When away is not an option for vacation, there are plenty of creative ideas for a family staycation. These days, kids had rather play on their computers than in the backyard. Therefore, many traditional outdoor games appear to have been lost in time but there’s an opportunity to share new experiences using vintage games. And it’s a great feeling to make new family traditions resulting from your childhood pleasures. So, how about resurrecting a few “golden oldies” reminiscent of simpler times.

Jump Rope

Get your kids off the couch and into the backyard for a fun and healthy session of jump rope. Parents can turn the rope. Even those awaiting their turn to jump have fun yelling jump rope chants.

Revive those popular chants or make up new ones and remember to include numbers where you can keep counting until the jumper misses. Any player can demand “hot pepper,” which means to twirl the rope faster and faster. The player who attains the highest number of jumps wins.

Mom Jump Rope

Lawn GamesGet the sticks and wickets out of the attic, garage, etc., and set up a game in the backyard. Don’t have one? Croquet sets are inexpensive and easy to order on the internet. Online retail pricing was as little as about $40 to get enough equipment together for a fun afternoon. Lawn games are best enjoyed on a freshly cut lawn. They can be seriously competitive or just played for fun.+

Sidewalk Games

Draw a chalk hopscotch design on the sidewalk or order one of the new mats so everyone can get to the fun immediately. Mats are about $25 online; if you need chalk, less than $5 can get you going. There are different versions of the sidewalk game hopscotch, and a quick online search can provide details on how to keep your game fresh. 

For extra fun, paint or pick a favorite rock color for each player, order the rock online for use throughout the summer, and later mount it to a small plaque or board for a fun souvenir. 


Sprinkler Fun

The garden hose was invented in 1652 and by the 1900s, with many improvements, people were buying hoses for home use.   In the decades before there was a pool in (almost) every backyard, there were water hoses with sprinklers attached. Turn on the sprinkler, and your kids will jump, run, turn somersaults, giggle, dance, and make up other fun stuff to do. Get water toys or water balloons for an added attraction.

Butcher Paper Art

Roll out a large piece of butcher paper and give the entire family permission to express their creativity regarding a pre-selected subject. Pick a theme such as a holiday, a wedding, astronauts in outer space, or farm animals, and get drawing.

Have pencils, colored pencils, crayons, etc. at hand. The idea is to create one continuous picture, but the hilarity begins when the picture is finished. Like who even knew pigs were in outer space?


Classic Movie Afternoon


Pop the corn, grab the blankies, and get settled for an afternoon of movie watching. Encourage your kids to give the classics a chance. Outdoor movie screens and projectors are available online to add a unique viewing experience by being able to take the entertainment outside.

Outdoor Movie

 Try a black and white western or vintage musical movies and fantasy character-themed movies, and while ratings should be double-checked, plenty of films should be available for all ages.   Classic films are generally inexpensive to own, and multi-movie packs can be had for less than $10. Of course, if you have a streaming service, you will also have tons of content choices. 

Teachable Moments

A staycation is an ideal time to slip in a few teachable moments.

Container Garden

Even if you have brown thumbs and clumsy fingers, your container garden will likely flourish. Give each child 2-3 containers to grow their choice of vegetables. From seed to crop, kids will have a good time watching their veggies grow. Best of all, they will eat the veggies they grow.

Board Games

Playing board games on family night is certainly not an innovative idea. However, it is a family tradition that has virtually been set aside in favor of a gazillion computer games. Kids believe board games are boring. Seriously?

Board games generally give kids the one thing they want most – bonding time with their parents.

Word-focused games provide wonderful teachable moments for kids. Any learning that is fun is not like learning at all. Kids will increase their vocabulary when other players make words they haven’t learned yet. It’s also great fun for them to challenge another player because “that’s not a real word.” 


Parental Tip: Keep a dictionary handy. When a word is played that a player doesn’t know, look it up and read the definition out loud. Consider creating a spelling list from the unfamiliar words.

Games can teach kids to focus. Each player must put their attention on their letters to create words that reward them with big scores. For small children, think about a junior version with kid-friendly words.

Final Thoughts

Don’t consider a staycation punishment. You will save money and enjoy relaxing in the comfort of home on a staycation. You and your kids will spend quality time together and make beautiful memories. At the end of the day, the family may vote to do a staycation again next time.