Outdoor Adventures: Best Games for Preschoolers



· 5 min read
Children playing tag in a sunny backyard garden, promoting active outdoor games for preschoolers

Photo by RDNE


Outdoor play provides numerous benefits for preschoolers' physical and social development. According to research, outdoor play promotes gross motor skills, balance, coordination and overall fitness in young children (https://smilesandskills.com/outdoor-games-and-activities-for-preschoolers/). Being outdoors also helps preschoolers develop sensory processing skills as they engage with various textures, sounds, sights and smells. Additionally, outdoor play facilitates social interaction, imagination and creativity as children engage in cooperative play. Studies show that spending time outdoors may help reduce stress and improve focus and self-regulation in preschoolers as well.


Tag is a classic playground game that helps preschoolers build coordination and agility while having fun with friends. To play, designate one child as "It" who must chase the other players and tag them. Once tagged, that player becomes "It" and the game continues. Here are some variations on tag to try:

Basic Tag - The simplest form of tag with one child being "It" and trying to tag others.

Freeze Tag - When a player is tagged, they must freeze in place. They can rejoin the game if another player tags them.

Team Tag - Split players into two teams. One team tries to tag while the other team runs away. When tagged, players join the "It" team.

Shadow Tag - The player who is "It" must step on other players' shadows to tag them out of the game.

With some simple rules, tag engages preschoolers in active outdoor play and friendly competition. Encourage children to take turns being "It" so everyone gets a chance to lead.

Red Light Green Light

Red Light Green Light is a classic outdoor game that helps develop listening skills, self-control, and gross motor skills in preschoolers. To set up the game, designate a start line and finish line using sidewalk chalk, cones, or ropes. One player is the "traffic light" and stands at the finish line facing away from the other players who line up at the start line.

The traffic light calls out "Green light!" and the players start walking or running towards the finish line. When the traffic light calls out "Red light!" the players must immediately stop. If the traffic light catches any players still moving, those players must return to the start line and begin again. The first player to tag the traffic light wins and can be the new traffic light for the next round.

To keep it interesting, the traffic light can mix up the cadence of green and red lights, or turn around quickly during a red light to try and catch players off guard. This game helps preschoolers practice listening and impulse control. Setting up a simple obstacle course between the start and finish lines can add extra physical challenge.

Source: https://chuckleandroar.com/red-light-green-light

Obstacle Courses

Obstacle courses are a fun way to get preschoolers moving and developing physical skills. Courses can be set up in the backyard using household items. Make sure to have adult supervision and set reasonable expectations based on age and ability.

Stations can include going under a limbo stick, jumping over a hose on the ground, crawling through a cardboard box tunnel, walking heel-to-toe along a taped line, tossing a beanbag into a bucket, navigating around cones, and running to ring a bell. Rotate stations periodically to keep it interesting. See more ideas at https://www.pinterest.com/ldblair/preschool-obstacle-course.

Younger kids may need courses set up in a straight line from start to finish. Older preschoolers can handle more complex courses that require navigating around in different directions. Keep courses short with 5-10 stations for this age group. And don't forget to make a certificate for completing the course!

Nature Scavenger Hunts

Nature scavenger hunts are a fun way to get preschoolers exploring the outdoors. To organize a scavenger hunt:

  • Make a list of natural items for kids to find, like leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers, acorns, pinecones, feathers, etc. Get creative!
  • Print out the list or write each item on a slip of paper and put them in a bucket or bag.
  • Take the kids outside and let them take turns pulling out one item from the bucket to search for.
  • Encourage kids to examine the items up close using a magnifying glass.
  • As an extension, have kids collect certain numbers or types of items (e.g. 3 round rocks, 4 different types of leaves).
  • For older preschoolers, introduce clipboards and have them check off items as they find them.

Scavenger hunts encourage focus, observation skills, and excitement about nature. Make sure to set boundaries and remind kids not to pick live plants or disturb wildlife habitats.


Hopscotch is a classic playground game that helps develop coordination and balance in preschoolers. To set up a hopscotch court, use sidewalk chalk to draw a pattern of squares numbered 1 through 10 on a sidewalk or blacktop. The squares should be big enough for a child's foot, about 1-2 feet wide.

The basic rules of hopscotch are simple:

  • Players take turns tossing a small object such as a beanbag or stone into the number 1 square.
  • The player then hops through the course, skipping the square with the marker in it.
  • Single foot hops are made through single squares, while two feet are together for side-by-side squares.
  • When the player reaches the end, they turn around and come back, stopping to pick up the marker on the way.

There are many variations to keep hopscotch exciting:

  • Have players toss with the non-dominant hand to improve coordination.
  • Allow hops in any sequence decided by the player.
  • Designate "rest squares" where players can stop and take a break.
  • Play Follow the Leader with the first player doing creative movements through the course.

With just chalk and a marker, preschoolers can enjoy endless active play with hopscotch. See this guide for setting up a hopscotch court with rules and variations.

Parachute Games

Parachute games are a fun way to get preschoolers active and engaged. The bright colors and cooperative play make parachute games a hit. Here are some of the best parachute games to try:

Shake the Parachute

This is a simple game to get kids familiar with the parachute. Have kids grab the edges of the parachute with both hands. On your cue, have them shake the parachute up and down to create a wave effect. See how big they can make the waves!

Parachute Volleyball

Use a light plastic ball or balloon and place it in the center of the parachute. Kids shake the parachute to make the ball bounce up. The goal is to bounce the ball high enough that it flies off the parachute. Take turns trying to launch the ball.

Running Under the Parachute

Have kids lift the parachute overhead and hold it taut. Take turns running underneath from one side to the other while the other kids maintain the parachute height. This helps promote teamwork.

Parachute games are engaging activities that promote key developmental skills in preschoolers like coordination, cooperation, and motor skills. With adult supervision, parachute play can provide hours of fun.

Bubble Play

Blowing bubbles is a simple yet endlessly entertaining activity for preschoolers. The magical, floating orbs capture their imagination and inspire active play. Plus, chasing and popping bubbles helps develop hand-eye coordination. There are many creative ways to engage preschoolers in bubble play:

Make your own bubble solution rather than buying pre-made mix. Simple recipes like dish soap, water, and corn syrup or glycerin produce big, strong bubbles. Allow kids to help mix the ingredients together. Provide various bubble wands, like large loop wands, bubble machine wands, or DIY options like slotted spoons. Get tips for the best bubble recipes and tools from this article.

Set up a bubble station in the backyard or at the park. Let kids experiment with making bubbles of different shapes and sizes. Encourage them to run, jump, and catch the bubbles. See who can pop the most bubbles with a tap or their finger. For more station ideas, check out this bubble activity guide.

Incorporate bubbles into movement games. Try stop and go games by calling out "Bubbles!" for kids to freeze and pop any bubbles above them. Or play a bubble tag version where someone is "it" and tries to tag others with their bubble wand. These active games promote listening skills, following directions, and physical activity.

Bubbles inspire laughter, creativity, and STEM learning. With just a few simple materials, preschoolers can enjoy hours of delightful outdoor bubble play.

Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk is a classic outdoor activity that allows preschoolers to express their creativity. Here are some fun games and activities to try with sidewalk chalk:

  • Draw A Hopscotch Board - Use chalk to draw a hopscotch board on the sidewalk or driveway. Preschoolers can have fun jumping from square to square.
  • Decorate The Driveway - Let kids go wild decorating the driveway or sidewalk with colorful chalk drawings and designs.
  • Chalk Tag - One child is "it" and tries to tag other players by smudging their chalk drawings. When tagged, players become "it" too.
  • Chalk Twister - Draw a large Twister board and have kids put hands and feet on different colored circles.
  • Chalk Mazes - Draw simple mazes with chalk for kids to go through.
  • Chalk Games - Draw shapes, numbers, letters, animals for preschoolers to identify.

Sidewalk chalk sparks creativity and imagination in preschoolers. The colors and drawings wash away with the next rain, giving kids a blank canvas to start anew.


Outdoor play provides many developmental benefits for preschoolers. Games that involve running, jumping, balancing, and dodging help build gross motor skills. Activities that require following rules and taking turns promote social skills. Nature scavenger hunts and sensory play with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and parachutes engage curiosity and imagination.

Some of the best outdoor games for preschoolers include Tag, Red Light Green Light, obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, Hopscotch, parachute play, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. These games are easy to set up using basic equipment and provide hours of fun and learning.

Getting preschoolers active outdoors is important for their health and development. Make outdoor play a daily habit by trying some of the fun, simple games highlighted in this guide.


About Claudia

Claudia brings a wealth of experience and passion to ProKids. As a loving mother and an advocate for child-centered education, she believes in the power of play ...

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