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Lost Outdoor Games From Times Past

Aug 2, 2008
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 - Someone is chosen as the "stop light" or "it". The point of the game is the rest of the kids try to touch this person and whoever does so first, wins. The kids all form a single line about 15 feet away from the stop light person, and the stop light turns his/her back to the rest of the kids. The stop light calls out "green light" and all the kids move to try to reach the stop light person. When the stop light calls out, at any point, "Red Light" and turns around, if he/she catches anyone moving, they are out. This continues until someone touches the stoplight. They win the game and earn the right to be the stop light in the next game.

Kick The Can - This is a combination of hide and seek and tag. One person is "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 - Usually is played just on dirt. Take a finger and draw a circle around creating a small playing field, and in the center make a small hole. Each player puts in one of his marbles randomly around the play area. Each player uses a large marble called a shooter to knock a marble into the hole, similar to playing pool. Each person takes a turn, and when someone does knock a marble into the hole, that marble becomes theirs and they get another turn. There are many variables to the rules of of this game, and of course trading marbles can also be great fun.

Duck Duck Goose - Kids sit in a circle facing each other. One person is "it" and walks around the circle. As they walk around, they gently tap the person's head that they just walked past and say whether they are a "duck" or a "goose". Once someone is proclaimed a "goose" that person gets up and tries to chase "it" around the circle. The goal is to tag 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 the game continues on like before. 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 stuck in the middle can't leave until someone else is tagged and they are replaced.

Stick Ball - This game is played with a baseball bat or sometimes a broom or just a stick, and a ball usually a tennis ball so to reduce the risk of breaking windows. There are no teams, just one person taking a turn to bat and everyone else in the outfield. The batter 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 becomes the next batter. If someone in the field catches fly ball before it touches the ground, they are automatically the next batter.

Hopscotch - is a hopping game that is fun, good exercise and encourages balance. It can be played either on a cement area, sidewalk or indoor floor. There are many pattern variations, so try different ones, but chalk or tape 8 sections out and number them. Each person has some type of marker that's theirs, like a button, rock, or something else similar.

The first person 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 considered out if the marker doesn't land in the proper square, the hopper steps on a line, the hopper looses his or her balance when bending over to pick up the marker and puts a second hand or foot down, the hopper lands in 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 previously was and it's the next person's turn. Sometimes a rest area is added on the end of the hopscotch pattern where the player can rest for a second or two before hopping back through.

Farmer in the Dell - This game needs about 15 or people or more to stand in a circle. A 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 walks around in the circle with the Farmer standing still. The next verse is "The farmer takes a wife . . .," which is sung as the Farmer person chooses another person from the circle to come to the inside. The next verse is "The wife takes a child . . .," when the wife 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.

Think back to some of your old favorite games. Write them down. Teach and play them with your children and grandchildren. It creates a special bond, makes special memories and gives them a glimpse of what growing up might have been like for you.
About the Author
By Rachel Ray - Seeking to help others tap into their creativity by renewing and having some fun with life. Many times home life can be simply too serious and stress filled.
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