little: play. Playing Around

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Remember when…
These old-fashioned games will have you winging back to the past. It’s a sure bet your children will love playing them as much as you did. Don’t wait for a party – kids will enjoy these any time.

Hide objects around the house or outdoors (it doesn’t have to be food). Provide a collecting vessel and let the kids loose!

How long has it been since your children have played this? Really? Great old-fashioned fun.

Children stand in a line away from the caller, who stands and faces the children and calls out “green light!”. The children then move towards the caller in any way they have just nominated (ie: crawling, hopping, skipping, shuffling). When the caller yells out “red light!”, the advancing children must stop and stay still. Anyone who moves after “red light” is called, is out. Repeat. The winning children are all those who reach the caller.

Children sit in a circle. One child whispers a phrase into the next child’s ear, until it reaches the last child, who repeats the phrase out loud, often with hilarious results.

Children sit in a circle, one of them holding a large potato. When the music plays, children must toss the potato in the air to the next child as though it is hot. The potato must be caught, not hit or batted. When the music stops, whoever is touching the potato is out and must leave the circle. Keep going until one child is left – the winner!

Children line up at least 5 metres away from Mr Wolf, who turns his back and must not peek during the entire game. Children call out “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” and whatever time he says, the children must walk that amount of paces (they can take steps as big as they like but should try to be as quiet as possible so Mr Wolf doesn’t know how close they are!). The children keep creeping towards Mr Wolf and the first one to touch him, wins. Unless, of course, Mr Wolf decides to scream ‘dinner time!’ and then chases the children back to the start. Whoever he catches becomes the Wolf.

Decorate a plain paper bag and fill it with wrapped lollies and small treats, toys, confetti, sparkles, etc. Tie the end of the bag closed and hang high in an open space. Blind-fold the children and have them swing at the bag with a stick or broom handle. Budget piñata! Put several paper bags inside each other to make it harder to break.

This fabulous game needs a large group of children, at least 16. Have them stand in neat lines of even numbers, e.g. four across, four deep. When they extend their arms, the children’s fingertips should touch, Now, have them all turn to the left and extended their arms again, so their fingertips touch once more. Separate from the group, nominate a cat, a mouse and a caller. The cat stands on the outside of the grid, the mouse stands in the middle of the grid. The children extend their arms to form walls. The cat has to try to catch the mouse, but can only run through the maze of children in the direction their arms are leading. The caller can switch this direction at any time by shouting “left” or “right” at random. To make it more interesting, the caller can turn their back so they can’t see. When the cat catches the mouse, the mouse becomes the cat, and chooses a new mouse from the group.

For older children, this is a twist on the treasure hunt. Leave simple notes that lead from one clue to another. The clues can be easy or more cryptic, and will eventually lead to the ‘treasure’.

Choose one child to leave the room for a moment. When they do, someone hides a treat, then everyone sits on the floor and asks the child outside to come back in. This child has to search for the treat while the other children say “hot” (which means you’re getting closer to the treat) or “cold” (which means they’re getting further away). When the child finds the treat, it’s all theirs. Give all children a turn.

The children sit in a circle. One child takes a hanky and walks around the outside of the circle, then drops it behind someone and starts running around the circle. The child in front of the hanky picks it up and chases the first child before they reach their vacant spot in the circle. If the child who picked up the hanky doesn’t catch the child running, they have a turn at dropping the hanky behind someone else. If the first child is caught, he or she must drop the hanky again.

Give children a list of things that they must collect or find in a certain length of time. If there are a lot of children, break them into pairs. This can be done inside or outside, so long as you create a set area. The winners are first to present all of their items.

This takes a real feat in coordination. Tie legs together quite firmly with something flexible, like pantihose. Try to avoid rope. Coach kids on how to move before the race is run.

Kids love this. Have them dance to music, the wilder the better, and when the music stops, they must stand dead still. Anyone that moves is out. Winner is last one standing, so to speak.

Blindfold a child and spin them around three times. Other children move around making all sorts of sly noises so the blind man will move towards them and try to catch them. When the child catches someone, they must guess who it is. If they succeed, the caught child becomes the blind man. Push furniture out of the way before you start the game.

Always a real giggle. Kids have to ferry balloons, firmly wedged between their knees, from point A to point B and back again. Make it even more interesting by having the children run a relay, where they have to pass balloons between knees – no hands allowed!

Children form teams and take turns to mime a category so other team members can guess. Popular ones are movies, books and tv shows. Use a timer (two minutes is good) and remember – no speaking! Use lots of gestures, starting with how many words are in the phrase (hold up your fingers), then show how many syllables per word by placing your fingers on your forearm. Give clues about words by stretching hands out as though pulling a piece of elastic – this means elaborate on the word they are guessing. Pushing your palms together as though there’s an invisible ball in between means to shorten the word. Holding your hand to your ear means it sounds like the word you are miming. Bringing your thumb and forefinger together means to guess a small word like ‘it, an, the, on, in’, etc. The winner is the team that guesses all the phrases first.

Kids sit in a circle and one child, the Goose, walks around the outside, tapping the kids' heads saying "duck duck duck". When the child finally taps someone on the head and says "goose", the tapped child must leap up and chase the Goose around the circle. If they Goose gets back to the child's empty space without being caught, the tapped child becomes the Goose. If they catch the Goose before they sit down, the Goose continues on for another round.

This game can get a little rough, so older players are advised. Split kids into two teams and line the teams up, holding hands and facing each other, about 20 feet apart. One team starts by choosing a player from the opposing team by chanting "Red Rover, Red Rover, send (insert name) right over!" The selected player from the opposing team then runs forward and tries to break through the hands of the opposing team. If he breaks through, he gets to choose a player from the opposing team to join his own team. If he fails to break through, he now becomes part of the opposing team. This continues until only one team is left.

Photographs by Tania McCartney. Read more of my ezine under "little Magazine".

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