Even when the sun disappears from the sky, there is still plenty of fun to be had outdoors. We’ve put together a list of night games that are best played when it’s dark outside – and especially good fun when it’s cold and the kids are rugged up in their favourite hat, coat and gloves. They’re also perfect to entertain kids on a sleepover!
Chilly nights will be a welcome guest at your place once the kids get a taste for these heart-pumping night games and outdoor pursuits:
Night Game #1: Tear up the night with torch-tag
For kids with plenty of energy to burn, a game of torch-tag is the perfect remedy. Night owls of all ages will enjoy this fun twist on traditional tag. The person who is ‘in’ tags people by shining a torch on them and calling out their name. The last person to be tagged is the winner and the first person tagged is the next person to be ‘in’. Thrill seekers can take it up a notch and try a night-time version of stuck-in-the-mud.
Night Game #2: Get silly with a game of statues
Practise your poker-faces, kids. Playing statues will really test their powers of inner strength! One person is ‘in’ and the rest strike a pose and pretend that they are statues. The person who is ‘in’ walks up to each statue one at a time, shines a torch on them and tries to make them laugh without touching them. The first statue to laugh is the next person to be ‘in’. Foolish faces and strange warbling noises are a must in this feel-good night-time game. Prepare to laugh until your sides ache.
Night Game #3: Show-stopping shadow puppets
If you’re looking for an outdoor activity that requires a little less frantic energy, the kids will love putting on their own outdoor shadow puppet show. You can construct a puppet theatre in your backyard by hanging a big white sheet between two trees. Light the sheet from behind with a floor lamp (if you have access to an outdoor power supply) or by using a couple of torches. It’s a good idea to get the kids to work in pairs. They can practise making shadow puppets with their hands and perhaps even some sticks or leaves from the garden. Then each pair can present their show to the other players. This is a great after-dark activity to excite imaginations and get creative juices flowing.
Night Game #4: Ready, set…sardines!
Based on the old favourite game of hide and seek, sardines is a hilarious way to spend an evening with friends. One person is ‘in’ and finds a place to hide while the rest of the players count to 20 with their eyes shut. Then everyone goes in search of the hider. Once the hider is found, each person must squeeze into the same hiding spot, being careful not to make any noise. The first person to find the hider is the next person to be ‘in’. But beware – it becomes very creepy when it’s pitch-dark, eerily quiet and you’re the last one standing!
Night Game #5: Follow the firefly
For maximum effect, this game should be played with a small pocket torch so that the beam is not too easy to spot. One person is selected to be the firefly and hides outside in the dark, away from the rest of the players. After counting to 20 everyone goes in search of the firefly, who is constantly moving around from hiding spot to hiding spot. Every 60 seconds, the firefly must quickly flick her torch on and off. When she is caught the game is over and a new firefly is appointed. Add extra excitement to the game by giving all players a pocket torch to flick on and off, but cover the firefly’s torch with a layer of coloured cellophane. There will be lots of beautiful twinkling torches, but the trick will be to find the coloured light of the daring firefly before anyone else.
But remember: safety first
Before you unleash your kids into the dark for some night games, it’s a good idea to identify some clear safety parameters so nobody gets hurt or lost. Set clear boundaries for where the kids are allowed to play and a point where they should not venture past. Ensure the games take place well away from traffic or busy roads and ask the kids to make regular checks to ensure everyone is accounted for. Smaller kids should be buddied up with an older child so that they are never wandering around on their own. Once the ground rules are established and everyone is in agreement, the after-hours antics can begin!