15 Classic Kids Games that Will Never Get Old

kids playing tug of war outside
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Parents can drive themselves crazy looking for the perfect toy for birthdays and holidays.  But that doesn’t mean your children can’t take away the same fun and learning that expensive toys like Leap Frog and Fisher-Price have to offer.  In fact the following 15 old-school games may teach your child the biggest lesson of the season of all:  That fun times and laughter with family are priceless.

1.  Peek-A-Boo

Peek-A-Boo may seem like the silliest game in the world to the adult, but the suspense your baby experiences when you disappear behind your hands and reappear is equivalent to a cliffhanger on The Walking Dead. Plus it helps them to understand object permanence, the idea that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, touched or heard.

2.  Simon Says

Have a child that seems to forget what you say as soon as it leaves your lips?  Simon Says enhances listening skills, following and giving directions and paying attention to detail.  Oh, and you get to act like a complete clown in the process.

3.  Hide and Go Seek

If I played more of this as a kid, my observation skills may have been a little bit better.  Hide and Go Seek is all about looking at a familiar environment in a different way.  This game is great for boring day with the kids indoors, not so great when your teen is playing it hours after curfew.

4.  Double-Dutch

Endurance, fancy footwork and rhythm.  I remembered not being able to turn in rhythm for the longest and my friends always screaming I was “flicted” (if that’s even a word). Not to mention, when you were done jumping rope you could take it home, tie it to the posts in the yard and use it as a clothesline.

5.  Mother, May I?

The ultimate game of manners and strategy.  Mother, May I provides children with an early lesson in rejection and also teaches the confidence to say no.  Children can also get creative by hopping like kangaroos, leaping like frogs or dancing to the finish line.

6.  1,2,3 Redlight

Another racing game that's all about self-control and self-control.  Plus for mom?  Your child gets to play a game where the goal is to learn how to keep still.

7.  Down, Down Baby and other Hand Games

A dash of “Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop”, a finger snap there and a stomping of the feet equals a good time.  Like the Hokey Pokey many hand games bring a modern twist to keeping rhythm and experimenting with different actions.  I know they made a lot of cold winter recesses in the school yard fly by.

8.  Tug of War

Can you say team work?  Tug of War isn’t as much about strength as it is about cooperation and endurance.  All your kids need is a rope, an area free from your expensive lamps, and some motivation.

9.  Duck Duck Goose, Tag or any other game that involves being “it”

Duck Duck Goose, tag and other games that require you to be “it” involve a whole lot of confidence and self-reliance since there’s no team to carry you.  This is good for children to get comfortable with being independent.

10.  Musical Chairs

The dog eat dog game of getting what you want at whatever cost, even if that thing is just a fold-up chair.  The great thing about musical chairs is that you can throw on some of the kid’s favorite songs, move your coffee table and let them go at it while you play DJ.

11.  Pick Up Sticks

The development of fine motor skills at its best.  Games like pick-up sticks and Jenga are all about patience and precision.  In addition to keeping kids quiet in their concentration, they’ll get to strengthen their hand-eye coordination, as well as be able to visualize to outcomes of potential strategies before making a move.

12.  I Spy

While you’re traveling over the trolley tracks and through the hood to grandmother’s house, instead of jamming your ear buds in, try playing a good old-fashioned game of I Spy to test your children’s observation skills and ability to spell and distinguish colors.

13.  Honey, Do You Love Me?

It’s like Staring Contest, the remix.  It’s a fun mix of reverse psychology and training your mind to do the one thing that most of do when we’re nervous, happy, or having fun: laugh.

14.  Rock Paper Scissors

Before it was used to decide who rode shot gun, Rock, Paper Scissors was a game that could easily be played repeatedly. Plus, it was always fun to see the excuses people would try to come up with to explain how scissors actually beats rock.

15.   MASH

The only game where your tweenage girl can marry Trey Songz, live in a shack and have 2 kids.  MASH (mansion, apartment, shack, house) was a fantasy game we played in homeroom that revealed the randomness of life. With a pen and paper and sense of humor, the nerdy girl could end up in a mansion marrying Justin Bieber, and Ms. Popularity could end up broke in a shack.  If only life were as simple as counting and eliminating your choices.

What were some games you loved as a kid?

Toya Sharee is a program associate for a Philadelphia non-profit that focuses on parenting education and building healthy relationships between parents, children and co-parents. She also has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog BulletsandBlessings.

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  • John Butchum

    Try HeadBodyFeet for creative fun. A piece of paper is folded into thirds and one player draws a head on the first section. The paper is then turned over and the next player draws the body on the next section without seeing the head. Same for the feet, and then the paper is unfolded to reveal how it all fits together. You can play online now too for free at http://headbodyfeet.com.