top of page


Stress Free Fun: 'Survivor' In Your Own Backyard

Backyard 'Survivor'

I always enjoyed watching MacGyver when I was young. I thought it was so brilliant how resourceful MacGyver was in solving complex problems using everyday objects. He had ingenuity and creativity. Using material that was available to him, many times it was duct tape, a paper clip and his Swiss Army Knife. His problem solving mantra and the core of MacGyver's technique was how to take what I have to what I need.

I think we can agree that most parents would like to parent their children to where their child could “MacGyver” themselves out of a situation or create new ways to look at a problem using critical thinking.

Unfortunately, these days, some of the schools do not teach our children problem solving skills. It’s understandable with the content they need to cover to pass tests and prepare the kids for the following year. It’s very much memorize as much knowledge as you can and then answer as much content possible on the test.

That’s where we, the parents, come in. We want our children to become high quality thinkers. As proactive parents we can’t always depend on the schools to do this for us. We need to read to our children, ask open-ended questions, answer their questions, find out together the answers to their questions, and help them to shape and grow their vocabulary.

The tribe with the most colored beads at the end of the whole game wins a prize or if you have some individual events the one who has the most beads becomes the Ultimate ‘Survivor’.

Best way to learn, when encouraging problem solving and critical thinking skills is by having fun together.I’ve put together some ideas on how you can play a fun and easy version of ‘Survivor’ in your own backyard for the weekend or during summer vacation.

‘Survivor’ Backyard Weekend: Outlast – Outplay – Outwit:


Everyone is given leather/rope necklace at the beginning of the game. Each tribe is given a color and they can come up with their own name. When they win a challenge they receive a matching color bead to their tribe color.

The tribe with the most colored beads at the end of the whole game wins a prize or if you have some individual events the one who has the most beads becomes the Ultimate ‘Survivor’.

What you need, without going overboard 😊…. from the dollar store:


-2-3 different colored bandannas

-blow up palm tree or battery operated summer lights in the trees


(To decrease stress let the kids help you in gathering everything and bringing it outside. Don't forget to ask them to help you bring everything back in and to put it all back in the right place. (My husband would make a game out of it, by counting and seeing who could do it the fastest)

  • Tent (Kids put it up)

  • Ground cover/tarp

  • Sleeping bags

  • Pillows & favorite stuffed animal

  • Jackets & hats in case it gets cold

  • Camp chairs

  • Beach blanket

  • Flashlights/headlamps

  • Outdoor fire pit

  • (You can show the kids how to start the fire and if they are old enough they can try it for the next day)

  • Fire starting tinder, kindling & firewood for the fire pit

  • Matches or lighter

  • Insect repellent (I hear AVON'S Skin So Soft works well)

  • Baby wipes (are great for just about everything)

  • Plates, cups & utensils

  • Cooking utensils, pots & pans

  • Reusable water bottles

  • Food for dinner & breakfast (For the Kids to make)

  • S’mores supplies (let the kids collect their marshmallow sticks)

  • Trash bags

For Fun (To use in-between challenges):

  • Bubbles

  • Glow sticks

  • Favorite games, coloring books & crayons

  • Books for bed time

  • Camera

  • Scavenger hunt list or camping bingo

'Survivor' CHALLENGES:


  • Like on ‘Survivor’ grab the tents and have the kids set up the tents.

  • Only 2 teams: Boys against the Girls, Parents VS Kids, or older kids VS the younger kids.

How To Play:

  • Race to see who the first team is to build their shelter



  • Small pool

  • Sand/water beads or water balloons filled

  • 3 Bags tied with many loops

  • Tantrix puzzle pieces or any other type of puzzles

How To Play:

  • Hide the 3 bags (each bag is filled with parts of the puzzle and are square knotted many times)

  • Once you have found all 3 bags then run to a designated table/beach blanket and put the puzzle together.

  • First team to finish wins a tribal colored bead

3. Cup Tower Challenge: Great For STEM/STEAM

Stacking Cup Challenge


  • 10 Plastic cups of equal size

  • 4 Pieces of string (around 24 inches)

  • One rubber band (fit around 1 plastic cup)

How To Play:

Goal: To build a tower with 10 cups. Four cups form the base and remaining cups

Stack to form a pyramid shape with one at the top

  • Figure out a way to stretch your rubber band to move the cups and create the pyramid

  • You can’t touch the cups with your hands

  • Each person can only hold one string

  • Only use the string and rubber band

  • First Team to finish each tribal member receives a tribal colored bead

4. Jenga:


Buy a giant Jenga set

How To Play:

The winning team that doesn’t topple it over, each tribe team win a tribal colored bead

5. House of Cards:


  • 2 decks of cards (not old bent or glossy cards)

  • A surface that has friction like a little square rug/carpet

How To play:

  • Build the tower of cards on the square rug/carpet.

  • First team to build a 3 layer tower and answer the question correctly wins and each tribe member receives their tribe color bead

  • How many cards is each lever increasing by?

  • (A factor of 3 – the top row has 3 cards, the second row has 6 cards, the third row has 9 cards. The numerical sequence would be {3,6,9,12,15)

6. Slide Puzzles

Number Slide Puzzle - STEAM


  • Any (dollar store) slide puzzle

How To play:

  • Who will be the fastest to solve the puzzle?

  • First team to finish, each tribe member receives their color bead.

7. Water Bucket Pass:


  • Large bucket full of water

  • 2-3 smaller buckets

  • A pitcher or jug

  • Each person standing about 10 feet away from each other

How To Play:

  • First person scoops water from large bucket.

  • Work together passing the water tribe mate to tribe mate and last person pours remaining water into the container.

  • Team that fills up container first wins, each tribe mate receives their tribe color bead

8. King/Queen of the box:


  • 2 Milk crates or two stumps

  • 1 rope

How To Play:

  • Try to get the other person off the milk crate/stump

  • The team who has won the most wins another tribal color bead

9. Going Fishing:


  • Magnetic letters

  • Fishing pole with a magnet on the end

How To play:

  • First team to spell ‘Outlast’ with the letter magnets

  • Each tribe member receives a color bead

Featured Posts
Follow Me
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Pinterest Icon
bottom of page