For many of us this winter was milder than most, but it still feels like we've been stuck indoors for far too long. Now, the days are getting longer, the temperature is creeping up, and it's time to get back to playing outside. If your kids have forgotten all of the possibilities of playing outdoors, remind them of the games that you played as a kid, the games their grandparents probably played before you. Still stuck? Here is our list of favorite old-fashioned games to refresh your memory.
Grab some chalk and help your kids design the course, mixing single squares with squares paired side-by-side. Once there are ten or so squares, add a "home" space at the far end for turning around. Number the squares from the start to the home base, in the order they're to be hopped. The first player tosses a marker (like a bean bag or a stone) onto the first square. He then hops through the course on one foot in the single squares, two feet straddling the paired squares, and skipping the square where the marker lands. After reaching the home square, he must turn around and do the course in reverse until he reaches the marker. The player should pick up the marker and finish the course. If he makes it through without a misstep or crossing a line, his turn continues by tossing the marker into square number two and repeating the course. His turn ends if he steps on a line, misses a square, or loses his balance. On his next turn, he'll start on the square where he left off. The first player to make it through the course once for each numbered square wins!
Draw a circle on the ground or the sidewalk that is about 2-3 feet in diameter. Scatter marbles within the circle and let your kids take turns trying to knock marbles out of the circle with a larger "shooter" marble. To shoot, the player curls her index finger around the shooter and puts the knuckle of that finger on the ground. She can then use her thumb to aim and flick the shooter at the other marbles. Once all of the marbles are knocked out of the ring, the player who has knocked out the most marbles wins
For this game, you'll need four players, some chalk, and a ball (it could be a tennis ball, a basketball, or any other ball as long as it bounces). Use the chalk to draw a large (about 6' x 6') square, and divide it into four equal, smaller squares. One player stands in each square. The first player bounces the ball into the square of another player. The player in that square catches the ball and bounces it to another player. You could decide on a pattern ahead of time, like players only bounce to the square to their left, or just let the players choose at each turn. If a player doesn't catch the ball, the one who bounced it to him gets a point. The first player to reach a score of 21 is the winner.
Jump Rope Games
There are many ways kids can play with a jump rope. Rocking the cradle has two players holding each end of the rope and rocking it back and forth (instead of going all the way over), while a third player jumps. Visiting is when one player turns her own rope and another player jumps in facing her, visits for awhile, then jumps back out. In whirligig, one player holds one end of the rope and spins around so that the rope sweeps in a big circle low to the ground. The other players jump over the rope as it passes and are "out" if they stumble. The center player can spin faster or slower and the last player left jumping wins.
Red Light, Green Light
One player is "it" and stands 15-20 feet from the others who are behind a starting line. "It" turns his back and calls out "green light," and the other players run toward him. After a few seconds, he calls "red light" and the players have to freeze. "It" spins around and tries to catch someone moving. Anyone caught must go back to the starting line. At each green light, the players move closer to "it," until someone tags him. That player wins and is "it" in the next round.
Players divide into teams and complete the race by running to a designated spot then returning to tag a teammate who then does the same. If plain old running gets boring, there are endless variations: have the players crawl like a crab, hop on one foot, do somersaults down the course, run with a ball between their knees, balancing something on their heads, or go two at a time in a wheelbarrow race.
Got some ideas now? Good! Now get outside and play! (If you still need more inspiration, you can read about more outdoor games here.)
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