It seems like a lot of classic childhood games that were played outside with little or no equipment, gadgets and the like are getting lost. Kids are not hearing about these games much of the time, much less how to play them.
Many of these are great exercise, cost nothing and best of all build awesome childhood memories. Many of my fondest childhood memories are hours and hours of playing these various games with my brother, cousins and anyone else who was nearby.
Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
Red Light Green Light – One person plays the “stop light” and the rest try to touch him/her. Whoever touches him first wins. To begin all the children form a line about 15 feet away from the stop light person. That stop light person faces away from the line of children and says “green light”. At this point the kids are allowed to move towards the stoplight, some run, some walk or sneak. At any point, the stop light person calls out “red light” and turns around. If any of the kids are caught moving after this has occurred, they are out. This continues until the first player to touch the stop light wins the game and earns the right to be “stop light” for the next game.
Kick The Can – This is a combination of hide and seek and tag. One person “it” closes their eyes and counts to some high number, while everyone else hides. Then, the person who counted who has been guarding “the can” runs around the neighborhood to find everyone. The tough part is that once a person is found, they have a race, where the person who has just been found has to try to kick the can over before the counter tags them. There seems to always be those kids who will hide in a dumb, easy to discover place, with the intent of sprinting for the can if they’re caught.
Marbles – A relatively smooth playing field is needed, usually on dirt. A small hole is made in the center of the playing area. Each player antes up a marble, and they are randomly scattered around the playing field. Each player uses a large marble called a shooter to try to knock the other marbles into the hole much like shooting pool. Players take turns shooting, and if a player knocks a marble into the hole with his/her shot, they get to keep the marble they knocked in and shoot again. Of course simple marble trading is always popular too.
Duck Duck Goose – Kids sit down in a circle facing each other. One person is “it” and walks around the circle. As they walk around, they tap people’s heads and say whether they are a “duck” or a “goose”. Once someone is the “goose” they get up and try to chase “it” around the circle. The goal is to tap that person before they are able sit down in the “goose’s” spot. If the goose is not able to do this, they become “it” for the next round and play continues. If they do tap the “it” person, the person tagged has to sit in the center of the circle. Then the goose become it for the next round. The person in the middle can’t leave until another person is tagged and they are replaced.
Stick Ball – The game is played with a baseball bat and ball usually a tennis ball so we didn’t break any windows. There are no teams, just one person up to bat and everyone else in the outfield. The person with the bat tosses the ball up and hits it. He/she then places the bat on the ground in front of him/her. The person who gets the ball rolls it at the bat from the place where the ball was picked up. When and if the ball hits the bat it pops up into the air. If the batter does not catch the ball, the person who rolled it is then up to bat. If someone in the field catches a hit before it touches the ground, they are automatically up to bat.
Hopscotch – Hopscotch is a wonderful hopping game that can be played on a sidewalk or pavement or on a floor indoors. There are hundreds of variations of the diagram that can be drawn. Use your favorite version to have children play. Use chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground or use masking tape on a floor. Create a diagram with 8 sections and number them. Each player has a marker such as a stone, beanbag, bottle cap, shell, button, etc.
The first player stands behind the starting line to toss her or his marker in square 1. Hop over square 1 to square 2 and then continue hopping to square 8, turn around, and hop back again. Pause in square 2 to pick up the marker, hop in square 1, and out. Then continue by tossing the stone in square 2. All hopping is done on one foot unless the hopscotch design is such that two squares are side-by-side. Then two feet can be placed down with one in each square. A player must always hop over any square where a maker has been placed.
A player is out if the marker fails to land in the proper square, the hopper steps on a line, the hopper looses balance when bending over to pick up the marker and puts a second hand or foot down, the hopper goes into a square where a marker is, or if a player puts two feet down in a single box. The player puts the marker in the square where he or she will resume playing on the next turn, and the next player begins. Sometimes a dome-shaped “rest area” is added on one end of the hopscotch pattern where the player can rest for a second or two before hopping back through.
Farmer in the Dell – Participants needs about 15 or more stand in a circle. One person is chosen as the Farmer and stands in the middle. Everyone sings, “The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell; Heigh ho, the Derry-oh the farmer in the dell” and walk around in the circle. The next verse is “The farmer takes a wife…,” which is sung as the first person chooses another person from the circle to come to the inside. The next verse is “The wife takes a child…,” when the second person inside the circle chooses a third person to be the child. This continues with “The child takes a dog…,” “The dog takes a cat…,” “The cat takes a rat…,” and “The rat takes the cheese…” The final verse is” The cheese stands alone…,” when all people on the inside of the circle go back to the outer edge of the circle and sing as the last person chosen “stands alone” in the circle, the game is then finished.
Try to remember some of your favorites and add to the list. Recreate the lost games of childhood and pass on to your children and grandchildren to enjoy, plus share a bond with them of examples of what you did as a child. It will help them see you in a new light.