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The 411: Youth

Get out and play some night games

Get out and play some night games

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McClatchy Newspaper
August 8, 2012
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By Elizabeth Agnvall

At last, the sun is sinking, and it’s safe to go outside without endangering your health. Douse yourself with bug spray and go out to play these great evening games.

We grouped the games in order of darkness (twilight into night). The glow-in-the-dark football, hula hoops and flying disks are fun to simply toss, catch and watch as they swirl and glow, but we suggest a few games below, too.


Ages: 4-12

Equipment: None

Set up a rectangular “ocean” and clearly mark boundaries. To make sure the ocean isn’t too wide, have all the players hold hands and spread out across the ocean-to-be. Choose one Queen or King Octopus. The Octopus stands in the middle and yells, “I am the Octopus, queen of all motion. Let’s see if you can cross my ocean!” The fish try to run across the ocean as the Octopus tags them. Fish who are tagged turn into seaweed and must stand in place. The next round, the seaweed try to tag the fish by turning on one foot and reaching out to slime (tag) them. The last fish tagged becomes the new Octopus. If the age range is wide, have a little one team up with a big kid for a two-person Octopus (otherwise, the little ones won’t get to be Octopus, as they are generally slower).

Source: FamilyFun magazine


Ages: 8-14

Equipment: Just good hiding places

Choose a tree, porch or other large object as home base. Make sure the area is free of sprinklers or other obstacles that could trip little goblins. One player is the ghost. Other players close their eyes and count to 50 while the ghost hides. Players set out to find the ghost, while the ghost tries to sneak up on them and tag as many as possible before they get back to base. (Staying too close to base is not allowed.) Any player who spies the little ghoul yells “Ghost” as all dash to home. Those tagged by the ghost are out until the next round, which starts when all players are either out or home safe.

Source: “Great Big Book of Children’s Games” by Debra Wise, illustrated by Sandy Forrest (McGraw-Hill, $14.95)


Ages: 9-14

Equipment: Glow-in-the-dark basketball (Baden Nite Brite,

Decide on a shooting order. The lead shooter makes a shot and the next player must make the same shot from the same spot (sticklers: it has to be with the same style shot _ overhand, hook, layup). Any player who misses gets the letter H. (The next time that player misses, he gets an O. Then an R. And so on.) If the player makes the shot, no letter is assigned. After everyone has had a turn, the first player takes a different shot from the first, which all the others must try to make again. If the first player misses, the second player becomes the lead shooter (and down the line until someone makes it). If she makes it, all the others must copy the shot. Play continues until all but one player is eliminated, or can end when one person gets all the letters (HORSE), and so loses.

Sources: Rules from “Great Big Book of Children’s Games.” “Dark” twist by Elizabeth Agnvall.


Ages: 4-adult

Equipment: Glow-in-the-dark football (Baden Nite Brite,

Best time: Twilight

A glow-in-the-dark football adds pizazz to this simple throwing game; best for a long, skinny area. Designate a thrower. All the others stand opposite the thrower. The thrower shouts out a number between 50 and 500 in denominations of 50 and tosses the ball into the crowd. If someone catches the ball, they get the amount called out. Continue until someone reaches 500. That catcher becomes the thrower. Because our block has a wide age range, the kids play a really simple version: a thrower tosses the ball to a big gang of kids who try to catch it. Whoever catches it without the ball hitting the ground is the thrower. This makes for quick turnover of the thrower and works well for short attention spans.

Source: Kids Games, (ball games)


Ages: 3-14

Equipment: Flashlights

Flashlight tag (ages 3-14): This twilight game is simple and fun for a wide range of ages. Instead of tag, “it” catches the others with a beam of light. When someone is caught, they’re out. Play continues until all but one player is caught.

Firefly (ages 6 and up): One player gets a flashlight and goes off to hide. After counting to 60, she has to flash her light and chirp. The other players count to 100 and then try to find the firefly.

Morse code (ages 6 and up): This game is great for a large park. Players in pairs decide on a signal (i.e. three short flashes, one long). Partners spread out in a large area and begin giving signals after one minute. Each player tries to reunite with his partner as quickly as possible. The first pair to get together is the winner.

Night at the museum: One player is a museum tour guide and another is the tourist. All the other players pose. The guide leads the tourist through the statues and describes them, trying to make them laugh or catch them moving. No touching allowed, but the guide can quickly move the light from statue to statue. Statues that move or laugh are out. Last remaining statue wins and becomes the guide.

Source: “Great Big Book of Children’s Games” and

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