Now that summer's heat has drained away, it's time to push the kids back outside and get them moving again. Sure, they walk outside between the house and the SUV, but the point is to get them to stay outside and be active.

Instead of installing a heated pool, risking bodily injury with a trampoline or buying an arsenal of Nerf guns, show them how to play old-school style with some traditional, zero-cost outdoor games. If you're a typical parent, you may have forgotten these childhood favorites, so here's a refresher (bearing in mind there's plenty of rule variations to these oldies):

FREEZE TAG: Set boundaries. Select two players as "It." When the "Its" tag a player, the player must stay motionless. Other players can unfreeze them by crawling under their legs. If a player is frozen more than three times, they become an additional "It." The last unfrozen player is the winner and gets to pick a co-"It" for the next game.

RED LIGHT: The players go to a starting line. When "It," who faces away from the starting line, says "Green Light," the players dash toward the finish line. When "It" says "Red Light," he turns to face the players. Any players that "It" sees moving must return to the starting line. "It" continues the light cycle until a player crosses the finish line and becomes the new "It."


HUNTING RABBITS: Set boundaries, choose a home base. The person who is "It" is the hunter and carries a small ball, such as a tennis ball. The players hide and wait for the hunter to finish a countdown. The hunter then looks for hidden rabbits, who must stay in place until the hunter is within 10 feet. Once the hunter approaches, the rabbit can bolt for home. The hunter tries to tag the rabbits with the ball. A rabbit hit with the ball becomes an assistant hunter. The last rabbit surviving (restarting as necessary if all the rabbits get home) becomes the new hunter.

GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD: Set boundaries. One person is "It" and dubbed the ghost. While the remaining players go to home base and count up from "one o'clock" to "midnight," the ghost hides. At "midnight," the players leave home to try to find the ghost. When the ghost is found (or when she bursts from her hiding place to nab a player), the player screams "Ghost in the Graveyard!" and all the players try to return to home base without being tagged. Any players who are tagged become ghosts in the next round. When only one player remains, she becomes the first ghost for the next game.

More games

Look for plenty of video examples of these games at

See rules for dozens of minimal-equipment outdoor games at

Share the rules of a favorite childhood game in the comments below: