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Looking for new play ideas that are fun for the whole family? Want to be more fit and active? Why not combine the two and try some playful activities that the whole family can enjoy!

Getting active as a family is great for grown-ups and kids alike. For children in particular, group activities teach social skills like cooperation and fairness, and help them to develop physical skills like agility, spatial awareness, and coordination. It’s also a great way to burn off excess energy and offers a healthier alternative to screen time. When families get active together, it provides a wonderful opportunity for bonding, conversation and play.

Healthy movement comes in many shapes and forms, with many fun options for your family to try. Here are five fun ideas to get you started.

1. Teach your kids the games you played when you were their age

Yard games are classics because they’re simple to play, often requiring little more than a few people and a bit of open space. Why not share the games of your childhood with your own kids? Here are a few to get you started, with a refresher on the rules if it’s been a while since you played.

Stuck in the mud / freeze tag: one player is ‘it’ (the tagger) and their job is to chase other players and try to tag them. If you’re tagged, you become stuck in the mud and you must freeze on the spot. The only way to be unstuck is if a free player touches you. If you move before you’re unstuck, you become ‘it’. The game continues until all players are stuck in the mud, and then a new person becomes ‘it’.

Red light, green light: one player is the ‘traffic light’. They stand at one end of the open space and all other players are at the opposite end. When the traffic light faces away from the group, they say ‘Green light!’ and the other players try to move as close to the traffic light as possible. When the traffic light turns to face the group, they say ‘Red light!’ and everyone must freeze. If the traffic light spots anyone moving, they must go back to the starting place. The first person to tag the traffic light wins and becomes the new traffic light.

Simon says: one player is ‘Simon’. They start by saying ‘Simon says…’ followed by an action that the whole group must do. For example, ‘Simon says hop on one foot!’. If Simon makes an action request without starting with ‘Simon says…’ first, everyone who does that action is out of the game. The last person to be in the game becomes the new Simon.

2. Make up a dance or play

Children have wonderful imaginations and love to be playful with parents, grandparents and other carers. What better way to combine creativity and activity than with a family dance or an impromptu play performance? If your family isn’t into choreography or rehearsals, a living room dance party or a game of freeze dance could be more your thing. The more energetic and wackier the dance moves, the better!

3. Create a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts can happen anywhere (including indoors if the weather isn’t suitable for outdoor play) but they’re most fun when they’re out in nature. Here are a couple of ideas to try:

A-Z scavenger hunt: Players must search for items that begin with each letter of the alphabet, in order from A to Z.

Treasure hunt: Players must collect a list of treasures (for example, a dried leaf, a round pebble, a red flower…). Start with easy treasures and progress to trickier ones. If the treasures should remain where they are, have the players snap a photo instead… but keep the phones away for the rest of the game!

Instead of collecting items, you could search for sensations and experiences. For example:

  • Listen to a bird singing
  • Smell something sweet
  • Watch ants moving something
  • Catch a falling leaf
  • Climb over a fallen tree

Of course, safety comes first – always make sure an adult is present and choose age-appropriate activities.

4. Combine ‘I spy’ with a family walk

Taking a family walk on the way to school, before dinner time or on the weekends is a great way to get moving and enjoy the fresh air. But if these simple pleasures aren’t so exciting for the kids, get everyone involved in a game of ‘I spy’ while you walk.

5. Create cheeky new rules for family sports

Activities like soccer, handball and beach cricket can be a lot of fun for the young and young-at-heart. You could even try creating unique family rules to make it even more fun. The more creative, the better! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Adults play with their non-dominant hand
  • If your pet dog catches the ball first, every player does 10 star-jumps
  • The umpire can request funny actions, just like in ‘Simon says’

Other ways to get more active as a family

There are countless ways to get active and have fun as a family. Check out the links below for more great ideas, and to learn more about the benefits of physical activity.

Boredom Busters

Crafty nature masks

Weather play planner

30 fun ways to get 30 minutes of physical activity today

Exercise, sleep, and screen time – what do kids need?