold the boules with the back of your hand to the sky, and throw in an upward and outward fashion, spinning the boules out towards the jack.
Players take turns and the closest to the jack at the end of all the boules thrown wins the end. Note that the boules have 2 different patterns to indicate the different teams/players.
The only downside is that small children may struggle to get much distance on the boules.
Giant Toppling Tower
Build a giant tower, and then pull bricks out in turn. Who will make the tower wobble and crash?
A good game to test touch and patience, it comes with it’s own canvas carry bag for easy storage.
What sets this version of the classic Jenga game is that it comes with it’s own dry wipe board to create your own rules. Some of these blocks have a number underneath – pull one of these out and you have to follow the corresponding rule. This adds a great twist!
Velcro Catch Pads
Catch is a great game to improve hand-eye co-ordination, but some younger children need some help. Instill some confidence by using these catch pads as well as the usual hand catching games.
A good game that you can take to the beach or out on a picnic too, as it is both lightweight and small.
Straps on each pad will keep the catching hand secure.
Re-live those school sports days with this set of 3 games – the sack race, 3 legged race, and egg and spoon race. If you are looking to bring a bit of competitive fun to a party, or just a group of friends coming round, then there is something for everyone.
The set contains red ties for the 3-legged race. Team up with a buddy and co-ordinate your movements to get to the finish first.
The plastic eggs for the egg and spoon race will ensure that there’s no mess as you play.
Comes with it’s own canvas carry bag for storage and transportation.
If you are looking for a game that teaches children about aiming, then lawn darts could be the one for you.
It comes with 6 brightly coloured darts, and 4 plastic rope targets. The darts are weighted so that they land point down.
Stand in the throwing ring and aim the darts under arm through the air towards the targets. Recommended for age 7 and upwards.
Four In A Row
One of the best games to teach children about tactics, and thinking steps ahead. How to plan your victory whilst not getting defeated. Spatial awareness. It’s also great fun!
Comes with 42 counters in yellow and blue. The frame is 57 x 39 cm, and it weighs 5.4 kg – it’s s very sturdy game, perfect for playing outdoors. You don’t want it blowing over in the slightest of winds!
You’ll have hours of fun with this game – perfect for parties as well as everyday use. Just don’t be like blue in the picture and miss that you win!
Giant Snakes and Ladders
We all loved snakes and ladders when we were growing up. It’s a tradition that should be carried on for generations to come – learning how to play games together, the joy as you climb up the ladders and the downfalls of sliding back down the snakes.
It’s a bit like life – you have ups and downs, but keep on going and you get to where you want to be eventually. Granted, you might not get there first, but you will get there.
This giant snakes and ladders set is great because you actually get to play on the board itself! Not only do you not lose any counters, but it becomes a truly interactive game.
Whilst there are cheaper options, this mat is particularly thick and has welded edges so that it won’t tear.
It comes with a giant inflatable dice which you throw and use to move along the squares. It also has strong plastic lawn pegs to hold the mat in place. As you can see from the picture, it is very colourful, which adds to the attraction for kids.
If you are looking for further ideas for games that could be played in the garden this summer, why not check out this post which shows 5 games that were reviewed by Stacey Solomon and her boys on Phillip Schofield’s How To Spend It Well: House and Garden.