Outdoor night games for kids

Backs of a family stood holding hands in the dark

When the sky gets dark, kids can get a different perspective on the outdoors with these animal-oriented games and activities. These outdoor night games for kids are perfect for camping trips or any other time you are outdoors after dark. These games are great for all ages. There are loads of ideas for games to play in the dark with teens and tweens and there are also some ideas for younger kids too. Find more outdoor games for children of all ages here.

Family stood in a line in the dark. Text says outdoor games to play at night

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Children can explore the different ways their senses work in the dark either while in their garden or while on a camping trip. In the autumn and winter, shorter days allow parents and children to play these activities earlier, perfect for younger kids. I talk more about exploring the dark with young children in this review of a fantastic book – Out and about Night explorer review.

In the summer, warmer weather and the changes in kids’ schedules mean they can stay up to explore the night. So let’s explore some fun outdoor games that you might like to play with your kids.

When the sky is dark children can play games in their garden or at a campsite that explore how some animals sense their surroundings at night. The games below are all really fun activities for families.

These games are perfect to play as part of a sleepover for kids. Find more slumber party games for teens here.

These outdoor night games are perfect for Halloween but if you want to head indoors then I love the idea of a DIY Halloween Escape Room.

Owl Sight

This first game is a great way to teach children about these beautiful birds.

Before it gets dark, have the children look through a pair of binoculars. Then repeat after it gets dark. Everything will seem a little brighter because the binoculars collect more light than human eyes can alone. Owl eyes are 100 times more sensitive to light than human eyes.

Firefly Flashers

This game involves a little bit of preparation beforehand but it’s a really fun game for the whole family or a group of friends such as at a birthday party or a group camping trip.

Beforehand, create two matching sets of index cards with coded signals of dots and dashes. Each card has an exact match in the other set but no two cards within any set will be the same. Hand out a card and a flashlight to each of the children. Have the children practice making short and long flashes with their flashlights. Explain that fireflies find a mate by being attracted to a particular flashing pattern.

Then, allow the children to spread out over a field or garden. Each child will flash the pattern on their card while looking for their match. Players move toward one another and check the cards to see if they match.

Soundless Walk and Fox Ears

This is another great game for teaching little kids about animals, in this case, foxes. Kids will have a great time playing this game and learning about this nighttime creature.

Participants block their ears with their fingers or palms and proceed along a route for about 100 yards. After a brief discussion of participants’ reaction to walking without hearing, present fox ears, in which participants heighten their hearing by cupping their hands behind their ears. With their ears cupped, the participants turn their heads toward different sounds as they walk back along the route.

Spotting Deer

Discuss that animals like whitetail deer and cottontail rabbits have prominent displays of white fur because even on a moonless night the white will show up at a distance. Next, in the garden or in a field, the children pretend to be deer and spread out as they browse. At some point, the leader flashes a white cloth (deer tail) and the group must return to the leader as quickly as possible.

Next, give white fabric to two or three of the children. Indicate that another child is a fox. The foxes’s job is to try to tag one of the deer. To catch the deer unaware, the fox should count to fifty before sneaking up on the herd. The adult deer (the ones with the white cloth) must pretend to browse but they must also look for any danger. The first deer to see danger and raise its tail should lead the group away from danger. Deer do not run off in every direction. They stay together.

Sleeping Pirate

One person is blindfolded, and she is the “Sleeping Pirate.” Something is placed in front of her, like a chocolate bar. The rest of the players must move at least 20 paces away from her to the starting line, and must then try to sneak up and steal the chocolate bar without being heard. When the pirate hears something, she points in the direction she heard the noise, and whomever she points to must return to where he started. The winner is the first player who steals the chocolate bar without being caught.


One person is given a torch or small flashlight and must close her eyes and count to 30, standing at the base, which could be a bag or a tent. She is “it.” All other members of the group must run and hide. Using the torch, “it” must try and find the rest of the group. As soon as she sees someone, that person is out. Members must try and reach the base without being seen. Wearing dark clothes is advantageous for this game.

Hug a Tree

The group is split into pairs. One person in each pair is blindfolded and then led to a tree via an obscure route. Once there, the blindfolded person has to feel the tree, its trunk, roots, etc. After about a minute, the other person helps the blindfolded person back to the starting point, again via an obscure route. He can even pretend to help her under an imaginary fence, or other such misleading ideas. The blindfolds are removed, and the person then has to try and locate the tree she was hugging.

Smuggler’s Game

In this game, the group is split into two even teams. One team is the “smugglers” and the other is the “custom officials,” or any variant of the names. The smugglers are given something they must try and get past the customs officials without being caught. This could be anything from a balloon to a beach ball, etc. The way the smuggler’s work is up to them. They can try and rush past the customs officials, throwing the ball between them, or one can hide it and try and sneak past the customs officials while the rest of her team makes a diversion.

Graveyard Scavenger Hunt

Whether you want to play this game during the Halloween season or just want an excuse to spook some older kids, this game will certainly provide some entertainment. All you’ll need are some flashlights, a garden, some objects to hide, and maybe a few volunteers to frighten the children. If you like, you can even decorate the yard to look like a graveyard with fake tombstones and skeletons’ hands popping out of the dirt. The kids will all have to search for the items in the yard with only the aid of a flashlight and a premade list of said objects. Whoever finds the most items wins the game.


In another game involving flashlights in the dark outdoors, two players must find the other players and “zap” them with their flashlights when they spot them. As the two players start out, they count to 30 while the other person hides in the dark. Once a player is zapped, he has to take over the other player’s flashlight and continue on with the game, counting to 30 while the person who zapped him gets an opportunity to hide. The game ends when the kids get tired out.


Playing the classic outdoor game Hide and Seek, Sardines has only one player who hides, finding a concealed spot and waiting for the other players to come to find him. Whenever a person finds the chosen player’s hiding place, she must then hide with him and wait for others to locate them. The last person to find the spot loses the game and becomes the next hider.

Capture the Flag in the Dark

For a large group of kids, you can play this classic game with a nighttime twist. The children will need to be separated into two teams and each given a base at a somewhat distant location. Both bases will be equipped with a flag painted with glow-in-the-dark paint or adorned with glow-in-the-dark objects such as glow sticks.

The object of the game is to grab the other team’s flag before they grab yours. The best battleground for this game is an area that has a lot of hiding spots in between the two bases, such as trees or yard furniture. The first team to grab the opposing team’s flag and successfully bring it back to their base wins the game.

Flashlight Tag

This classic game of tag can seem completely different at night.

One player is “it” and tries to tag the other players with their flashlights. When a player is tagged, they become “it”. This is a great outdoor game to play at night for kids of all ages.

Glow in the dark ball games

One of our favourite camping toys is a glow-in-the-dark moon ball. It’s a small ball that lights up when it bounces. Other options are football or volleyball. You can even get the kids to wear glow stick bracelets on their wrists and ankles.

I hope that you have found some great games for the next time you are outdoors at night whether you are in a large or a small group. These are the best games for players of all ages to play after dark. I hope you enjoy them.

Why play outdoor night games with kids?

When you’re a kid, playing games at night can make the games all the more exciting and suspenseful. Hiding and seeking games, in particular the nighttime, especially outdoors, can allow for a better game as the challenges in the game become heightened. When you and your family throw a sleepover party or just feel like having some good old-fashioned fun, try playing games at night to really give the kids a treat.

Night sky with tree silhouettes. Text reads the best games to play in the dark

Where to next?

If you are planning an outdoor party then you might like to read my guide to the best outdoor games for a kid’s party. I bet there are lots of games that you either haven’t heard of or have forgotten about.

These games are perfect for groups of kids at night but you’ll find loads of ideas for big groups of kids in the daytime here – Outdoor group games for kids.

Here are some Nature walk games that you might like to play on your next walk.

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