Without a doubt, the playground is a magical place for children of all ages — yes, even teenagers. Everyone has a playground memory or a favorite piece of equipment that makes them feel strong and comfortable in their bodies. 

There are many benefits to playground play and so many fun games kids can play, whether they include playground equipment or not.

Benefits of Playground Activities and Games

No matter the season, playgrounds are a big hit with kids of all ages. It’s a place where teenagers can huddle up and talk about their days. Toddlers and preschoolers build strength and test their confidence and bravery. Kindergarteners and elementary students continue honing their skills and strength, but also improve hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and more.

Time spent on playgrounds also increases vitamin D intake, self-esteem, self-confidence, stimulates brain activity and helps the body release feel-good endorphins.

Playground Games and Activities for Toddlers

As the littlest playground contingent, big equipment can be daunting, but there are many playground games and activities for toddlers. Here are a few games to try:

  • Hopscotch
  • Duck, Duck, Goose
  • Monkey in the Middle
  • Hide and Seek
  • Red Light, Green Light

Playground Games and Activities for Preschoolers

Here are a few games and activities for preschoolers to try:

  • Red Rover
  • Hide and Seek
  • Tag
  • Jump Rope
  • Simon Says

Playground Games and Activities for Kindergarten

As kids begin to understand rules better, playground games and activities for kindergarteners can get more advanced. Try:

  • Capture the Flag
  • Horse (basketball game)
  • Traffic Cop (if bikes and tricycles are available)
  • Four Square
  • Mother, May I?

Playground Games and Activities for Elementary Students

As the big kids on the playground, elementary students can fully utilize most of the equipment available. In addition to climbing, jumping, sliding and swinging, they can play:

  • Capture the Flag
  • Horse
  • Red Rover
  • Simon Says
  • Marco Polo

Playground Games and Activities for All Ages

Here are a few games everyone can understand and enjoy, no matter their age.

  • Captain of the Ship: Similar to Simon Says, players of this game appoint a captain to call orders and everyone else pretends they’re on a ship (play equipment). Anyone who moves to a command that doesn’t include “Captain says” has to pretend they’re being chased by a shark until the next round.
  • Baseball: There are loads of physical and mental benefits to playing baseball at any age, and it’s a great game to play as a multi-age group. Set up a ball stand to make it easier for littler team members to hit the ball, or work on hand-eye coordination by tossing the ball from a closer distance.
  • Freeze Tag: Just like Tag, someone is “it,” but in this version, the player who gets tagged has to freeze. A player who isn’t frozen can unfreeze these players by tapping them on the shoulder.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Create a fun scavenger hunt involving objects, things found in nature, playground equipment or things you’ve hidden.

Playground Games and Activities for Health and Fitness

There are lots of ways to move your body at the playground, including spinning, climbing, swinging, sliding, brachiating and balancing. Here’s a quick rundown of each:

  • Spinning: Develops kinesthetic awareness and postural control and improves understanding of speed, force, and directional qualities of movement
  • Climbing: Enhances spatial awareness and coordination and fosters whole-body muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility
  • Swinging: Promotes aerobic fitness, muscular force, and whole-body awareness, as well as emphasizes the importance of timely energy transfer during movement
  • Sliding: Enhances core stability, dynamic balance, and leg and hip flexibility, and provides body and spatial awareness experiences
  • Brachiating: Improves muscular strength and endurance, and promotes hand-eye coordination and rhythmic body movement
  • Balancing: Increases understanding of efficient body positioning and control, principles of gravity, equilibrium, base of support, and counterbalancing. It also promotes muscular strength and endurance throughout the entire body

The best outdoor activities are easy to put together, and they should be inclusive enough that everyone can join in on the action, no matter their age. With these activities in mind, you’ll be armed and ready to try a few new things to do at the park that your friends and family will want to play again and again.