Jumping, hopping, racing, throwing—who doesn’t love a summer field day? A backyard filled with games, activities and kids is a fantastic excuse to get together with friends. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Use what you have and set up some good old-fashioned backyard fun. It will provide hours of entertainment. And parents, what a great way to reinforce good sportsmanship with your kids!
The first step is to organize teams to help promote cooperative play. Then set up a variety of games. And finally, weave in a good sportsmanship lesson!
Here are a few tried-and-true ideas to get you started:
Bean Bag Toss – Kids love throwing anything! Use large bowls or buckets as the target and have the kids toss. Don’t worry if you don’t have bean bags—use other items as substitutes.
Water Balloon Toss – Is there anything more fun than the anticipation of a balloon popping and getting soaked? Fill up lots of balloons with water. Have the kids stand about a foot apart from a partner. Then have them toss the balloons. After each successful toss, one partner takes a step back. The game ends when one team has not popped their balloon.
Jump Over Obstacles – One, two, three, jump! Grab a bunch of objects from sand toys to balls, etc. Then have the kids have to jump over each item.
Long Jump – Run, run, and then jump! Create a starting line for the kids and then see who can jump the farthest.
Egg and Spoon Race – A delicate balancing act! Use hard-boiled eggs and a spoon. Have the kids run around a designated area with the egg and spoon. Mix it up and have them try running backwards, sideways, etc. You can also substitute the egg for a marshmallow, ping-pong ball, etc.
Water Relay – Ready to cool down with a splash? Take a few paper or plastic cups and poke small holes in the side. Fill a bucket with water. Have each child grab a cup and fill it with water. Then they carry the cup of water over their head toward an empty bucket. Repeat. The first one to fill their bucket moves on to the next challenge!
Hula Hoop – Shake your hips and move to the beat! Start the music and see who can hula the longest, or just make it part of an obstacle course.
Sack Race – Don’t worry if you don’t have burlap bags. Use trash bags or pillowcases instead, and get hopping!
GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP LESSON
As a mom, I love field day because it is an opportunity to promote good sportsmanship—something we all need to practice! In many of the games, kids need to work together to meet a common goal. This is also a great time to stress that “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
- Follow and obey the game rules.
- Support your teammates.
- Respect the leader and the judges.
- Try your hardest.
- Play to have fun.
- Cheer for good play.
- Shake hands after completion.
After the games, don’t just offer a snack—make it a “Good game recognition snack.” Fill a bowl with a delicious snack. Have your players pass the snack bowl around and give a nice compliment on what each player did well during the games.
Finally, finish the day by reading a good sportsmanship book. The local library has plenty for all ages. Here are a few suggestions for your little ones to get you started:
- Clifford’s Sports Day by Norman Bridwell
- Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns about Sportsmanship: Winning isn’t Everything by Howard Binkow
- Froggy Plays Soccer by Jonathon Larden
- Sally Sore Loser by Frank Sileo
- Help Me Be Good: Being a Bad Sport by Joy Berry
- Tumble Bunnies by Kathryn Lasky
Make a backyard field day part of your summer bucket list. Did we miss any fun games to add to our list?