Group Games for Your Backyard Barbecue

While you wait for the burgers to cook, send the kids out to play some quick group games!

Maria Eckersley shares these ideas designed to work in small or large groups and can be played with almost no supplies.

Medusa: Played in a circle with nup to 25 people. Players look down at the feet of any other player in the circle. When the moderator calls out “stare” everyone looks up to the face of the person whose shoes they were watching. If two players are looking directly at each other, they’re out and the circle gets smaller. Play continues until only two are left. They have a staring contest to determine the winner.

Deathball: Players sit in a circle with one player in the middle. Those in the outside circle toss a ball across the circle to another player. If the player in the center intercepts the ball, they trade places with the person who threw the ball. If the pass is completed, the outside circle players get one point. If they get to seven points, the person in the center gets dunked (we squeeze out a sponge or water bomb on their head). *If the ball goes outside the circle, the person who touched it last and the person in the middle race to get control of it.

Paper, Rock, Scissors, Posse: Players pair up and compete in a simple game of paper, rock, scissors. The loser stands behind the victor and becomes their ‘posse’. The lead player then finds a new person to battle (their posse trails behind and cheers them on). The loser (and their posse) line up behind the new winner. By the end of the round, there are two long chains of ‘posses’ standing behind the two final players. The winning player and her posse, get to squirt the other team.

Smackdown: Players lay on their stomachs in a circle with their arms in the center. Each player weaves their right arm under the arm of the person on the right. Play begins with one player smacking the ground. The play then goes clockwise around the circle with each player smacking the ground once in order (it’s tricky because your arms are tangled). If a player double-smacks, the direction of the play reverses. If a player smacks out of turn, they pull that arm out of the circle. The last player with an arm in wins.

The Dot Game: Players sit in a circle and are assigned a number. All of the players do a simple hand slap rhythm and chant the song “One (or whatever their number is) has no dots, how many dots does Three (or any number) have?” Number Three now needs to reply with the same chant without throwing off the rhythm “Three has no dots, how many dots does Five (any number) have?” If you break the rhythm or forget how many dots you have, you earn one dot of bright lipstick on your face – then the play begins again. This time they have to say “Five (or whatever their number is) has one dot, how many dots does Two have?”. If you get to three dots, you’re out and the circle gets smaller. It gets tricky because you can’t remember your dots and because it’s hard to remember which player numbers have left the game.

Team Tic Tac Toe: For best results, this one needs at least 10 players. First, you divide the group in half – one team X and one team O. Then you assign each player on each team a number (ie there are two player ones, two player twos, etc). You place 9 chairs in the center of the two groups in a 3×3 grid (each chair representing a spot on the tic tac toe board). The moderator calls out a number and those two players (one from each team) race to sit in a chair. The first player to claim a seat makes the X or O above their head with their arms. The other goes back to their team. The moderator calls out a new number and those two race for a spot. If the moderator calls out a player that is already seated, they must circle the chairs and get back to their seat before their opponent can get there. The first team to get three in a row wins.

Head, shoulders, knees, cup: Two players stand facing each other with a cup placed on the ground between them. The moderator calls out a series of “head, shoulders, knees commands (these can be in any order and said any number of times)”. Players must touch that part of their body as it is called. When the moderator calls out “cup” both players try to grab the cup on the ground. The one who gets it first moves on to the next round.

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