Energizer: Being Active Outdoors: Kids, Adults, and Families

It’s not always easy to be active outside, especially when the weather isn’t fantastic. Walks, snowshoeing, skiing and other outdoor pursuits are wonderful, but sometimes activities with more organization, goals and teamwork make it easier to get moving. In the younger set, this is why games like tag or hide and seek are so popular. Other games with minimal equipment and set-up (games with low organization) are also great, such as SPUD1, Four-Square2, 5003 or Capture the Flag.4

In older adults, gentle tennis, pickleball, lawn bowling and curling are some sports that keep people engaged, active and moving. There’s a purpose to these games and sports, and some degree of friendly competition and teamwork. That is often what keeps people coming back to an activity – there is a goal to be accomplished and it is performed in the company of others. It makes for a great change from some physical fitness activities that might be more solitary.

And it’s not just the element of competition. People – not just kids – like to have fun. Getting outside, being active, and working as a team can lead to feeling good and lifting mood. So a great energizer often has an element of creativity and competition to it. And games with a goal, even something as simple as tag, keep participants focused, moving and interacting with others.

With that in mind, here is an energizer appropriate for all ages, and with that goal-oriented and creative element that adds interest to the activity. It can be played for varying amounts of time, and is easy to set up.

Energizer: Farmers Shepherding Sheep5

Space: Choose a playing area that is free of obstructions or obstacles

Supplies/Equipment: Pinnies for half of the participants and 10 pylons.

Set-Up: Place 5 pylons approximately 5 metres from one end of the playing field – this is the “pasture”. Repeat on the other end of the field – this is the “barn”.

Get Moving

  1. Divide the group into two equal groups. One group is the farmers and the others are the sheep. Have one group wear pinnies.
  2. The farmers start in the barn, and the sheep start in the pasture. After the start of the game, the farmers and sheep must leave their respective starting places. Sheep try to avoid being collected by the farmers, who are trying to tag them (via a gentle touch on the back or arm). Sheep can escape being collected by avoiding the farmer’s tag or moving back into the pasture (their home free zone). If a sheep is collected, they are brought to the barn, where they must stay unless they are released by their fellow sheep.
  3. In order to release a sheep in the barn, the collected sheep make a chain that begins in the barn and links out to the field, towards their pasture (they can do this by linking arms or joining hands). A free sheep can release the entire sheep chain by touching the hand of the sheep at the end of the sheep chain.
  4. Make the game easier by having fewer farmers; make it harder by restricting the number of sheep who can be in the pasture at any one time.

Have fun and make sure to recognize some great teamwork, strategy and innovation in the game play. It’s all in the name of bringing creativity and organized play to groups and everyday activities.


1Group Games. (n.d.). SPUD Game. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from: http://www.group-games.com/action-games/spud-game.html

2Squarefour.org. (n.d.). Four-Square Rules. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from http://www.squarefour.org/rules

3Games Kids Play. (n.d.). 500 Game. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from: http://www.gameskidsplay.net/games/ball_games/500.htm

4How Do You Play. (2017). Capture the Flag Rules. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from: http://www.howdoyouplay.net/active-games/how-to-play-capture-the-flag.html

5Ophea. (2014). Farmers Herding Sheep. Retrieved February 15, 2017 from: http://www.playsport.net/activity/farmers-shepherding-sheep