Summer Fun! 5 Backyard Games

Invite your neighbors over for a day of play. These entertaining and easy games and projects can get everyone on the block out of the house and having a blast.

1. TUG OF WAR
Encourage kids to enjoy an old-fashioned camp classic. It's an excellent team-building exercise.

You'll Need: Several thick 12-foot ropes and tape
• Mark the midpoints of each rope with the tape. Align each midpoint with a mark on the ground; have team leaders take six steps back from the midpoint. Line up the teams behind the leaders. At the signal, each team strains to pull the rope—and the other team—over to its side.

2. FIVE-PERSON RELAY
Customize a pentathlon any way you like. For instance, your relay could include doing cartwheels, egg-and-spoon races, sack races, skipping and walking backward.

You'll Need: Equipment based on the events you've chosen (eggs and spoons, for example), plus a foam-board sign to post the events in order
• Within each team have everyone choose one event (or leg). After the first person completes a leg, the racer must tag the teammate who is on deck for the next event. The first team to finish all five legs wins.

3. HONE YOUR HEARING SKILLS
Could you single out your child's cry in a sea of little voices? In this contest, parents try to locate their children by sound alone.

You'll Need: A blindfold for every parent
• Line up blindfolded parents side by side, then line up the children across the yard. At the signal, have the children start calling for their parents; moms and dads can move, but the children must remain stationary. Whoever reaches his or her child first wins, but the real winners are the bystanders who get to watch the ensuing hilarity.

4. TAKE DOWN A TOWER
This build-'em-up, knock-'em-down game brings out people's competitive spirit.

You'll Need: Two softballs and an array of stackable, nonbreakable items such as cardboard boxes, Tupperware containers and empty trash cans
• Set up two tall towers of stackable items. Use a piece of masking tape to mark a line on the ground 10 feet from the towers. Have each family select a member to stand behind the line and take aim at the opposing team's tower with the softball. Whoever knocks down the other team's tower first gets bragging rights.

5. GET DRAWING
Try this arty twist on charades.

You'll Need: 2 drawing pads and markers
• First, write a different noun on 10 separate pieces of paper. Then place 5 of the pieces of paper each in 2 bowls. At the signal, one person from each of the two teams picks a word and starts drawing while his teammates try to guess what is being drawn. After there is a correct guess, the next team member picks a word and draws. Whichever team guesses all five words first wins.

HAND OUT THE AWARDS
When the games are over, honor the winners with medals. Fashion them yourself by cutting circles or stars out of card stock, wrapping them in tinfoil, poking a hole near the top and looping ribbon through the hole. Or order your medals, starting at $5 per dozen, from amazon.com or orientaltrading.com. Have the victors stand on a step stool as you make the presentation—you can even play "We Are the Champions" on a boom box or through Bluetooth speakers. (You can purchase Queen's version of the song on iTunes for $1.29.) Try displaying the medals from a fence, clothesline or tree limb well before the games kick off. That way, everyone is eyeing the prize!