7 Vintage Games for Modern Kids

Emily Polash
Written by Emily Polash Updated on October 11th, 2022

Today, it seems kids spend so much time in front of a screen playing a game or watching TV. It goes without saying that time away from the screen can be really beneficial to our children, both for their physical and mental well-being. One way you can encourage your kids to take a break from their devices is to teach them some games from your childhood. Or allowing them outside exploring and playing, you can even find games that were played well before you were even a child to introduce to your children.

Just because these games might be considered ‘vintage,’ doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with them. In fact, many of these games stood the test of time and were played by many children over multiple decades. So why not bring them back to life with your children? Below, we’ll give you seven vintage games that your children are sure to love playing. Take some time to have fun teaching and playing these games with your kids!

Hopscotch

To play hopscotch, you first need to draw a court on the ground. Sidewalk chalk is great to use for this, but you could also lay it out using tape. Each box on the court is labeled with a number, and there are typically around 10 total boxes, but there could be more. To play, you toss a pebble or another small object onto the court. Then, you have to hop through the course and skip the space where the object landed. When you hop over a single square (without another square next to it), you are supposed to hop on one foot. When you hop over a double square, you are supposed to put both feet down, one on each square.

The above video shows how easy it is to set up and play a fun game of hopscotch with your children.

The first written record of hopscotch being played dates back to the 17th century, but many believe that Ancient Roman children even played a version of the game well before that time period. The game was sometimes referred to a scotch-hop or scotch-hoppers around the 17th century.

Four square (Hand ball)

Four Square is a fun game that you only need a ball and some space to play. To play Four Square, you need a grid with four spaces, one for each player. The objective of the game is to be the last player who is not eliminated. You can get eliminated during the game if you hit the ball when it is not your turn, hit the ball so it goes out of bounds (outside the grid), or fail to hit the ball into another player’s square.

This video above goes into more details about how to play the game, including how to become the ‘king,’ who is the most powerful player in the game since they start each round of play.

The game of Four Square was first played in the 1950s or earlier. Four Square is referenced in a teacher’s manual from 1963 with the same rules that are used for the game today.

Cat’s cradle

Cat’s Cradle is a game that can be played by two or more players. All you need in order to play the game is some string. To play, the players take turns transforming the string into different figures and shapes. A player takes the string from the hands of the other player to create their own shape. The game continues until one of the players makes a mistake or forms a figure that cannot be turned into something else.

This video (above) goes over how to set up the game and how to create the different figures using the string.

Cat’s Cradle has been around for a long time. In fact, it is one of the oldest games that was recorded.

Blind man’s bluff

Blind Man’s Bluff is a good game to play outside on a warm summer evening with your children. The game is a version of tag. But, in Blind Man’s Bluff, the person who is “it” is blindfolded and has to try to find the other players in the game to tag them. The other players try to avoid being caught and misdirect the person who is blindfolded, so they go the wrong way when they are trying to catch people.

This video (above) shows you how you can play Blind Man’s Bluff with your children.

In Ancient Greece, children played a game called Copper Mosquito, which was similar to Blind Man’s Bluff. Blind Man’s Bluff was a popular game during the Victorian period as well.

Clapping games

Clapping games are fun to play and don’t require any materials. You can play them when you are out with your children and trying to pass the time. During a clapping game, the players cooperatively clap in rhythm to accompany a song or rhyme. Players may clap their own hands, their partners hand, or some of both during the game. Some popular clapping games you can play with your children include “Down by the Banks,” “Pease Porridge Hot,” and “Mary Mack.”

This video (above) shows you a few different hand games you can play with your children.

“Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake” was the first clapping game to be documented in 1698. However, clapping games have been played since well before that time. In the 1960s, clapping games became especially popular with young girls.

Seven up

Seven Up is a game that is best to play with a larger group (at least 14 people). To play the game, seven people are it and start in the front of the room or area. The other players put their heads down and their thumbs up when the adult in charge or a player says, “heads down, thumbs up.” The players that are it each press down the thumb of one of the other players and then return to the front of the room. After all seven players have pushed down someone’s thumb, the players need to try to guess who pressed their thumb down. If they guess correctly, they get to be “it” for the next round of play.

Check out this video (above) for an example of how the game is played.

Seven Up is often played in elementary schools. It can be dated back at least to the 1950s.

Sharks and minnows

Sharks and Minnows is a fun game you can play with your children at the pool in the summer or on a large field. To play the game, one person starts in the middle of the pool (or the field) as the shark. The person in the middle shouts, “all minnows in,” and the other players try to make it across the pool/field without being tagged. If they are tagged, they join the player in the middle as another shark. The game keeps going until there is only one person who is left as a minnow. That person is the winner.

The video (above) goes into a little more detail about how the game is played.

Sharks and Minnows is a form of the game British Bulldog. British Bulldog is a variation of a game which was played during Ancient Spartan times. In this game, children would have some pieces of reg rags hanging out of their pants and the other players would need to grab the rags.

As you can see, there are lots of fun vintage games you can teach your kids. They will enjoy learning how to play games that were popular long ago. But they’ll especially appreciate the time to bond and play with you!

Emily Polash
Written by Emily Polash Updated on October 11th, 2022
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