Indoor & Backyard Nature games

Indoor/Backyard Games Blog

This is a tough time for everyone in the Hamilton area, especially for caregivers of young kids. Balancing work, teaching, cleaning and more can be overwhelming! So, here are some ways to exercise out some of that boundless energy and enthusiasm your kids have in isolation. Whether you have a small backyard or only a living room to play in, these games help grow their imagination and appreciation of nature.

Animals of the Forest (Statue Tag)

Number of participants: Two or more

Equipment & space required: Indoor or outdoor space and imagination

Storyline: A scientist is out exploring in nature and is trying to record how many different animals they can find. However, animals can be very mysterious creatures and will often try to hide from humans.

Objective: The scientist wants to try and find every animal of the forest, but the animals want to remain hidden from the scientist.

Roles: One person is the “scientist” and everyone else is a “wild animal” of their choice

Rules:  Animals can move/walk/dance when the scientist is not looking at them. An animal will want to “freeze” and not move when the scientist looks at them. If the scientist sees an animal moving, that animal has been “found” and must sit to the side of the playing area and wait for the next round. The animals are allowed to breathe and blink while frozen, but cannot move or make any sounds. The scientist must walk around the playing area, turning their back to the animals from time-to-time. This will allow the animals to move and change their positions. The last animal to be found can become the scientist for the next round.

Suggestions:  Play in different locations in and out of the house per turn. Take turns so everyone has a turn to be the scientist and an animal.

Squirrels & Squirrels

Number of participants: Two or more

Equipment & space required: Three small items (golf balls, small stuffed animals, etc.) and one big item (tennis ball, big stuffed animal, etc.). Indoor or outdoor space.

Storyline:  Squirrels are always planning ahead. They like to collect food (acorns, pine cones and seeds) and stash it away for later. There are a few different squirrels in the Hamilton area including grey squirrels and red squirrels. Grey squirrels are most common and can be grey, brown or black in color. These squirrels like to hide their food in three smaller separate piles. Red squirrels are smaller in size and like to hide their food in one big pile.

Roles:  Divide the number of participants into two groups. One group is “grey squirrels” and the second group is “red squirrels.”

Objective:  Working together, the grey squirrels will hide their three food items around the room/yard. Once the grey squirrels have hidden all of their food items, the red squirrels want to see if they can find all the food piles. If the red squirrels find all three food piles, the round is over. If the red squirrels cannot find all the food piles, the grey squirrels can help by giving hints. When the first round is over, it’s time for the red squirrels to hide their big food pile. The red squirrels will work together to hide their one large item. Once the red squirrels have hidden their food, the grey squirrels will try to find it. If the grey squirrels find the large food pile the round is over. If the grey squirrels cannot find the large food pile, the red squirrels can give hints to help. When the round is over, the participants switch roles so the grey squirrels become the red squirrels and vice versa. Play another two rounds.

Rules:  The team not hiding food items must stand at the far side of the playing area and close their eyes while the opposite team hides their items. No peaking! Discuss the rules of hiding food items. For example, are you allowed to bury your food items under sticks, leaves, pillows or blankets or must the food items always remain fully visible? Decide as a group.

Suggestions:  Once all participants have had a chance to be both red and grey squirrels, ask them “If you were to be transformed into a squirrel for a day, which squirrel (red or grey) would you choose to be and why?” Hopefully, you will get answers like “I would choose to be a red squirrel because they hide all their food together and you only have to go to one place to get your food.” or “I would choose to be a grey squirrel because if another animal finds one of my food piles, I still have two other piles to take from.”


Number of participants: Two or more

Equipment & space required:  Indoor or outdoor space with places to hide

Storyline:  In order for animals to survive in nature, they must have really good camouflage to hide from other animals and humans. This means that they blend in with their natural environment or they have good shelter to hide in, making them harder to see.

Roles:  One person is the “searcher.” Everyone else are going to be “hiders.”

Objectives: When searcher finds all the hiders, it is the end of the round. The hider that is the last person to be found becomes the searcher for the next round.

Rules: The searcher counts to 30 while the hiders hide. When the 30 seconds is up, the searcher will shout “GAME ON” but the searcher cannot move – they are frozen in one spot. However, the searcher is allowed to turn in a circle to look around. If the searcher sees a hider, they can call them out. For example: “I see red shirt behind the tree.” or “I see black pants under the couch.” If a hider is found, they must sit to the side of the playing area and wait for the next round. Once the searcher has found a few hiders, or if the searcher cannot find anyone else, the searcher will call out “CAMOUFLAGE” and close their eyes and stick out their hands. The searcher will then begin to countdown from 30 out loud, and the remaining hiders must run, give the searcher a high five, and hide again. When the searcher is done counting down, they will call “GAME ON” and continue to look for the hiders. After the searcher finds a few more people, or if the searcher cannot find anyone else, they will again call “CAMOUFLAGE” but this time count down from 25 seconds. This process will continue until the searcher finds all the hiders, counting down in increments of five, or until there are still hiders left after the searcher’s countdown reaches 5 and they can’t find anyone. During the game, the hiders must high five the searcher every time they call “CAMOUFLAGE.”

Suggestions: Play in different areas indoors and outdoors and take turns being the searcher or hider. Decide if hiders are allowed to hide in the same spot or if they must change hiding locations every time the searchers shouts “CAMOUFLAGE” and counts down.

Have fun! Tag us in any photos on social media or comment below on how the game went for you! We’d love to hear any suggestions or feedback on the games!

Hamilton Conservation Authority