The best part about summer is being outside, in the sun, without the layers upon layers of clothes we put up with the rest of the year. My kids practically live outside during the months they are off of school but that doesn’t mean they don’t get bored. That’s where the outdoor game box comes in.
We’re trying to take thing slow this summer, enjoying each day as a family, avoiding the rush to the next big adventure. That’s one reason we started the Summer BBQ Sunday series, to force us into making Sunday all about hanging out as a family.
Playing a game as a family is a great way to pass the time and just have fun. We have a whole cupboard in our home full of various games we like to play but to avoid the kids running in and out of the house to find a game; we’ve created an outdoor game box.
To determine what games to put into the outdoor game box we have a few simple criteria:
- Easy to set-up. When you’re in the mood to play a game, no one wants to wait for 30-minutes as someone organizes and builds the game board.
- Contains only a few game pieces. This is part of the first point too – less pieces means less set-up time – but it also means less items to get lost outside or blown away if the breeze picks up.
- Everyone can play. This can be tricky when you’re trying to involve adults, pre-teens, and younger kids but there are games out there. This also applies to the game play, avoiding games with complicated rules or instructions.
These games found in our outdoor game box fit all of these criteria and I find it makes choosing and playing a game as a family so much fun and stressfree:
You’re probably familiar with the game Twister? Now Hasbro has an updated, dance version. When I saw this game at the holiday preview I knew my kids, especially my girls, would love this game. Unlike traditional twister, only 2 people can play Twister Dance. The idea reminds me of those electronic dance games, where players follow instructions to recreate the dance. Twister Dance just focuses on the movement of your feet, though you are more than happy to add in hip shakes and waving hands (my kids do).
The three game levels enable you to move into fancier footwork once you’ve mastered the basics. I pretty much stay on level 1. The kids love this game and the only pieces are the speaker with lights and the two sets of foot circle colours. This makes for quick set-up and storage. There is the option of plugging in your MP3 player to try it out with your own music too.
What child doesn’t’ want to be a Viking, at least in pretend? KOOB is a game based on a Viking training activity. The premise is simple: be the first one to knock down your opponents pegs and the King. The kids loved throwing the sticks and it was amazing to see how their hand-eye co-ordination improved while we played. I love that this game is adaptable to number of players (from one to six players per team or even one person playing on their own for practice) to the size of the play space. The box states that the game can be played on different surfaces too, like grass, gravel, cement and even in the snow. It’s nice to see that the game is made in Canada and the storage bag makes it easy to keep all the pieces together. My son and youngest daughter pull this game out every time we’re outside and it’s fun for my youngest all the way to us adults.
Skip-Bo Dice Game
Mattel has introduced a whole series of dice games, such as Skip-Bo, Apples to Apples, Uno and Phase 10. The games come in compact containers that look like little cans of pop. My kids loved Skip-Bo, a fast-paced number matching game. Even my five-year old got right into the game. My older daughter and I loved Phase 10. The games take no set-up at all (though learning the rules on some of the games took time). With not a lot of game pieces needed, my kids could play these anywhere and clean-up was a snap.
I’ll admit we are a tech family. We have iPhones and iPads in our house and usually in the backyard. The new Zapped games take traditional board games like LIFE and Monopoly and incorporate the iPad (with free app) as the main play screen. Monopoly is a great game if you have time to play it but it’s not a game I would typically bring outside. All that paper money is bound to get blown around. The new Monopoly Zapped version uses bank cards to record your money when you pass go, collect rend, buy properties, and any other transaction.
Just tap them on your iPad. Traditonal game play is updated too with house actions, a game that has you bouncing out of jail and even community chest challenges are mini games. Monopoly Zapped is a great game in our outdoor game box.
This hand-held electronic game isn’t good if you have a competitive streak. My son and I have been working to beat each other scores and once it’s in your hand, it’s hard to put down. Pop-It Smash is another great hand-eye co-ordination game. You can play as an individual or against an opponent but we love the pass-it version. This has you passing the Pop-It Smash around the circle to everyone who wants to play. If you smash the light in the safe zone on the stick, you’re still in the game. The stick just keeps going around the circle until only one player is left.
Sometimes the day is going so well that we find ourselves still outside as the sunsets. Although some of the above games can still be played if you have a little light outside, why not play a game that takes advantage of the dark? Hasbro’s Firevision Football is great. With each player wearing special light headbands (they’re sort of like glasses except they only rest above the eyes), the reflective foot ball glows. Each of the two players has a different light colour (red or green). When facing the ball, their colour reflects off the ball so they can see it. You can’t see the colours without the googles on. It’s so fun and the goggles stay on with all the jumping around, even if you’re like me and wear glasses. A great way to workout any last minute energy before heading inside.
These are just a few games great for any family’s outdoor game box. The key is to limit the number of games to cut down on decisions and clean-up.
Outdoor Game Storage
Storing the games outdoors is easy with the Suncast Balcony Storage Seat from Canadian Tire. There are a lot of storage benches out there but what I love about this balcony storage seat is its size. It’s half the size of typical storage benches which means it won’t get filled with too much stuff. It’s the perfect size for storing your outdoor games.
The other nice thing about this storage seat from Canadian Tire is that it only took me two-minutes to put together and no tools were required. The top lid opens up to reveal the storage space and when the lid is down the Suncast Balcony Storage Seat makes a great side table or even additional seating in our outdoor space. I love that it fits right into our space.
Now when we’re out in the backyard, enjoying a barbecue, the kids can easily access a game or two from the storage seat and clean-up is a breeze. No more running in an out or games sitting in a pile in the backyard. I think we’ll be using our outdoor toy box right into the fall.
What would be in your outdoor game box?