What could be more fun during the summer than packing a delicious to-go meal and a few comfy blankets, and heading off to the beach, local park, or some other beautiful spot for a picnic? Well, how about adding some sizzle to the event with a few exciting games?

Maybe you haven't played a "game" like this in a long time. But don't underestimate how beneficial – and fun – game playing can be for both parents and kids. Robin Scheel, President of Fun Attic (www.funattic.com), started putting an extensive list of game ideas together as a result of all the good times she and her family had playing together. Scheel says "It's just so fun, to laugh and be with your kids, it brings that closeness." Knowing that parents can at times fall short of ideas for what to do with their kids, especially during long summer days, Scheel offers these game ideas, perfect for your next picnic:

  • Blanket volleyball: Set up two teams, with each team member holding a corner of his or her team's blanket. This will work best with 8 people (4 on each side holding one corner of a blanket) but with a few athletic types could be played with fewer people. Have one team serve the volleyball by placing the ball in the middle of the blanket. They are to lower the blanket and then raise it quickly as a team, to allow the ball to become air borne. The opposing team must catch the volleyball in their blanket and toss it back again. The ball can be tossed back and forth over a net, but it's not necessary.
  • Galaxy Ball: Players form a large circle or square. Place 1 or more players in the center who try to avoid being hit by thrown balls. Players on the perimeter throw balls trying to hit the inner circle player(s) at or below the waist. The player who hits someone gets to take his or her place in the center.
  • Soccer Ball Bowling: Have the kids set up about 10 empty plastic 2-liter pop bottles on a flat surface. Each player gets two tries at knocking the cans down at about 20 feet away. If one player knocks all the bottles down within his two shots he gets another turn to add to his score. The total amount of bottles they knock down gets added to their score. You can go up to 10 complete turns and the person with the highest score wins. This is a great game for kids to practice addition in their heads.
  • Duck, Duck, Squirt: For this game you'll need a squirt gun and a bucket of clean water. All the players sit or stand in a circle. Pick a person to be "it." They are to go around the circle like Duck, Duck, Goose but they say " Duck, Duck, Squirt". They then squirt a player and the chase begins. The "squirter" is to run around the circle and back to the player's position without getting tagged by the person that was squirted.
  • I'm Going Hunting: You play this game in a circle and your memory counts. One person in the circle starts the game off by saying, "I'm going hunting and I'm taking an arrow." The next person will have to repeat what the person next to him said, and then add something new from the next letter in the alphabet. "I'm going hunting, and I'm taking an arrow and a bow." You keep this going around the circle until one person cannot remember what he is taking. That person is out and you see if the next person can complete the phrase. You don't necessarily have to choose something that you would normally take hunting - it can be funny. You can also modify this game to a specific topic. "I'm going shopping and I'm buying a…."
  • Smile Toss Players can sit in a circle or another formation as long as everyone can see each other. All players are to keep a straight somber face while one person that is chosen to be the Smile Tosser, smiles. The Smile Tosser will smile a big smile at all players trying to get them to crack a smile or laugh. If anyone smiles or laughs they are out of the game and they must be absolutely quiet while the game goes on. The Smile Tosser can wipe off his smile with his hand and throw it to another player if he wishes. The receiving player will put on the smile and be the new Smile Tosser. You can even set a time limit on how long your Smile Tosser is allowed to keep her role.