Top ten classic schoolyard games

Time to bring the fun back to the playground.
Time to bring the fun back to the playground. 

Hopscotch, leapfrog, pick-up sticks, skipping – the list of the old schoolyard favourites could go on forever but how many of these once loved games do your kids still play today? Now is the perfect time to teach them with our list of top ten classic schoolyard games.

1. Hopscotch
Kids have been playing Hopscotch for generations so there’s no reason to stop now. Draw up the numbered boxes on the concrete outside with some chalk. Grab the kids and show them how it’s done. In case it’s been a while – you throw a stone at a chalked number and hop to the number and back without losing your balance.

2. Chain tag
This one is a lot like tag except the tables have been turned in favour of the tipper. When you get tagged by the person who is “it” you have to link arms and help “it” catch the other players until everyone is linked together and one player is left with nowhere to run!

3. Catch and kiss
How could we forget this game – isn’t it when we all received our first lesson in flirting? The boys and girls might have already figured this one out for themselves in the playground but if nothing else it will be funny to see their reaction when you explain the game to them. The aim of the game is to try NOT to get kissed by the boy or girl who is chasing you. Of course we all know that when you’re five kisses from the opposite sex are as appealing as eating broccoli!

4. Skipping
Who would have thought that one piece of rope and two handles could make for endless hours of fun? You might find it a little bit harder than you remember but grab the kids and show them some of the skipping games you played as a child. Need a memory jog? How about One In One Out, Chinese jump-rope, Horse and the Alphabet?

5. What’s the time Mr. Wolf?
I can hear the screams of laughter already as children try to escape the clutches of Mr. Wolf. If you are a bit rusty on the details one child is selected as Mr. Wolf and everyone else has to stand behind the designated line and call out “What’s the time Mr. Wolf?” If the Wolf responds with a numbered time you take a step closer. But when he responds with “Dinner time!” you have to run for your life to the other side without being caught.

6. Clapping games
These were most popular with the girls but clapping games filled up recess and lunch with plenty of fun! I can assure you that girls are still playing clapping games today – as my eight-year-old sister has been known to twist my arm into a game or two – admittedly I struggled to keep up. But you can always teach them a few from your old repertoire. Try My Mother Said, Pat-a-cake, My Boyfriend, and Miss Susie.

7. Ring a ring of roses
While the origin of the song might be a little grim the part where we all fall down always manages to get a round of giggles out of the kids. Try it with them and see how they react. We are sure it will catch on in the playground again.

8. Pick-up sticks
These days you can buy packets of sticks to play with but it is so much more fun to gather the sticks from the oval or backyard. The aim of the game is to dump a pile of sticks on the ground and each take turns trying to remove one without disturbing the others.

9. Leapfrog
This game is not for the co-ordinately challenged. But if you have the right mix of courage and judgement you will excel at this one. Put the kids into pairs, one is the frog and the other is the obstacle they must leap over. Kids can race each other in teams to the finish line or just have fun amongst them. Warning: Bruises and fun are bound to be a side-effect of Leapfrog.

10. Blind Man’s Bluff
How trustworthy were your friends? Did they faithfully guide you out of harm’s way or did you find yourself constantly running into trees, tripping up stairs and being hit by stray tennis balls? A game of Blind Man’s Bluff always made for interesting entertainment. But remember that the aim of the game is to NOT let your blindfolded friend run into their surroundings.

How do your kids entertain themselves? Do you remember any other games from your childhood? Share with members on the Essential Kids Forums.

How could we forget this game – isn’t it when we all received our first lesson in flirting?