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Cheap and Easy Sidewalk Chalk Games for Kids

Sidewalk chalk games are one of the easiest ways you'll find to prompt active, imaginative outdoor play. I'll bet you have a few sticks of sidewalk chalk stashed away somewhere (or more likely, a whole bucket of the stuff). It's inexpensive, and kids love it. But have you ever thought about using it for more than coloring? Try these games to get kids moving on your driveway, sidewalk, or playground.

Cheap and Easy Sidewalk Chalk Games for Kids

Ready, Set, Go With a Race

Use chalk to draw the start and finish lines of a race. Then come up with different ways to get to the end: running, marching, galloping, using a bike or scooter, jump-roping, and so on. Or play any relay race that's safe for a concrete or asphalt (read: chalkable) surface.

You can also use chalk to set boundaries for young kids playing with ride-on toys: Stop here! This gives them a little room to roam while keeping them as close to home as you're comfortable.

Chalk is also ideal for creating an activity course. Draw a squiggly line for kids to follow, hash-marks for them to jump over, a box where they have to do three jumping jacks, and so on. Once you give them a few ideas for what to include in a course, kids can run with it and make their own. Or leave out the extra activities and design a chalk maze, which kids can navigate on foot, skates, scooters, etc.

Another follow-the-trail idea: Leave clues for a scavenger hunt on the ground, on tree trunks, on the side of your garage, and so on.

Cheap and Easy Sidewalk Chalk Games for Kids
Clark Griffiths / Getty Images /

Win, Lose or Draw with Sidewalk Chalk

Chalk is perfect for classic playground games like hopscotch and four-square. But you can also use it for other games, like outdoor Pictionary or oversized Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman, or Dots. Or: try sketching a set of animal footprints on the ground with chalk. Have kids guess which animal made them, then imitate that animal. Whoever guesses first can draw the next set of footprints.

Also, keep chalk handy for casual games of soccer, HORSE, kickball, and so on. Use it to keep score and mark boundaries or bases.

Kickball Games and Variations

Of course, there's nothing wrong with using chalk to draw. But you can add interest by having kids work together: Say, encourage them to draw a city skyline together, or collaborate on a big nature scene, or trace around each others' bodies (then fill in facial features and clothing, real or fanciful). Similarly, you can trace around other objects and turn them into drawings: the bottom of a bucket makes the round center of a flower, and so on. Or make stencils out of cardboard. 

It's also fun to experiment with water. How do drawings differ on the wet or dry ground? What happens if you dribble water onto an existing picture? 

Target Practice

Use chalk to draw a target (on the ground or a wall) and have kids try to hit it with bean bags, water squirters, Nerf balls or darts, and so on. Your target could be an X, a circle, or even a series of shapes. Call out the shapes so players can aim at a certain one.

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