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Five Family-Fun Yard Games!


Family time is valuable, so it’s up to us to make it fun. Now that the weather is increasingly agreeable, and we are spending more time in the open air, it’s time to turn our attention to outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy. Here are five fun family games to play that are excellent for most ages:

Game #1 – Croquet. This game is an old favorite and was quite popular in England in the 1860s before spreading overseas. It might have been introduced to Britain from France during the reign of Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland, between 1660 and 1685, and played under the French name paille-maille derived from the Latin words for ‘ball and mallet.” This fun game involves hitting wooden balls (or plastic in some versions) with a mallet through a series of hops that are also called “wickets.” The game is generally played on grass, and the main objective is to advance the balls around the court by hitting them with a mallet. A player, or a team, wins by scoring points for each hoop made in the correct order and direction.

Game #2- Cornhole. The origin of this game is up for dispute. Some theorize that the game goes back to 14th century Germany. Others attribute the game to the Blackhawk tribe of Illinois, who used dried animal bladders stuffed with corn and tossed them competitively. This fun lawn game involves players taking turns throwing 16-ounce bags of corn kernels or bean bags at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, whereas one on the board scores 1 point. Play continues until a player or team reaches or exceeds the score of 21 by means of cancellation scoring. There are scaled-down versions of the game for sale, featuring different bags and holes that more adaptable for indoor or kids’ play.

Game #3 – Bocce (Bocce ball). This fun ball-sport is closely related to some other European games, including British bowls and the French pétanque. Each of these games likely shares common ancestry from the Roman Empire. Today, bocce is largely associated with Italy, where it is played regularly. It is a type of lawn-bowling game played on a court made for the game or on level ground. The game is played with eight large balls, and one smaller target or object ball called a pallino. Players take turns tossing balls underhanded, and at the end of each frame, points are awarded. The object of the game is for a team to get as many of its balls as possible closer to the target ball. Players knock either the jack or the opponent’s ball away to achieve a favorable position.

Game #4 – Horseshoes – This enjoyable game, played between two people or teams, involves throwing metal horseshoes at two stakes used as targets. The players alternate tossing the horseshoes at stakes in the ground that are typically placed 40-feet apart. Players can score by throwing a “ringer” that encircles the stake or by throwing the horseshoe nearest to the stake. The game is thought to be derived from another game called quoits played by Roman officers during the Roman occupation of Britain in the 1st through 5th century. It is believed that upon lacking quoits, the officers improvised using some type of horseshoes. Despite mysteries over its origin, quoits would become a popular pub game in England. Horseshoes, an offshoot of ancient games, is widely enjoyed at barbecues and family gatherings in the United States and beyond.

Game #5 – Badminton – This outdoor sport is playing using racquets to hit a shuttlecock across a net to land it within the opposing side’s half of the court. The most common forms of the game are with single or double players, meaning one or two per side, but groups can also play. The play ends when the shuttlecock strikes the floor. The game was developed in British India from the earlier game of battledore and shuttlecock. Since 1992, badminton has become a Summer Olympic Sport. Though the game is competitive, most people enjoy playing it for fun on the beach.

Now that sunshine beckons and families are beginning to reunite in small groups, it is wonderful to plan some fun activities to keep everyone entertained. Each of these games offers immense pleasure and requires only minimal skill to play in a non-competitive environment.

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