‘Leafbag Football’ Is the Best Way To Trick Kids Into Doing Yard Work

Once they realize it's a game, your kids will be begging to bag leaves.

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Leafbag Football is a fun outdoor activity that combines sports and yard work and turns trash bags full of freshly raked leaves into players in a football game with your kids. My dad played it with us when we were kids, and I’m pretty sure it was little more than a ploy to get us to help rake the leaves. It worked, though, because the game is a ton of fun. And there was never any question that when my kids were old enough to hold a rake, they’d play Leafbag Football too.

Prep Time: A good 10 to 30 minutes, depending on yard size
Entertainment Time: About an hour
Energy Expended by Child: Lots of physical energy

What You Need:

  • Leaves, and lots of them. The more leaves, the more players on the field. If you need more, ask a neighbor. Odds are high that they’ll be happy to let you rake for them.
  • A thick sharpie or other permanent marker
  • A standard or kid-sized football

How to Play:
Start by raking your entire yard’s worth of leaves. Get them all, that’s why you’re out there in the first place, right? The beauty of Leafball Football is that it gets kids excited to help rake. Maybe not at first, but once they realize why they’re doing it ⏤ to play a game ⏤ they’ll be begging for more leaves.

Jam as many leaves as possible into each trash bag. You want the bags to be full enough to handle some hard tackling without breaking, deflating, or collapsing. Once the bags are stuffed and tied tight, use the Sharpie to draw the meanest, toughest-looking Defensive-End face you can on each. Think Vic Beasley edge-rushing the quarterback, and he’s mad. The kids can help out with this step, as well. Never hurts to throw in some creative arts here or there.

To start the game, line up the bags in a tight row along your imaginary line of scrimmage. Usually, I have the kids play on one team against me and the bags. They get the ball first and proceed as they would in a normal game of touch football. They pick a play and snap the ball. The fun, of course, comes from the fact that the running back now gets to plow through (or jump over) a row of defensive linemen/tackle leaf bags en route to the end zone. Got to protect that football. And the quarterback has to pass over them or roll out of the pocket to get a clear shot at their receiver downfield.

The wildcard, of course, is you. You can drop back for an interception, grab kids as they run by, or even turn the bags into blitzing linebackers by throwing them around the yard. Whatever it takes to thwart your little Marshawn Lynch (or Lynchette) from scoring a touchdown. You can also just let them go nuts practicing tackling drills or trying to get around an offensive lineman without holding.

Wrap Up:
Leafbag football is a perfect storm of outdoor fun. A little bit of hard work combined with some silly faces and a ton of running, jumping, and rough-housing. Not to mention some basic teamwork. Honestly, it’s a great game even if your kid isn’t into football. The emphasis here isn’t on the rules or the strategy but just having fun outside before the frost comes and the outdoor play becomes more infrequent. Spice it up with some fun endzone dances and a little hot cocoa after the game.

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