Games Kids Play

“I’m so glad I brought their iPads so the kids can play with them while we shop,” I overheard a young mom state, while trying not to hear one of the many non-private phone calls happening in my air space. 

One cursory look around the food court in the mall, revealed kids of all ages zoned in on their personal hand-held devices, all in their own little electronic world. None of the kids were playing with each other; just their prized electronic gizmo. Moms are no better, texting, Facebooking, Twittering or Instagraming their memories away. 

It’s enough to make me scream, “You are missing the most important part of your kids’ lives!!!!”

Could kids today even put down their phones long enough to play the games of my day? My memory takes me back to those classic games we played. A few of my favorites come to mind immediately.

Red Rover. This was one of my favorites for the obvious reason. Red rover, red rover, let Ronnie come over. Ronnie came barreling at full speed determined to break the human chain of interlocked arms. Unashamedly, I selected the weakest link to break. How did we keep from breaking arms, let alone breaking the spirit of the consistently picked weakest link? Oh well, you shouldn’t have asked Ronnie to come over! Today’s moms would use a box of wet wipes cleaning their kids if they played this game.

Annie Over. Another favorite. A team on each side of the house watched for a water-logged baseball to unexpectedly launch over the roof. Surely one of us would end up in the emergency room because of the dangerous projectile landing square in between our eyes. Come to think of it, is that where the permanent bump on the back of my head originated? Today’s kids would FaceTime their friend on the other side of the house and this game would be over. 

Drop the hankie. Remember this one? Everyone got in a big circle. The chosen one started skipping around the circle as everyone sang “A-tisket a-tasket, a green and yellow basket, I wrote a letter to my mom, and on the way I dropped it, I dropped it, I dropped it, And on the way I dropped it.”

Once you dropped the hankie, you had to run around the circle and take the place of the person you dropped the hankie behind, before they picked up the hankie and caught you. Today’s kid wouldn’t touch a hankie. I would call their game, “drop the wet wipe,” and once it hit the ground, it would stay there.

Rhythm. Now I was born with a lot of talents, but rhythm was not one of those. This game started with everyone sitting in a circle. Once the game started, we patted our legs with open hands twice. Next, everyone clapped their hands twice. As the leader called the numbers, you snapped your fingers. Then, the leader would say one, two. It went like this. Pat, pat, clap, clap, snap one, snap two. You went around the entire circle and the number two person would then say two, three. We repeated until we assigned everyone a number. Once we completed the circle, the leader had leeway to call anyone’s number. They might say one, six. If my number was six and I did not say six and another number, I was out of the game.

Sounds like fun huh? Today’s kid could never stay off their phone long enough to play.

Hide and go seek. A designated person was it. That person had to count to 100 while everyone else hid. Once the it counted to 100, they would say ready or not, here I come. They would then try to find someone in their hiding place. Once discovered, that person then became part of the team of hunters. Lesson learned. Count fast and maybe peek while counting.

Marbles. Now this was a boy’s club only game. Many games existed; all designed for the winner to take the losers marbles. An excellent game to prepare young boys for life. Lesson learned? Never wager all your marbles.

Jacks. This was the ultimate rainy-day game. Jacks were these pointy things that had like six points on them. How we did not put out our eyes with them I do not know. We played the game with a rubber ball and six jacks. We bounced the ball and attempted to pick up one jack before the ball bounced twice. If successful, then we bounced the ball again and we picked up two jacks. Lesson learned. Bounce the ball real high. Lesson number two learned? Never step on a jack!

Pixie sticks. We dropped a group of about fifty sticks of different colors. The object was to see how many sticks we could pick up one at a time moving no other sticks. Today the name of this game would offend many, thus forcing the name changed to be politically correct.

Baseball. We were highly creative in playing this game because we never had enough players to form a correct team. But as long as we had a pitcher, a first baseman and an outfielder, it was game on. That is until the one and only baseball went under the house or got lost in a field of tall grass. Then the game became find the baseball, cause we knew we had no money to buy another one. Today’s kids would have several back-up baseballs, missing out on that joyous fun time looking for the lost ball. Lesson learned? Hit the ball where they ain’t.

Besides games, we had many activities that were so much fun. Riding bikes without, gasp, helmets, always turned into excitement. Before banana bikes, we took our beat-up 26-inch metal contraptions, made ramps and jumped anything we could. Of course, we had pieces of cardboard, clothes-pinned to the spokes to make that bad boy purr.

Bag swings. These were superior in my mind to tire swings, but either worked. We swung as high as we could and had contests to see who could jump the farthest off the swing. Another fun activity was to see how many people could get on the swing at the same time. Fun unless you were the one on bottom.

Our community was excellent at having various activities for the kids. Since we lived in the country and our houses were so far apart, it was hard for us to trick or treat. So, we had a Halloween festival long before they became popular. One of my favorite activities here was bobbing for apples. They dumped apples into a tub of water. The participant had to get the apple without using their hands. Today’s kids would never do this if the only prize received was an apple.

And while I’m on a roll, yes, I drank water from a hose and lived to tell about it.

The biggest difference I see in games of our day verses today’s games is the social aspect. Our games usually required a group of kids to play. If we did not have this, we improvised and were creative at making up games. We also were excellent at conflict resolution, as we always seemed to use “guidelines” instead of “rules.”

“Don’t pick that up!” I hear stroller mom shout to her toddler. “That napkin is nasty now that it hit the floor. Here, let me wet wipe your hands.”

Stroller mom receives a text. The world just stopped while she smiles and answers the all-important text, as if her life depended on it.

Since all the other stroller moms are busy texting alongside her, I’m the only one who noticed what happened next.

Her child just ate a bug. 


One thought on “Games Kids Play

  1. Such fond memories came back as I read your blog this morning. I did teach my students how to play Rhythm and Chinese jump rope a few years ago! They loved it and before long all of them
    had a large piece of elastic and were playing on the playground. The funny thing was, none of the young teachers knew how to play either of these games and didn’t seen one bit interested in joining this old teacher! Loved going back in time this morning. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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