Old-fashioned fun with kids — Classic games that don’t create waste or clutter

April 10, 2021

Like any parent or grandparent, I love treating the children in my life to special surprises. I’ve learned over the years that the gifts that bring them the most joy are often the ones that involve sharing with them. Sometimes it’s a special book or a new craft. It might be a board game or a puzzle. I might teach them a finger rhyme or a song — or they might teach me a dance. (I never did get The Floss down!)

a child wearing a white teeshirt running through a sprinkler

There were many adults in my childhood who taught me games and shared activities I never tired of. It was my Nana who showed me how to play hopscotch and my mom who taught me to jump rope, for example. Sister James taught me to play handball, and my Papa encouraged me to tinker on his piano. I’m still grateful to each of them!

I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite timeless games and activities for kids. I hope you’ll rediscover (or discover!) some of them with the kids in your life! I’ve also included directions, books, and products that might be helpful. (I’m an affiliate with Etsy and Bookshop, so if you make a purchase through those links, you’ll be supporting them and the blog, too!)

Classic, low waste, kids’ games

Jump rope. Add to the fun with jump rope rhymes, tricks, or games (some even work for kids who don’t yet have the coordination needed for jumping rope!). I remember so well the day I learned to jump Double Dutch!

hopscotch board made of numbered square bricks on a grass lawn

Hopscotch. This is the ideal game for a lovely spring day. Do some chalk drawings and sketch out your hopscotch board amidst your artwork! And you can play hopscotch on a rainy day, too. Just create your squares and numbers on the floor with painter’s tape! Here are instructions on how to play (including some fun variations).

Sack race. All you need for this classic game is a starting line, finish line and potato sacks. If you don’t have potato sacks lying around (I certainly don’t) you can buy them inexpensively. Or, if your racers are on the small side, you can use large pillow cases.

String games. Our kids loved learning how to make all different string designs. Learning the names of the various shapes was half the fun! Be sure to gather extra strings for all the siblings in the house!

a leather pouch of marbles

Marbles. A bag of marbles is such a treasure! Just collecting pretty ones is fun enough for some kids. And the classic game of marbles is easy, fun, and kid-friendly! Here’s how to play.

Card games. Uno has always been popular in our family. Go Fish is fun for toddlers and up. And of course there are plenty of games to play with a regular deck of cards! Remember, too, that even very young kids can get involved by playing on teams with an adult in her corner.

And, of course, games don’t have to be designed with kids in mind to be kid-friendly! Our older grandkids have loved learning to play chess, cribbage, solitaire, and other strategy games. Younger kids often find their own fun with these games by making up their own rules or playing with the pieces as dolls or figurines. (Of course you’ll want to closely supervise very young kids with anything that’s a potential choking hazard.)

What were some of your favorite games as a kid? Do the children in your life enjoy them, too?

Take good care,

Headshot photo of Karen Mary with her signature in blue ink to the right

P.S. Stop by the blog every Tuesday for the latest posts — next week we’ll learn how to choose, store, and care for candles! In the meantime, here are some posts you might want to visit this week:

How to store medicines and supplements (new post!)

12 tips for washing kids’ sports uniforms (because it’s that time of year again!)

Gutters — How to clean your house gutters


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