These days, it seems kids spend their free time holed up in bedrooms with the latest Nintendo game instead of lost in an outdoor activity like tree climbing. With technology-a-plenty at their fingertips, good old-fashioned outdoor fun seems to have become a thing of the past. It’s time to reintroduce a love of nature – and what better way to do that than some good old-fashioned tree games? Create some fun (not to mention free) childhood memories just by unlocking the backdoor or heading to your local park and introducing kids to some tree games. All they need is a little reminder that the real fun can be found in your backyard, just underneath the nearest tree.
So for some free, tree-inspired fun, check out these forgotten outdoor tree games:
Be a backyard hero with ‘40/40 save all’
Using a tree as the home-base, one child is ‘in’ and counts to 40 while the other kids run and hide. As soon as the person who is ‘in’ spots someone in their hiding place, he runs back to the tree, shouts out the name of the hider and where they are hiding, and that person is now ‘out’. The only way the hider can save herself is if she gets to the tree first and shouts out ’40-40 save all’ – then everyone is safe and the original person remains ‘in’. If all the hiders are found then the first person who was ‘out’ is the next person to be ‘in’ and stand guard at the tree.
Get back to a nature and ‘hug-a-tree’
This game should be played in an area where there are plenty of trees – during a family bushwalk or nature walk would be perfect. Players get into pairs and one person is blind-folded. They are then led to a specific tree by their partner. Here, the blindfolded ‘tree-hugger’ feels the tree and has to remember, the shape, texture and smell of the tree. Then they are taken back to the starting point, their blindfold is removed and they have to try and identify their tree.
Limber up and climb high
Climbing trees is one of the real joys of being a kid. It is a great way to observe and appreciate nature and a great activity for kids to do with their friends. Not to mention totally free!
But always stress the importance of safety when it comes to climbing trees. There are certain rules that should be set in stone before any tree climbing begins. Some safety rules for kids should include:
- all branches should be tested before you put weight on them
- always select safe footholds
- don’t go higher than a set point (parents should set height restrictions)
- wear a helmet
- always come down the tree facing the trunk
- if you panic: stop, take a deep breath and focus on your hands and feet rather than the ground
Countdown to ‘five trees’
Similar to hide and seek, five trees is a game that needs to be played in an area that has at least five large trees in it. Each tree is given a number from one to five. The child who is ‘in’ stands with their back to the trees and counts to 20. Each of the other players hides behind a tree so that they cannot be seen. The player who is ‘in’ turns around and shouts out the number of a tree. Anyone hiding behind that tree is then ‘out’. Everyone else is safe. Then the child who is ‘in’ turns around and counts to 20 again, while those still playing run and hide behind a different tree. And so on, until there is only one hider left!
Treat yourself to a tree house
Building a tree house for your kids is the perfect project to do as a family – not to mention all the years of free fun and happy memories. A tree house can be as simple or elaborate as you like and provides endless hours of fun for the kids. You can build one high in the boughs of the tallest tree for older kids or low to the ground with just one to two steps up for young kids. The important thing is to start with a plan and get the kids involved every step of the way: picking a tree, designing the treehouse, purchasing materials and then building it.