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Growing up in the ’80s & early ’90s meant you played outside… all the time!  Last week, Mickey and I were talking about how we used to play games after school with all of our neighborhood friends.  We were always outside, unless it rained, which meant we played board games instead. 

Every day, we would meet outside to play Four-Square, Red Rover, and JailBreak, to name a few, but I don’t think that our kids have any idea what those games are or how you play.   So… we taught them! 🙂   

games we played as kidsThis post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

10 Games We Used To Play As Kids

We want our kids to spend time playing outside… the average child is outside for less than an hour a day, so we want to beat those odds.   Honestly, I love that idea. While I find that while things are easier with the TV on (I get more done), our kids end up fighting and arguing more.  Why? I think it is because they have stored-up energy, so we end up doing no-technology weeks.

Kids aren’t spending nearly enough time outside… an hour a day just isn’t enough to burn energy or get all of the benefits that being outdoors offers. That’s just not enough for anyone, let alone kids.  

This is a great time to get outdoors, so I want to encourage you to get outside with your kids and play.

10 Games We Played As Kids: 

1. Hopscotch.
Do you remember spending hours jumping on the Hopscotch board? I do!  Our kids now love hopscotch and we play it in the driveway all the time. Just grab a piece of chalk & get to work!    Teach them how to play this age-old game and they will be at it for an hour or more. Our kids even came up with new ideas on how to play.

Child playing Hopscotch

2- Jacks.
I can remember being in school and having a Jacks tournament. It was so much fun and I made it to round 9 with my partner. Last year, Mickey and I ordered two sets to keep at home and we teach the kids to play. It was hard to find, but we’ve had good luck with these sets of Jacks from Amazon. 


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Playing Jacks with the kids … this was always one of my favorite games!! 🥰🥰🥰😍😍😍

A post shared by Becky Mansfield (@yourmodernfamily) on

3. Four Square!   
This is our kids’ new favorite game… we’ve played it almost every single night, after dinner, for weeks now.  They love it.   I ordered a four-square ball on a whim a few weeks back & it was a hit! 

4. Treasure hunt
Make a map out of paper and give them clues to where you have a treasure hidden.
Example: “Find the tallest tree in the yard”. When they get there, have another map that says “Now go to the swings and flip the seat over” etc… until they come to the treasure.   

5. Red Light, Green Light.
This one is so much fun and everyone can play! The rules are simple… you run on green and you stop on red. The winner is the one that gets across first. I would like to tell you that I’m the winner… but I’m usually not. Kids are fast!

6. TV-Tag.
You run around until you are about to get tagged and then you yell out a television show. Our kids play this and love it. Our youngest kids get a little confused and just call out names of characters in movies, but it works and we allow it. 😉
We like to change it up and do TV-Tag, Song-Tag, Car-Tag… you name it and we’ve probably done it.

7. Cornhole
We built our own cornhole set and it was pretty easy. Mickey just bought the material from Lowes and I picked up a few mini bean bag sets.   You can also get a complete set here. We play on teams and the kids usually “practice” on their own when they are outside playing.

8. Run UP the slide.
When we were little, we ran up the slide (as long as there wasn’t anyone waiting in line to be next on the slide).  Now when a child runs up the slide, there is almost always an adult calling behind them “Don’t run up the slide!”   

According to the TODAY show, “For many kids, going up a slide is a challenge and risk: Can my body do this? Young kids are testing personal limits because their bodies keep changing. Once they can figure out their limit, they stay within it. Climbing up a slide is a way of experimenting.”   It develops large motor skills, spatial awareness, muscle development, and more.   
 At home, we allow it and even encourage it. They race up, they crawl up, they sprint up… it is a great workout & they love it.

9. Obstacle Course
My brother & I used to have obstacle courses constantly! We made courses inside (jump on the trail of pillows, run upstairs, slide back down, etc…) and we made courses outside.   

Now our kids do the same thing.  They love to watch sports shows & relay shows, so having our own course at home is a must. 😉 We just make up the new rules each time we play.

(Example: “Swing 3 times on the swing. Run to the slide and run up it. Grab a leaf and slide back down” , etc…)

10. Red Rover.
This game is great for our family of six. We usually let just one person go at a time, while the rest of us line up and wait to stop that person. “An unbreakable bond… family”

Now it’s your turn! What can you do outside to get your family moving & having fun at the same time?

More Fun Things To Play With Your Kids: 

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Fun memories! We used to play one with a long “string” of rubber bands. I think it was called Chinese Jumprope? I loved that. As I read through your list, it occurred to me that even our little girl in her wheelchair could play Red Light Green Light and Bean Bag Toss. Maybe others, too, though harder to adapt. We are hoping to get a dog soon, and it will be fun to take him for walks. Not a game, but still moving and still fun! 😀

  2. We had some epic kickball tournaments as kids! Now that I have kids of my own, I’m starting to realize that it might have been easier for my parents to turn on the tv and call it a day (I’m sure they were just as exhausted as I feel!) and I’m so glad they didn’t. With all of the screens we have available to us, I think we have to be more intentional about turning off and going outside into the real world 🙂 Thanks so much for this reminder. I see an obstacle course in our near future!

    1. So much nostalgia in one post! I like the idea of getting my kids from in front of their computers and ipads. It’s always so hard, because they even read and do homework on their more than hard copy books and assignments. My kids play kickball (i have quite a team with 7 kids plus mom and dad). The program sounds like a good thing for kids to be a part of in school too. They didn’t have things like this when I was in school. We played, but nothing with professional athletes. Need to start making it a priority for 60 minutes A DAY.