Old Fashioned Field Day :: Games for the Whole Family!

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After all of our summer activities were officially canceled and I was done feeling sorry for myself, I sat at our (very messy) kitchen table to brainstorm.

As I worked my way down the rabbit hole, I recalled my mom telling me how her family put on “family field day” every year when she twas growing up, and it was usually the highlight of the summer. 

I started thinking about what kids used to do during the summer before weekly summer camps, extracurriculars, lessons, and tutoring.

I was struck by how much unstructured time for FUN they had.

I’m sure there were plenty of drawbacks, and I can think of so many reasons why this lifestyle isn’t feasible for our family, but we can shift our focus back to having some “old fashioned” family fun this year, without the frills.

There are the obvious suggestions: sack race, tye-dye, egg race or toss, relay races, pie or watermelon eating contests, wheelbarrow races, and varied forms of ring toss.

Along the way, though, we found some new favorites to add to the list that we’re dying to try!

We may or may not choose to have our own dedicated field day with our preschooler this year, but we will undoubtedly try all of these activities at some point during the summer.

Water Balloon Toss

Materials:

  • Sponges or water balloons (or eggs, if you’re really adventurous) 
  • Sidewalk chalk, tape, or pool noodles
  • Buckets

Objective:

Much like an egg toss, you must be the last surviving team that has the most cumulative throws in the end.

Directions:

  1. Using sidewalk chalk, make markers for two lines, as if partners were going to line up for an egg toss.
  2. Have partners line up, standing across from each other. Make sure the lines are even!
  3. Fill up the buckets with water, and place one next to each participant. 
  4. Tell contestants to soak the sponges as much as possible.
  5. Have contestants throw the sponges at the same time, to their partner. If their partner doesn’t catch it, the pair is out.
  6. You may ask participants to take a step back before the next throw.

Sponge Darts 

Materials:

  • Sponges
  • Buckets
  • Sidewalk chalk

Objective:

Receive the most points at the end of the game.

Directions: 

  1. Make a chalk diagram of a dartboard on the ground, and draw a line the participants have to throw from.
  2. Wet a sponge, and throw it at the target until the participant has thrown the desired number of times.
  3. Add up the points (record them if necessary) as you go, and the player with the most points at the end wins! 

Bucket Relay

Materials:

  • Squirt guns, cups, or sponges
  • Buckets

Objective:

Move all your water from bucket 1 to bucket 2 before the other team, using the “water transporter” of choice.

Directions:

  1. Fill up bucket 1 with water and put it at the starting line. Put bucket 2, which should be empty, at the finish line. 
  2. Give participants a method to transport the water (cups, sponges, large squirt guns). When they’re instructed to start, each person in the line fills up the “cup” and runs it to bucket 2, then runs back and passes the “cup” to the next person in line. 
  3. The team that fills bucket 2 first is the winner.

Cup Pyramid

Materials:

  • Squirt guns
  • Table
  • 6 (or desired number) plastic cups
  • Buckets

Objective:

Be the first to knock down your tower of cups with the squirt gun.

Directions:

  1. On the table, set up a pyramid of plastic cups toward the end of the table (to allow them to fall off easily)
  2. At the start, have the participants fill up their squirt guns and shoot at the cups until they are all knocked over. 

Squirt Gun Cup Race

Materials:

  • Squirt guns
  • String
  • Cups
  • Scissors

Objective:

Move your cup to the end of the string by squirting water into it before the other players.

Directions:

  1. Cut a tiny hole in the bottom of the cups, and set up the strings so the cups can easily go across. 
  2. Put the (full) bucket to refill the squirt guns at the start line. 
  3. At the start, the participants will fill up their squirt guns and squirt the inside of the cups so they move down the rope.

Bean Bag Toss

Materials:

  • Bean bags
  • Large paper plates or hula hoops

Objective:

Receive the largest number of points by the end of the game by throwing the bean bag into the targets.

Directions:

  1. Mark large paper plates or hula hoops with the number of points it represents.
  2. Throw the beanbags a desired number of times, and add up the total. Record on paper if necessary!
  3. The person with the greatest number of points at the end is the winner.

Crab Soccer

Materials:

  • Large beach ball
  • Tarp

Objective:

Use your feet to kick the beach ball into the other team’s goal to win the most points.

Directions:

  1. Lay the tarp on the ground to create a playing field that has a clear “out of bounds.” You can also draw with chalk, make lines in the sand, use cones, etc. 
  2. Make a marker down the middle to divide the field.
  3. Blow up a large beach ball. 
  4. Use your legs to kick the ball from one side to the other, trying to score a goal. 
  5. The first team to get to the desired number of goals wins.

Pass the Cup

Materials:

  • Two buckets
  • Cup (or sponge, for smaller hands)
  • Water

Objective:

Get the water in the cup into the bucket at the end of the line by passing the cup over your head. This is a group game, but it can also be played in two teams, or a winner can be identified as anyone who is still dry at the end.

Directions: 

  1. Have all participants sit or stand in a line, facing the same way. 
  2. Have the last person in the line turn around and sit facing the opposite way, so that their back is touching the back of the second-to-last person in line. Place an empty bucket in front of them. 
  3. Fill up a bucket, and set it up in front of the first person sitting in the line. 
  4. The first person in line fills up the cup, and passes it over their head to the person behind them. The cup moves down the line until it reaches the last person, who dumps it in the bucket and sends it back up the line. 
  5. Repeat until all of the water is in the bucket at the end of the line. 

Water Balloon Dodgeball

Objective:

Don’t get hit by a water balloon while trying to hit the other team.

Materials:

  • Buckets
  • Water balloons
  • Cones or boundary markers

Directions:

  1. Make a center “line” with boundary markers, and place several buckets filled with pre-made water balloons on it. Make sure there are “out of bounds” boundary markers also.
  2. Teams will race to the center to get water balloons from the bucket, and then try to hit the opposing team with the water balloons. 
  3. If someone is hit with a water balloon that breaks, they are out. If the water balloon doesn’t break, or if they catch it before it breaks, they are not out. 
  4. The last team standing wins!

*Obviously, there are many ways to play dodgeball and plenty of ways to modify all the other games on this list to fit your family size and needs. Don’t be afraid to change up the rules or add or substitute items to make them more fun for you!

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