4th of July Games to Keep Kids Entertained All Day

So you can enjoy your hot dog in peace.


Bottle Rocket Tag

Photo by KidStock/Getty Images

If regular tag is getting boring, offer this patriotic spin, suggests Len Saunders, exercise physiologist and author of Keeping Kids Fit. One child gets to be “It,” and has to chase and attempt to tag other players. Once someone is tagged, he has to do five bottle rockets—squat down and launch into an explosive jump. After completing five, the game resumes. “Kids have a good time with that,” says Saunders.


Patriotic Baseball

Water balloons are the perfect addition to a hot, July afternoon. Purchase red, white, and blue balloons to keep the game within the theme, and fill them with water. Give kids a wiffleball bat, and pitch the water balloons to them. Of course, the balloons will pop, so there’s no need for them to run around the bases, but you can set up one “base” they have to run to and then make it back to home plate before being tagged.

Saunders suggests an added challenge for a more advanced game: set a garbage can near home plate. Once the child at-bat hits the water balloon, let her run away from the plate to a “base,” while other kids in the “outfield” attempt to throw a tennis ball into the bucket before she returns home.


Carnival Games

Mimic an all-American fair by setting up balloon darts, ring tosses, or tin can toss games in your backyard. Or, try a spin on Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and have kids pin stripes or stars onto a flag.


Scavenger Hunt

This game is great no matter where you’re celebrating the holiday—even if it rains. There are so many variations you can try, but Saunders suggests hiding printouts of the American Flag or other patriotic images around the park or backyard, and attaching activities to each. So when a child finds the first image, there’s a note that reads, “Do five pushups.” It keeps them active and adds another layer to a traditional party game.


Water Snake

If the day is particularly hot, and water scarcity isn’t a concern, use a garden hose to keep kids cool, suggests Saunders. One stands in the circle and rotates the garden hose back and forth, in the pattern of a sprinkler, and other children have to jump over the “snake.” If you get wet, you become the snake.


Soda Bottle Bowling

This idea comes from Roots and Wings: Wrap empty soda cans with red white and blue paper, and use wiffle balls to knock the “pins” over. See the full tutorial here.


Relay Race

Head to a thrift store, costume store, or your own closet to assemble two outfits that resemble George Washington—you could use a fake wig, a collared shirt, and a hat—and make sure all items are comically larger than the players. Designate a length of the backyard for the race, and set up all items needed for the outfit on either side—so the hat may be at the beginning, the shirt at the end, and the wig back at the beginning. Each child has to run back and forth, putting on one item of clothing at each end, until they’re completely “dressed.” Whoever is wearing the complete Washington ensemble first, wins!


Arts and Crafts

There are plenty of fun patriotic DIYs that are kid-appropriate and really fun. If you’re stuck inside from rain, or need an activity to help kids cool off, try making Popsicle Stick Flags, finger-painted T-shirts, or even patriotic decorations for the porch.