With all the after school activities and homework happening once school starts, time for getting outdoors and enjoying some games with family and friends becomes difficult to find. Planning a themed back to school gathering before all this busyness begins, though, is a fantastic idea.
Playing games outside, offering small prizes, and eating delicious snacks, which have ‘school’ in mind, creates an amusing themed outdoor game night of fun.
If you’re a homeschooling family like we are, this would be a fun idea for a welcome back party for your playgroups or co-op, or even a neat “Not Back To School” party.
Back to School Themed Outdoor Games for Kids
One of the best games to play for 5 or more players for your back to school themed event, is a simple alteration of the old game of Red Lion. Instead of a player being the character of Red Lion, this player is called Teacher. The object of the game is for the Teacher to gather as many students (other players) into the classroom (instead of the lion’s den). To play this game, a place is marked as the ‘classroom’ on one side of the playing area. The Teacher resides here. Another player is chosen to be the Principal. He stands still on the other side of the playing area and provides instructions for the Teacher, and all the other players, who run around the central area.
Once players are in position, the Principal yells ‘Bell’. This instructs the Teacher, and the other players, it is time for the Teacher to gather them into the classroom. The Teacher is free to grab any one player that he can. Players tease the Teacher by running close to the classroom and saying, “Teacher, Teacher, come out of your classroom! Whoever you catch will be one of your students.”
If the Teacher catches a student (by tagging), they return to the classroom together. Now when the Teacher goes to gather more students, both go forth. However, they wait until the Principal instructs them once again. Each time a Teacher gathers a new student, all return to the classroom to prepare for the next ‘recruitment’. The Principal instructs the Teacher the method to move forth (with the already recruited students) by yelling any of the following instructions:
‘Student Catcher’- Teacher and students form a long string, hand in hand, and try to capture another student by slipping their clasped hands over a player’s head.
‘Tight’- Teacher and students, again hand in hand, try to capture another student by surrounding him and taking him back to the classroom.
‘Doubles’- Teacher and a student, and other pairs of students, venture out to capture other players by tagging them. Once a double has tagged a player, all return to the classroom to wait for another instruction provided by the Principal.
The winner of the game is the last player to be caught. He, then, becomes the next Teacher and the game can be played again. If you choose to have prizes, winners may choose a prize from the centerpiece of your snack table.
Another less vigorous game, which all ages can play and can be tweaked to create the back to school theme, is Button Button. Instead of playing ‘Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?’, play ‘Chalk Chalk, Who’s Got the Chalk?’ To begin this game, all players, but two (one a Teacher and one a Student), will stand and form a circle. The Teacher will walk around the circled players, while pretending to place a piece of chalk into the player’s hands. The Teacher does randomly place a piece of chalk in one of the circled player’s hands.
The lone student then tries to guess who has the chalk. Once guessed, he replaces that player in the circle, and that player becomes the student. The Teacher then chooses another player’s hand to place the piece of chalk into by following the previous explained method. A prize can be given out when a student guesses correctly.
Traditional Recess Activities
Other games, like jump rope races, hopscotch, or recess type activities, can be played. Gathering together with family and friends, while playing games, is a wonderful way to enjoy each other’s company. Including a theme, like back to school, gives the boost and reason to have an outdoor game night of fun.
Themed Back to School Snacks
Whether the outdoor game night consists of only family or if a few or more friends have been invited, serving snacks with the spirit of back to school involved will help set the stage. The tasty treats do not have to be anything elaborate. The night is for fun, not work. A simple cake or cupcakes can be decorated with icing and topped with candied ABC letters. Apple slices and apple juice make a wonderful school themed snack to serve also. Add a bag of chips or pretzels with these snacks, and players will have enough to keep them going for the night.
The table designated for refreshments can display a centerpiece made from a basket lined with red tissue paper and packed with school supplies. These items can then be used as prizes for the games and party favors. Some suggestions for filling the basket with are pencils, pens, boxes of crayons, notebooks, folders, decorative or scented erasers, markers, colored pencils, fancy sticky Post-It notes, designed stickers, or candy. If you want, a vase could be used to hold the pencils; creating a pencil vase to go along with the school basket centerpiece.
Enjoy your fall season and back-to-school with these game and snack ideas! Have a great school year.