Family Picnic Games for Young Children: Easy and Fun Ideas

Krystal DeVille

Group of kids playing family picnic games

Picnic season, with its promise of great outdoor adventures, provides the perfect backdrop for creating lasting family memories, especially during the warmth of summer. They offer an opportunity for various outdoor activities to suit all ages, inviting children to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. With all the digital distractions nowadays, family picnics have become essential experiences focusing on togetherness and active play. Engaging the youngest family members can be as simple as incorporating a fun, enjoyable game for toddlers and young children.

Planning games for a family picnic can be as fun as the picnic itself. Traditional games like ‘Red Light, Green Light’ provide friendly competition and a touch of nostalgia for the little ones. Simplified sports like bottle bowling, with lightweight items, invite even the youngest children to participate. Summer picnics allow families to bond through these shared activities, bringing joy into these communal outdoor gatherings.

Planning Your Family Picnic Games

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When planning picnic games for a family event, you should focus on inclusive activities that are enjoyable for all ages and ensure they have the necessary materials ready. It’s crucial to consider the safety of the participants and remember to bring sunscreen for protection against the sun.

Selecting Age-Appropriate Games

I choose games that accommodate the whole family, including the age range present at the picnic. For younger kids, simple activities like duck, duck, goose, or a bubble-blowing contest keep it fun and be a great time without being too complex. 

Older kids and adults might enjoy a classic frisbee toss or a more active game like relay races, catering to a broader age range. Games should be selected to cater to everyone’s preferences and abilities.

Preparing Game Materials

To ensure a smooth experience, you should prepare and pack all materials needed for the games in advance, including a well-stocked picnic basket filled with delicious food for refreshments. Here’s a quick checklist for common picnic game supplies:

  • Balls and frisbees: For tossing and catching games.
  • Plastic bottles: Can be used to set up bowling pins.
  • Kites: For flying, if the weather permits.
  • Bubbles: Easy entertainment for younger kids.

Materials should be suitable for outdoor use. An organizer might also consider bringing a few extra items in case of loss or breakage.

Safety Considerations and Sunscreen

Ensure the play area is free from hazards such as sharp objects or uneven ground. Have a first aid kit accessible for minor scrapes or injuries.

Sunscreen is especially important for outdoor events. Before starting the games, all participants should apply sunscreen with appropriate SPF levels to protect against harmful UV rays. Reapplication is recommended every two hours or after swimming or sweating. You can look at the bottle to be sure how often to reapply. 

Classic Picnic Games for Young Children

Picnics allow young children to enjoy the outdoors while engaging in fun, lighthearted competitions. Classic games like the sack race, egg and spoon race, and three-legged race are entertaining and help develop coordination and balance.

Sack Race

The sack race is a great game. From the starting line, children step into sacks or large potato bags, pulling them up to their waist, and race to the finish. They aim to hop to the finish line as quickly as possible. This simple yet exhilarating game is a fantastic way to encourage jumping and laughter among participants.

Egg and Spoon Race

The egg and spoon race demands a steady hand young kids will love. The first person or the first player to walk or run to the finish line without dropping the egg from their spoon wins the Egg and Spoon Race. It teaches concentration and fine motor control, making it a delightful challenge for youngsters.

Three-Legged Race

Teaming up in pairs, children play the three-legged race by tying their legs together. They must then coordinate their steps and work in unison to reach the finish line, fostering teamwork and communication in a playful setting.

Creative Games with Simple Props

Whole family hula hooping outdoors.
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Games requiring minimal props can are great when it comes to entertaining younger children at a family picnic. These great picnic games are designed to engage kids in playful challenges and can be set up quickly with items you might already have.

Balloon Pop

Freeze tag, another fun game alongside Balloon Pop, offers children a dynamic and fun-filled experience. A simple version involves filling balloons with confetti or small prizes and giving kids something safe to pop them with. 

The anticipation of the pop and the shower of surprises make for a festive activity. To add an educational twist, parents can insert slips of paper with questions or challenges relating to the picnic theme if they have one.

Ring Toss

Ring Toss is a classic dexterity game for young or older kids. Typically, simple wooden or plastic rings are tossed at a set of targets, often bottles or pegs stuck in the ground. The goal is for the player to get the ring around the target, which can be adjusted for difficulty by changing the distance or size of the rings. 

For a creative approach, you might use brightly decorated plastic rings and targets to captivate the younger audience.

Bean Bag Toss

In Bean Bag Toss, children throw bean bags at a board with holes or a series of targets on the ground. Each hole or target has a point value, and the player aims to get the highest score. 

For a themed picnic, the boards and bean bags can be decorated to match, such as characters or colors that children enjoy. This game not only provides entertainment but also helps develop hand-eye coordination.

Hula hoops 

These can be used for various fun activities, like a hula hoop contest, adding an extra layer of excitement to the picnic.

Team Building and Cooperation Games

kids competing in tug of war.
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Family picnics and reunions, especially for larger groups, offer the perfect opportunity for everyone to engage in games that foster teamwork and cooperation. Through these fun activities, kids learn about working together and supporting each other toward common goals.

Tug of War

Tug of War is a classic game that requires teamwork and strength. Two teams compete by pulling on opposite ends of a rope, aiming to drag the other team across a central line. Teams need to communicate and pull in unison to maximize their collective strength.

Capture the Flag

In Capture the Flag, strategic thinking and teamwork become vital. Each team has a flag that they must protect while trying to capture the opponent’s flag and return it to their territory. 

Cooperation and stealth are key as teams must plan and execute their strategies effectively.

Relay Races

The relay race, a classic picnic game where each team member completes a segment before passing on a baton, is a staple of outdoor fun. Success relies on the smooth transition of the baton between team members, emphasizing the importance of timing and coordination.

Water Games for Hot Days

Hot summer days are perfect for various outdoor games, providing fantastic fun and a way to cool off. 

Family picnics can become a splashy paradise for young children with simple, easy-to-set-up games. Remember to slather on the sunscreen before the games begin to protect little ones under the sun.

Water Balloon Dodgeball

Like the water balloon toss, Water Balloon Dodgeball is a refreshing twist on the classic dodgeball game. Kids can team up and play in an open space like a park or backyard. They use water balloons instead of balls, aiming to tag opponents for a cool surprise gently. To play:

  1. Fill a large bucket with water balloons.
  2. Establish clear boundaries for the playing area.
  3. Split children into two teams.
  4. Start the game, reminding them to toss the balloons lightly, not aiming at the face.

Use soft throws to keep it safe for children, and always supervise the game to ensure it stays fun for everyone.

Sponge Bucket Relay

The Sponge Bucket Relay combines speed, teamwork, and plenty of water. This game requires a few large sponges, two buckets for each team—one filled with water and one empty—and some open space.

The goal is to fill the empty bucket by transferring water from the full bucket using only a sponge. Here’s how to set it up:

  • Position two buckets for each team at a distance from each other.
  • Kids dip the sponge into the full bucket, run to the empty bucket, and squeeze out the water.
  • The first team that fills their empty bucket first wins.
  • If the buckets are too large, draw a line halfway and fill to that marker.

This game keeps kids entertained and promotes cooperation and physical activity.

Quiet Time Games for Rest Periods

street children's games in classics hopscotch.
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During family picnics, it’s essential to have various activities catering to different energy levels. For those times when kids need to wind down, or the group needs a break from more physically demanding games, here are a few quiet time games that are perfect for rest periods.


Board games like Jenga are classic block-stacking games that require steady hand and concentration. Each child takes turns removing a block from the tower and placing it on top. The goal is not to be the one who makes the tower tumble. Jenga can be played on a picnic blanket or any flat surface, making it easy to set up.


Twister is another game that, while slightly more active, can be played at a slower pace to suit a rest period. Layout the Twister mat and have children place their hands and feet on the colored circles as the spinner directs. 

The game encourages balance and flexibility; laughter is a common side effect.


For a quiet solo activity, hopscotch is an ideal choice. With just some chalk, draw a hopscotch grid on a safe, flat pavement area. Players take turns tossing a small object into one numbered section and hop through the squares to retrieve it. This game promotes physical coordination and can be played quietly at one’s own pace.

Ending the Day with Rewards

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A family picnic is about making memories and rounding off the event with rewards can add a fun, celebratory note. It helps to acknowledge the competitive spirit and the young children’s participation.

Small Prizes for Winners

Family picnics often feature friendly games, and awarding small prizes to the winners adds extra fun and encourages healthy competition among youngsters. Prizes need not be elaborate; simple items such as stickers, bubbles, or a colorful bracelet will delight the winners.

  • Example Prizes:
    • Stickers
    • Temporary tattoos
    • Bubbles
    • Small cheap toys

These tokens of achievement can also foster a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the next picnic.

Certificates of Participation

Recognizing every child’s effort is crucial for inclusive family bonding. Certificates of participation are perfect for this, making each child feel valued. They can be easily made at home with paper and fun markers or printed with playful designs.

  • Certificate Elements:
    • Child’s Name
    • Date & Location of the Picnic
    • A Fun Graphic
    • Signature of an Adult (for authenticity)

By giving these certificates, you can emphasize the importance of teamwork and enjoying the experience over winning.

Wrapping Up Family Picnic Games

Family or company picnics are not just outdoor gatherings; they’re an opportunity for quality time, celebrating childhood, family bonding, and team building. The variety of games tailored for young children, from energetic activities like water balloon dodgeball to quieter ones like Jenga, offers fun and laughter and nurtures important life skills like teamwork and coordination. 

These family picnic games provide a unique blend of enjoyment and learning, ensuring that each child participates and cherishes these moments regardless of age or ability. As families come together, the shared experiences, the joy, and the sense of belonging leave a lasting impression, making every picnic a treasured memory.

About Krystal DeVille

Hello! I’m Krystal DeVille. By day, I wear many hats: a homeschool teacher, wife, and mother. By night, I’m a fervent journalist, pouring my thoughts and experiences onto paper. Parenthood, for me, has been an exhilarating roller-coaster filled with emotions, invaluable lessons, and moments of sheer joy. With three wonderful kids of my own, I’ve journeyed through the highs and lows — from sleepless nights to their very first steps and those unforgettable proud parent moments.

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