Classic Picnic Games
Make your picnic even more perfect with these classic party games and activities.
Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Best for: Ages 1 to 3
Invite the cuddly friends of your littlest guests along to be part of a few themed activities that are perfect for a summer picnic. There are a variety of fun little games you can play when your toddler guests have brought their bears. A few simple games to try include the Parachute Blanket Game and Picnic Treats.
- One bear per guest (bring a couple of extra in case a toddler comes empty handed)
- A large picnic blanket
How to Play:
Parachute Blanket Game
- Put all the bears in a pile on the ground.
- Have the toddlers (and parents) all stand in a square holding part of the picnic blanket stretched out above the bears.
- Have everyone bend down so that the blanket covers the bears and rests on the ground. On the count of three, everyone stands and lifts the blanket high in the air.
- A parent calls out a toddler’s name. That toddler (with or without help) has to rush under the blanket and retrieve his/her teddy bear before the blanket comes down again.
- A good ‘cooling down’ game, or post-lunch game, have the kids all sit in a circle with their teddy bears.
- Start with one child and the letter ‘A’. Ask the child: “What treat will your teddy eat at our picnic?” and help them come up with a food/treat starting with A. Move to the next child and use the letter ‘B’ and so on.
- For older toddlers, you can try it as a memory game instead. Let the child choose what treat his/her teddy would like to eat. When the second child goes, have him/her choose a treat and repeat what the previous child/children have said as well.
- You can finish the game with these dessert treats.
Lawn Bowling/Boules and Soccer Baseball
Best for: Ages 3 to 5
A picnic is the perfect time to embrace the fun of outdoor sports and these options are great ones for those little ones who are still in the initial learning phase.
- A soccer ball (for soccer baseball)
- Something to represent baseball ‘plates’ (for soccer baseball)
- A lawn bowling or boules set
How to Play:
- Set up the field the same way you would if you were playing a game of baseball, but keep the plates spaced closer together.
- Set up your guests in two teams.
- Instead of a pitcher and hitter, you have a ‘roller’ and ‘kicker’. The team in the field catches the soccer ball. Same baseball rules apply.
- Most lawn bowling or boules sets will have a brief set of rules. The basic idea involves each player having one designated ball. A smaller (and often black) ball will be set out at least 10 to 20 feet away from the bowling line.
- The first player rolls his/her ball down towards the smaller ball in the hopes of getting as close as possible (ideally, touching it). The person whose ball is the closest to the little ball at the end of the round wins.
Good to Know: Boules is different in only that it’s usually played on sand rather than grass (perfect for beach picnics) and the balls are tossed rather than rolled on the ground.
Team Juggling and Three-Legged Race
Best for: Ages 5 to 8
- Up to five tennis balls or bean bags (for team juggling)
- Strips of fabric that can be wrapped around pairs of legs (for three-legged race)
How to Play:
- Have your group form a circle around an arm’s length away from the people on each side.
- Start with one ball. Have one player throw it to another across the circle and they MUST remember who they threw the ball to (this can be a great opportunity to learn names—ask the player throwing the ball to announce the receiving player’s name as they throw).
- The second player then throws the ball to a third across the circle etc. This continues until every player has had the ball once, and the last player with the ball throws it back to the first. Note: each player can only THROW and CATCH the ball once in a cycle.
- Go around the circle again, throwing the ball to the same person as before, and catching it from the same person as before.
- Once you’ve managed to get one ball going, then slowly add another and another until there are balls continually crossing the circle—essentially, forming a ‘juggling’ ring.
- Partner up your players (it’s helpful to have partners be around the same height).
- Have the two partners stand side by side, and tie strips of fabric around mid-shin or mid-thigh (or both), binding the two players right/left legs together.
- Have a start and finish line let the hilarity of this race ensue.
Good to Know: Another traditional ‘picnic’ game is the potato sack race. An alternative is to use old pillow cases rather than potato sacks.