Skip to main content

Old Fashioned Kids Games

Some old fashioned board games haven't changed much over the years.

Some old fashioned board games haven't changed much over the years.

Games for Kids

Whatever happened to old fashioned kids games? I really miss them sometimes. Nowadays, it seems that games for kids have to be hooked up to a monitor, or at the very least, they have to include batteries or an electrical outlet. Are we destroying imagination and creativity with such kids games? I grew up in the 1960s, when games were simple. Today’s kids are just too darned jaded. I remember that when the game “Operation” came out, which was powered by a battery, we thought that was really high tech. is it still around? I suppose it’s suffered the same fate as most other old fashioned kids games.

We loved playing in the hay!

We loved playing in the hay!

Old Fashioned Kids Games

With the old fashioned kids games that we played, we had to use our imaginations, in many cases. We usually made our own fun, and it was most often done outdoors. Even when it rained, we played in garages and carports. We didn’t stay indoors like kids do today. If we did, our moms found something to occupy us – something we didn’t like doing: cleaning our rooms, cleaning out our closets, sweeping, etc.

During the day, we made forts and trails in nearby woods, we played in bales of hay, we climbed trees, we rode our bikes, or we dammed up the local creek. Sometimes on rainy days, we’d play our old fashioned board games in our playhouses. If the maid has just done her chores, we’d feel safe enough to play indoors in case of inclement weather. You see, we preferred being in the great outdoors. We didn’t have Nintendo, Xbox, Game Cube, or computers.

And what happened to card games? We loved playing Old Maid, Go Fish, Kings Corners, Slap Jack, and rummy. Heck, we even played poker for matchsticks when our parents weren’t within earshot. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen one of my grandchildren with a deck of cards. Guess I need to teach them the ropes!

One of our favorite old fashioned kids games was a game we played at night. It was one of our “scary” old fashioned outdoor games, called “ain’t no boogers out tonight.” Never heard of it, huh? It’s kind of an old southern version of hide and seek. One person is the “booger” (monster, villain). The booger hides, and the rest of the kids try to find him. They travel around in the dark in a gang, chanting, “Ain’t no boogers out tonight; Granpa shot ‘em all last night.” Once the booger is discovered, he tries to catch as many kids as he can before they can return safely to base.

We rode our bikes almost every day.

We rode our bikes almost every day.

We climbed a lot of trees, too.

We climbed a lot of trees, too.

Old Fashioned Board Games

We had lots of old fashioned board games, and some are still popular childrens games today. Of course, many of them are in “new and improved” versions now. I don’t understand why a classic game like Monopoly would have to be improved. Was the first version “old and crappy”? No! The original was great! In fact, we could spend hours and hours on a Monopoly marathon. We didn’t care about the fact that it didn’t have cool graphics or realistic action.

I guess you couldn’t really consider it a board game, but we loved Twister. Back in the sixties, it was a super cool, groovy game. If you didn’t play Twister, you were practically a social outcast. For several years, any time two or more kids got together, it was Twister time! Do kids still play this fun game?

Younger kids had their own old fashioned board games, too. Their favorite childrens games were Chutes and Ladders, Cooties, and Candy Land. My friends and I thought those games were just little kid games, so we never played them. We did, however, enjoy board games like Green Ghost, Which Witch, The Game of Life, The Beatles game, Ka-Bala, and Mystery Date. We loved to turn the lights down low and play Clue, too.

Some old fashioned board games have survived the years with no changes. Good examples of these are checkers, chess, and Chinese checkers. I never learned how to play chess, and I was never very good at checkers. Chinese checkers was my game. I love the strategic moves involved, and I sometimes even played the game alone. After having grandchildren, I introduced them to the game, and they really like it.

They do still exist!

Playground games like tag were popular.

Playground games like tag were popular.

Playground Games

My pals and I enjoyed lots of playground games at school. Every day at recess, we played old school games like Red Rover, 1-2-3 Red Light, Mother May I, Simon Says, Hide and Seek, and tag. Sometimes the boys joined us, but oftentimes, they were too busy playing army, cops and robbers, or cowboys and Indians. Of course, they played sports at recess, too, like baseball and football. The boys and some of the girls played a lot of marbles, too. I went through a phase when I was marble crazy, and I was good. My dad taught me well. When the teacher wasn’t around, we played for keeps, and I collected hundreds, if not thousands, of marbles from my losing classmates.

Occasionally, someone would bring a paddle ball to school, and we’d take turns seeing who could hit the ball the most times with the wooden paddle. Usually, though, the elastic string broke after one or two good smacks. Okay, that’s an old toy that could stand some improving!

We girls enjoyed playing without the guys sometimes, too. These activities usually involved playing house, jumping rope, and playing hopscotch. Boys and girls played jackstones, but our parents hated them. Nothing would elicit a string of profanities quite like a mom or dad stepping squarely on one of the metal “stones” would.

Sometimes we were forced into playground games by our well meaning teachers. If we looked bored, or if we were fusing among ourselves, a blue-haired schoolmarm would bring out the dreaded red ball and make us play dodge ball. We hated dodge ball!

Old Fashioned Party Games

At birthday parties, we played old fashioned party games. Some of the most popular were Pin-theTail-on-the-Donkey, apple bobbing, and Duck-Duck-Goose. The donkey games were available at stores for just a buck or two, but many innovative (or frugal) moms made their own homemade versions. A child would be given a donkey’s tail attached to a pin. Once blindfolded, the child would be spun around. He’d then try to pin the tail in the correct place on the paper donkey, which was usually taped to a wall. Old fashioned party games like this would probably be condemned by some modern moms as being too dangerous. After all, the pin could puncture skin, and all that spinning could result in dizziness, along with possible nausea and vomiting. (Inject sarcasm here.)

Adults used to play old fashioned party games, too. A big favorite for decades was a game called “similes.” You might remember this “parlor game” from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In the novella, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, directed this game at his annual Christmas dinner party. Fred would start a phrase like “As silent as…” and a player would have to complete the comparison, making a well known simile.

Scroll to Continue

I think it’s pretty sad that these games have fallen out of favor and have been replaced with the blood, gore, bells, and whistles of modern electronic games. Kids don’t have to interact with other real humans to play video games, so I think they’re really missing out on an important part of childhood. They don’t have to be very active, either, for the most part. Also, some game designer has taken care of every minute detail, so nothing much is left to the child’s imagination or creativity with video games. Oh, to bring back old fashioned kids games!

Please leave your input! Thanks!


Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on July 28, 2012:

As with you, I grew up making my entertainment out of what we had at hand. We did have toys and board games, but the memories I love best are the times we made our own fun. I personally think kids have far too many contrived toys and engineered ways of being entertained (meaning, the process of having fun has been engineered and orchestrated). It's changing our world. Maybe for the good, but who knows?

Voted up and up!

Lightshare on July 27, 2012:

Very Beautiful hub Habee.

TahoeDoc from Lake Tahoe, California on July 14, 2012:

Loved twister and was trying to remember how to play checkers to show my kids. Ironically, I had to remind myself by looking up that old game on a very modern computer :)

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on July 14, 2012:

Lovely hub habee. Chess, checkers, cards and millionaire's game were our favorite board games. Outdoors were climbing the guava tree and ate freshly-picked green guavas on the tree top! Oh how much I missed those days! Thanks so much for transporting me back to those good old days. I hope you don't mind me linking my hub "Great Playtime - Just Like When We Were Kids," to this wonderful hub of yours.

gingerka from Colorado on July 13, 2012:

I enjoyed all of these things when I was growing up. I even have some of them around to play with my grandchildren.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 12, 2012:

I have been a table game collector since I was 8. you are right, these games no longer hold a young person's imagination. why pull out a deck of real cards when one can play cards on a computer?

drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 12, 2012:

Thanks for he visit down Memory Lane, Holle. Chinese checkers and Monopoly were our favorites in the old days - the VERY old days! :)

Caitlyn Cook from Columbus, OH on July 12, 2012:

I really miss these older games! Everyone rather play these boring facebook games...ick!

DRidge from Gulf Coast, MS on July 12, 2012:

Our kids have a similar version of "ain't no boogers out tonight". They call it Manhunt. We had neighbors on both sides and with our three houses and 17 kids, there was about 3 acres. Kids wear all black and the stakes are high. Kids will do crazy things, like hide in garbage cans to avoid getting caught! They have a blast and we are right there so they are safe! It's fun.

Starmom41 on July 12, 2012:

cool- and nice memories!

I'm a grown-up and I still like CandyLand! lol

Related Articles