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Communities that Care | Simple summer games will keep kids busy for hours

Are your kids looking for summer fun options besides tag, freeze tag, dodge ball, catching lightning bugs or backyard camping? Keep this list handy for the next time your child says those dreaded words about being bored and encourage them to try something new:

Balloon toss:. Fill balloons with water. Players begin by tossing the balloon a short distance to each other. They take one step back after each successful catch. The winner is the one who doesn't get wet (unless it’s hot).

Nature scavenger hunt: Players start by establishing at least two teams. Each team is given a list of nature scavenger hunt items, a bag and a pencil (pink flower, maple leaf, pine cone, feather, etc.). The first team that returns home with all items collected wins.

Sidewalk chalk city: Draw a tiny city with roads, buildings, parks and so on. Bring out the Hot Wheel or Matchbox toy cars and miniature people from other games. This can occupy hours of time.

Spud: You need at least four children to play. Each child gets a number. One person starts, tossing a ball straight up high in the air while calling out one of the numbers. Whoever is called has to try to catch the ball. The rest of the players must scatter away from that person. Once he or she has caught the ball, everyone freezes in place. The child then takes three giant steps toward a selected target player, and tries to hit them. If the child with the ball misses, he or she gets the letter "S." If he or she hits the person, that child gets the letter "S" and is next to throw the ball, repeating the process. Whoever spells out Spud is out; play until there is one winner.

Frisbee basketball: Get a laundry basket and set it a distance away from the children. Have them try to toss the Frisbee(s) into the basket.

Kick the can: One person is designated as “it.” Place a can in the middle of the yard. Designate another area as “jail.” “It” covers his or her eyes and counts to an agreed number. “It” then searches for the other kids. When one is sighted, “It” runs to the can and calls out the person’s name, saying, for example, “Mary is in the can!” Mary then has to go to "jail." If Mary is able to run to the can and kick it before “It” reaches the can, she is still free and can hide again. A player who has not been spotted can “kick the can” and free all the players who are in “jail.” The game continues until all players are in "jail." The first one jailed is then “It.”

Bucket beanbag score: Line up buckets numbered by fives: the closest one is five, next closest is 10, next is 15, etc. Stand a certain distance away depending on height or age; toss beanbags into the buckets, trying to get the highest score. Variation: try to get one bean bag in each bucket.

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