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Games Children Play

Updated on August 18, 2016
Austinstar profile image

Lela earned a B.A. degree in Journalism from Sam Houston University in Huntsville, TX. She has been writing for the online world for years.


Hopscotch for kids
Hopscotch for kids | Source

Remember Hopscotch?

Any sidewalk was fair game for a game of hopscotch. Somehow, we always had chalk in our pockets and our own personal hopscotch marker. A nearby pebble would work in a pinch. Any kid can play this game for hours on end. For some reason, it never seemed to get old.

Today, kids have indoor hopscotch, commercial layouts and all kinds of fancy schmancy colored chalk with which to outline the standard hopscotch grid. Sometimes we got a bit creative with our grids making them nearly impossible to win. The older we got, the more complicated the hopscotch layouts got! But we developed some really cool muscles in our legs.

Hopscotch also develops balance and team playing skills. The rules are totally unofficial and anyone can make up any rule at any time, if that's ok with everyone. Teams play against each other and sometimes the stakes were cool tokens won, or even lunch money (on the sly).

Mostly hopscotch was played by girls, but I remember this one boy....

Have You Lost Your Marbles?

Would you believe that, "Have you lost your marbles?", came from playing the game of marbles? Well, when you play for "keepsies", yes, you can lose all of your marbles.

The game doesn't have to be played in a circle. Elaborate courses can be set up and a dizzying array of rules can be found for this game. The real point of playing marbles is to collect as many marbles as possible. Winning the marbles just makes it all the sweeter, but buying marbles is almost as fun. There are some really cool ways to display a collection of marbles in a room. Marbles even continue to be of fascination for adults.

Some of the most collectible types of marbles are:

  • agates - polished rock
  • china - usually white with painted patterns
  • Jasper - blue glazed china marbles
  • crystal - usually see through or clear with inclusions, including "cat's eyes"
  • Indian - usually deeply colored opaque marbles with black, blue and red being the most sought after
  • mica - handmade German marbles
  • Steely - marbles made of steel
  • Tiger - marbles with orange and black swirls
  • Swirly - marbles

Marbles come in many shapes, sizes, weights and colors. This variety gives this collectible toy its value. Children still get excited over winning a prized marble, so teach your kids to play this enduring and fun game.

How to Play Marbles

The Game of Jacks

This game teaches all kinds of hand to eye coordination. It can be played indoors or out doors with very simple game pieces. There are quite a few variants of the game and it is an ancient game once played with actual bones.

Today's game pieces consist of a rubber ball and a set of ten metal 'jacks'. Everyone plays with their own game set. After determining who goes first, the player scatters their jacks in an area that is no larger than arm's length from the player. The object is to bounce the ball, pick up a jack and catch the ball before it can bounce again.

Starting with one jack (one-sies), the player continues to advance by picking up two-sies next, then three-sies next and so on. The winner is the player that advances to capturing the most jacks and still catching the ball before it hits the ground a second time. As you can imagine, ten-sies is very difficult for small children.

Rules can be modified at will as with most children's games. Sometimes, in round two of jacks, the ball must be allowed to bounce twice (but not three times) before catching the ball. Some people manage the ball with one hand and the jacks with the other hand. There is quite a bit of spontaneity in the game and this teaches teamwork.

Imaginative Games Children Play

Hide and Seek - This game is usually played by very young children and don't you just know it's a form of 'Peek-A-Boo'? Kids get a thrill out of finding unusual places to stuff their little body in and peek at the 'hunter' while silently laughing at their efforts to find them.

Red Rover - This is a team building game of spy versus spy. One team, when they are ready, calls on the other team to send their player over. The object is to capture the person that is sent over while the object of the player is to avoid capture. Sometimes this is played like Hide and Seek, other times it is just a physical game where the player tries to break through the linked hands of the opposing team. If the player fails to break through, he or she becomes part of the team. If the player does manage to break through, one of the opposing members is chosen to defect to the player's team.

Build A Fort - This is a game for just about any age of child and may extend to adults. Building a 'fort' or 'castle' or 'treehouse' or 'cave' is fun for the whole family. Usually, these are temporary structures using materials at hand, but building a playhouse can be just as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

The Floor/Ground is Lava - This is a game where the players can't walk on the floor or on the ground because it is 'lava'. It is very similar to Build A Fort in that the players must devise ways of building bridges or walkways. They may also jump from one piece of furniture to another if playing indoors. This game can get dangerous, so supervision is required.

Spin the Bottle

Spin the Bottle is traditionally a game for teenagers. The participants sit around a circle on the floor in a boy/girl/boy/girl pattern. There is a bottle on the floor which one must spin around. Whomever the top of the bottle stops at is 'it' and must perform a designated task. After they have finished the task, it is their turn to spin the bottle until it stops on someone else.

Sometimes the task is innocuous like 'tell something personal about yourself' or 'tell who is your favorite teen star', but the tasks can become quite wicked, so it's best not to let a group of teens play this game unsupervised.

Some of the tasks that have sprung up out of this game:

  • The spinner and the person the bottle stops on and points to must kiss
  • The spinner and winner must french kiss
  • The spinner and winner must go into a closet together for seven minutes
  • The spinner and winner must hug for a determined amount of time
  • The spinner and winner must say that they love each other
  • The person that the bottle points to is out of the game

So do be careful with this game. It's a great icebreaker at certain parties, but due to the natural curiosity of teens, it can get very personal.

Clapping Games!

Clapping games are easy to play, require no equipment, encourages team spirit and are fun to watch!
Clapping games are easy to play, require no equipment, encourages team spirit and are fun to watch! | Source

Adorable! Hand Clapping Video!

Other Traditional Games Children Play

  • Follow the Leader and Simon Says
  • King/Queen of the mountain
  • Jump Rope
  • Keep Away
  • Leap Frog
  • Musical Chairs
  • Paper Football
  • Pick Up Sticks
  • Pin the Tail on the Donkey
  • Patty Cake and other Clapping Games
  • Red Light/Green Light
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors (Lizard, Spock)
  • Statues
  • Tag

If you fondly remember some other games that are fun for children to play, share it in the comments. It seems there were so many games to play when I was a child. Do kids still play these games? Perhaps we should get back in the groove.

Jumping Games - Jump Rope, Jump Sticks

Jump Rope and Jump Sticks
Jump Rope and Jump Sticks | Source

Favorite Games

What was your favorite game as a child?

See results

Jump Rope and Double Dutch Games

Toysmith 9413 7' Jump Rope Assorted Colors
Toysmith 9413 7' Jump Rope Assorted Colors

These 7 foot long nylon jumpropes have pivoting plastic handles and come in an assortment of fun color combinations. Two jump ropes per order. Made by Toysmith. Enjoy!


© 2013 Lela

Comments - Do you remember the games you used to play?

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I played some of these games as a child and then I played them again as a mother (with my child). You filled me in on a lot of details and variations.

      Voted up ++

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      We had some sort of dancing games when I was a girl. But the big thing was jump rope. Like double dutch and all kinds of jump rope tricks. We also did the jumps and rhymes with wood poles. I don't remember what that was called.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      When I was a child, a popular game among girls in the second grade or younger was "Here Comes Sally". You get a partner and stand in two lines, facing each other. One girl dances down the center of the lines while the other clap, singing, "Here comes Sally, Sally, Sally, here comes Sally, all night long." Then her partner would dance down the center, while we sang, "Here comes the other one, just like the other one, here comes the other one, all night long." Then we would take hold of both our partner's hands and rhythmically bend our knees and zigzag back and forth, singing, "Down in the valley, valley, valley, down in the valley, all night long", then the game starts over with the new head of the line.

      Kids don't seem to play these types of games nowadays. Once I substitute taught for a middle school PE class. There was no lesson plan, so I had the boys and girls play this game. For the most part, they really enjoyed it. I see it as a great introduction to dance.

    • logoquiz profile image

      Missy 4 years ago from London

      Voted up for bringing back some great memories. I used to love most of these, same kids don't play them so much anymore.

    • malonge profile image

      malonge 4 years ago from Western New York On Hubpages

      I like the article about old games. I write a lot about games in the gym. Even some of these games are ones I have used when teaching Elementary Physical Education

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I used to dream of being a trapeze artist as I dared to go higher and higher in my swing. I always talked someone into making a swing for me when I was little. It is like flying!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      I never have lost my love for swings! I'm apt to stop and do a few arcs on any park swing of sufficient sturdiness & size to accommodate a grown petite great-grandma! Whoo hoo. It's like flying almost!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Some artists create amazing art with sidewalk chalk. Well, you gotta start somewhere! Thanks, Audrey.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

      Great ideas and brings back many fact I just bought my grandson to be a tub of sidewalk chalk to play hopscotch was for part of our shower game project but Bob asked me in the store--what the heck is that for? I guess guys might not have been as much into hopskotch (or sidewalk art) as girls....geez~

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Hi Christopher - I played a version of 'Grandmother's steps' only we did it like a Simon Says game. The steps we played on were at my Great Aunt's home in a very small town in Texas called Corsicana. A really weird place with strange people. But a fun place for kids!

      Hi Bob - I don't know what 'Postman's Knock' is or how to play, I must go check out your hub!

      Hi Carol - I know! I had a lot of repressed memories come up when I wrote this. It is weird.

      Hi Nellieanna - My brother was a sports nut for real. He had collections of marbles, baseball cards and all manner of other things. I always managed to talk an adult into building a tree swing for me and that is where I mostly stayed when I was outdoors. I would play hopscotch and jacks sometimes, but mostly I liked my swing.

      Hi drbj - I tried jumping rope and I loved it, but now that I am almost as old as you are, I can't seem to hop a scotch nor a rope. I'm lucky if I don't tumble on my own toes!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      This brought back some serious memories..We used to have lots of fun as kids without technology at the door. We were outside and we made up games and always had fun...Life is changing all the time. thanks for the memories.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I rather favored "Postman's Knock," I was a little advanced for my years


      PS I did a hub on this, too!

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      When we were young, we used to play "Grandmothers steps". One kid would turn his or hers back on the others and say " grandmothers steps one two three" and the others had to do giant steps or little steps. If the " grandmother" turned round and caught you moving, you were out of the game. If you managed to sneak up on the "granny", you could be the next one.

      A great game for parties was "Musical chairs".

      Oh happy days!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I loved swinging so much that I had a front yard swing built for me for my 50th birthday. I still go out and swing in it 10 years later! I need to have it rebuilt, but it still works pretty good. I'm just too scared to swing like I did when I was a kid. Sheesh! Bones might break...

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh, my! How I relate to all those games , Lela- either my own experience or my siblings'. My brother's marble collection was magnificent and if I got into it, it was dangerous for me! haha. Would be hard to pick one favorite from the list - but I did love Jacks! Loved rolling in the grass, catching lightning bugs, swinging, hide and seek, telling ghost stories and - - on and on! Your jog of my memories is such fun! Thank you!!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      No, I forgot them, Lela, until I read this clever hub and it all came back to me in a FLASH! What fun my favorites were: Hopscotch, Marbles, Hide and Seek, Red Rover and Jumping Rope. Those were the games my friends and I played the most. Thanks for the lovely deja vu, m'dear.